Coming Ashore

Andrew Higgins, who Adolf Hitler called the new Noah, was born in 1886 in Nebraska. Andrew was expelled from high school for fighting, and it was his aggressive nature that helped America and its allies prevail against Germany in World War II.

He relocated to Alabama and began working in the timber industry on the Gulf Coast. Andrew had an early fascination with boats as a child, and this led him to think about how to use boats to transport timber. The problem was that the swamps and bayous were very shallow. This led to a boat design that could function in shallow water.

With a design that worked, he formed Higgins Industries to build boats. During the 1930s, Andrew tried to convince the military to use his boat design for amphibious landings. The Coast Guard and later the Marines accepted his design, but not the Navy. Once the Navy’s designs failed, they also accepted Andrew’s boat.

Andrew continued to design boats for different military applications. Two features made his boats revolutionary. First, the design of the hull allowed them to land on sandy beaches without their propellers getting stuck. Second, the boats had a retractable bow which provided the capability for quick movement of soldiers out of the boat. The boats could also be used for quick unloading of military equipment and supplies.

As the U.S. entered World War II, Higgins Industries expanded to seven boat factories and 20,000 employees. Over 20,000 boats were produced to aid in the war effort.

After the war, Higgins Industries struggled to survive and Andrew passed away in 1952 at the age of 65. Higgins Industries folded in 1957.

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“Andrew Higgins…is the man who won the war for us…If Higgins had not designed and built those boats, we could never have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy of the war would have been different.” – Dwight Eisenhower

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