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The mushrooming U.S. merchant marine (50 million tons in 1944) is about to add a new and useful type of vessel—a small (4,000 ton), fast (12 knot), and economical (diesel-powered) freighter.

Known only as Maritime Commission design CI-M-AVI, these pocket-size ships can enter bomb-destroyed ports blocked to larger ships, or deliver relief cargoes at smaller ports. Later, as part of a merchant fleet top-heavy with plodding 10,000-ton Liberty ships, they will be useful for U.S. coastal service and offshore trading in the Caribbean.

Contracts for 100 CIs have been let, mostly to Great Lakes shipbuilders.

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