Brooklyn Navy Yard

Brooklyn Navy Yard
Brooklyn Navy Yard
Brooklyn, New York
Type Shipyard
Built 1801
In use 1806–1966
Controlled by United States Navy
The yard seen from mid-stream East River

The United States Navy Yard, New York–better known as the Brooklyn Navy Yard or the New York Naval Shipyard (NYNSY)–was an American shipyard located in Brooklyn, 1.7 miles (2.7 km) northeast of the Battery on the East River in Wallabout Basin, a semicircular bend of the river across from Corlear's Hook in Manhattan. It was bounded by Navy Street, Flushing and Kent Avenues, and at the height of its production of U.S. Navy warships it covered over 200 acres (0.81 km2).



Following the American Revolution, the waterfront site was used to build merchant vessels. Federal authorities purchased the old docks and 40 acres (160,000 m2) of land for forty thousand dollars in 1801, and the property became an active U.S. Navy shipyard five years later, in 1806. The offices, store-houses and barracks were constructed of handmade bricks, and the yard's oldest structure (located in Vinegar Hill), the 1807 federal style commandant's house, was designed by Charles Bulfinch, architect of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. Many officers were housed in Admiral's Row.

Military chain of command was strictly observed. During the yard's construction of Robert Fulton's steam frigate, Fulton, launched in 1815, the year of Fulton's death, the Navy Yard's chief officers were listed as follows: Captain Commandant, Master Commandant, Lieutenant of the Yard, Master of the Yard, Surgeon of the Yard & Marine Barracks, Purser of the Navy Yard, Naval Storekeeper, Naval Constructor, and a major commanding the Marine Corps detachment.

The USS Enterprise docked at the shipyard in 1874
Northernmost channel of the Navy Yard
Base housing at Ryerson Avenue gate
Clinton Avenue gate
Commander's quarters

The nation's first ironclad ship, Monitor, was fitted with its revolutionary iron cladding at the Continental Iron Works in nearby Greenpoint. By the American Civil War, the yard had expanded to employ about 6000 men. In 1890, the ill-fated Maine was launched from the Yard's ways.

On the eve of World War II, the yard contained more than five miles (8 km) of paved streets, four drydocks[1] ranging in length from 326 to 700 feet (99 to 213 meters), two steel shipways, and six pontoons and cylindrical floats for salvage work, barracks for marines, a power plant, a large radio station, and a railroad spur, as well as the expected foundries, machine shops, and warehouses. In 1937 the battleship North Carolina was laid down. In 1938, the yard employed about ten thousand men, of whom one-third were Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers. The battleship Iowa was completed in 1942 followed by the Missouri which became the site of the Surrender of Japan 2 September 1945. On 12 January 1953, test operations began on Antietam, which emerged in December 1952 from the yard as America's first angled-deck aircraft carrier.

The US Navy took possession of PT 109 on 10 July 1942, and the boat was delivered to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for fitting. This boat was sunk in the Pacific in August 1943 and became famous years later when its young commander, Lt. John F. Kennedy, entered politics.

At its peak, during World War II, the yard employed 70,000 people, 24 hours a day.

During World War II, the pedestrian walkways on the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges spanning the East River offered a good overhead view of the navy yard, and were therefore encased in order to prevent espionage.


About two years before the shipyard closed word spread the yard was going to be closed. Professor Seymour Melmen an Engineering Economist of Columbia Graduate School Of Engineering looked into the plight of the shipyard workers at the N.Y.N.S. and came up with a detailed plan for converting the then New York Naval Ship Yard into a commercial shipyard which would have saved most of the skilled shipyard jobs. The plan was never put in place. The Wagner Administration looked to the auto industry to build a car plant inside the Yard. None of the U.S. car manufacturers were interested, the foreign car manufactures claimed with the conversion of the dollar it was too expensive.The navy decommissioned the yard in 1966, the Johnson Administration refused to sell the yard to the City of New York for 18 months. When the new Nixon Administration came into power they signed the papers to sell the yard to the city. Leases were signed inside the yard even before the sale of the yard to the City was signed.

In 1967 Seatrain Shipbuilding which was wholly owned by Seatrain Lines signed a lease with the Commerce Labor Industry Corporation of Kings (CLICK) which was established as a non-profit body to run the yard for the city. CLICK's lease with the newly formed Seatrain Shipbuilding was not very business friendly. Seatrain planned to build five VLCC's and seven container ships for Seatrain Lines. It eventually built 4 VLCCs (the largest ships ever to be built in the Brooklyn Navy Yard), 8 barges and one ice-breaker barge. The last ship to be built in the Brooklyn Navy Yard was the VLCC the Bay Ridge built by Seatrain Shipbuilding. In 1977 the Bay Ridge was converted from a VLCC to a FPSOV [Floating Production Storage Offtake Vessel]. The Bay Ridge was renamed Kuito and is operating for Chevron off of the Coast of Angola in 400 meters of water in the Kuito oil field.[2] 1976 would bring peak employment inside the yard with employment reaching nearly 6,000 workers with Seatrain Shipbuilding and Coastal Dry Dock & Repair accounting for 80% of the employment. In 1979 Seatrain Lines closed its gates ending the history of Brooklyn shipbuilding. In 1972 Coastal Dry Dock & Repair Corp leased the three small dry docks and several buildings inside the yard from CLICK. Coastal Drydock only repaired and converted US Navy vessels but closed in 1987. CLICK was replaced a few years before Coastal going under with the [non-profit] Brooklyn Development Corporation. In 1987 the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation for the City of New York. It failed in all its attempts to lease any of the six dry docks and buildings to any shipbuilding or ship-repair company.[3]

The yard became an area of private manufacturing and commercial activity. Today it has over 200 tenants with more than 3,500 employees.[4] The Yard has three piers and a total of 10 berths ranging from 350 to 890 feet (270 m) long, with ten-foot deck height and 25 to 40 feet (7 to 12 meters) of depth alongside. The drydocks are now operated by GMD Shipyard Corp. A federal project maintains a channel depth of 35 feet (10 m) from Throggs Neck to the yard, about two miles (3 km) from the western entrance, and thence 40 feet (12 m) of depth to the deep water in the Upper Bay. Currents in the East River can be strong, and congestion heavy. Access to the piers requires passage under the Manhattan Bridge (a suspension span with a clearance of 134 feet (41 m) and the Brooklyn Bridge (a suspension span with a clearance of 127 feet (39 m).

Quarters A, the commander's quarters building, is a National Historic Landmark. The Navy Yard Hospital Building (R95) and Surgeon's Residence (R1) are both designated as NYC Landmark buildings. A report commissioned by the National Guard suggests that the entirety of the Admiral's Row property meets the eligibility criteria for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

Commandants (1806–1945)

  1. Lieutenant Jonathan Thorn, 1 June 1806 – 13 July 1807
  2. Captain Isaac Chauncey, 13 July 1807 – 16 May 1813
  3. Captain Samuel Evans, 16 May 1813 – 2 June 1824
  4. Commander George W. Rodgers, 2 June 1824 – 21 December 1824
  5. Captain Isaac Chauncey, 21 December 1824 – 10 June 1833
  6. Captain Charles G. Ridgeley, 10 June 1833 – 19 November 1839
  7. Captain James Renshaw, 19 November 1839 – 12 June 1841
  8. Captain Matthew C. Perry, 12 June 1841 – 15 July 1843
  9. Captain Silas H. Stringham, 15 July 1843 – 1 October 1846
  10. Captain Isaac McKeever, 1 October 1846 – 1 October 1849
  11. Captain William D. Salter, 1 October 1849 – 14 October 1852
  12. Captain Charles Boardman, 14 October 1852 – 1 October 1855
  13. Captain Abraham Bigelow, 1 October 1855 – 8 June 1857
  14. Captain Lawrence Kearny, 8 June 1857 – 1 November 1858
  15. Captain Samuel L. Breese, 1 November 1858 – 25 October 1861
  16. Captain Hiram Paulding, 25 October 1861 – 1 May 1865
  17. Commodore Charles H. Bell, 1 May 1865 – 1 May 1868
  18. Rear Admiral Sylvanus W. Godon, 1 May 1868 – 15 October 1870
  19. Rear Admiral Melancton Smith, 15 October 1870 – 1 June 1872
  20. Vice Admiral Stephen Clegg Rowan, 1 June 1872 – 1 September 1876
  21. Commodore James W. Nicholson, 1 September 1876 – 1 May 1880
  22. Commodore George H. Cooper, 1 May 1880 – 1 April 1882
  23. Commodore John H. Upshur, 1 April 1882 – 31 March 1884
  24. Commodore Thomas S. Fillebrown, 31 March 1884 – 31 December 1884
  25. Commodore Ralph Chandler, 31 December 1884 – 15 October 1886
  26. Commodore Bancroft Gherardi, 15 October 1886 – 15 February 1889
  27. Captain Francis M. Ramsay, 15 February 1889 – 14 November 1889
  28. Rear Admiral Daniel L. Braine, 14 November 1889 – 20 May 1891
  29. Commodore Henry Erben, 20 May 1891 – 1 June 1893
  30. Rear Admiral Bancroft Gherardi, 1 June 1893 – 22 November 1894
  31. Commodore Montgomery Sicard, 22 November 1894 – 1 May 1897
  32. Commodore Francis M. Bunce, 1 May 1897 – 14 January 1899
  33. Commodore John Woodward Philip, 14 January 1899 – 17 July 1900
  34. Rear Admiral Albert S. Barker, 17 July 1900 – 1 April 1903
  35. Rear Admiral Frederick Rodgers, 1 April 1903 – 3 October 1904
  36. Rear Admiral Joseph B. Coghlan, 3 October 1904 – 1 June 1907
  37. Rear Admiral Casper F. Goodrich, 1 June 1907 – 15 May 1909
  38. Captain Joseph B. Murdock, 15 May 1909 – 21 March 1910
  39. Rear Admiral Eugene H. C. Leutze, 21 March 1910 – 6 June 1912
  40. Captain Albert Gleaves, 6 June 1912 – 28 September 1914
  41. Rear Admiral N. R. Usher, 28 September 1914 – 25 February 1918
  42. Rear Admiral John D. MacDonald, 28 September 1914 – 1 July 1921
  43. Rear Admiral Carl T. Vogelgesang, 1 July 1921 – 27 November 1922
  44. Rear Admiral Charles P. Plunkett, 27 November 1922 – 16 February 1928
  45. Captain Frank Lyon, 16 February 1928 – 2 July 1928
  46. Rear Admiral Louis R. de Steiguer, 2 July 1928 – 18 March 1931
  47. Rear Admiral William W. Phelps [disambiguation needed ], 18 March 1931 – 30 June 1933
  48. Rear Admiral Yates Stirling, Jr., 30 June 1933 – 9 March 1936
  49. Captain Frederick L. Oliver, 9 March 1936 – 20 April 1936
  50. Rear Admiral Harris L. Laning, 20 April 1936 – 24 September 1937
  51. Rear Admiral Clark H. Woodward, 1 October 1937 – 1 March 1941
  52. Rear Admiral Edward J. Marquart, 2 June 1941 – 2 June 1943
  53. Rear Admiral Monroe R. Kelly, 2 June 1943 – 5 December 1944
  54. Rear Admiral Freeland A. Daubin, 5 December 1944 – 25 November 1945

Popular culture

The New York Naval Shipyards appear in the video game Tom Clancy's EndWar as a possible battlefield. In the game, the Shipyards are constructing a new aircraft carrier called the USS Reagan.[5]

The Shipyards also appear in Ion Storm and Eidos Interactive's 2000 game Deus Ex as a playable level in which the protagonist must scuttle a freighter docked at the base.[6]

See also


  1. ^ NWhyC (20 April 2009). "Dry Dock #1, Brooklyn Navy Yard". 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Blood, Tenacity and Steel
  4. ^ Christine Haughney (10 January 2009). "In New York, No Crisis for Niche Manufacturers". New York Times. 
  5. ^ Ubisoft (2008). "Locations". Ubisoft. Retrieved 1 April 2011. 
  6. ^ Wikia (2008). "Brooklyn Naval Shipyard - Deus Ex Wiki". Wikia. Retrieved 29 July 2011. 

External links

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