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The newly constructed USS Birmingham is launched from the Newport News yards in 1942

Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding Newport News (NGSB-NN), formerly called Northrop Grumman Newport News (NGNN) or Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company (NNS&DD or simply NNS), was the largest privately-owned shipyard in the United States prior to being purchased by Northrop Grumman in 2001. NGSB-NN is one of two shipyards that produce and service all types of nuclear powered submarines (the other is the Electric Boat Corporation), and at present is the only shipyard that can build supercarriers. NGSB-NN is also home to the largest crane in the western hemisphere. NGSB-NN is located in Newport News, Virginia, and often participates in projects with the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia, also located adjacent to Hampton Roads.

The shipyard is a major employer not only for the lower Virginia Peninsula, but also portions of Hampton Roads south of the James River and the harbor, portions of the Middle Peninsula region, and even some northeastern counties of North Carolina.

Contents

History

The Shipyards Railroad System.

Industrialist Collis P. Huntington (1821 – 1900) provided crucial funding to complete the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad (C&O) from Richmond, Virginia to the Ohio River in the early 1870s. Although originally built for general commerce, this C&O rail link to the midwest was soon also being used to transport bituminous coal from the previously isolated coalfields, adjacent to the New River and the Kanawha River in West Virginia. In 1881, the Peninsula Extension of the C&O was built from Richmond down the Virginia Peninsula to reach a new coal pier on Hampton Roads in Warwick County near the small unincorporated community of Newport News Point. However, building the railroad and coal pier was only the first part of Huntington's dreams for Newport News. In 1886, he built a shipyard to repair ships servicing this transportation hub. In 1891, Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company delivered its first ship, a tugboat named Dorothy. By 1897, NNS had built three warships for the U.S. Navy: Nashville, Wilmington, and Helena.

When Collis died in 1900, his nephew Henry E. Huntington inherited much of his uncle's fortune. He also married Collis' widow Arabella Huntington, and assumed Collis's leadership role with Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company. Under Henry Huntington's leadership, growth continued.

Main Gate, 37th St. and Washington Ave.

In 1906, the revolutionary HMS Dreadnought launched a great naval race worldwide. Between 1907 and 1923, Newport News built six of the U.S. Navy's total of 22 dreadnoughts -- Delaware, Texas, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Maryland, and West Virginia -- and all but the first would still be in active service in World War II.

In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt sent the Great White Fleet on its round-the-world voyage. Seven of its 16 battleships were built by NNS. In 1914, NNS built the SS Medina for the Mallory Steamship Company; as the MV Doulos she is now the world's oldest active ocean-faring passenger ship.

In the early years, leaders of the Newport News community and those of the shipyard were virtually interchangeable. Shipyard president Walter A. Post served from March 9, 1911 to Feb. 12, 1912, when he died. Earlier, he had come to the area as one of the builders of the C&O Railway's terminals, and had served as the first mayor of Newport News after it became an independent city in 1896. It was on March 14, 1914 that Albert L. Hopkins, a young New Yorker trained in engineering, succeeded Post as President of the company. While traveling to England on shipyard business, aboard the SS Lusitania, his tenure and his life ended prematurely when that ship was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat [1] off Queenstown on the Irish coast. 127 other Americans also lost their lives. His assistant Fred Gauntlett, was also on board, but was able to swim to safety. [2] Homer Lenoir Ferguson was a manager when Hopkins died, and assumed the presidency the following July. He saw the company through both world wars, became a noted community leader, and was a co-founder of the Mariners' Museum with Archer Huntington. He served until July 31, 1946, after the second World War had ended on both the European and Pacific fronts.

Hilton Village

Just northwest of the shipyard, Hilton Village, one of the first planned communities in the country, was built by the federal government to house shipyard workers in 1918. The planners met with the wives of shipyard workers. Based on their input 14 house plans were designed for the projected 500 English-village-style homes. After the war, in 1922, Henry Huntington acquired it from the government, and helped facilitate the sale of the homes to shipyard employees and other local residents. Three streets there were named after Post, Hopkins, and Ferguson. [3] [4] [5]

The Lusitania incident was among the events that brought the United States into World War I. Between 1918 and 1920, NNS delivered 25 destroyers, and after the war, NNS began building aircraft carriers. Ranger was delivered in 1934, and NNS went on to build Yorktown and Enterprise.

By 1940, the Navy had ordered seven more aircraft carriers and four cruisers. During World War II, it built ships as part of the U.S. Government's Emergency Shipbuilding Program, and swiftly filled requests for "Liberty ships" that were needed during the war. It founded North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, an emergency yard on the banks of the Cape Fear River and launched its first Liberty ship before the end of 1941, building 243 ships in all, including 186 Liberties. For its contributions during the war, the Navy awarded the company its "E" pennant for excellence in ship construction.

In the post-war years, NNS built the famous passenger liner SS United States, which set a transatlantic speed record that still stands today. In 1954, NNS, together with Westinghouse and the Navy, developed and built a prototype nuclear reactor for a carrier propulsion system. NNS designed the Enterprise in 1960. In 1959 NNS launched its first nuclear-powered submarine, Shark as well as the ballistic missile submarine Robert E. Lee.

In the 1970s, NNS launched two of the largest tankers ever built in the western hemisphere and also constructed three liquefied natural gas carriers -- at over 390,000 deadweight tons, the largest ever built in the United States. In the 1980s, NNS produced a variety of Navy products, including Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carriers and Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarines.

Submarine construction problems

In 2007, the US Navy found that company employees had used incorrect metal to fuse together pipes and joints on submarines under construction which could have led to cracking and leaks. In 2009, the Navy and the company found that bolts and fasteners in weapons-handling systems on four Navy submarines, including New Mexico (SSN-779), North Carolina (SSN-777), Missouri (SSN-780), and California (SSN-781)', were installed incorrectly, delaying the launching of the ships while the problems were corrected.[6]

Mergers

In 1968, Newport News merged with Tenneco Corporation. In 1996, Tenneco initiated a spinoff of Newport News into an independent company (Newport News Shipbuilding). [1]

On 7 November 2001, Northrop Grumman entered an agreement to purchase Newport News Shipbuilding for a total of $2.6 billion. This acquisition created a $4 billion shipyard called Northrop Grumman Newport News. [2]

On 28 January 2008, Northrop Grumman Corporation realigned its two shipbuilding sectors, Northrop Grumman Newport News and Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, into a single sector called Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding. [3]

Ships built

Ships built at the Newport News yard include:

Tugboat Dorothy

Creed

"We shall build good ships here. At a profit - if we can. At a loss - if we must. But always good ships".
Collis Potter Huntington

References

External links

Coordinates: 37°00′03″N 76°26′54″W / 37.0007°N 76.4482°W / 37.0007; -76.4482


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