While the extent of Canada's war production effort, 1939-1945, is fairly well known to Canadians, one aspect of it has largely escaped notice. This is the construction in Canadian shipyards, from a standing start in 1941, of 402 merchant ships, most of them 10,000-ton cargo ships. On a comparative scale, it was a feat rivaling that of the United States. This book describes the technical factors involved in the design of these ships, their construction and operation.
A Great Fleet of Ships explains how and why this potential merchant fleet existing at the war's end was so quickly dispersed, with Canada's merchant marine all but vanishing after 1950. Heal discusses the reasons and methods of its disposal, and also provides an insightful look at the complex subjects of marine underwriting and chartering. These are aspects of merchant shipping seldom discussed in this light.