Arthur Sydnor Barksdale, Jr.
Lieutenant Commander, USNR
Portsmouth, VA 1945


Table of Contents

Author's Note
Part One: Prelude
Chapter I: Historic Background
     War-Time Role
     The Old and the New
Chapter II: The Years Between the Wars
     From World War I to Depression
     The Destroyer Program of the Thirties
     Efforts to Get More Work
Chapter III: Beginning of the National Emergency
     The Navy Expands
     The Atlantic Fleet

Part Two: The Plant
Chapter IV: Growth of the Organization
     Relations with Navy Department and Fifth Naval District
     The Commandant
     The Operations Department
     The Industrial Department
     Production Division
     Shop Superintendent and Personnel
     Planning Division
     Public Works Division
     Accounting and Disbursing Departments
     Supply Department
     Medical Department
     Marine Barracks
     Increase in Naval Personnel
Chapter V: Improvement of Facilities
     Overall Extent of War-Time Growth
     The Reservation Prior to the War
     Early Improvements
     Preparation for Battleship Construction
     Pier 5 and the Turret Plant
     Results of the Alabama Order

nnyww2-2 (continuation)
Chapter VI: Expansion During the Emergency and War
     Drydock No. 8 and Area
     Inspection by the President
     Other New Buildings and Shop Improvement
     St. Helena
     Barracks and Quarters
     Expansion of Supply and Storage Areas
     Growth of Telephone System
Chapter VII: Yard Security
     Air Raid Defenses
     Enlargement of Police Division

Part Three: Production
Chapter VIII: Over-All War Achievement
     Comparison of Construction, Repair and Manufacturing
     Dollar Value of Production
     Accounting Controls
Chapter IX: Repair
     Sixty-eight Hundred Ships
     Planning and Production Problems
     CMP and Material Redistribution
     Repair of British and Other Allied Ships
     Major Battle Damage Repair
     Conversion and Alteration
     Fitting Out and Commissioning

nnyww2-3 (continuation)
Chapter X: New Construction
     Summary of Work
     Battleship Construction
     The LST Program
     The DE Program
     The Big Flat Tops
     Destroyers and Miscellaneous Other Vessels
Chapter XI: Manufacturing
Chapter XII: Safety and Industrial Accidents
     Safety Section
     Saturn Fire
     Bldg. 173 Fire
     Scott Center Fire
     St. Helena Fire
Chapter XIII: Speeding War Production

Part Four: Personnel
Chapter XIV: Employment
     Increase in the Payroll
     Labor Board
     Exit Interviews
     Vocational Training Program
Chapter XV: Selective Service
     Loss of Men to Draft
     Women as Replacements
Chapter XVI: The Direct Recruiting Program

nnyww2-4 (continuation)
Chapter XVII: Relations with War Manpower Commission
     Manpower Control
     The Meade Committee Inquiry
Chapter XVIII: Labor Relations
     Hours of Work
     Relations with Management
     Disciplinary System
Chapter XIX: Housing
     Extent of the Problem
     First Portsmouth Projects
     New Gosport
     Additional Projects
     Alexander Park
Chapter XX: Transportation
     Public Carriers
     Improvement of Traffic Routes
     The Club Buses
     Water Transportation
     Yard Transportation

nnyww2-5 (continuation)
Chapter XXI: The Co-op
Chapter XXII: The Five-Starred Flag
     War Bonds and the Man-Behind-the-Man-Behind-the-Gun
     United War Fund
     Gygax First Citizen
     The Army-Navy "E"


Index of Charts, Tables, Maps
     Map of Hampton Roads
     Commandants, 1933-1945
     Organization Chart, 1939
     Organization Chart, 1945
     Captains of the Yard, 1930-1945
     Industrial Managers, 1932-1945
     Yard Maps, 1933 and 1945
     Dollar Value of Plant, Table
     Major Plant Improvements, 1934-1940, Table
     Real Estate Purchases, Map
     Major Plant Expansion, 1940-1945, Table
     Man Days, Table
     Dollar Value of Production, Table
     Repair Load by Years, Table
     Foreign Flag Vessel Repair, Table
     Major Battle Damage Repair, Table
     Ships Commissioned (Other than ships built by NyNor), Table
     Vessels Built by NyNor, Table
     War Losses NyNor Ships, Table
     Employment Table
     Employment Graph
     Turnover Table
     Turnover Graph
     Schedule of Wages, Tables
     Payroll Totals, Table
     Housing Projects, Tables
     Housing Projects, Maps
     Residence Areas NyNor Workers, Table
     Map of Canteens, Bus Routes, Etc.

Appendix (in bold, available)
     History, Assistant to the Industrial Manager, Norfolk, filed with Asst Ind. Mgrs.
     History, Assistant to the Industrial Manager, Baltimore, ditto
     Work Load Charts, Showing Repair by Class of Vessel
     Vessels Built in NyNor Prior to World War II
     Commandants, Complete List
     Shops and Masters

     Presidents of Metal Trades Council

List of Illustrations
     Rear Admiral C. H. Jones, USN, Commandant
     Old Pitch House
     USS Downes
     Rebuilding of Drydock 2
     Construction of Pier 5
     Building of Drydock 8
     Roosevelt Visits the Yard
     Interior of Machine Shop
     USS Illustrious
     Secretary Knox Aboard Queen Elizabeth
     Damage to the SS Montana
     Damage to the SS Robert C. Tuttle
     Damage to USS Sangamon
     USS Alabama
     "Launching" of the USS Kentucky
     Six LSTs Ready for Launching
     Landing Craft Production Line
     USS Fechteler
     Christening of USS Shangri-La
     The USS Tarawa Goes Down the Ways
     Where Fifteen Died on the USS Saturn
 Fire at Building 173
     St. Helena Fire
     Women War Workers
     Labor Recruiting Sound Truck
     Rear Admiral Manley H. Simons, USN, Commandant
     Alexander Park Under Construction
     Moving Day for Trailer Residents
     The "Club" Buses
     War Bond Rally
     Rear Admiral Felix X. Gygax, USN, Commandant

* * * * * * * * * *


This "History" seeks to bring together the significant facts concerning the Norfolk Navy Yard's anticipation in World War II. It is essentially a topical record, as the Table of Contents will show, covering the period from September 1, 1939, the beginning of the war in Europe, to September 2, 1945, the end of the war with Japan.

The subject matter is divided into four main parts: (1) a Prelude, which reviews the Yard's historical background prior to World War II; (2) The Plant, which deals with the expansion of the physical facilities of the Yard; (3) Production, which sets forth the Yard's shipbuilding, ship repair and manufacturing records; and (4) Personnel, which discusses the myriad problems of employment, housing, transportation, etc. The location of major subjects in the text can be found by reference to the Table of Contents. The discussion of each individual subject follows a broad chronological sequence. Of necessity, the treatment is factual and detailed.

The sources used were the official files of the Yard, log books, letters, memoranda, reports from the heads of various activities, files of the Navy Yard newspaper SPEED VICTORY, and other miscellaneous records. File numbers used in reference, unless otherwise identified, refer to letters and other documents in the Yard's Central File Section. Valuable collateral information was obtained from the files of the local newspapers, the PORTSMOUTH STAR, and the NORFOLK LEDGER-DISPATCH and the VIRGINIAN-PILOT.

A. S. B., Jr.

Portsmouth, Virginia
19 November 1945

Part One: Prelude

Chapter 1: Historic Background
War Time Role

The Norfolk Navy Yard in World War II served the U. S. Fleet as one of its most important shipbuilding and repair bases.

From January 1, 19140, four months after the outbreak of war in Europe, to the end of the war with Japan on September 2, 1945, the Yard repaired, altered, converted or otherwise accomplished work on 6,850 Naval vessels, aggregating more than 27 million tons. (Ch. IX, Sec 1; also App. C).

At the time, 101 new ships and landing craft were built for the Fleet, 44 of these being combatant vessels, (Ch. X), and millions of dollars worth of manufactured products (Ch. XI) were turned out for the forces afloat and for other Naval establishments. In all the Norfolk Navy Yard's productive work in World War II totaled well over one billion dollars. (Ch. VIII, Sec 2).

In addition to the work done in the Yard itself, a total of 10,515 other ships were handled for less extensive repair and alteration by the Navy Yard's outlying facilities, centralized at the Norfolk Naval Operating Base under the Assistant to the Industrial Manager, Norfolk. (App. A). Another 368 vessels underwent conversion or repair under Ast-IndMan, Baltimore. (App. B).

To do its huge job, the Norfolk Navy Yard more than doubled its physical size (Chs. V & VI) and increased its productive capacity many fold. It pushed its payroll (Ch. XIV) from 7,625 at the outbreak of the war in Europe to a peak of more than 42,000 in 1943, and stepped up its capacity for handling ships to a rate of more than two thousand ships a year. (Ch. IX, Sec. 1).

The problems encountered were almost endless. The following pages are an attempt to discuss these problems from the standpoint of plant, production, and personnel, and to trace the history of the Yard from 1933, when the Fleet rebuilding program was undertaken, to 1945 and the end of the war with Japan.

The Old and the New

The Norfolk Navy Yard combines the old and the new to a surprising degree. As a shipyard it is older than the Navy itself. First used by the English about 1752 as a careening ground for their ships, the site was developed by them before the American Revolution as the "Gosport Marine Yard." The exact date of its founding is lost in the beginnings of colonial history. (A12(3) Historical Recollections of the Norfolk Navy Yard, Ashbrook).

From the day when the Jamestown settlers first set foot on Cape Henry, the Hampton Roads area of Tidewater, Virginia, has been one of the Atlantic seaboard's most important naval and maritime centers. Strategically located midway on the East Coast, it is one of the great natural harbors of the world. Its splendid deep water anchorage and equitable climate have lent themselves ideally to naval development.

The Gosport Yard was located by its builders adjacent to the colonial settlement of Portsmouth, Virginia, on the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, an estuary flowing into Hampton Roads, some fifteen miles from the entrance to the harbor. The town, named for Portsmouth, England, and laid out by William Craford, a Justice of the Norfolk County Court, was established by an Act of the Virginia General Assembly in 1752. The shipyard, likewise named for an English seaport, was probably founded about the same time. From these beginnings the town and the Navy Yard have grown together.

The details of that long and eventful history are beyond the scope of this work, but the major points should be recounted briefly.

At the outbreak of the American Revolution, the Colony of Virginia confiscated the Gosport Yard for use in the construction and repair of the ships of the Virginia Navy and the ships of the other colonies fighting against the British. In 1779 it was recaptured by the British, but held by them less than a month and abandoned when they failed to follow up the advantage they had gained in the reoccupation of Portsmouth and Norfolk. (A12(3) Guide, NYNOR, p. 15 et seq.). Virginia then regained possession.

After the close of the Revolution and the disbandment of the Virginia Navy, the Yard apparently lay idle for several years. In 1794 when Congress passed an "act to Provide a Naval Armament" as a result of the depredations of Algerian pirates against merchant shipping, the Gosport Yard was loaned by the State of Virginia to the Federal Government for the purpose of building Naval vessels.

It remained under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government until 1801, when on June 15 Governor James Monroe of Virginia executed a deed granting title and jurisdiction of the Gosport Yard to the United States. The property, which then contained about 16 acres, was sold to the United States Government for $12,000.

The first regularly appointed Commandant of the Yard was Commodore Samuel Barron who assumed command on July 7, 1810. Previously the Yard had been under the management of civilian naval agents. After the Federal Government took over Gosport for use of the fledgling U. S. Navy, the Yards was improved and it grew in importance as the Nation's maritime commerce and its sea power expanded.

Some of the buildings still in use in the Yard today, notably the houses of the Commandant, Manager and the Captain of the Yard, are more than one hundred years old, the Commandant's quarters having been begun in 1837 and the latter completed in 1836. (Public Works Data, Bldgs). Quarters D and E were also built in 1830. Among other pre-Civil War buildings still standing and in use are Bldg. 3, now used for a tool shop and Bldg. 6, now a storehouse, both built in 1835, as powder houses.

Bldg. 13, which now houses the Print Shop and Stationery Room, was erected in 1847, and Bldg, 16, the Officer's Mess, was erected two years earlier in 1845. Bldg. 19, Wave Officers' Quarters and Warrant Officers' Club, was built in 1852; Bldg. 23, the Boat Shop, was built in 1853, and Bldg. 22, also a part of the Boat Shop, in 1859. Bldg. 51, which houses the Apprentice School was erected in 1849. The old brick wall which encloses the northern part of the Yard was erected early in the 1800s.

Most notable of the facilities dating from pre-Civil War days and still in use is the old stone drydock, No. 1, which was begun in 1827 and completed in 1834, the first drydock in America. (A23(3), Ashbrook, p. 28). Built of huge blocks of Massachusetts granite, this dock cost $974,365.65, a fabulous sum for those days. But so durable is the masonry, that the dock is still in daily use, only the caisson having been replaced from time to time through the years.

It has often been noted that the flags of five different governments have flown over the Norfolk Navy Yard -- those of British, the Colony of Virginia, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Confederate States and the United States.

The Confederate flag flew over the Yard during thirteen months of the Civil War. In April 1861, at the beginning of the war, the Federal forces, apparently fearing that the Yard could not be held against an anticipated Confederate attack, evacuated and burned the plant, and the Confederate Navy occupied the Yard from April 20 of that year to May 11, 1862. (A12(3), Recollections, W. H. Peters, Evacuation of NYNOR). On that date the Confederates evacuated the Yard and burned it again in the face of threatened Union attack.

During the Confederate occupation, the famed iron-clad Merrimac was constructed in the Yard. Scuttled by the Union forces in their evacuation, the Merrimac was rebuilt and armored by the Confederates, the work being done in Drydock 1. Re-christened the CSS Virginia, the iron-clad was sent down the river to Hampton Roads where she engaged the Union Monitor in the historic battle on March 9, 18621 that changed the course of Naval history.

1 An excellent and detailed account of this battle is contained in a collection of clippings, pictures, etc., "Personal Reminiscences of the Monitor and Merrimac Engagement," compiled by Medical Director Charles Martin, U.S. Navy, File 8614/13, NYNOR library.

Following the Civil War much of the Yard was rebuilt. Many of the older buildings in the northern section of the Yard in use in the World War II were erected in the Reconstruction period.

It is interesting to note that the name Gosport clung to the Navy Yard even after the official designation Norfolk Navy Yard came into use sometime prior to the Civil War. Navy Registers as far back as 1865 invariably refer to the "Norfolk Navy Yard," but the usage varies in other official documents.

In the Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy for 1852, for example, the Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance and Hydrography on Page 451, refers to the Yard as "Gosport", while in the same report, on Page 479, the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks refers to the Yard as "Norfolk". It appears that the official name was Norfolk and that "Gosport" was used locally and popularly, the name gradually falling into disuse.

Following the Spanish war, the Navy Yard added other new shipbuilding facilities as the U. S., through its Fleet became a world power, and by the time the famous "White Squadron" weighed anchor in Hampton Roads in 1907 for its world cruise, new areas had been added to the south and west and a third drydock, No. 3, begun in 1903, was nearing completion. From then until World War I, the Norfolk Navy Yard grew in importance, serving the Navy as its principal activity in Hampton Roads.

Today, many other naval and military installations dot the Hampton Roads area. Across the river from Portsmouth lies the City of Norfolk and the Naval Operating Base, built in World War I. At the Base is the Headquarters of the Fifth Naval District. Air fields, section bases, ammunition depots, fuel and supply depots and numerous other naval activities operate throughout the area. In World War II, Hampton Roads was one of the great naval bases of the world, and the Norfolk Navy Yard was its industrial heart.

From the days of full-rigged sailing men-of-war, the tradition of the blue water Navy have lived through the years in the Norfolk Navy Yard, traditions of courage and skill and enterprise that in World War II were translated into the steam and steel and electricity of modern naval power.

Chapter II: The Years Between the Wars
From World War I to Depression

In order to understand the story of the Norfolk Navy Yard in World War II, World War I and the period following must be briefly reviewed. In World War I, the Norfolk Navy Yard was greatly expanded. New docks and shop facilities were provided which enabled the Yard to build and repair the largest ships afloat. During the war a number of destroyers and other craft were built (App. D) and both the new construction and repair loads were heavy.

At the peak of activity, which was reached in 1919, more than 11,000 persons were employed, and a battleship, the 43,2o0-ton USS North Carolina, BB-52, a warship more powerful than any possessed by the Fleet until the USS Iowa was commissioned in 1943, was under construction.

But in 1922, the Washington Naval Limitation Treaty was signed, and the Nation scrapped many of the Naval Vessels then built or building. Work on the North Carolina was suspended although the vessel was 36.7% complete (ShipData, 1924, p. 369) and in August 1923, when the Treaty became effective, the contract was cancelled. The ship was cut up in October of that year, and hauled away by a junk dealer. Stories in the local newspapers said the metal was sold to Japan.

From the 11,000 mark in 1919, employment in the Yard dropped to approximately 2,500 by the end of 1923. (Employment Chart, Ch. XIV, Sec. 2). During the twenties and early thirties no new ships were built, and little improvement was made in the Yard itself. Only routine repair and overhaul work was carried on.

The backbone of the Yard's work load during the long Naval holiday was provided by a battleship modernization program which began in 1925. In all, six of the Fleet's older battleships were modernized - the USS Texas, 1925-26; the USS New York, 1926-27; the USS Nevada, 1927-29; the USS Arizona, 1929-31; the USS Mississippi, 1931-33; and the USS Idaho, 1931-34. Approximately 28 million dollars was expended on the program. New boilers and new engines were installed; blister, deck and underwater protection was provided; turret guns were elevated; improved fire control systems were installed, and extensive changes were made in the superstructures of the vessels in an effort to bring them up to standards of efficiency which would keep the U. S. Fleet on a par with other Navies.

Other than battleship modernization, the Norfolk Navy Yard had only a moderate amount of repair work, the amount depending upon the appropriations available from Washington. Log books from the period show that the number of vessels in for repair frequently dropped to three or four. Usually there were ten or a dozen ships present, but most of them were in the Yard simply for berthing or were being held in reserve status.

In the depression which followed 1929, shipbuilding lagged further, and naval fortunes suffered a final blow in 1930 when a second naval limitation treaty, the London Treaty, was signed, and more U. S. Naval vessels were scrapped.

This combination of Naval retrenchment and economic depression even brought the suggestion in 1933 that certain Navy Yards be closed, although the Norfolk Navy Yard was not one of them attesting to its importance in the East Coast naval set-up. A rotation plan for ships in operation and reserve and further reductions in the meager allotments for the armed services were applied, and Government workers, including Navy Yard employees, were given a 15% cut in pay in the spring of 1933 in a last ditch economy move against the depression. Apprehension over lay-offs, real or threatened, plagued the community.

The Destroyer Program of the Thirties

Such was the picture when the National Industrial Recovery Act, a measure carrying millions of dollars for public works to help the Nation pull itself out of the depression, was approved in Washington on July 16, 1933. The passage of this act, which provided funds for Naval construction, opened the way for the rebuilding of the Fleet and for new activity in Naval shore stations.

The Norfolk Navy Yard benefited directly, gaining the first new construction since World War I to bolster its sagging work load. Utilizing NIRA funds, the Navy Department drew up a program calling for construction of 37 naval vessels to start the Fleet's rebuilding program. Sixteen destroyers, which became the Class of 1933, were included in the plans and two of these vessels, the DD-374 and DD-375, the USS Tucker and the USS Downes, were assigned for construction to the Norfolk Navy Yard on August 3, 1933.

Both these ships were lost in the first year of the war. The Downes, which was the first commissioned, was destroyed by Japanese bombs at Pearl Harbor as she lay in drydock; but the machinery was salvaged and later put into a new hull at Mare Island, and a new Downes went back to the Fleet. The Tucker was sunk by a mine on August 4, 1942, in New Hebrides. (Ship Loss Table, Ch. X, Sec. 1).

A letter from Secretary of the Navy Claud A. Swanson to Commandant Admiral Smith, dated August 13, 1933, (DD374/S1) relative to the award of the contract for the two ships stated, "The Keystone on which the funds of this program (naval reconstruction) was built is unemployment relief . . . The Secretary of the Navy requests that you carry out the spirit of the NIRA in every practicable way."

In reply the Admiral wrote, "You may be assured that I, personally, and all those connected with the Norfolk Navy Yard will . . . put forth their utmost endeavor to help achieve the heartening objective in view - relief of the unemployment situation." It is not mere rhetoric to say that the two vessels which marked the revival of warship construction in the Norfolk Navy Yard were born of the depression.

In November 1933 preliminary work was begun on the Tucker and Downes. Twenty-seven months was allowed for the construction of the Tucker and thirty months for the Downes. The ships were of 1,500 tons displacement, 341 feet in length, and cost slightly over four and a half million dollars each. (Ch. VIII, Sec. 2). They were among the first almost completely all-welded naval vessels.

The keels were laid on Buildingways No. 1 August 15, 1934, the first keels to be laid in the Norfolk Navy Yard since World War I. It was a significant occasion. A crowd of more than a thousand persons, Naval officers, Navy Yard workers, and civic leaders of Portsmouth and Norfolk, gathered to witness it. (Nfk. Virginian-Pilot, 16 August 1934).

The Commandant's Order (8/34) which announced the keel layings indicated the significance which the Yard attached to the job of building the two destroyers. All hands were urged to give their best efforts to the work. "The best way to get more work is to do good work," the order said.

On August 21, 1934, the Navy Department, moving ahead with the Fleet rebuilding program, announced award of contracts for a second large group of new warships, some 24 more vessels to be built with Public Works Administration funds, and the Norfolk Navy Yard was assigned construction of three additional destroyers, the DD-386, DD 387 and DD-388, the USS Bagley, the USS Blue, and the USS Helm, respectively, of the Class of 1934.

The Tucker was the first ship launched under the new building program, going down the ways on February 26, 1936. The launching ceremony, which was the first since that of the Wm. B. Preston in 1919, was a gala event and all employees were allowed to take time off to see the ship go overboard. The Downes was not launched until April 22, 1936.

The keel for the Bagley was laid on Buildingways No. 2 on July 31, 1925, and keels for the Blue and Helm were laid on September 25, 1935, in Drydock No. 2, the first drydock construction ever undertaken in the Norfolk Navy Yard.

Meanwhile, two more destroyers, the DD-405, the USS Rowan and the DD-406, the USS Stack of the Class of 1935, were assigned to the Yard in August so that in the Fall of 1935 seven destroyers in all were under construction or planned. In all, nine destroyers were built by the Navy Yard during the Thirties. (New Const. Table, Ch. X, Sec. 1)

The last two of the nine were the DD-417, the USS Morris, assigned in September 1936, and the DD-419, the USS Wainwright, in January 1937, both of the Class of 1936. The Rowan, Stack, Morris and Wainwright however were not completed until after the beginning of the war in Europe although keels for all had been laid by June 1936.

In addition to the Tucker and Downes, two of these latter destroyers were also lost during the war, the Blue in the Guadacanal-Tulagi area on August 22, 1942, and the Rowan off Italy on September 11, 1943.

Efforts to Get More Work

But building destroyers did not provide as much work as the community felt the Navy Yard should have.

The economic aspects of the Norfolk Navy Yard's history are significant. They must be born in mind in any study of the situation which existed before the war.

From a strictly military point of view, it might appear that the needs of the Fleet alone in all cases would determine the work load in a Naval shore establishment. In the main, that is of course true. But the fact that Navy Yards employ civilian workers who depend upon the fluctuations of naval shipbuilding and repair for their livelihood means, certainly as far as the Norfolk Navy Yard is concerned, that persistent efforts are made in peacetime by those employees and by the community to keep Navy Yard work at such a level as to assure job security. One of the major factors which influenced events in the Norfolk Navy Yard prior to the war was almost continuous effort to bring additional work to Norfolk. It must be remembered that the City of Portsmouth is virtually dependent for its economic well being upon the Navy Yard, which is its chief and almost only industry.

We have mentioned the severity of the depression and the accompanying lull in shipbuilding, but the fact is that the depression might have been much worse for the City of Portsmouth had it not been for the work provided by the Navy Yard. Despite the policy of Naval retrenchment, the modernization and repair work at the Yard kept employment above the three thousand mark, so that the stress of unemployment did not fall as heavily upon the City of Portsmouth as it might otherwise have done.

Pointing up this fact is a statement which appeared in an editorial in the Portsmouth Star on August 23, 1934: "The local Navy Yard has been the stabilizing power in the dark days of the depression. It has been the bulwark which stood away poverty."

Even so, the fluctuations of the work load in the depression years made the outlook for Portsmouth uncertain, and employees and community leaders felt that additional work would have to be secured for the Navy Yard if it was to maintain its employment level.

Destroyer construction, they pointed out, was certainly desirable, but it actually provided less work than the battleship modernization program which came to a close in the fall of 1934. Added to this was the fact that the Fleet, which had maneuvered in East Coast waters in the summer of 1934 thereby boosting the Yard's work load, was again concentrated in the Pacific, leaving the Yard with poor prospects for ship repair.

The lightness of the repair load is indicated by the fact that the log book shows that prior to the visit of the Fleet there were times in the early part of 1934 when only one ship was under repair. For example, between January 16 and 20, 1934, only one vessel, the USS Hamilton, a destroyer, was actively in a repair status, out of a total of six ships present, and this situation was repeated several times during the late winter and spring.

In contrast, the log shows some 20 vessels present on June 6, 1934, during the Fleet's visit; but by the following summer the repair load had become extremely light again, the average number of ships being about eight. On August 14, 1935, the log shows that only two ships were under repair, the USS Owl, a mine-sweeper, to a total of five vessels present, the other three being subchasers which were offered for sale.

The situation, perhaps, is an extreme example, but it serves to illustrate the conditions which prompted the efforts to obtain more work. The reviving interest in naval shipbuilding, the assignment of new aircraft carriers and cruisers to other shipyards for construction, and the Navy Department's own announced policy of aiding employment through the naval building program gave impetus to these efforts.

Two main courses were followed in the attempts to boost the work load; first, through the Navy Yard's strong union organization;2 the Metal Trades Council; and second through the District's representatives in Congress, supported by community leaders. Repeatedly, delegations representing the Yard's union organizations and delegations of citizens from the community made trips to Washington in behalf of the Yard, asking the Navy Department to assign specific jobs to the Navy Yard as they developed. Modernization of additional battleships was asked and assignment of cruiser or carrier construction was sought. In some instances, these representatives were successful and in others it appears that they influenced the Navy Department only slightly. But the proximity of Norfolk to Washing made this method an easy one to follow and Government officials, Bureau Chiefs in the Navy Department and even the Secretary of the Navy himself were accessible to the delegations.

2 See Presidents, Metal Trades Council, App. G.

It should be noted in particular that two political leaders of Virginia's Second Congressional District in which the Navy Yard is located, took a prominent part in the community effort to build up Portsmouth's naval plant. These two men were Colgate W. Darden, Jr., Virginia's war-time Governor who represented the Second District in Congress from 1932 to 1936 and again from 1938 to 1940, and Norman R. Hamilton, publisher of the Portsmouth Star, who represented the District from 1936 to 1938. Although politically opposed, with the Navy Yard sometimes figuring in political exchange between them, these two men each of whom served on the House Naval Affairs Committee were usually to be found in the forefront of any effort to increase the Yard's activity.

Other community leaders also sought in one way or another to bring pressure in Washington which would enhance the Yard's importance, and, leading the community effort, the Portsmouth Star waged a vigorous and ceaseless fight for the Yard. A check of its files during the Thirties show scores of editorials and countless new stories advocating assignment of additional work to the Navy Yard and expansion of its facilities.

An excellent example of this community effort to build up the Navy Yard is the fight which was waged to gain battleship construction When it became apparent that the U. S. would build new battleships after Japan's denunciation of the London Treaty and the expiration of that pact at the close of 1936, the interest in bringing more work to Portsmouth crystallized in a campaign to get construction of a capital ship.

On May 7, 1937, the Metal Trades Council addressed a letter to the President of the United States requesting that one of the two battleships to be constructed be assigned to the Navy Yard. A short time later, in a second letter to the President, the Union asked that the Yard be given the job of building the new USS North Caroline, pointing out that the original North Caroline had been scrapped, the letter stating that the Norfolk Navy Yard was the logical choice for building this ship. Copies of the letter were sent to southern congressmen and senators.

Additional letters were sent to the White House by the Machinists' Local of the Navy Yard and by community leaders of Portsmouth and Norfolk. Citizens of communities throughout the area were sent written requests by a Navy Yard committee urging them to write as many letters as possible to Washington requesting assignment of the ship.

In the Machinists' letter it is interesting to note that one of the arguments advanced was that southerners, who largely made up the personnel of the Navy Yard, should build the North Carolina. "Our personnel" the letter states, "is made up of about 30% Virginians, 30% North Carolinians, 10% Alabamians, 5% Georgians, 15% from the rest of the southern and southeastern states and 10% from the remaining United States. Last year we had employed in the Yard men from every state in the Union."

Replies from Washington from Secretary Swanson and other officials promised consideration, but the Navy Yard was not asked to bid on either the North Carolina or the USS Washington, the other of the two new battleships. In June 1937 the North Carolina was assigned to the New York Navy Yard and the Washington to the Philadelphia Yard. The keel of the North Carolina was laid at Brooklyn on Navy Day, October 27, 1937, and the following summer on June 14, 1938, the keel of the Washington was laid in Philadelphia.

Questioned by the House Naval Affairs Committee, of which Congressman Hamilton was then a member, as to the reasons why the North Carolina was not assigned to Norfolk, Secretary Swanson stated in a letter to the committee that the reasons Norfolk did not get one of the capital ships for construction were (1) the Yard did not for a long time build a ship larger than a destroyer; (2) the Navy Department had grave doubts that the labor market in Norfolk or vicinity could provide the large additional number of men required by the construction of the battleship without serious delay in the time of construction; and (3) the Norfolk Navy Yard had been understood by the Navy Department to prefer repair work, a comparatively steady work load, rather than the wide fluctuating load represented by building. If heavy construction were undertaken at Norfolk, the Secretary said it would be necessary to divert repair elsewhere.

Hamilton replied to the Secretary with a letter (Ports. Star, 24 June 1937), that portions of which are quoted here as illustrative of the vigorous fight made for capital ship building, and, further, because it also indicates that at that time, the Yard's principal activity was not repair but new construction and manufacturing. The Congressman cited payroll figures to show that for the period May 1, 1936, through April 30, 1937, wages in the Norfolk Navy Yard totaled $8,121,060.00 broken down as follows: construction, 31.5%; manufacturing, 26.5%; repairs to ships, 15%; alterations, 3%; general operating and maintenance, etc. 15%, miscellaneous, 7.5%, and other government department work, 1%.

The Congressman contended that if the Yard was to be considered a repair Yard, then the percentage of its payroll devoted to repairs should be far greater than 15% of the total payroll.

The letter continued, "If the Navy Department actually means to justify its denial of the right of capital shipbuilding and construction to the Norfolk Navy Yard on the grounds that the Norfolk Yard has come to be a "large repair Yard on the Atlantic coast, practically all repair work having been diverted from Philadelphia to Norfolk and also a great part of the repair work formerly done at New York, then is it not time there should come actual diversion to the Norfolk Yard of repair work that would constitute more than 15% of the total payroll of that Yard for a period of a year and that year the one just ended 30 April 1937."

"If capital ship construction to the tune of $100,000,000 is to be awarded at this time to the New York and Philadelphia Yards while even bidding is denied to the Norfolk Yard, a Yard just as competent as either of the other two Yards for capital ship construction, may I inquire what it is you intend to provide for the Norfolk Yard that will constitute that Yard's 'full share of the Work' you have before and now specifically promised?"

He further pointed out that funds were made available to both the New York and Philadelphia Yards for repair of their buildingways prior to beginning construction, and this was cited as evidence that Norfolk, provided with similar reconditioning of the shipways, could have done the work as well.

The truth of the matter was that the Norfolk Navy Yard was not then properly equipped for heavy ship construction. The buildingways were not capable, because of deterioration through the year of disuse, of handling such work and other needed facilities were lacking.

This fact was of predominant importance in determining the course of events in the late Thirties. Work was begun on equipping the Yard for heavy construction early in 1938, as we shall see in a subsequent section (Ch. V, Sec. 4), but the Yard was not ready to lay a battleship keel until after the outbreak of war in Europe. (Ch. V, Sec. 6; Ch. X, Sec. 2).

Chapter III: Beginning of the National Emergency
The Navy Expands

The World War II expansion of the Norfolk Navy Yard dates from 1938. At the beginning of that year the Nation had reached an important point in its rearming - - a point at which the President voiced growing alarm at the international situation and declaring that in the face of "the piling up of additional land and sea armaments by other countries in such manner as to involve a threat to world peace and security, "America's armaments were "inadequate for purposes of national security, he asked Congress for a twenty percent increase in the Fleet.3

3 Roosevelt Message to Congress, 28 January 1938.

This increase was authorized in May 1938. Expansion of shore establishments naturally followed. From 1938 until the U.S. was drawn into the war, the Norfolk Navy Yard underwent a steady growth in plant facilities, personnel and production, its growth a part of the general naval expansion of the defense era.

The beginning of the pre-war expansion of the Yard coincided roughly with the beginning of Rear Admiral Manley H. Simons' tenure as Commandant, which began on November 22, 1937, in the midst of the agitation for capital ship construction. During the following two years, which preceded the outbreak of hostilities in Europe, important permanent improvement of the Yard was undertaken. (Ch. V). In this enlargement Admiral Simons played an important part. The record indicates that as Commandant he was farsighted and aggressive.

World War II began on September 1, 1939, when Adolph Hitler marched into Poland. A week later the President of the United States declared a state of "limited national emergency" and called on the nation to take immediate steps for its defense. A second increase in the Fleet, this one of 11% followed.

The Navy Yard, already moving from a peace-time basis to a state of alertness for defense, was at first affected little by the beginning of hostilities in Europe. The establishment of a patrol of naval and Coast Guard vessels and planes in the Atlantic to spot vessels of belligerents off the American coast, however, soon threw the chief burden of defense on the Navy, and in Hampton Roads on the Norfolk Navy Yard.

But to many in the winter of 1939-40 the war was a "phony war", and the conviction was expressed that America would not be involved. Actually little change was noted in the tempo of national defense until the memorable summer of 1940.

In May of that year, the "phony war" exploded suddenly through the Low Countries. Holland, Belgium and France fell, In the U. S. the whole picture of rearmament changed swiftly as the country realized its uncertain world position. Leisurely until then, the national defense program suddenly became an urgent, driving necessity. The upward swing of the naval program was dramatic and the Norfolk Navy Yard began swift and large-scale expansion. (Ch. VI).

On June 17, 1940, the Chief of Naval Operations called for a 70% increase in the Fleet, and on July 19, 1940, less than a month after the surrender of France, the President signed a bill designed to provide a two-ocean navy.

By early 1941 the Norfolk Navy Yard had gone on a virtual war-time basis in line with the Secretary of the Navy's declaration, "It is imperative that no stone be left unturned to expedite national defense," (SecNav ltr FC/L9-3(87)"A", 26 October 1940), and its work load had soared almost beyond capacity, as we shall see in subsequent chapters, a far cry from the days when delegations made trips to the Navy Department in quest of work.

When Pearl Harbor came on that quiet Sunday afternoon of December 7, 1941, much had already been done to make the Norfolk Navy Yard ready for war, but ever greater tasks lay ahead.

The Atlantic Fleet

In September 1938 the Atlantic Squadron, the first organized Atlantic force since the Fleet was concentrated in the Pacific during the 1931-32 Sino-Japanese crisis, was formed, the initial force consisting of fourteen vessels, seven destroyers and seven cruisers, all new. The force was destined to grow rapidly.

Maintenance work on the ships of this squadron added substantially to the Navy Yard's work load. By early 1939 four battleships, seventeen destroyers, eight light cruisers, and a supply ship were included in the force and additional vessels were being added. In February the Commandant stated that the Norfolk Navy Yard had been designated as the "main repair base for the Atlantic Squadron"4

4 Nfk.Vgn.Pilot, 18 February 1939, quoting radio speech made by Admiral Simons, earlier story with similar statement Nfk. Ledger-Dispatch, 16 February 1939; Yd. files show no information on this.

In April 1939 naval interest was considerably stimulated in Tidewater Virginia and the Yard's workload increased by the visit of the entire U. S. Fleet to the East Coast in connection with maneuvers in the Atlantic and a Fleet review at the New York World's Fair.

More than one hundred naval vessels, under the command of Admiral E. C. Kalbfus, USN, acting during the absence of Admiral C. C. Bloch, USN, then Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet, came to Hampton Roads for the show. This Fleet was said to be the greatest naval force concentrated in Hampton Roads since the Jamestown Expedition in 1907 when 140 vessels representing every maritime nation were anchored off the Naval Operating Base on which grounds the exposition was located.

The Atlantic Squadron continued to grow during that summer, and after the return of the Fleet to the Pacific, some 56 vessels of all types remained in the Atlantic. By the fall of 1940 a year later, the squadron had grown to approximately 125 ships.

This force became the Patrol Force, U. S. Fleet, and on December 19, 1940, in a ceremony in the Norfolk Navy Yard aboard the battleship Texas, Rear Admiral Earnest J. King, USN, who was to become Commander-in-Chief of the U. S. Fleet during the war, took command relieving Rear Admiral Hayne Ellis, USN.

On January 2, 1941, in another ceremony in the Norfolk Navy Yard, Rear Admiral Randall Jacobs, USN, took command of the newly formed Base Force of the Patrol Force aboard the old battleship Wyoming, which had been re-militarized in the Navy Yard after having been de-militarized several years before and used as a training ship.

On February 1, 1941, the Atlantic Patrol Force with the Norfolk Navy Yard and Hampton Roads as its home port and major base of operations, became a separate and full-fledged fleet to be known thenceforth as the Atlantic Fleet. Rear Admiral King, in command, was promoted to the rank of full admiral.

The reorganization gave the nation three distinct fleets, the Atlantic, Pacific and the Asiatic. In command of the latter force was Admiral Thomas C. Hart, USN, while Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, USN, was designated to command the Pacific Fleet and to be commander-in-chief of the combined forces.

From that time onward the Atlantic Fleet grew in strength until the end of the war in Europe, served principally by the Norfolk Navy Yard. At the conclusion of the war with Japan, the Norfolk Navy Yard was listed (FS/L9-3(47), 12 October 1945) as home Yard for 708 naval vessels.

Part Two: The Plant
Chapter IV: Growth of the Organization
Relations with Navy Department and Fifth Naval District

The Norfolk Navy Yard during the World War II functioned as an independent command within the Fifth Naval District. Military and coordinating control resided in the district commandant; cognizance over shipbuilding, repair and manufacturing was exercised by the Bureau of Ships in the Navy Department. The Yard was in command of a rear admiral of the line.

The Industrial Department of the Yard was brought directly under control of BuShips on June 30, 1943, in accordance with the change in Article 516 of U. S. Navy Regulations, 1920, by the addition of section (F), which directed that BuShips be "charged with the upkeep and operation of the Industrial Departments at all navy yards . . ." Prior to that time the Yard had operated in accordance with General Order No. 11, May 13, 1935, which directed, Article (5), "The administration of navy yards and stations is directly under the commandants. The Bureaus of the Navy Department have no cognizance over this administration, but the commandants are responsible for the faithful execution of the Bureau's orders."

In addition to the "management control" consolidated in BuShips and exercised by the Commandant over all functions of the Yard (Art. 1488, Navy Regs.) "technical control" was maintained over the other departments of the Yard, i.e., Medical, Supply, by the cognizant bureaus in the Navy Department. These departments worked in close association with their district counterparts.

Generally speaking the Norfolk Navy Yard, under the cognizance of BuShips, functioned during the war in a fairly autonomous manner. Decentralization enabled the Management to make many decisions without reference to the Department. The control exercised by ComFive was relatively nominal, with the exception of such matters as issuing orders for naval personnel, prescribing uniform, etc. So far as the industrial function was concerned, the Commandant of the Yard was designated as the District Material and District Salvage Officer, and as such carried on the shipbuilding and repair functions of the district. A direct representative of the commandant, known as the Assistant to the Industrial Manager, was located at the district headquarters at the Norfolk Naval Operating Base, and together with AstIndMan, Baltimore, supervised the industrial activities of the district outside of the Yard. (App. A & B).

The Commandant

The overall command of all functions of the Navy Yard, as we have noted, was vested in a Commandant. This officer acted as "the representative of the Navy Department in all matters within the limits of his command. . ." (G.O. No.11).

Five Commandants were in command of the Norfolk Navy Yard during the period covered by this history, and twice, for short periods, an Acting Commandant was in command. In the order of their duty, they were as follows: (Complete list App. E)

Rear Admiral A. St. Clair Smith, USN Feb. 14, 1933 - July 23, 1935
Rear Admiral C. S. Freeman, USN July 23, 1935 - Oct. 15, 1937
Captain L. P. Treadwell USN (Acting) Oct. 15, 1937 - Nov. 22, 1937
Rear Admiral Manley H. Simons, USN Nov. 22, 1937 - June 17, 1941
Captain L. P. Treadwell, USN (Acting) June 17, 1941 - Aug. 1, 1941
Rear Admiral Felix X. Gygax, USN Aug. 1, 1941 - Oct. 19, 1944
Rear Admiral C. H. Jones, USN Oct. 19, 1944 - V-J Day (Detached November 30, 1945)

Section (8) of General Order No. 11 states, "The internal organization of any navy yard shall be based upon the service that the Yard is expected to render to the Fleet in time of war," and gives the commandant of a navy yard authority to frame the organization of the Yard and modify the duties charged to any subordinate in such a way as to meet any emergency condition that might arise. The internal organization of the Norfolk Navy Yard in general follows the standard pattern of navy yard organization. Substantial changes in the organization, however, occurred in the six years of the emergency and war periods. (Cf. Organization Charts, 1939-45, Opp.). All departments developed to a greater or less degree, but as to be expected the most extensive changes occurred in the Industrial Department. The evolution of the organization of each department will be taken up separately.

First to be considered is the Commandant's Office which underwent several shifts of personnel between 1939 and 1945, the net result being a considerably increased staff at the end of the war.

On the Commandant's staff on 1 September 1939 there were an Aide, who was also Legal Aide, and a Chief Clerk; and directly responsible to the Commandant were the Labor Board (The Senior member of which was the Shop Superintendent in the Industrial Department) and the Public Works Officer in his contract functions.

During September 1939 the functions of Aide and Legal Aide were separated, and the Legal Aide assumed communications duties which the Radio Material Officer in the Production Department had been performing. A secretary and aide were added and in the spring of 1942, when the Legal Aide was transferred to the Captain of the Yard's office, the Secretary and Aide became Communications Officer also.

In favor of not excluding any of Mr. Barksdale's tables, note these next two tables are too large to be read easily.
These are detailed organizational charts of Departments and Shops
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September 1939

The war plans duties which were temporarily being handled in the Operations Department in the early fall of 1939 were taken over by an officer for whom a War Plans and Intelligence Officer billet was established under the Commandant. Two years later in 1941 this billet was divided into two billets and the Intelligence Officer was placed under the cognizance of the Captain of the Yard.

During a reorganization of the District Material Office in the Spring of 1942, the Commandant became the District Material Officer. (App. A & B).

The Labor Board was transferred from the Commandant's Office to the newly formed Public Relations Division under the Industrial Manager in May 1943.

In August of the same year, War Production Committees were established directly under the Commandant (CO 25/43; & AstSecNav ltr. SOSED-IE-gg, 27 Apr. 1943) "in order to bring the energies of every individual in this Yard more completely to bear on the prime objective of all - maximum production for the vigorous prosecution of the war." These committees superseded a Labor-Management Committee. (Ch. XIII)

In August 1943 the request for the billet of Assistant Communications Officer (Landlines) was approved by Vice Chief of Naval Operations and the billet was established on September 20, 1943, by Commandant's Order No. 48/43. The Yard Telephone Exchange (Ch. VI; Sec. 7) was then transferred from the Public Works Division to the Commandant's Office pursuant to a ComFive Commandant's Order and Art. 424(1)), U. S. Navy Regulations 1920. Several Communication Assistants, including WAVES, were added as the work of the Yard grew.

In January 1944 the War Plans Officer was transferred to the Operations Department, but returned to the Commandant's Office again in March 1945.

In December 1944 the Commandant ordered that his Legal Aide be moved to his own office from the Captain of the Yard's Office, and in March 1945 the Legal Aide's title was changed to Legal Officer.

Along with the Legal Aide, the Public Relations Officer was transferred from the Captain of the Yard's Office to the Commandant and in accordance with A1Nav 138 the Public Relations Office become the Office of Public Information in June 1945. (CO 19/45).

For the promotion of war bond sales, a War Bond Officer was assigned by the Commandant in January 1945. (Ch. XXII, Sec. 1). This officer was also assistant to the District War Bond Officer.

The last addition was made in July 1945 when the billet of Historical Officer was established.

The Operations Department

The first of the Navy Yard departments proper to be considered is the Operations Department, which is headed by the Captain of the Yard, generally an officer of the rank of captain. During the period covered herewith seven officers filled this position as follows:

Capt. W. N. Jeffers, USN June 27, 1930 - June 15, 1934
Capt. A. S. Wadsworth, USN June 15, 1934-Feb. 1, 1937
Capt. L. P. Treadwell, USN Feb. 1, 1937 - June 16, 1939
Capt. H. R. Kays, USN June 12, 1939 - Sept. 17, 1940
Capt. B. V. McCandlish, USN Sept. 12, 1940 - Sept. 22, 1943
Capt. W. D. Brereton USN Nov. 16, 1943 - Dec. 14, 1944
Capt. Graeme Bannerman, USN Jan. 27, 1945

The Operations Department is the military department of the Yard and the captain of the Yard serves as executive officer and military aide to the Commandant. The Department is responsible for the security of the Yard, for the movement of ships and for all military matters. During the emergency and war periods, this Department developed to sizeable proportions from the mere handful of personnel at the outset.

In September 1939 the Captain of the Yard's senior assistant was also Officer-in-Charge of the Police Department. In addition there were a Yard Craft Pay Officer, with a civilian assistant, a Chaplain, and a small security group consisting of warrant duty officers, Fire Chief, Captain of Police, and pilots and tugmasters.

The changes in the Jurisdiction over the War Plans Officer were discussed above in the preceding section. In August 1941 the same month in which the Intelligence Officer was moved from the Commandant's Office to this Department, a Public Relations Office was established. This Office was later transferred to the Commandant's Office as already mentioned.

Security measures taken in the Spring of 1942 included the Commandant's appointment of the Intelligence Officer as Navy Yard Censor, and the establishment of a security officer in each department.

Also early in 1942 a bachelor officers' quarters was established, and a year later, when WAVES were first assigned to the Yard, a Waves Officers' Quarter was added for both Waves and Nurses and barracks taken over by enlisted WAVES.

By a Commandant's Order of August 10, 1942, Fire Department rolls were transferred from Shop 03 (Power Plant) to Shop 07 (Fire Department).

As the responsibilities of the Operations Department increased, it became necessary to appoint a full-time assistant to the Captain of the Yard. This was done in April 1943.

Welfare activities were originally handled by the Chaplain, but in November 1939 a Welfare Officer was designated as one of the Assistants to the Captain of the Yard for all Welfare except Navy Relief which the Chaplain continued to administer, and Red Cross which was a separate unit. The Chaplain and Welfare Officer shared an office until the Spring of 1945 when a separate welfare office was established to handle welfare, Navy Relief and legal assistance. Legal assistance duties were given as extra duties as a result of SecNav ltr. of February 8, 1945, ordering that legal assistance be available to all personnel.

In addition to the foregoing changes, by September 1945 there were many more officers assigned to Yard Craft and waterfront activities, and there was one in both the Fire and Police Departments; there were three groups of Barracks with an executive officer and WAVE assistant, a recreation and an athletic officer for enlisted personnel; also mess officers, additional chaplains and welfare officers, a Ship's Service Officer, Commissary Store Officer, two anti-submarine warfare instructors, and greatly increased numbers of enlisted personnel and clerical employees. (See also Operations Dept. Historical Notes A12(3))

The Industrial Department

The Yard's largest department is the Industrial Department headed by the Industrial Manager. This department is charged with the responsibility of carrying on the Yard's primary functions, shipbuilding, repair and manufacturing.

Five officers held this position in the years under discussion, three of whom were promoted from Captain to Rear Admiral during their tour of duty at Norfolk. The list follows:

Capt. E. G. Kinter, USN Nov. 18, 1932 - Oct. 15, 1936
Capt. R. W. Ryder, USN (Promoted to Rear Admiral) Oct. 14, 1935 to June 27, 1941
Capt . T. B. Richey, USN (Promoted to Rear Admiral) June 24, 1941 - Sept. 1, 1943
Capt. A. M. Penn, USA (Promoted to Rear Admiral) Sept. 19, 1943 - Jan. 10, 1945
Capt. L. F. Small, USN Dec. 9, 1944

Many of the war-time changes in the Yard organization occurred in the Industrial Department. In general these changes consisted of greatly increased personnel and specialization.

The Navy Department policy for the Norfolk Navy Yard shortly before the Fleet expansion program was drafted (A3(1)"B", May 1937) was set forth as follows:

To be operated for -

(a) Continuation of ship construction already assigned. New construction as assigned.
(b) Overhaul and modernization of vessels as assigned.
(c) Manufacture of paint, metal furniture (ship), Paint drums, power boat engines and parts, cast steel anchor chain, and miscellaneous articles for which Norfolk is designated.
(d) Furnishing supplies to the Yard and Fleet.
(e) Administration of the Marine Barracks.

Note: To be operated with the minimum civilian force consistent with the workload.


Yard, shops, equipment and all facilities to be maintained for readiness to take up the war workload in the shortest possible time within the limitation of the funds provided.


Development to be bases on providing facilities lacking but tending to increase efficiency, but not with the purpose of increasing the general capacity and scope of the plant above the essential minimum required for services to the forces afloat and for construction and manufacturing purposes."

Consistent with the pre-war policy that operation, maintenance, and development be carried out to meet the needs of the Yard and the Fleet on an essential minimum basis, the various divisions in the Industrial Department in September 1939 operated with small staffs and duties of each individual were diversified. The basic organization, however, remained little changed throughout the war. The Department was headed in 1939 by a Manager under whom were the Production Division, Planning Division, Accounting Division (later changed to a department), Public Works Division and Clerical Division. In January 1944 the billet of Assistant to the Industrial Manager was established. Each of these divisions will be taken up individually.

Production Division

In the Production Division there were the Production Officer and his assistants as follows: Hull and New Construction Superintendent, Assistant Hull Superintendent, Machinery Superintendent, Ordnance and Electrical Officer, Assistant Ordnance and Electrical Officer, Radio Material and Communications Officer, Shop Superintendent, Senior Assistant to Sh0p Superintendent, Assistant to Shop Superintendent for Boat and Diesel Engines, and three Ship Superintendents (one of whom was a Major (QMC) USA).

When the emergency was declared, the Hull Superintendent was also New Construction Superintendent. In the New Construction Section were the Assistant Hull Superintendent, Machinery Superintendent, Assistant New Construction Superintendent for Radio and one for Electrical work (both of whom were also responsible to the Planning Division), Ship Superintendent for Hull, Ship Superintendent for Machinery, Assistant Ship Superintendent for Ordnance (serving also Planning Division) and two other Assistant Ship Superintendents.

In line with the Yard's New Construction programs in 1942 and 1943, the New Construction Section developed into a separate section which soon gained the reputation of being the most aggressive and enterprising section of the Yard. In 1945 several assistants had been acquired in its two groups, Hull and Ordnance, and Machinery and Electrical, as well as in the Electronic group which served both the Production and the Planning Divisions.

Along with the development of the New Construction Section, Hull activities also expanded. With the tremendous increase in the number of ships serviced by the Yard during the war, docking and salvage work grew in importance, and the Salvage Officer took over responsibility for salvage operations within the entire District and any other salvage operation specifically assigned by the Navy Salvage Service.

By Industrial Department Order 23/44 of May 9, 1944, Shop 064 was established as a division of Shop X72 (Master Rigger and Laborer) under the cognizance of the Hull Superintendent. Its function was to control all (except Supply Department) material handled within the waterfront areas and to maintain a neat and clean waterfront.

The Machinery Section of the Production Division was also enlarged to meet the growing needs of the Yard and the Fleet.

In the early years of the war, a Progress Section reported to both the Hull and Machinery Divisions, but as the volume of work became greater, a separate Progress Section responsible directly to the Production Officer was set up to serve all sections handling New Construction, Repair and Manufacturing.

Another phase of the Production Division's expansion occurred in the separation of ordnance and electrical activities, with the development of fire control inspection and school group and optical shop and school group under the former, and minesweeping, degaussing, and gyrocompass work under the latter.

Radio Material Office activities formerly included only responsibility for District and NyNor radio service and NyNor communications. Gradually, however, it took on more and more duties as radio, radar, and sonar equipment were developed and it conducted schools for Radio, Radar, Sonar, Loran (long range navigation) and CRF (Class C) (Cryptographic Repair Facilities). The maintenance on the Radio, Radar and Sonar Equipment Pool became the responsibility of the RMO, in cooperation with the Supply Officer for Radio. In order to describe the functions of this office more accurately, its title was changed to Electronics Office by order of BuShips on June 22, 1945.

Shop Superintendent and Personnel

During the period covered in this discussion, the Shop Superintend's Office lost some functions while it gained others.

In 1939 the Shop Superintendent was senior member of the Labor Board which was directly responsible to the Commandant, and all other personnel problems along with safety were handled in the Shop Superintend's Office. At that time it was felt that no separate personnel division was necessary. As the Yard expanded, however, measures had to be taken to meet the growing problems of personnel. (Part Four: Personnel). The first of these occurred when a Personnel Officer was appointed with additional duties as Assistant to the Shop Superintendent on October 15, 1942, (Mgr's Notice 104/42 temp.). In December 1942 a Personnel Division took over employment, safety, coordination of the medical and industrial hygiene laboratories and a new Industrial Morale billet. In the same month as this transfer the Safety marshals, who had begun their duties under the New Construction Section during the construction of the USS Alabama, were brought under the cognizance of the Safety Officer. (Ch. III; Sec 1). On February 22, 1943, the Safety Officer was designated to act as liaison for heads of departments with the U. S. Employees Compensation Commission.

By May 1943 a full fledged Personnel Relations Division had emerged (AstSecNav ltr SOSED-IE-PDF/gg, 6 May 1943) and a letter from the Commandant to AstSecNav in the following months indicated a Personnel Officer was devoting his entire time to personnel duties.

The Personnel Relations Division was established as a service to all departments and by 1945 it included the Labor Board under its immediate cognizance, a Labor Relations Section, Employment Section, Safety and Training Sections taken over from the Shop Superintendent, and Employee Services Section. Although the Safety Section was transferred to Personnel Relations for administrative purposes, in practice it continued to be a production division function.

The Employee Services Section which superseded the Industrial Morale office in January 1944 covered transportation and rationing, personal service (food service and liaison with the Yard Credit Union), housing, social recreational and entertainment activities, and a promotional unit (handbook, publications, bulletin boards, etc.) (See also Employee Services Note A12(3)).

Under the Shop Superintendent who was responsible for shops and laboratories, one of the earliest additions to be made in the shop section was the establishment of Shop 062 (Tools and Shop Stores) in 1941. In 1944 the status of the supervisor in charge of Shop X55 (gyrocompass) was changed to foreman from electrical engineer and Shop X93 (Print Shop) was established August 5, 1944.

By Manager's Notice 17/43, a Controlled Material Plan group for shops was organized on April 27, 1943. Its purpose was to obtain better inventory controls and to expedite redistribution of surplus materials; and it acted as general liaison for shops with the Supply Department and Planning Division of the Industrial Department on problems affecting such activities. (Ch. IX; Sec 3).

The St. Helena Annex was one of many of the war's outgrowths in the Production Division. In the latter part of 1942, when the annex was completed, an officer was placed in charge of New Construction work there under the cognizance of the New Construction Superintendent at the Yard. Following completion of the DE Construction program toward the end of 1943, the bulk of the work shifted to repair and conversion. The O-in-C was then placed directly under the jurisdiction of the Production Officer and served the Production Officer's principal assistants. His own assistants corresponded to the principal assistants of the Production Officer, namely hull, machinery and electrical. Also immediately available were a Shop Superintendent's officer, an Ordnance Officer and an Electrical Officer. He was aided by an executive assistant to assume his duties during his absence, and a WAVE Administrative Assistant to handle office routine and dock and wharf assignments. In the latter part of 1944 his title was changed to St. Helena Superintendent.

A final production group to be considered is the Ship Superintendents of Production Officer's "field engineers". On the September 1939 Roster were listed three Ship Superintendents. Shortly before this the Yard's Organization Pamphlets listed five Warrant Officers in addition to the above three Officers. On the September 1945 Roster, however, the number of Ship Superintendents had grown to seventy-three with four additional officers in training on temporary duty.

Planning Division

A second major division in the Industrial Department is the Planning Division.

In the fall of 1939 the Planning Division consisted of eight officers including a chief machinist with a proportionally small civilian force of technical and clerical employees. At that time the Planning Officer's assistants each handled all phases of whatever type of work was assigned them. For instance, one handled both hull and machinery for new construction, another both hull and engineering on larger ships, another all work on destroyers, another on small and miscellaneous craft. Under these were the civilian Central Planners and Estimators. In addition to the Central Planning Section, there were two other small sections: the Design Section and the Material Inspection and Survey Section.

The need for specialization became evident as the demands upon the Navy grew. Consequently a Yard Planning Superintendent was designated and under his cognizance were placed three groups: an Assistant Planning Office Group, A design Group and a Central Planning Group.

The Assistant Planning Officers were divided into Hull and Machinery Groups, and each of these was further subdivided into Ship Planning and Specialist Planning groups.

Ship planning machinery officers supervised the issue of manufacturing and special deposit job orders in addition to handling their various classes of vessels. The hull officers handled new construction of different types of ships and eventually farming-out.

In order to expedite production during the Yard's peak workload year, a Farming-Out Board was appointed by Commandant's Order 28/44 of July 31, 1944, (pursuant of a SecNav ltr of 17 April 1944). On this Board were to be two Assistant Planning Officers for new construction, and Assistant New Construction Officer (Hull) and Shop Superintendent from the Production Department, and an Assistant Purchase Group Officer from Supply.

The Specialist Planners were assigned from time to time, as necessity demanded and outside agencies recommended, for experimental work and Fire Protection Consultation and Advisory Service. The Fire Protection Consultant was in the Planning Division for administrative purposes but was also directly responsible to the Industrial Manager.

The Design Group under the Yard Planning Superintendent remained essentially the same in organization but expanded greatly in the number of personnel and handled a greater variety of work resulting from new technical developments.

The Central Planning Section headed by the Chief Planner and Estimator continued as a civilian group of experts skilled in particular trades and assisted by a clerical staff. Its purpose was to prepare the details of all job orders issued to the Yard's mechanical force and it too branched out into more specialized activities than it had engaged in in 1939. In addition to its new construction, conversion and maintenance work, it participated in the planning work for the fitting-out of vessels built in private yards and kept a record of outside concerns to whom manufacturing jobs were farmed out.

A second principal section of the Planning Division is the Material Section which in 1939 was called the Material Inspection and Survey Branch, later the Fiscal Branch, and finally in January 1945 the Material Section.

By planning memo 23/41 of December 22, 1941, a Procurement Coordinating Officer in the Planning Division was appointed to cooperate with the Supply Department and New Construction Section of the Production Division in an effort to improve the existing system of procurement. A few months later in March 1942, Planning Division memo 5/42 changed the name of the Material Inspection and Survey Branch to Fiscal Branch, which was to include also the Financial Report Section, and established a Procurement and Coordinating Section. As this unit did not produce the desired results, it was superseded shortly by other methods.

In March 1942, in accordance with Commandant's Order 34/42 and BuShips let of March 11, 1942, a Planning Officer was designated to receive, act on and follow up on BuShips directives regarding conservation of critical materials. Shop and Supply assistants were also to be designated. To implement this group, a Board was established by Commandant's Order 53/42 of May 11, 1942, whose mission was the Conservation of Critical Materials and whose functions were to locate all possible unused materials and to determine the use thereof.

As a further development, a Controlled Material Plan (CMP) group (Ch.IX; Sec 3) was established on April 1, 1943, by Industrial Manager's notice 16/43, and redistribution was activated in the fall of 1943 following the establishment of an Inventory Group within the CMP group on September 6, 1943, (Mgr's notice 45/43) to control and promote the use of A.P.A. and excess inventories. This group was to cooperate with the Supply Department and Shop CMP group but was not to substitute for or assume the duties of the latter.

For a period of ten months between October 1944 and July 1945, the Yard's Redistribution Office served as District Redistribution office, but at the end of that time the district functions were again returned to District Headquarters.

Another group which was organized in April 1943 by joint authority of the Industrial Manager and the Supply Officer was the Ships Outfitting Group. This group was under the jurisdiction of both the Planning and Supply Departments.

By the end of the war the Material Section had expanded to include a Procurement Group, CMP and Redistribution Group, Inspection Group, Financial and Report Group and Ships Outfitting Group.

A third major section of the Planning Division is the Electronics Section. The Radio Material Officer was responsible for the planning, installation, repair and authorized modification of all radio, radar and sonar equipment in naval vessels at NyNor and in the Fifth Naval District and for the planning, installation, repair and maintenance of all radio, radar and soar equipment in shore activities within the District. He also could initiate radio, radar and sonar requests for job orders, and from these the smooth orders were later written by the Central Planning Section.

As the Radio Material Officer had a dual responsibility to the Production and Planning Officers, the change in his title and the development of his activities discussed under the Production Division apply as well to the Planning Division.

The principal change in the next major Planning Section, the Ordnance Section, was in the establishment of this section as a separate unit, whereas ordnance duties had previously been performed by the Assistant Planning Officers for Engineering and Navigation.

Coincidental with the development of the Planning Division within the Yard was the establishment and growth of its outlying activities. (App. A & B).

In addition to his other duties the District Material Officer was given cognizance of degaussing activities in the latter part of 1941 (CNO ltr of 6 Sept. 1941). In March 1942 all outlying activities in Norfolk and Baltimore were transferred from the DMO to the Industrial Manager (SecNav ltr Op-23JAB(SC)S81 Serial 087323 of 25 March 1942), and on the eleventh of the following month the Managers' assistants in these areas were designated as Repair and Conversion Superintendents (BuShips' ltr FS/L19(800-700-250)(C/72) of 11 April 1942). A joint BuShips and BuOrd Mailgram of April 27, 1942, ordered that the title of Conversion and Repair Superintendent be changed to Assistant to the Industrial Manager, but this mailgram apparently went astray and it was not until much later that the Yard began to use the new title which for convenience was shortened as AstIndMan, Norfolk, and AstIndMan, Baltimore.

The Assistant Industrial Managers were responsible for Repair and Conversion and Degaussing. Among the principal shipyards supervised by the AstIndMan, Norfolk, who was located at the Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, were the Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. (Norfolk and Berkley Branches), Colonna's Shipyard and Craig Bros. Marine Railway. (Complete details App. A). The Southern Shipyard Group was established August 1, 1942, and the duties of the Supervisor of Shipbuilding in these few North Carolina Yards were absorbed by AstIndMan, Norfolk. (Industrial Manager's Notice 52/42).

The principal yards in the Baltimore area were the Bethlehem-Key Highway Yard, Maryland Drydock Company, Bethlehem Sparrows Point Yard, U.S. Coast Guard Yard at Curtis Bay, Maryland, Oxford Boat Yard Company, Oxford, Maryland, and the Bethlehem-Fairfield Yards. (App. B). On January 3, 1945, AstIndMan, Baltimore, announced the establishment of an Electrical Section which was to coordinate degaussing, radio, fire control and general electrical work for naval and merchant vessels.

The activities of both the Norfolk and Baltimore Assistants expanded considerably during the war, and it is interesting to note that the Norfolk group handled repairs on a greater number of ships than were handled at the Yard.

Public Works Division

A third principal division for consideration in the Industrial Department is the Public Works Division. Here too expansion took place.

In the Spring of 1941 a Material Section was set up with its own clerical force. This section had originally been in the clerical section and was placed back there again in June 1946.

In June 1941 the Utilities and Transportation Section was divided into two sections.

The billet of Design Superintendent was established on January 26, 1942, by a Public Works Memo of January 22, 1942, and in December 1944 a Budget and Statistical Officer was added. A short time later, on March 21, 1946, a Technical Section was established (PWO Order 4/45) to advise on all technical matters in the Public Works Division.

A final section which should be mentioned in the Industrial Department is the Clerical Division headed by the Industrial Department Chief Clerk. Among the war changes here were the increment in personnel, the relocation of the Stationery Room in Building 32 under the Chief Clerk, the transfer of duplicating work from the Print Shop to the Correspondence Section (Ind. Dept. Memo 28 Dec. 1942), and the establishment of a unique and sorely needed efficient Yard Mail Service in the Spring of 1945. This service reduced mail delivery from a matter of days to hours and minutes.

Accounting & Disbursing Departments

When the war began there was an Accounting Division in the Industrial Department, but on February 1, 1942, it became a separate Department (CO 10/42, 31 January 1942, & SecNav General Order 161, Amending G.O. 11 of 13 May 1935).

As a Division it consisted of the following Sections: Administration, Time, Cost, Report, Stores. After the change, the sections became divisions, the Report and Cost Division had been combined, an Accounting Machine Division, and a Bond Issue Division (CO 96/42 of 31 October 1942) had been added and a Disbursing Division of civilian payrolls had been taken over from the Disbursing Department on October 1, 1944.

Except for an enlargement of the Disbursing Department to handle a greatly increased number of accounts and the transfer of civilian payrolls mentioned above, the organization of this Department remained essentially the same throughout the war.

Supply Department

Since 1921 the organization of the Supply Department5 has more or less followed the standard form prescribed in the SandA Manual which provides for five principal components, namely: Service, Purchase, Incoming Stores, Storage and Outgoing Stores. Each of these groups was divided and subdivided into smaller units, and the only major deviation from the standard pattern occurred in September 1942 when the Receiving Division of the Incoming Stores and the Shipping Division of the Outgoing Stores Group were removed from these groups and combined with the Labor and Transportation Division to form a Traffic Group. As this plan proved to be inefficient, it was decided after less than a year's trial to return to the stand form.

5 A separate NyNor "Wartime History of the Supply Corps" has been prepared. (A12(3); Sup.Dept. A3-1 NY6(SA)

Between September 1939 and September 1945 the civilian staff increased about nine fold and Naval Personnel about tenfold, buildings were erected and leased (Ch. VI; Sec.6), and various changes were made in many of the units within the major groups.

In the Service Group one of the first changes resulting from the war was the establishment in February 1942 of a Liaison Section between the Bookkeeping Division and the Accounting Department. In the following year bookkeeping was affected considerably by changes in the accounting system which brought about the discontinuance of accounting for APA material by money values and the establishment of a Ships Material Account to handle material from new construction as distinct from NSA. In January 1944 bookkeeping machines were installed in order to take care of an increased volume of work.

In this same Group the Inventory Division was reorganized in July 1943 after it had bogged down badly because of vastly increased stores.

The most important change in the second group, the Purchase Group, was the simplification of procedure shortly after the War Powers Act of December 18, 1941, which authorized the making of contracts and modifications, was passed.

The third principal group was Incoming Stores which was made up of a Stock Control Division and a Receiving Division, each with several subdivisions.

In August 1941 a Reports Section was added to the Stock Control Division. After Pearl Harbor it became necessary to divorce the Contract and Requisition Files from the Followup Section and to assign them to the Stock Control Division.

Various steps in the development of the Critical and Controlled Materials Plan (CMP) section were taken between the springs of 1942 and 1943. In March 1942 a Liaison Officer was appointed to act with the Planning Officer of the Industrial Department in matters concerning the conservation of critical materials. Three months later a Supply Department Conservation Officer was assigned duties pertaining to the procurement and conservation of critical and strategic materials for stock, and still later in October 1942 an Assistant Conservation Officer was designated with authority to establish a procurement and conservation section. This section was reorganized in March 1943 and was given the title of Critical Material CMP - Priorities Section which was changed afterwards to Critical and Controlled Materials Section.

In June 1943 a further reorganization took place with the adoption of a unit control plan of posting.

The Receiving Division also underwent a few changes. After Pearl Harbor, Follow-up was limited to special requests from the Industrial Department, and in July 1942 the Follow-up Section was divided into two units, one for stock materials, the other for special materials.

In order to expedite work, the Inspection Report Section moved to the Receiver's Section in Building 276, and during the following months the Dealer's Bills Section was reorganized.

The principal features in the development of the Storage Group between 1939 and 1945 were the additions of storage buildings, both new and leased at the Yard, at St. Helena Annex and on the waterfront in Norfolk; the loss of buildings and open storage spaces near the Yard waterfront to the Industrial Department; the construction of temporary lean-tos and sheds; and the training of women to handle freight.

The Outgoing Stores Group were the final group. In January 1941 an Allowance List Section, which had been partly under the Stock Control Division of Incoming Stores and partly under Issue Division of Outgoing Stores, was placed solely under the latter. In the fall of 1942 a follow-up section was established to assist the Issue Division. Also at this time a Services to Forces Afloat Section was established and became the Fleet Contact Section when it was reorganized in the next year. In March 1943 a Lend-Lease Defense Aid Unit of the Requisition Section was set up.

In addition to the main groups discussed above, the Supply Department had cognizance over certain other activities. Because of the secret nature of the work, a separate miniature supply department was established in late 1943 for radio, radar, sonar and ordnance work. The Supply Office for Radio was closely coordinated with the Industrial Department Radio Material Office and operated jointly under BuSandA and BuShips.

Activities under the jurisdiction of the Operations Department, but handled by a Supply Officer, were the Yard Craft Pay Office which was separated from the clothing and small stores room early in 1943, the Commissary Department which was enlarged in 1942, and the Commissary Store which began to operate in 1942.

Medical Department

The emergency and war years saw the Medical Department6 undergo considerable expansion.

6 A "Historical Supplement to Fourth Quarterly Sanitation Report; Cumulative Report for Period of World War II has been prepared. (LL/P2(2); Med. Dept. NY6/DR-A9-1(1a))

The Industrial Department Manual of December 1944 defines the Industrial mission of the Medical Department as: "An advisory function in all matters in all departments affecting sanitation and industrial hazard, the physical examination of applicants and employees when requested with appropriate recommendations as to employment; and the care, treatment, disposition, record and report of the sick or injured civilian employees in accordance with the directives of the Navy Department, the Civil Service Commission, the Employees' Compensation Commission and the Commandant of the Norfolk Navy Yard."

In September 1939 the staff consisted of a Medical Officer, five Assistant Medical Officers and Watch Officers, a Dental Officer, an Assistant Dental Officer and seventeen Pharmacist's Mates. Three of the Medical Officers served on the Labor Board, one on the Employee's Compensation Commission and one on this Commission on Marine Barracks Detail.

As the personnel and physical aspects of the Yard grew, the Medical Department kept pace. A new Main Dispensary was completed in July 1942, and sub-dispensaries were added at the Yard and at the St. Helena Annex. Nurses were placed in charge of many of these.

Work became more specialized, and Sanitation and Quarantine Sections were established. Sanitation, Industrial Medicine and Compensation Sections maintained liaison with the Personnel Relations Division of the Industrial Department for safety, relocation and accident prevention.

WAVES were first assigned to the Department in 1943.

A Personnel Officer billet was established, and instruction courses for the Medical Corps and the Hospital Corps were instituted.

On October 30, 1944, BuPers ltr P/16-3/00 Pers-319-MLS specified that the Medical Officer, Supply Officer and Accounting Officer were responsible to the Industrial Manager for additional duty as necessary.

In order to carry out all of the functions of the Department, the staff had increased by September 1945 to twenty-seven Medical Corps Officers, twenty Dental Corps Officers, twenty Nurse Corps Officers, two Hospital Corps Officers, two Male Officers and a WAVE Officer who were Specialists primarily for Industrial Hygiene, three ChPhMs, and a large complement of enlisted men and women.

Marine Barracks

For many years a Marine Barracks has been maintained as a part of the Norfolk Navy Yard, the Marine personnel being used primarily for the security of the Yard. This Marine unit functioned as a department of the Yard, internally officered by Marines but under the administration of the Commandant. Close liaison was maintained with the Captain of the Yard, as the officer charged with responsibility for Yard security.

The Marine activity expanded during the war from an authorized strength of 205 to approximately 500 men for guard duty, the average during the war being between 400 and 500. The East Coast Sea School was also part of the Marine Barracks during the war, men being ordered to this training school to qualify for shipboard duties.

In addition to the number of men attached to the Marine Barracks for guard and Sea School duty, almost as many more Marines were attached to the barracks for hospitalization in the Norfolk Naval Hospital, so that the total Marine strength in the Yard averaged approximately 900 for the duration of the war. About 40 Women Reserve Marines performed clerical duties.

Supplementing the Marine security function was the Yard Police Division (Ch. VII, Sec. 2) and in addition, security watches were maintained in the naval barracks areas by naval personnel.

Increase in Naval Personnel

A final indication of the growth of the organization during the war is found in the comparative number of naval personnel at the plant at the beginning and end of the emergency.

In September 1939 there were approximately 100 officers on duty in all departments. This number increased to 215 by December 7, 1941. The peak of officer personnel was reached in June 1945 when 871 commissioned officers were attached to the Yard. This total declined and on September 2, 1945, the number of officers stood at 693. (Roster of Officers, 00/P16(1)).

The enlisted strength of the Yard likewise increased, although the number of Blue Jackets fluctuated considerably, varying from approximately 200 in ship's company on September 1, 1939, to more than 1,000 at about which figure the enlisted complement stood on V-J Day. In addition to ship's company the Yard, of course, housed many hundreds additional sailors for short periods while their ships were in the Yard and still other groups of enlisted men and officers in various training units were stationed in the barracks areas at various time. (Nav. bks. memo A12(3)).

Overall Extent of the War-Time Growth

The striking growth of the Norfolk Navy Yard during the emergency and war years is illustrated by a comparison of the dollar value of the plant at the beginning of the war and at the close. In June 1939 the total dollar first cost value of the plant and plant facilities was estimated a slightly less than $42,000,000; by June 1945 the value had increased to nearly $136,000,000.7

7 Summary of Plant Inventory, Fiscal Dept., S&A Form 278, 1 Jul.1945

The following table illustrated this increase, which more than tripled the plant's value

Dollar first cost value of plant and plant facilities

June 1939
June 1945
Land & Appurtenances
$34, 314, 056.32
Buildings & Structures
Miscellaneous equipment
Plant Appliances
Machinery & Machine tools
Portable Power tools
Loose & Hand tools

Note: Miscellaneous equipment, portable power tools and loose and hand tools are practically all charged to overhead expense when procured, and this value is taken up in the plant account only when a physical inventory is taken, which in normal times is every fifth year. The latest physical inventory was taken in 1940.

During the war the size of the reservation grew from 352.76 acres to 746.88 acres, this figure including 666.38 acres in the Yard proper and 80.50 acres developed in the St. Helena Annex.8

8 Cf. Pub.Wks. NyNor Map, 30 June 1939; NyNor May 30 June 1945

At the beginning of the war in 1939, the total waterfront of the Yard, exclusive of drydocks and ferry slips, was approximately 10,514 linear feet, providing 31 berthing spaces. By the end of the war the waterfront had grown to 22,359 feet, or almost four and a quarter miles, more than double the approximate two miles at the beginning of the war. The total number of berths was increased to 66.9

9 Ibid; also His. Memo, Central Div., Operations Dept., A12(3)

The expansion of the waterfront was accomplished by construction of two new piers, Nos. 5 (Sec. 5) and 6; the building of a huge construction dock, No. 8, (Ch. VI; Sec. 1) and the development of Berths 40-43 adjacent to it; the purchase of the Southgate Terminal property (Ch. VI, Sec. 6); and the development of the St. Helena Annex (Ch. VI; Sec. 4) where four new piers were built, providing in itself 23 berths. An additional berth, No. 1A, was also provided at the northern end of the Yard.

At the conclusion of the war the reservation contained 413 permanent buildings and some 435 additional temporary structures, a total of 848 buildings. (Pub.Wks. Data, Bldgs.).

The new permanent structures include shop and office buildings, warehouses, officers' quarters, enlisted men's barracks, etc., while the temporary buildings include such structures as those erected for field offices, tool houses, police booths and other smaller buildings put up to meet various specific needs. Most of these smaller buildings will be torn down, although some will undoubtedly remain as the need for them continue.

In addition to the new shop buildings, almost all of the old shop buildings were enlarged and improved during the emergency. Extensions to existing structures were provided and the buildings themselves improved. In the older portion of the Yard, almost all of the old buildings were altered and modernized as far as possible to adapt them to new uses.

Throughout the Yard new equipment was installed. The battleship and destroyer buildingways were reconditioned (Sec. 4), drydocks and services were improved, and a turret assembly plant (Sec. 5) with a 350-Ton Hammerhead Crane was built.

The Reservation Prior to the War

At the beginning of the war, the Norfolk Navy Yard's physical size and its shipbuilding and repair facilities were little changed from what they had been at the end of World War I. The 352 acres including St. Helena in the reservation consisted of 285 acres of hard land, 64 acres of water and three acres of marsh.

The Government boundary line, beginning at the Elizabeth River on Lincoln Street, extended along Lincoln to Third Street; along Third to Key Avenue, now Gosport Road; along this street to its intersection with Green Street and the Virginia Electric and Power Company's old street car right of way to Cradock and Gilmerton, which paralleled the Navy Yard's Williams Ave; along this line to the Norfolk & Portsmouth Belt Line Railroad; thence back to the river. There was nothing south of the Belt Line nor was there any development in the area west of Williams Avenue.

The older northern portion of the Yard extending from the First Street gate to the Fourth Street gate and east to the River, consisted mainly of buildings dating from the reconstruction period following the Civil War, most of them two-story brick warehouses type structures of an architecture peculiar to industrial plants of 75 years ago. These buildings housed the administrative offices of the Yard, the Supply Department, drafting rooms, and several of the smaller shops. One of them, Bldg. 15, housed the Commissioned Officers Mess, and another Bldg. 73 provided barracks and messing facilities for the enlisted men attached to the Yard. In addition this portion of the Yard contained the officers quarters, most of them old-type house (Ch. I; Sec. 2) similar to the Commandant's house previously mentioned.

In sharp contrast with this old section of the Yard, the newer portion, developed on what was known as the Schmoele tract during World War I was made up of buildings of more modern industrial design.

In this area were the Yard's six drydocks, three of which, Nos. 4, 6 and 7, were built during World War I; the battleship and destroyer Shipbuilding Ways, Nos. 1 and 2, likewise products of the first war; Piers 3 and 4 also built during that conflict; and the buildings which housed the Structural Steel Shop, Inside Machine Shop, Woodworking Shop, Foundry, Pipe Shop, Power Plant, Galvanizing Shop and several smaller activities, all of which were erected during World War I or immediately following it.

The entire southern portion of the Yard beyond Pier 4, however, was undeveloped, consisting largely of water and marsh land as late as the summer of 1938. Back Creek, an inlet from the River, branched out in a rough "Y" shape over much of the area, one prong extending almost to the Cradock Gate at the extreme southwest corner of the Yard, and the other branch running back nearly to the Foundry Building 172. Between the creek and the Inside Machine Shop, Bldg. 171, was an athletic field, and between the creek and the Belt Line on the south was a lumber storage area.

Across the river lay the old St. Helena reservation, which had served as a naval training station during World War I. This area, purchased by the Navy in 1846, was occupied in part by the Coast Guard, the training station having been moved to the Naval Operating Base after the first war.

Early Improvements

The first important improvements to the Yard were made during the middle and late thirties, paralleling the Fleet rebuilding program. Much of the work was paid for by PWA, WPA or other relief appropriations.

Between 1934 and 1938, three major new buildings were erected, the Sheetmetal and Electric Shop, No. 234; the Outside Machine Shop, No. 236; and the Transportation Building, No. 236. The latter two were built as PWA projects. The Sheetmetal and Electric Shop was erected by private contract, the funds coming from a regular Navy Department appropriation. It was completed in the late Fall of 1935 at a cost of $956,750,000, this being the first major new shop building since 1920. (Pub.Wks. Data, Bldgs.). The Transportation and Outside Machine Shop buildings were occupied in 1938,

The completion of the new Transportation Building allowed transfer of the Fire Department to new quarters therein, and the building which the Fire Department had occupied, No. 27, was made into a Navy Yard chapel which was dedicated on Navy Day 1939. At that time it was said that the Norfolk Navy Yard was one of the few Navy Yards to possess a chapel. It is interesting to note that when the Yard began working on Sundays, all employees who desired to attend church were granted the necessary leave. Both Catholic and Protestant services were held.

Another PWA appropriation provided for the modernizing of the old wooden drydock, No. 2. This, the "Simpson Drydock", was built in 1889 as we have seen. (Ch. 1; Sec. 2). Its sides sloped back from the bottom, being formed of stepped timbers which resembled somewhat the seats in a football stadium. Indeed, smokers and other Yard gatherings were sometimes held here, the timbered "seats" accommodating hundreds of spectators who could watch the performers in the bottom of the dock.

During its long period of use, the timbers had deteriorated and in the modernizing project they were replaced with concrete. The work was done in 1933 and 1934 at a cost of approximately half a million dollars, and all but the inboard end of the dock was rebuilt. The timbers in the inboard end were not replaced until 1943, the appropriation being insufficient to complete the job at that time.

Extensive WPA projects were undertaken in August 1935 providing for extension of fresh and salt water systems, replacement and improvement of electric lines, repair and relaying of railroad tracks, repair and improvement of streets and sidewalks, moving and reinstalling of tools, extension of steam system and completion of maps, records, foundation explorations and sub-surface surveys.

As an overall result of the program, the Yard got a badly-needed face lifting, and was put in the best condition it had been in since World War I. Practically all of the old shop buildings were renovated, and vacant areas of the Yard were landscaped with trees, shrubs and flowers being planted to beautify the entire station.

A new entrance to the Fourth Street Gate was erected, a new entrance provided for the Commandant's quarters, other officers quarters were remodeled, the enlisted men's barracks in Bldg. 73, Sloat Hall, were rebuilt, garages were erected for officers' quarters, and many other improvements were made.

At the peak of the WPA program, more than 1,500 men were employed, providing badly needed unemployment relief for the community.

An interesting sidelight on the WPA program is the story of the discovery of two bodies buried near Drydock No. 2. WPA workers excavating for a new railroad bed in that vicinity discovered the bodies, believed to be those of English soldiers killed during the Revolutionary War, buried about four feet under ground in well preserved white pine coffins. After some discussion, the Commandant ordered the bodies reburied in the same spot by digging the graves deeper. Twice before in the history of the Yard, bodies had been found near Drydock No. 2. When the first excavations for the dock were made in 1887, a number of bodies were found and were identified as English soldiers by the buttons on their uniforms and by English pennies covering their eyes, but some Yard officials were skeptical and expressed the opinion that the graves were only those of Norfolk County farmers who sued to reside on the site of the Navy Yard, on what was known as the old Gosport Farm.

A letter from the Public Works Officer dated May 19, 1942, (Pub.Wks. (HY(9-MY2)) to the District WPA stated that WPA work had been done in the Yard continuously from August 1935 and that "many of the projects would never have been accomplished had it not been for the financial and labor assistance of this agency, and these projects are now serving a most useful purpose in the Yard's war effort."

Preparations for Battleship Construction

During 1937 when it became obvious that the U. S. would build new battleships and Navy Yard employees and civic leaders of the community were agitating for such work (Ch. 2; Sec. 3), the Yard's major concern became that of preparing for heavy construction. The buildingways had to be rebuilt and additional facilities for battleship construction acquired.

Getting the buildingways in shape was a major problem. During the long period of disuse since the scrapping of the NORTH CAROLINA, the timbers had rotted to such an extent that they were not capable of supporting battleship construction.

A small amount of work had been done with WPA funds during 1934 to make the ways ready for destroyer work. Sections of rotten piling in the substructure had been replaced and the side belt armor and barbettes of the old NORTH CAROLINA, which had been piled up on the ways as a convenient stowage place and left there during the yeas to gather rust, were removed. But this small amount of work was far from sufficient.

In the latter part of 1937, the management recommended to the Bureau of Yards and Docks that the shipbuilding ways be rehabilitated. The cost of the work was estimated at $625,000. Considerable correspondence was carried on between the Yard and the Navy Department as to the types of repairs to be done, and concerning other work necessary for heavy building. (N18(14)"A" and "B")

In December 1937 the Navy Department notified the Yard that the rehabilitation of the buildingways had been approved and that the Bureau of Construction and Repair had allocated $315,000 obtained from PWA for the work which was to be done by the Public Works Division of the Yard.

The rebuilding, which was begun early in 1938, involved replacing of supports for the bilge launch ways with concrete and new piling. At that time the buildingways were some 700 feet long. A major change was made in the structure by installation of a caisson at the end of the ground ways to keep the water at high tide from interfering with ship construction on the lower end of the ways. A coffer dam was built to permit the placing of the caisson, which now affords a drydock type of facility at the outboard end. In this way it was possible to lengthen the ways without making it necessary to raise the inboard end to too great a height, the caisson allowing the ways to go below the water level of the river.

The work was completed in the latter part of 1939, but not before the Commandant, Admiral Simons, had let fly a blast at WPA red tape which threatened to delay the job.10

10 Nfk.Vgn-Pilot, Ledger-Disp., & Ports.Star, 17 oct. 1939, et seq.

The original plans had called for enlarging the ways to permit constructing of 35,000-ton vessels, but the Navy's decision to build battleships of greater tonnage caused the Yard to alter the plans to provide enlargement of the ways from 700 feet to 900 feet, so that 45,000-ton ships could be built.

While this work was in progress in August 1939, the WPA laid off workers who had been on the payroll for eighteen months or more, and some 400 men who had been working on the ways were affected. The Commandant sought to have these men re-certified, but while the negotiations were going on, the overall quota for the State was exhausted because of assignment of workers elsewhere, and the Yard was unable to get them back on the job.

As a result of this, Admiral Simons declared in the newspapers, "Virginia and the WPA officials are killing the Navy Yard. There is something rotten in Denmark, but I cannot put my finger on it."

Further enlarging on the matter, the Commandant declared in subsequent editions of the papers:

". . . I have been misquoted. I have no knowledge of whether or not anything is rotten in Denmark, but I am fully convinced that something is rotten in Virginia."

The money had been appropriated, he said, the necessity of the project had been determined, the men had been assigned and then taken off. His appeals to local and State representatives of the WPA and even to Washington had brought no results. National defense, he said, "in an emergency period so decreed by the President," was being delayed.

The Admiral's statements got considerable newspaper space and the controversy had repercussions in Richmond and Washington, but the Admiral got results. The matter was soon ironed out by an agreement between the State and National WPA officials to increase Virginia's quota sufficiently to allow return of the 400 workers to the Navy Yard project.

The rehabilitation of the ways was completed at a cost of something over a million dollars.

Pier 5 and the Turret Plant

Early in 1938, in line with the plans for a 20% expansion of the Fleet, the Navy Department asked the Yard for estimates of equipment, in addition to the buildingways, which would be needed for capital ship construction. (N15(39)). A memorandum prepared by the Yard in conjunction with SOSED, dated February 2, 1938, listed the equipment which would be needed. Two new facilities were uppermost among the needs if the Yard was to engage in heavy new construction -- a new pier to handle fitting out and completion of new construction, and a plant for building battleship turrets.

Pier 5 and the turret facilities at Berth 2 were the result.

Construction of the pier was undertaken in August 1938 and by the end of 1939 the new pier was in use. A thousand feet long and 235 feet wide, Pier 5 was the first major expansion of the waterfront since World War I. Its cost was approximately two and a half million dollars with funds being provided by PWA appropriations. The work was done by private contractors, the McLean firm of Baltimore doing the major part of the construction.

Earth which had been excavated 20 years before for Drydock 4 had been hauled to the point where Pier 5 was to be built, which was then the southern end of the Yard, and dumped there forming a hill considerably higher than the surrounding area of the Yard. This earth had to be removed and some of it was used in building the pier, which was of the relieving platform type of construction.

The Turret Plant was erected in the northern portion of the Yard near what was then known as North Landing, the site of the Navy Yard's old shipbuilding ways from which the battleship TEXAS had been launched in 1892. Workmen excavating for the foundations uncovered many of the old pilings on which the ways rested and found them in good condition. The work which began in the early part of 1939 was completed by the summer of 1940. PWA funds were also used for this project.

The plant consisted of a Turret Assembly Building, Turret Welding Shop and the heavy duty Hammerhead Crane of 350 tons gross capacity for handling turrets during the process of construction and installation aboard ship.

The assembly building has a portable roof so that after the turrets are constructed the roof may be removed and the turrets placed in a large annealing oven for normalizing after welding. The annealing furnace which is capable of holding the entire turret assembly is heated by a modern process using propane gas. It is believed that this propane installation is the first of its type in any shipyard on the Atlantic Coast, private or Navy.

A number of milling machines were provided and in some cases designed and constructed by the Navy Yard to accomplish the intricate machine work required for turret construction.

Results of the Alabama Order

As we have seen, the major improvements to the Yard prior to the outbreak of war in Europe were connected with the plans for battleship construction, receiving their impetus from the Fleet expansion program of 1938.

With work on the buildingways underway, Pier 5 started and the Turret Assembly Plant projected, the Yard received on November 19, 1938, an order from the Secretary of the Navy for the construction of the battleship USS ALABAMA, BB60. The allocation of this work to Norfolk was undoubtedly one of the most significant events in the history of the Yard for much of the expansion prior to World War II was related to it.

In addition to the new shipbuilding facilities, major shop improvements and extensions were also undertaken between 1938 and 1940 and several new buildings were erected.

These new structures included a Sub-Assembly Building, No. 261, begun in 1939 and completed in 1940, with an extension added in 1941 designed primarily to expedite new construction by providing shop space for pre-fabrication of large ship assemblies.

This building is approximately 100 feet wide and 600 feet long. A unique feature of the structure is that the entire floor consists of steel plate. This arrangement was required because of the extensive amount of electric arc welding which was to be done on the assembly thereby permitting all parts welded to ground to the floor. This procedure eliminated many expensive methods of grounding such work and removed a number of safety hazards. A wet basin, or barge slip, was constructed at the east end of this building so that the cranes carrying heavy assemblies out of the east end could land them on barges which are removed by tug and taken along the waterfront to the floating crane facilities for lifting them aboard vessels. This method of making large assemblies and handling them with heavy weight-handling equipment aboard greatly facilitated the rapid building, conversion and repair of vessels. (See also His. Memos, Shops, XII, A12(3).

Early in the emergency it became evident that due to the enormous amount of electric arc welding, both on new construction and ship repairs, that it would be necessary for the Yard to train a large number of employees in the art of electric welding. For this purpose approximately 100 booths were installed along the north side of this building, and for many months during 1941, 1942 and 1943, there were as many as 150 employees constantly in training to be electric welders on a three-shift basis.

A second important new building was a large storehouse for battleship materials, No. 260, which was built in the latter part of 1939 and early 1940.

In addition to these new buildings, extensions were made to the Inside Machine Shop, Bldg. 171, (a second larger extension was made later, Ch. VI, Sec. 3), which increased its capacity; the Foundry, Bldg. 172, likewise increasing its capacity; the Shipfitter and Boiler Shops, Bldg. 163, where a new bridge crane was installed; and the Central Power Plant, Bldg. 174, which was enlarged to permit installation of two additional boilers, stepping up its output to meet the heavy demands of the increasing work load.

New equipment was secured for many of the shops including new machine tools, other items to improve their efficiency, and an additional crane was placed in operation on Pier 3.

Thus, largely as a result of the order for the ALABAMA, by the time of the outbreak of the war in Europe, the Norfolk Navy Yard was equipped, or being equipped, to handle practically any type of heavy ship construction and repair.

The following table lists the major improvements which were undertaken in the Yard during the thirties and prior to the outbreak of the war in Europe or immediately thereafter:

1. Sheetmetal & Electric Shop, Bldg 234 (New)
2. Outside Machine Shop, Bldg 235 (New)
3. Transportation Shop, Bldg 236 (new)
4. Inside Machine Shop, Bldg 171 (Southside extension)  
(Northside extension)
5. Buildingways No. 1 (Recondition)
Dec. 1937
Nov. 39
6. Pier 5 (New)
7. Foundry, Bldg 172, Extension
(Second Extension)

8. Central Power Plant, Bldg 174
(Three Extensions)
9. 350-ton Crane (New)
10. Battleship Storehouse, Bldg 260 (New)
11. Sub-Assembly, Bldg 261 (New)

12. Turret Shop, Bldg 262 (New)
13. Shipfitter & Boiler Shops, Bldg 163 (Extension)

* * * * * * * * * *

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