Texas’ White Elephant Fleet


As part of its effort in World War I, the United States and its Emergency Fleet Corporation (EFC) began an aggressive shipbuilding campaign to counter the merchant shipping losses from Germany’s submarine warfare. Over 100 wooden ships were contracted in the Gulf District (the Gulf Coast west of New Orleans). Construction of these vessels was far slower than anticipated, and when the war suddenly ended, the country was left with a surplus of both complete and incomplete wooden ships. The EFC attempted to sell off the surplus vessels, but the fate of most was to be salvaged, burned, wrecked, and/or abandoned. Dozens of these vessels remain in the murky waters of Texas and Louisiana to tell the story of a seemingly failed attempt to revive the lost art of wooden shipbuilding.

Cite this Record

Texas’ White Elephant Fleet. Sara G. Laurence, Amy Borgens, Robert L. Gearhart. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 435066)


Temporal Keywords
World War I

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 811