Only the Beginning

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Irrepressible, indefatigable Henry J. Kaiser is fixing to cop the first postwar contract in the shipbuilding industry. The contract: 30 diesel cargo ships designed for the Netherlands East Indies coastwise trade. The production schedule: building to begin "long before" year's end. Henry and the Dutch, equally shrewd, figured the ships could be used for war cargoes before the Jap is licked, and certainly right after he is thrown out of the Indies.

At a press conference in his tulip-bedecked Washington office, H.J. said he had a green light from the Maritime Commission, but none from WPB, WMC, or anyone else. Asked where the steel would come from, he said: "I don't think they're just going on stockpiling it." Asked about manpower, he said: "We will use existing personnel; if they leave us, we'll recruit others." Forthwith A.P. reported from Portland, Ore. that Kaiser recruiters were seeking 15,200 more workers in the Midwest, the Southwest, and even in Washington, D.C. Asked about Army & Navy permission, he said he had not consulted them—"Why should I?"

As for his motives, H.J. solemnly, sagely reversed the Greek proverb: In time of peace, prepare for war. And, said he, the Dutch deal was "only the beginning." Other rumored steps in the Kaiser "conversion": orders from Norway, Sweden, Venezuela.