Concrete – Before It Was For Houseboats

It was for oil barges. Ninety-Five (95) years ago today the Socony 200, the very first concrete barge, was launched into Flushing Bay, NY. Commissioned by the Standard Oil Company of New York. It was 98 feet long, 31 feet wide, and 9 1/2 feet deep. This wasn’t the first time a concrete reinforced ship was built, but the first time it was used purely for commercial shipping. In the 1860’s, ferrocement watercraft (concrete ships) wer built in Europe for use on canals. In the early 1900’s, a few barges were built in the UK, Europe, and California. Near the end of World War I, the US commissioned 24 ships for the war, but none were completed before the end of the war. Very little happened between World War I and World War II, but when steel and metal started getting short in World War II, 24 self-propelled concrete ships were commissioned in 1942. At the same time, ferrocement barges played a crucial role in World War II operations in Europe. However, this was the last time they were used regularly for military or commercial purposes. Now they are just used for houseboats. Not that concrete is a good choice for barges, but it shows how innovative we can be when one raw material is in short supply.