Back to the Norsemen

Favorite shipbuilding technique of the Norsemen was to dam the water out of a fjord, build the ship on the ground, float her off by breaking the dam and letting the sea back in. Last week Todd-Bath Iron Shipbuilding Corp. (South Portland, Me.) was using this old Viking trick and Maine's nine-foot tides to speed construction on 30 $1,600,000 pre-fabricated freighters for Britain. Having no fjords, Todd-Bath steam-shoveled a basin about five feet below water. At launching time (around May 1) the incoming tide bubbling through opened gates will gently float the ship to open waters.

Infrequently practiced, advantages of...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!