Manitowoc Shipbuilding CompanyOne of the most unusual WWI Mississippi River transportation stories concerns the Manitowoc [Wisconsin] Shipbuilding Co., the nation's only inland builder of submarines.
In December 1940, the U.S. Navy contracted with the company to construct 10 Gato class submarines.Subsequently, the Navy increased the order to 41 boats of which 28 were ultimately produced prior to the end of the war.
The typical Gato submarine was 312 feet long, with 27-foot beams and a 15-foot draft, and weighted 1825 tons surfaced. Its crew consisted of 65-74 officers and men.
After trial testing in Lake Michigan, the submarines sailed to Chicago, where they were towed to Lockport, Illinois, and then placed in floating dry docks to travel down the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans.
Crowds gathered along the rivers and at bridge crossings to cheer the boats and their crews. From New Orleans, the submarines passed through the Panama Canal before joining the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.