The Fore River Shipyard, more formally known as the Fore River Ship and Engine Building Company, was a shipyard in the United States from 1883 until 1986. Located on the Weymouth Fore River, the yard began operations in 1883 in Braintree, Massachusetts before being moved downstream to its permanent location in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1901. The shipyard helped build early U.S. submarines and many ships commissioned by the United States Navy, including the World War II battleship USS Massachusetts (BB-59) and aircraft carriers USS Wasp (CV-7) and USS Bunker Hill (CV-17). In the 1960s, the yard was purchased by General Dynamics. It continued to produce ships for the Navy until being converted to LNG tanker production before finally closing in 1986.
The yard built the Thomas W. Lawson, the largest pure sailing ship ever built and ARA Rivadavia, one of two foreign battleships built in the United States. It was home to the "Goliath" crane, for a time the second-largest shipbuilding crane in the world. It is also the likely origin of the World War II "Kilroy was here" graffiti character.
Started by Thomas A. Watson in 1883, the shipyard was located on the Weymouth Fore River near East Braintree, Massachusetts. In 1901, the yard was moved to Quincy in the eastern part of the Quincy Point neighborhood. By the time that the Russo-Japanese War broke out in 1904, the company was operated under the direction of former Admiral Francis T. Bowles, who had become the company's president in a late 1903 reorganization, displacing Thomas Watson, who assumed the title Chairman of the Board. Watson, who was pleased with how Bowles ran the yard, stepped aside in 1904.
In 1913, Bethlehem Steel purchased the yard. It built many renowned warships and liberty ships during World War II. John J. Kilroy, the apparent originator of the famous "Kilroy was here" graffiti, was a welding inspector at Fore River during the war years.
Fore River changed hands again in 1964, when it was purchased by General Dynamics Corporation. The shipyard became General Dynamics Quincy Shipbuilding Division, and General Dynamics invested $23 million to improve the shipyard to make it more competitive. The yard constructed several ships for the U.S. Navy, including nuclear-powered submarines, ammunition ships, replenishment oilers, and dock landing ships. The shipyard converted to building LNG tankers during its final years, but closed for good in 1986. Although shipbuilding operations ceased at that time, the name of the yard continues to be used, and the location is still referred to as Fore River Shipyard.
In 1994, USS Salem (CA-139)—the last all-gun heavy cruiser ever built—returned to the Quincy yard, becoming the centerpiece of the United States Naval Shipbuilding Museum. Following several abortive attempts to restart the shipyard as a shipbuilding center, the property was bought by Daniel Quirk, a local auto dealer in 2004, to use as a motor vehicle storage and distribution facility, but is still a port for commuter boats to Boston and Hull run by Harbor Express for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). The yard also is used by Jay Cashman, Inc., for heavy construction and marine equipment services, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, as a sewage sludge heat-drying and pelletizing facility and by Fore River Transportation Corporation, for short line freight rail service to CSXT South Braintree.
An important facility at the shipyard was the "Goliath" crane, at one point the second largest shipbuilding crane in the world. Constructed in 1975 for building LNG tankers, the crane was a prominent part of the harbor skyline for over thirty years. In early 2008, the 328-foot (100 m) tall crane located at the former shipyard was sold to Daewoo-Mangalia Heavy Industries S. A., a joint-venture company of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., Ltd. of South Korea and former state shipayard 2 Mai Mangalia S. A. of Romania, which began dismantling it in July, 2008 for relocation to Mangalia, Romania.
On August 14, 2008, ironworker Robert Harvey was killed when a portion of the Goliath crane collapsed during dismantlement. Work on the crane's removal was halted for two months while local and federal officials investigated the accident, but later resumed and was completed in early 2009. As a result of their investigation, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued fines totalling $68,000 on January 13, 2009. A barge carrying the crane was christened the USS Harvey in honor of the fallen worker and left the shipyard on March 7, 2009 en route to Romania.
The August 2008 fatal incident was preceded by two other deaths involving demolition of a smaller gantry at the shipyard on January 26, 2005. The earlier incident resulted in an OSHA ruling against Testa Corporation of Lynnfield, Massachusetts, including a proposed $60,400 fine. Following the 2005 collapse, violations involving improper cleanup and removal of asbestos found in debris left by the accident resulted in a $75,000 penalty imposed against Testa by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
Numerous famous warships were built at the Fore River Shipyard. A partial list is below. The date in parentheses indicates the date the ship was commissioned by the U.S. Navy.