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Bath Iron Works from NAS Brunswick photo gallery

Bath Iron Works (BIW) is a major American shipyard located on the Kennebec River in Bath, Maine. Since its founding in 1884 (as Bath Iron Works, Limited), BIW has built private, commercial and military vessels, most of which have been ordered by the United States Navy. The shipyard has built and sometimes designed battleships, frigates, cruisers and destroyers, including the Arleigh Burke class, which are among the world's most advanced surface warships.

Since 1995, Bath Iron Works has been a subsidiary of General Dynamics, the fifth-largest defense contractor in the world (as of 2008). During World War II, ships built at BIW were considered to be of superior toughness, giving rise to the phrase "Bath-built is best-built." [1]

Contents

History

Bath Iron Works was incorporated in 1884 by General Thomas W. Hyde, a native of Bath who served in the American Civil War. After the war, Hyde bought a local shop that helped make windlasses and other iron hardware for the wooden ships built in Bath's many shipyards. He expanded the business by improving its practices, entering new markets, and acquiring other local businesses.

By 1882, Hyde Windlass eyeing the new and growing business of iron shipbuilding; two years later, it incorporated as Bath Iron Works. On February 28, 1890, BIW won its first contract for complete vessels, two iron gunboats for the U.S. Navy. The Machias, one of these 190-foot (58 m) gunboats, was the first ship launched by the company. (Historian Snow (see "Further Reading") says the gunboat was commanded during World War I by Chester Nimitz, an assertion that is not supported by Nimitz's biographers.)

In 1892, the yard won its first commercial contract for a steel vessel, the 2,500-ton steel passenger steamer City of Lowell. In the 1890s, the company built several yachts for wealthy sailors.

In 1899, General Hyde, suffering from the Bright's Disease that would kill him later that year, resigned from management of the shipyard, leaving his sons Edward and John in charge. That year the shipyard began construction of the Georgia, the only battleship to be built in Bath. The ship dominated the yard for five years until its launching in 1904, and was at times the only ship under construction. The yard faced numerous challenges because of the weight of armor and weapons. In sea trials, the Georgia averaged 19.26 knots (35.67 km/h) for four hours, making her the fastest ship in her class and the fastest battleship in the Navy.

The company continued to rely on Navy contracts, which provided 86% of the value of new contracts between 1905 and 1917. The yard also produced fishing trawlers, freighters, and yachts throughout the first half of the century.

At peak production during World War II (1943–1944), the shipyard launched a destroyer every 17 days.

In 1981, Falcon Transport ordered two tankers, the last commercial vessels built by BIW.

MV Mighty Servant 2 carrying mine-damaged Roberts on 31 July 1988

In 1988, the USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58), commissioned two years earlier at Bath, survived a mine explosion that tore a hole in its engine room and flooded two compartments. Over the next two years, BIW repaired the Roberts in unique fashion. The guided missile frigate was towed to the company's dry dock in Portland, Maine, and put up on blocks, where its damaged engine room was cut out of the ship. Meanwhile, workers in Bath built a 315-ton replacement. When it was ready, the module was floated south to Portland, placed on the dry dock, slid into place under the Roberts, jacked up, and welded into place.[2] By surviving a hit that Naval Sea Systems Command engineers thought should have sunk her, the Roberts validated the penny-pinching design of the Oliver Hazard Perry class, the U.S. Navy's largest post-WWII class until the Burkes; and validated the Navy's against-the-odds decision to have picked BIW to design it.

In 2001, BIW wrapped up a four-year effort to build an enormous concrete platform, the Land Level Transfer Facility, for final assembly of its ships. Instead of being built on a sloping way so that they could slide into the Kennebec at launch, hulls were henceforth moved by rail from the platform horizontally onto a moveable dry dock. This greatly reduced the work involved in building and launching the ships.[3] The 750-foot, 28,000-ton dry dock was built by China's Jiangdu Yuchai Shipbuilding Company for $27 million.[4]

Notable ships built

USS Chester was the first United States cruiser of the numbering series used through the first half of the 20th century.
The last of the "four-stack" destroyers, USS Pruitt, being launched from Bath Iron Works in 1920.
Two of the seven Bath Iron Works destroyers transferred to the Royal Navy in the Destroyers for Bases Agreement. The outboard ship made the St. Nazaire Raid.
USCGC Icarus (WPC-110) delivers prisoners from U-352 to Charleston Navy Yard on 10 May 1942.
Nicholas holds the United States Navy record for battle stars with 16 from World War II, 5 from the Korean War and 9 from the Vietnam War
Maddox fires upon three P-4 torpedo boats during the Gulf of Tonkin Incident
Agerholm launched an ASROC anti-submarine rocket armed with a nuclear depth bomb during the Swordfish test of 1962
The second Cold War destroyer built by Bath Iron Works was named for the grandfather of Republican 2008 presidential candidate John S. McCain III.

External links

Coordinates: 43°54′16″N 69°48′53″W / 43.904494°N 69.814746°W / 43.904494; -69.814746

Further reading

  • Eskew, Garnett Laidlaw (1958). Cradle of Ships. New York: Putnam. ASIN B0007E5VY4.   (First general history of BIW.)
  • Peniston, Bradley (2006). No Higher Honor: Saving the USS Samuel B. Roberts in the Persian Gulf. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-661-5.   (Describes the construction of a Perry-class guided missile frigate, the training of its precommissioning crew at BIW, and the complex repair job that returned it to duty.)
  • Sanders, Michael S. (1999). The Yard: Building a Destroyer at the Bath Iron Works. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-019246-1.   (Describes the construction of USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) at BIW.)
  • Snow, Ralph L. (1987). Bath Iron Works: The First Hundred Years. Bath, Maine: Maine Maritime Museum. ISBN 0-9619449-0-0.   (The definitive work on BIW from 1884-1987.)
  • Toppan, Andrew (2002). Bath Iron Works (Images of America: Maine). South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-1059-9.   (Historic and contemporary photos of BIW.)

References

  1. ^ See Peniston, Sanders, Snow.
  2. ^ http://www.navybook.com/nohigherhonor/pic-ffg58repair.shtml No Higher Honor: FFG 58 Repair
  3. ^ http://www.gdbiw.com/company_overview/history/default.htm
  4. ^ "Bath Iron Works picks Chinese firm". United Press International. 1998-09-14. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-17538952.html. Retrieved 2008-10-18.  
  5. ^ Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968) p.103
  6. ^ Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968) p.276
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Fahey, James C. The Ships and Aircraft of the United States Fleet Ships and Aircraft (1939) p.17
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968) p.212
  9. ^ a b Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968) p.380
  10. ^ a b c d e Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968) p.383
  11. ^ Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968) p.114
  12. ^ Oftsie, R.A., RADM USN The Campaigns of the Pacific War United States Government Printing Office (1946) p.55
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Tillman, Barrett Clash of the Carriers (2005) ISBN 978-0-451-21965-5 pp.301-306
  14. ^ a b c d e Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968) p.118
  15. ^ a b Oftsie, R.A., RADM USN The Campaigns of the Pacific War United States Government Printing Office (1946) p.140
  16. ^ a b c d Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968) p.126
  17. ^ Oftsie, R.A., RADM USN The Campaigns of the Pacific War United States Government Printing Office (1946) p.54
  18. ^ Oftsie, R.A., RADM USN The Campaigns of the Pacific War United States Government Printing Office (1946) p.74
  19. ^ Oftsie, R.A., RADM USN The Campaigns of the Pacific War United States Government Printing Office (1946) p.122
  20. ^ Oftsie, R.A., RADM USN The Campaigns of the Pacific War United States Government Printing Office (1946) p.128
  21. ^ a b c d Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968) p.129
  22. ^ a b Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968) p.132
  23. ^ a b c d e f Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968) p.135
  24. ^ Oftsie, R.A., RADM USN The Campaigns of the Pacific War United States Government Printing Office (1946) p.127
  25. ^ a b Oftsie, R.A., RADM USN The Campaigns of the Pacific War United States Government Printing Office (1946) p.148
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968) p.138
  27. ^ a b c d Oftsie, R.A., RADM USN The Campaigns of the Pacific War United States Government Printing Office (1946) p.153
  28. ^ a b Oftsie, R.A., RADM USN The Campaigns of the Pacific War United States Government Printing Office (1946) p.159
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968) p.141
  30. ^ a b c d Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968) p.143
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968) pp.146-7
  32. ^ a b Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968) p.148
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968) p.150
  34. ^ a b Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968) p.152
  35. ^ a b c Blackman, Raymond V. B. Jane's Fighting Ships (1970/71) p.458
  36. ^ a b Blackman, Raymond V. B. Jane's Fighting Ships (1970/71) p.435
  37. ^ a b c d e f g h i Blackman, Raymond V. B. Jane's Fighting Ships (1970/71) p.439
  38. ^ a b c d Blackman, Raymond V. B. Jane's Fighting Ships (1970/71) p.437
  39. ^ a b Blackman, Raymond V. B. Jane's Fighting Ships (1970/71) p.432
  40. ^ a b c Blackman, Raymond V. B. Jane's Fighting Ships (1970/71) p.431
  41. ^ a b c d e Blackman, Raymond V. B. Jane's Fighting Ships (1970/71) p.429
  42. ^ Blackman, Raymond V. B. Jane's Fighting Ships (1970/71) p.456
  43. ^ a b c Blackman, Raymond V. B. Jane's Fighting Ships (1970/71) p.452
  44. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Clement, Janet Ann, LT USNR "The FFG-7 Program: A Shipbuilding Status Report" United States Naval Institute Proceedings (June 1981) p.109
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