Cover image for The yard : building a destroyer at the Bath Iron Works
The yard : building a destroyer at the Bath Iron Works
Sanders, Mike (Michael S.)
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiii, 253 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Corporate Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
V825.3 .S27 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
V825.3 .S27 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In Bath, Maine, the birthplace of American shipbuilding, the century-old Bath Iron Works shipyard has been building--largely by hand and with a good dose of tradition--some of the finest, deadliest ships in the U.S. Navy. Accompanied by mounting competition and a pressing need to modernize, the yard faces the year 2000 with changes great and small, most notably in the way it launches ships. No longer will the great gray leviathans roar down the "ways"--the traditional inclined ramp--into the Kennebec River; this ancient technology will give way to the modern dry dock.

Author Notes

Michael S. Sanders, formerly a book editor and ghostwriter, lives up the road from the Bath Iron Works in Maine. This is his first book.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Nearly 20 years ago, Tracy Kidder's The Soul of a New Machine set the standard for a genre of nonfiction that might be called "business drama." Many have tried to copy his formula and chronicle the life of a concept from drawing board to reality. Few, though, have matched Kidder's ability to include the reader. Sanders succeeds in doing so, but his tale is not about the birth of an idea but, rather, the end of a tradition. The Bath Iron Works is Maine's largest employer, building ships for more than a century. There ships are launched on wooden ramps and completed in the water, a time-honored process adding thousands of labor hours to the cost of building a ship; but the company plans to modernize. The navy destroyer USS Donald Cook was one of the last ships to be built using traditional methods, and Sanders, who lives near Bath, tells the story of the building of the Donald Cook through the eyes of the shipbuilders and its first crew. --David Rouse

Publisher's Weekly Review

This book is richÄin content, in texture and not least in integrity. Sanders has been a ghostwriter, but he finds his own voice in this story of a shipyard, a ship and their people. The yard is the Bath Iron Works (BIW), in Maine, and it has been building ships for more than a century. The ship is the U.S.S. Donald Cook, a state-of-the-art destroyer. From the first rough sizing of the plates to the actual launching takes almost four years. Sanders's greatest triumph is his description of shipbuilding processes in language that a lay reader can readily understand. His second achievement is his depiction of the shipyard culture. Sanders eschews an elegiac approach, depicting a shipbuilding community whose ties and loyalties cut across management-labor lines. Shipbuilding is a skilled craft that demands a synergy of strength and artistry. It is dirty. It is dangerous. And BIW's employees merit respect for their skills. At the book's end BIW, rather than fading from the scene, is poised to enter the 21st century at the cutting edge of ship construction. When the navy takes over, the Cook becomes the focus of a different but equally effective kind of crew. The shipyard community is local, coming largely from Bath itself, and it is essentially male. The Cook's commissioning crew is cosmopolitan, with a broad spectrum of backgrounds and experiences, and it includes three dozen women. The men and women who serve on the Cook are like their ship and its builders: among the best in the world. Sanders's own craftsmanship is as worthy of recognition as that of the shipbuilders whose story he so ably tells. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
1 The DDG-51 in Briefp. 1
2 A Steel Shipbuilding Primerp. 17
3 Bath, Cradle of Shipsp. 39
4 Hardingsp. 57
5 Four to Midnight in Vulcan's Workshopp. 85
6 Cranep. 113
7 Driving the Wedgesp. 123
8 Launchp. 149
9 From Hull 463 to USS Donald Cookp. 169
10 Charlie Trialp. 199
11 Commissioningp. 217
Epiloguep. 229
Author's Notep. 237
Acknowledgmentsp. 239
Indexp. 243