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Directory of Navy Shipyards

Navy Shipyards

The following list includes individual shipyards that were active in the United States.

Below you can find information of other shipyards:

Charleston Naval Shipyard

The Charleston Naval Shipyard served as a shipbuilding and repair facility for the U.S. Navy from 1901 until 1996. The site was located in North Charleston, South Carolina near the west bank of the Cooper River.

History

The Charleston Naval Shipyard began as a drydock and then ramped up shipbuilding operations with the beginning of World War I. There were only about 1,700 civilians employed in March 1917, but that exploded to 5,600 by the end of the conflict.

Construction Boom in the 1930s

Operations remained strong through the Great Depression. U.S. World War I disarmament treaties stipulated that the country had to have a minimum number of warships, but work lagged and the number was not being met. Congress approved a new shipbuilding program to construct cruisers and chose the Charleston Naval Shipyard as the site to build them. Funds were appropriated in 1931 and building commenced in earnest.

Even more money flowed into the facility during the 1930s thanks to the Works Progress Administration and Public Works Administration. These projects not only employed about 1,200 men a year, it also made the Charleston Naval Shipyard the fastest-growing shipyard in the country, according to the Charleston News and Courier. By 1938, nearly $2.7 million had been spent on shipyard improvements.

Preparing for a Second World War

As events began to foretell a new war in Europe, the U.S. Government increased spending on military preparation. Once again, the Charleston Naval Shipyard was a beneficiary of that spending. Another $3.5 million expansion helped increase the number of workers to 1,800 in 1939. There were about 2,000 production workers in place by the time war was declared in 1941 — nearly 10 times the amount of employees than only 9 years earlier.

By 1941, a series of destroyers were nearly ready for battle, including the USS Sterrett, USS Roe, USS Jones and USS Grayson. The Charleston Naval Yard also had contracts for two other destroyer tenders, which would become the USS Tidewater and USS Bryce Canyon. By July 1943, employment numbers had skyrocketed to nearly 26,000.

Post-War Years

After World War II ended, the Charleston Naval Shipyard was converted to a submarine overhaul yard. Operations slowed down substantially, but the shipyard still employed about 5,000 workers. Production ramped up again with the outbreak of the Korean War, as more than 8,000 employees helped activate 44 vessels and convert 27 others to active fleet duty.

Overhauls continued well into the 1960s, and the shipyard served as a homeport to several vessels during the Cold War, including nuclear submarines, destroyers, cruisers, and several others.

The end of the Cold War also saw the end of the Charleston Naval Shipyard. Operations ceased on April 1, 1996, resulting in the loss of, more than 6,000 civilian and 8,700 military jobs.

Asbestos Use at the CNS

While the legacy of the Charleston Naval Shipyard is unquestionably a proud one, asbestos was used widely on vessels at the shipyard. The boiler and engine rooms contained many components that were insulated with asbestos, including boilers, turbines, valves and pumps. This equipment also used asbestos gaskets and packing. Civilian shipyard workers as well as veterans were exposed to asbestos from the installation and repair of this equipment.

Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma. Symptoms of mesothelioma can include shortness of breath, chest pain, and fluid in the lungs. If you or a family member were exposed to asbestos and have these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.

If you or a family member worked at the Charleston Naval Shipyard and were diagnosed with mesothelioma, please get in touch with Belluck & Fox, LLP as soon as possible. We have represented hundreds of Navy veterans and shipyard workers, including veterans and yardbirds who were exposed to asbestos at the Charleston Naval Shipyard.

Washington Navy Yard

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Washington Navy Yard located in Washington, D.C. is the oldest shore establishment in the U.S. Navy. In July 1799, the 4,000 square miles was established by the first Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddert. In its early years, the WNY became the Navy’s largest shipbuilding and shipfitting facility.

WNY and the War of 1812

During the War of 1812, the WNY was a vital support facility and strategic defence. The WNY sailors and marines of nearby Marine Barracks were in the last defense line. To avoid capture by the enemy, the Yard’s first commandant Commodore Thomas Tingey order it be burned.

After the War of 1812, the WNY became a leader in ordnance and technology, being deemed inaccessible for larger vessels. It possessed one of the earliest steam engines in the U.S. and manufactured anchors, chain, and steam engines for war vessels.

WNY and the U.S. Civil War

During the U.S. Civil War, the WNY was an integral part of defense for Washington, D.C. Resigning his commission at the Yard to join the Confederacy, Commandant Franklin Buchanan left the yard to John A. Dahlgren, an acquaintance of President Abraham Lincoln. Following the assassination of President Lincoln, conspirators were brought to the WNY.

WNY and WWI

The Yard was designated as the manufacturing site for all ordnance in the Navy in 1886. Ordnance production continued and the Yard manufactured armament for the Great White Fleet and the World War I navy. The railway guns during WWI in France were manufactured there.

WNY and WWII

The Yard became the largest naval ordnance plant in the world by World War II. Until the 1960s, weapons designed and built were used in every war in which the U.S. fought. During its peak, it employed 25,000 people and contained 188 buildings on 126 acres.

Ordnance work phased out in 1961 and began use as office buildings in 1964.

WNY Today

Today, the WNY houses various activities including: headquarters of Naval District Washington, housing activities for fleet and aviation communities, the Navy Museum, the Naval History and Heritage Command, and Leutze Park.

The buildings are still used to serve the Navy.

WNY and Asbestos

Many veterans and civilians may have been exposed to asbestos on-site. Asbestos was commonly used at Navy Yards in boilers, pipes, pumps, valves, gaskets, packing, and other material. Contact an experienced attorney like those at Belluck & Fox, LLP today to get answers to some of your questions.

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Last Modified: February 5, 2019

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