Norfolk Naval Shipyard Portsmouth, VA Image 1
    Norfolk Naval Shipyard Portsmouth, VA Image 2

    Norfolk Naval Shipyard Portsmouth, VA History

    Norfolk Naval Shipyard, originally Gosport Shipyard, at Portsmouth Virginia, is older than the USA. It was founded in 1767 by Andrew Sprowle, who turned out to be a Crown loyalist, and fled the American colonies at the beginning of the War for Independence. His shipyard was seized and used to produce ships for the Revolution. In 1779 the yard was seized by British troops and burned.

    The yard was rebuilt after the war, and was the dock in which the USS Chesapeake, one of the original six frigates of the US Navy was built, with the keel laid in 1795 and the ship launched in 1799. The Norfolk Yard may be considered one of the cradles of the US Navy. The Chesapeake went on to fight in the later Quasi-War with France, the First Barbary War, and captured five merchants in the War of 1812 before being captured in later 1813. Gosport Shipyard was purchased by the Federal government in 1801, and has remained in US ownership since. In 1827 the Yard built the first drydock in the US, still functioning today as Dry Dock One.

    The Yard fell into Confederate hands in the Civil War, and was burned by the Confederates when Union troops drew near it in 1862; after this the Yard remained in US Federal hands. This was the dock in which the remains of the USS Merrimack was rebuilt to the ironclad CSS Virginia. The Gosport Yard was renamed Norfolk Shipyard, after the county, at this time. In 1892 Norfolk built the first US battleship, the USS Texas, and in 1894 the first modern battlecruiser, the USS Raleigh.

    In World War One the Yard was expanded, and was a center of modernization after the war, including the conversion of the USS Jupiter into the first aircraft USS Langley, and in 1940 the USS Alabama. In 1941 the USS Arizona, which had been built at Norfolk in 1913-1915, was sunk at Pearl Harbor.

    Norfolk doubled in size in World War Two. The Yard employed some 43,000 workers in World War Two, creating a substantial housing problem in the city of Portsmouth. Norfolk built over 6,800 ships of various functions. After the war, Norfolk Shipyard was mainly employed in conversion, upgrading, and maintenance; the Yard has repaired and maintained Navy ships of every conceivable type, and has a specialty of tending nuclear vessels, as it is one of the few yards able to drydock nuclear supercarriers.