This is a study of the Wilson Administration's inept initial attempts to deal with the shipbuilding crisis of 1917. Based upon extensive research in government archives and private manuscript collections, it begins with an outline of the history of American shipbuilding prior to 1914 and examines the impact of World War I. It details the growth of the shipyards, the political process involved in the creation of the Shipping Board and the Wilson Administration's choice of the original members. The bulk of the book then examines how the new agency dealt with the U-boat crisis that led America into the war, and, in particular, Frederic Eustis's plan to mass-produce small wooden steamships. The US, he believed, could turn them out faster than German submarines could sink them. The manuscript demonstrates this scheme's impracticality. The Board's first chairman, William Denman, though, was impressed by the proposal and adopted it as the Shipping Board's answer to the U-boat.