National Geographic : 1945 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine With Corn-kernel Islands, Hadji Badong C In Makassar harbor, the Mula Mulai's master han and asked: "Now, Tuan, where is your country?" To the writer threw the kernel into the next prau! Gene taught the skipper. Without chart or compass, he looking at the sea (page 61). As the wooden ships being built in the Indies are slow as well as small, their total tonnage has to be greater than that of the larger and faster steel ships which they replace if they are to carry the same amount of cargo in the same time. But they are not to be despised, for if there are enough of them they can do just what the Japanese want. General MacArthur has announced that 1,727 Japanese coastal vessels, barges, and schooners have been sunk by United Nations' forces in two years in the Southwest Pacific, enough to move a 50,000-man army. To build the large numbers of wooden ships they require, the Japanese have in the cc islands abundant sup plies of both timber and manpower. The professional shipbuild ers alone, it is true, could not construct a fleet of any large size, but throughout the archipelago are numer ous skilled carpenters who are accustomed to building wooden houses, grain stores, warehouses, and bridges. From this source of skilled labor the Japanese have recruited or conscripted workers for their ship yards. Many of these house builders or bridge car penters may never have seen the sea, or anything but a river boat or canoe before the Japanese took them to the shipyards. But under the supervision of Japanese or Indone sian experts they could be used at once for most of the work re quired in the construc tion of the wooden ships that, according to the Japanese radio, are being built in the Charts the Indies islands. These ships, the led the author a grain Japanese tell us, range emphasize the distance, rations of seafarers had up to 500 tons; some uld plot his course by are said to be driven by Diesel engines, some by sail with auxiliary motors, others by sail alone. Japan's lack of shipping is so great that in addition to these ships she has promoted vigorously the building of almost any craft that carries cargo, praus large and small, even freight-carrying canoes.* The Japanese also claim to have built a number of large rafts to help to relieve their shipping shortage. As in the case of the shipbuilders, the pro fessional seamen of the Indies are far too few for Japanese requirements. To train men for * See "Japan and the Pacific," by Joseph C. Grew, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIIC MAGAZINE, April, 1944, and "Springboards to Tokyo," by Willard Price, October, 1944.