Between the Wars

The ocean liner SS Washington in New York Shipbuilding Corporation’s outfitting basin (above).

Home History Between the Wars

The Nineteen Twenties

The 1920’s were important but difficult years for New York Ship, as the close of World War I saw a decline in shipbuilding orders. A number of warships, including battleships Oklahoma (BB-37), Colorado (BB-45) and Idaho (BB-44) were completed too late for service in World War I, but would go on to see action during the Second World War.

A 1919 view of the New York Ship Yard along the east bank of the Delaware River.

The famous Washington Naval Disarmament Conference of 1921 resulted in the scrapping of the battleship Washington (BB-47) when nearly completed in November 1942. Her sister ship, battleship USS Colorado (BB-45), joined the fleet in August 1923, followed by one of the most famous ships built by “York Ship”: the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3).

Originally designed as a battle cruiser, she was converted into an aircraft carrier in accordance with the “Washington Treaty” limiting naval armaments. “Sara” was the first fast carrier built for the U.S. Navy.

The 1930’s were years of substantial contributions by New York Ship to both the Merchant Marine and the Navy. Greater activity in “The Yard’s” proven fields of large passenger ships and major vessels kept the ways busy.

The ocean liner SS Washington in New York Shipbuilding Corporation’s outfitting bin (left) and the SS Washington against the Manhattan skyline, circa 1935 (right).

The famous twin passenger ships SS Washington and Manhattan were 24,000 ton passenger liners launched in 1932. They carried more passengers in proportion to their capacity than any foriegn super liner. Known for their luxurious appointments, safety and reliability, both Washington and Manhattan were propelled by geared turbines designed by the engineering section of the yard. Five additional passenger-cargo vessels and several tankers were also constructed in the late 1930’s.

The Cruisers Chester, Indianapolis, Tuscaloosa, Savannah, Nashville and Phoenix, as well as several destroyers were completed for the U.S. Navy in the early to mid 1930’s. Seaplane tenders Curtis and Albemarle, destroyer tenders Dixie and Prairie, and the regular ship Vulcan were also completed. These very large auxiliary ships went on to provide important logistical support to the Navy throughout World War II.