"The West Coast came to the melancholy end of a shipbuilding era last week. In Henry J. Kaiser's record-holding Richmond Shipbuilding Corp. Yard No. 2 in California, the S.S. Benjamin Warner (named after the father of Hollywood's Warner brothers) slid into San Francisco Bay. It was the 1,147th Liberty ship launched on the West Coast—and the last.
A few Liberties are still being finished at East Coast yards. But no more keels will be laid, East or West. Already Richmond No. 2, and most of the other yards, are building the faster Victory ship (15 knots) and a shoal of Navy craft, C-4 troop transports, LSTs, frigates. But the feverish shipbuilding in which Richmond No. 2 built a Liberty in seven days is ended.
In waving good-by to the Liberty ship program, Rear Admiral Howard L. Vickery, vice-chairman of the U.S. Maritime Commission, said: "Mass production of ships will have to end with the war. The yards will compete for a maximum number of ships we can hope to build, about one hundred a year. What will happen to the other yards? We don't know the answer." But the tin-hatted workers in Richmond No. 2 could make a sound guess. The payroll at Kaiser's four Richmond yards has dropped from 93,000 to 73,000. It is still going down."