Proud Builder

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D-Day, the 6th of June, 1944. The United States and its allies launch the largest amphibious attack in the history of the world, assaulting the beaches of northern France. Among the approximately 12,000 vessels of all sizes are hundreds of Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP) built by Maryland-based Owens Boat Co.

Twenty years later, Owens offers a piece of the American dream in the form of the 40-foot Tahitian, a double-stateroom flybridge yacht that sleeps eight in comfort.

John B. Owens started building boats in Maryland in 1936, opening a shop on Bear Creek in Dundalk. He and his brothers built the 32-foot Owens Cruiser out of white oak and Philippine mahogany, and they showed it off at the New York Boat Show in 1937.

That model was the first of many successes for the fast-growing company, which, after World War II, grew into one of America’s most popular builders. In 1957, Owens made the switch from wooden-boat building to all-fiberglass construction, becoming one of the first major builders to do so. (Owens also built a popular sailboat, the Owens Cutter, whose plans eventually were sold to Henry Hinckley.)

The Tahitian was a good example of the Owens product in the mid-1960s, with sleek styling, a cabin full of innovations and an FLD (full-length dihedral) hull, which carried a V-form from bow to stern for more seakindly performance. By this time, Owens had been sold to Brunswick Corp., which continued to build boats under the Owens name.

John Owens said in later years that he felt proud that his company had played a small part in the D-Day landings, and that his workers realized the importance of doing a good job as quickly as they could. His was just one company, along with Elco, Huckins and Higgins, that built a variety of craft for the war effort. Owens alone turned out 2,500 LCVPs. 

This article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue.