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Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Signed into law in late 1916, the Shipping Act made provisions for setting up the United States Shipping Board.  Through the Emergency Fleet Corporation, the United States government could purchase, charter, seize, requisition, and operate a fleet of commercial ships and even begin construction on new merchant vessels.  Only weeks after war was declared the Shipping Board seized nearly 1 million tons of German shipping in American harbors.  In the last 6 months of 1918, the Emergency Fleet Corporation launched nearly 3 million tons of new ships.  This ensured that the United States and its allies would be able to acquire food and supplies throughout the war effort.