World War II
In 1939, the United States of America was a neutral nation in the midst of an expanding World War. To meet the new international crisis, President Franklin Roosevelt called for American industrial power to be harnessed as the “arsenal of democracy.”
The United States Navy began a massive new warship building program to meet the growing threat from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Before WWII, New York Ship had been a major builder of civilian vessels during its first 43 years in business. However, the urgent naval construction needs of America and its Allies now required that New York Ship convert its entire production capability to building new naval warships.
Over the next six years, New York Shipbuilding Corporation would play a vital role in constructing the largest and most powerful Navy in history. Laying the keel for “Battleship X” on July 5, 1939 was just the beginning. In June 1941 the Camden waterfront witnessed the 35,000 ton battleship’s hull slide into the Delaware River. Completed less than a year later in March 1942, USS South Dakota (BB-57) would go on to become one of the most famous battleships in U.S. naval history.
From December 1941 to August 1945, New York Shipbuilding Corporation completed 26 major units for the Navy, including eight light cruisers, nine light aircraft carriers, two battle cruisers and one battleship. An additional forty-four other warships had already been completed before Pearl Harbor and America’s formal entry into WWII. In all, 218 warships built at New York Ship saw active service during WWII.
At is peak period of production during the War, more than 30,000 men and women were employed at New York Ship. Its thousands of workers responded magnificently to the urgent shipping needs of the Allied cause during the war.
Over a twelve month period, from March 1942 to March 1943, New York Ship delivered $217,000,000 in new naval construction alone. The bulk of these deliveries consisted of heavy combatant ships from 12,000 to 35,000 tons displacement, which were completed 8 to 13 months ahead of scheduled completion dates. The sheer magnitude of new warship construction within a twelve month period has never been exceeded in the history of shipbuilding.