Thursday, June 30, 2016

Shipyards of St. Tammany

Over the years, St. Tammany has been home to several large shipyards. Thousands of men and women worked there daily, contributing to the well-being of the U.S. maritime fleet and warships when needed. Here are some photographs of those shipyards.Click on the images to make them larger. 

The remnants of the Jahncke Shipyard in Madisonville

Jahncke Shipyards at Madisonville, above

A Newspaper Account of A Ship Launching

"Pontchartrain" Launched at Jahncke Shipyards in Madisonville
APRIL 12,1919
Large Crowd On Hand To Witness Impressing Event.  
Miss Violet Heughan As Sponsor.

On Sunday, April 6th, the Jahncke Shipbuilding Co., Inc., launched the S. S. Pontchartrain, a 3500-ton vessel of the Ferris type. The Pontchartrain was the fourth ship of her type to he launched at the Madisonville yard.

The yard gates were thrown open to the public at 11 a. m. About 11:30 a. m. the great crowd began to gather. Pedestrians, automobiles, carriages and vehicles of every description were to be seen wending their way towards the ship­yard, and the eager throng of visitors which came from all sections of St. Tammany parish and surrounding parishes, new Orleans included, were admitted to the yard, and witnessed a sight which was an event that will undoubtedly be recorded as one of the most important in the history of the parish of St. Tammany.

The Steamer Reverie arrived at 12 o'clock with her capacity of visitors from New Orleans. A band on board furnished delightful music. When she came up the river, with American flags flying fore and aft, and her bands playing (patriotic airs, it was a sight long to be remembered.

So great was the demand of visitors from New Orleans that the tug Fox was called upon to tow the schooner Proteus over with a boat load of people. The Proteus also had a brass band aboard which played lively airs. The schooner arrived it 12:15, and the ceremonies began.

Mr. E. T. Malloy, General Superintendent, was standing on the ways at the bow of the ship.   He made an excellent speech preparatory to the  presentation  of a magnificent chest of silver to Commodore Ernest Lee Jahncke.   Mr. Malloy spoke for the working force of the Jahncke Shipbuilding Company, when he said, 'The entire working force of the Jahncke Shipbuilding Company look upon Commodore Jahncke not only as an employer but a personal friend as well."  

When Mr. Malloy finished speaking he asked the crowd to give three cheers for their Commodore, and the cheers were loud and long.
In years to come the men will undoubtedly look back to their days
in the shipyard as the happiest ones of their lives, made so by the treatment received by them from Commodore Ernest Lee Jahncke, which was fair and square dealing throughout.
The presentation of the chest of silver was kept a secret, and Commodore Jahncke was so surprised and overwhelmed with a feeling of appreciation he was at a loss as to what words he should use in order to properly convey his feelings. To say the Commodore appreciated the gift would be to say the least.

The Madisonville yard is an institution the entire country, especially the South, can well feel proud of, for it has been pronounced to be one of the finest yards of its kind in the United States.

The officials of the yard have exercised great care in their selection of workers, and in the placing of various chiefs of the many departments therein.

The slogan of the Jahncke Yard Is a sentiment which properly expresses the spirit in which the work is carried on:"We build ships here. At a profit if we can; at a loss if we must—but always good ships."
And they were always good ships.

Miss Violet Heughan, Sponsor.

In selecting Miss Violet Heughan, the winsome daughter of Mr. E. V. Heughan, the genial yard superintendent of the Jahncke Yard, a more appropriate sponsor could not be found. Miss Heughan, of Madison­ville, was born near the shores of Lake Pontchartrain and on the banks of the beautiful Tchefuncta, and she was beyond doubt one of the sweetest of sponsors, and when she broke the bottle of champagne on the bow of the Pontchartrain and spoke the words, "I christen thee Pontchartrain," her sweet smile radiated her beautiful face, then the great ship slid gracefully from her resting place to the bosom of the Tchefuncta.

Those standing at the 'bow of the ship with Miss Heughan were Com­modore Ernest Lee Jahncke, Mr. and Mrs. E. T. Malloy, Mr. and Mrs. E. V. Heughan and Miss Kathleen Aby.

Miss Heughan's dress was a champagne colored combination of georgette crepe and taffeta, handsomely embroidered in dark shades of the same color.  Her bouquet was of exquisite American Beauty buds,, tied with Uncle Sam's colors.

Officials and Workers Proud of Their Magnificent Efforts.

The officials of the Jahncke Shipbuilding Company, Inc., and the ship workers, can feel proud of the magnificent efforts they contributed to their Country's cause when the Huns,  by their atrocities, forced upon our peaceful land the necessity of sounding the bugle call "To Arms."

Let  us again  impress   that the quality of workmanship furnished by the Jahncke Shipbuilding Company  was of the highest grade. Every one of the New Orleans visitors profusely expressed their appreciation of Commodore Jahncke's furnishing them a day of enjoyment.

The music and expense of getting from New Orleans to Madisonville was furnished by Mr. Jahncke. A day of pleasure was followed by a dance at the pavilion.


If old man Grouch ever lived in Madisonville he took an off day on April 6th, and chased the glooms away, particularly If he happened to have his habitat in the person of an  attendant at the launching of the good ship Pontchartrain, for that was the big day for St. Tammany, and all those attending the launching.

There was an enormous crowd of people on hand for the big event and there was no place for a grouch among them. They were light-hearted, free and gay, and everything about the launching was likewise. From the time when the first auto drove up until the last visitor left, it was interest, enjoyment and good fellowship, all combined.

And the girls—the beautiful girls! Ask them if they had a good time, and whether there ever was a better dancing floor than that at the pavilion.

No one who saw the hundreds of couples that swayed through the maze of the popular dances would dare to say the launching was not a success from the time the gates were open until the Reverie and Aunt Dianh left for New Orleans, and the only unhappy moment was when the music stopped. But that was short­lived for eagerly did the older, as well as the younger folks ask the question, "When will the next ship be launched?"

Video panning across 1917 photo of Jahncke Shipyards 

April 6, 1919


According to Tim Colton, over at the website, the shipyard in Slidell was originally established by Fritz Salmen in the 1880s: it became Slidell Shipbuilding in 1914 and Canulette Shipbuilding in 1919.

  It was sold in 1954 and renamed J. & S. Shipbuilding, then sold again in 1957 and renamed Southern Shipbuilding.  To see a list of ships built at the Southern Shipbuilding location, CLICK HERE.

Southern Shipbuilding closed in 1993 and the facility has been razed.  


View of the office building at Louisiana Shipyard in Slidell.  

Louisiana Shipyards, Slidell, 1930's 


Shipbuilding crews at Madisonville


Video panning across shipbuilding crews photograph above

Madisonville Equitable Shipyards 1975

Equitable Equipment Company was the world's largest builder of LASH and SEABEE barges, building over 730 LASH Barges valued in excess of $35 million. The company built various types of offshore support vessels as well, ocean-going tugs, tugs for harbor and inland waterways operations, self-propelled drilling ships, general purpose barges, and other marine equipment for the maritime and petroleum industries. 

According to Tim Colton over on the website,   "Equitable Equipment Company was founded by Neville Levy in 1921.  In 1966, they acquired the former Higgins Industries yard on the Industrial Canal in New Orleans, which had closed in 1963, and began to build boats there, using the name Equitable Shipyards, while the Madisonville yard continued to build barges.  Equitable was acquired by Trinity Industries in 1972 and both yards continued in operation until 1996, when Trinity spun off the New Orleans yard as part of Halter Marine Group." To view a table that attempts to list all the barges built by Trinity in the Madisonville yard, CLICK HERE.

Also according to Tim Colton over on the website,   "Balehi Marine of Lacombe LA was founded in 1975 by David P. Levy, a graduate of the US Naval Academy who had worked at Equitable Equipment for 30 years.  The company was unusual in that Levy, although the owner, filled the position of VP Engineering.  In addition, although small, they built boats in steel, aluminum and fiberglass. They closed in 1992.  The yard even had an unusual location, way up Lacombe Bayou, north of Slidell, miles from a navigable waterway." To see a list of ships that were built at Balehi Marine, CLICK HERE.

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