Home : Home : Shipyards : Norfolk : History


250 Year Anniversary

On November 1, 1767 Andrew Sprowle, a merchant and ship owner, established the Gosport Shipyard on the western shore of the Elizabeth River under the British flag. The shipyard developed and prospered as both a naval and merchant shipyard. When the American Revolution began in 1775, Sprowle chose to remain loyal to the Crown and fled the area aboard the Royal Governor's flagship. All his properties were confiscated by the Colony of Virginia. While being operated by Virginia, in 1779, the shipyard was burned by the British.

This former colonial shipyard became the Navy's nucleus in the Hampton Roads area where the largest naval base in the world has developed. The Norfolk Naval Shipyard is the  U.S. Navy's oldest shipyard and actually predates the United States Navy Department by 31 years. The largest shipyard on the East Coast. Known for most of its first century as "Gosport", it was renamed "Norfolk" in 1862 after the largest city in the area. It has never borne the name of its home city of Portsmouth.


Graphic map of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard

During its more than 230 years, the Norfolk Naval Shipyard has assisted the nation in winning nine major wars, putting an end to piracy, sending the Great White Fleet around the world, scientifically exploring the Pacific, and opening Japan to American trade. 

Built here from 1794 to 1799, was the U.S. frigate USS CHESAPEAKE, a sister ship of the USS CONSTITUTION and one of the first six ships to be built for the U.S. Navy after the Revolution. One hundred more ships slid down the ways here before the yard completed its last ship, a wooden minesweeper, in 1953. 

The first dry dock in the western hemisphere opened here on June 17, 1833, by hosting the 74-gun ship-of-the-line USS DELAWAREDry Dock 1, now a national historic landmark, is still in use.

CSS Virginia graphic

It was in this yard that the partly burned steam frigate USS MERRIMACK was converted by the Confederates into the CSS VIRGINIA. In March 1862, worldwide attention focused on the battles between the VIRGINIA and the wooden Union ships USS CONGRESS and USS CUMBERLAND and the federal ironclad USS MONITOR. The battles in Hampton Roads spurred changes in naval technology around the world. 

USS TEXAS, first U.S. naval battleship to be commissioned, was built here in 1889-92 as was USS RALEIGH, the first modern cruiser completely built by the government. 

Flying from the first flight deck built on a ship, by the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Eugene B. Ely took off from USS BIRMINGHAM (CS-2) in Hampton Roads on November 14, 1910. Scheduled to land at NNSY, he touched down instead in Norfolk. 

The first aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy's history, the  USS LANGLEY, was converted here between 1919 and 1922 from the collier USS JUPITER

The yard's employment peak of nearly 43,000 workers was reached during World War II when the yard built nearly 30 major vessels and repaired 6,850 U.S. and Allied ships. It also built 20 tank landing ships and 50 medium landing craft. 

During the three years of the Korean War, the shipyard completed work on more than 1,250 naval vessels and built two wooden minesweepers. 

The shipyard attained nuclear technology capability in the early part of 1965 when  USS SKATE (SSN-578) became the first modern submarine to undergo a major overhaul here. 

Shipyarders here have built a tradition of professional leadership through hard work and technological innovation. As sailing ships yielded to steam-powered ironclads, they learned new skills. From the early experiments with Polaris missiles to the latest installation of complex weapons systems, shipyarders have come up with productive ways to get their jobs done. That is why today Norfolk Naval Shipyard's ability to repair and overhaul ships with speed and efficiency has earned it numerous awards and the reputation of being the nation's number one shipyard.


Other historical areas of interest:



The U.S. Navy's Oldest Shipyard
Norfolk Naval Shipyard has the distinction of being the oldest shipyard that is a U.S. Navy Shipyard; it dates to November 1, 1767 and includes construction of two Continental Navy ships and service as a leased federal yard beginning on May 27, 1794. It was bought on June 15, 1801. Purchase of the first site for a U.S. Navy shipyard, the Washington Navy Yard, was completed on October 2, 1799

USS Chesapeake graphicUSS Chesapeake
The USS Chesapeake was built at Gosport Navy Yard, now Norfolk Naval Shipyard, between December 1798 and December 1799. Sister ships and locations where they were built were USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides"), Boston; USS President, New York City; USS United States, Philadelphia; USS Congress, Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and USS Constellation, Baltimore.

Congressional authorization to build the first frigates, including the USS Chesapeake, after the American Revolution was on March 29 1794.

The CHESAPEAKE was attacked by the British LEOPARD off Cape Henry in 1807 which affair led to the duel between Commodores James Barron and Stephen Decatur, and was one of the causes leading to the War of 1812. She was captured off Boston, 1 June 1813, by the British frigate SHANNON, on which occasion her commander, Capt. James Lawrence, uttered his celebrated dying words, "Don't Give Up the Ship", which have become a tradition in the Navy. The CHESAPEAKE was taken into the Royal Navy and, in 1820 broken up at Portsmouth, England, her timbers being used to build a flour mill at Wickham.

USS Delaware graphicDry Dock #1
Plans for Drydock #1, dated March 3, 1827, were signed by President Andrew Jackson. Drydock #1 was designated the "NORFOLK DOCK".

Boston Naval Shipyard, now closed, started construction before Norfolk Naval Shipyard in the effort to have the first functioning drydock in the western hemisphere. But Norfolk Naval Shipyard won that race by opening Dry Dock One with USS DELAWARE inside on June 17, 1833. Boston trailed by a week, with USS CONSTITUTION being its first ship to be drydocked. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard claims to have the first floating drydock, with use beginning in 1852.

USS Texas photoUSS Texas
The battleship USS Texas (BB 35) is shown leaving Norfolk Naval Shipyard in March 1948 to begin its journey to the state of Texas, where it was presented as a memorial. Built at Newport News Shipbuilding Company between 1911 and 1914, the 27,000-ton warship was completely modernized at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in the 1920s. The old Norfolk skyline and the Norfolk-Portsmouth ferry are also visible in the background.



USS Raleigh photoUSS Raleigh
The USS Raleigh was launched on March 31, 1892 at the north end of the shipyard, near what now is Trophy Park. The Navy's eighth cruiser, the Raleigh served in the Spanish-American War and was sold in 1921. The roof and cupola of building 51 are visible behind the ship. Its machinery was built by New York Navy Yard. RALEIGH saw active service in the Spanish-American War and was sold 5 August 1921.

USS Birmingham photoEarly Flight Test
The Norfolk Naval Shipyard constructed the first flight deck built on a ship. From this deck Eugene B. Ely took off from USS BIRMINGHAM (CS-2) in Hampton Roads on November 14, 1910. The first flight from a ship was made from an 83-foot wooden ramp that sloped five degrees toward the bow.



USS Langley photoUSS Langley CV-1 "The Covered Wagon"
The USS Langley (CV 1) was officially commissioned on March 20 1922. The carrier was named after one of America's pioneers in aeronautical science - Samuel Pierpoint Langley.

On October 17, 1922, a Vought biplane, piloted by Lieutenant V.C. Griffin, rumbled off the wooden flight deck of the USS LANGLEY (CV-1) at anchor in the York River. This was the first takeoff from a U.S. Navy carrier. The LANGLEY, was converted from a collier here at Norfolk Naval Shipyard into the Navy's first aircraft carrier.

1922 was a year full of historic events, including the first landing while underway October 24 and the first catapult launch November 18. The Langley, the Navy's first electrically propelled vessel, was built as the collier USS Jupiter at Mare Island Naval Shipyard and launched in 1911.

On February 27, 1942, the USS Langley (CV 1) was sunk by Japanese bombers south of Java. Converted at the Shipyard from the coal ship USS Jupiter (AC 3) from 1919 to 1922, the carrier was converted into a seaplane tender in 1937.

USS Skate graphicUSS Skate SSN-578
The USS Skate was the first nuclear submarine overhauled at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. It was the third nuclear submarine commissioned and the first to make a completely submerged trans-Atlantic crossing. It was the second submarine to reach the North Pole and the first to surface there. USS Skate was decommissioned at Pearl Harbor in the summer of 1986 after 29 years of naval service.

USS Delaware graphicUSS Delaware
Keel laid August 1817. Launched 21 October 1820. DELAWARE was the third ship to carry the name. It entered Drydock Number 1 at the Gosport Navy Yard, 17 June 1833, the first ship to be drydocked in America. DELAWARE was burned and sunk at Gosport Navy Yard, 20 April 1861, by evacuating Federal forces.





USS ST LawrenceUSS St Lawrence drawing
Keel laid 1826. Launched 25 March 1847. Stationed at Norfolk Navy Yard as ordnance ship 1865 - 1867, and as marine barracks 1868 - 1875. It was sold 31 December 1875.




CSS Virginia drawingCSS Virginia
The CSS VIRGINIA was constructed from the partly burned U.S. steam frigate MERRIMAC in drydock No. 1 at Gosport Navy Yard. She entered dock on 30 May 1861 and left dock and attacked the Federal squadron in Hampton Roads on 8 March 1862, engaged the MONITOR on 9 March 1862. When the Navy Yard was evacuated by the Confederate forces, the VIRGINIA was found to be too deep for navigation in the James River and to avoid capture was destroyed by her own crew off Craney Island 11 May 1862. She was raised 30 May 1876 and broken up in No. 1 drydock.

USS JamestownUSS Jamestown photo
Keel laid 1843. Launched 16 September 1844. JAMESTOWN served blockade duty during the Civil War. It served as a training ship in 1889 and was transferred to Marine Hospital service in 1892. JAMESTOWN was stricken from the Navy Register on 4 September 1912 but was still afloat in 1932.

USS Powhatan drawingUSS Powhatan
Keel laid 6 August 1847. Launched 14 February 1850. POWHATAN's engines and boilers were built by A. Mehaffy & Co., Gosport, Virginia. One of Commodore Perry's squadron on expedition to Japan 1852 - 1854. It saw active service in the Civil War. The POWHATAN was noted for its speed and good sailing qualities as well as its long period of naval service. It was sold 30 July 1887.

USS Constellation photoUSS Constellation
Second ship to carry the name. Keel laid 1853. Launched 26 August 1854. The last sailing vessel built at the Norfolk Naval Yard using some of the timbers from the original CONSTELLATION. It saw active service during the Civil War, was a receiving ship at Norfolk Navy Yard in 1865, used as Naval Academy practice ship from 1873 - 1892, and a training ship at Newport from 1893 - 1920. CONSTELLATION was still afloat and on the Navy List in the late 1960s.

USS Richmond photoUSS Richmond
Keel laid 1858. Launched January 26, 1860. Her machinery was built at Washington Navy Yard. She saw active service in the Civil War and was an auxiliary receiving ship at Norfolk Navy Yard from 1903 - 1919. RICHMOND was sold in 1919.


USS Galena photoUSS Galena
Vessel and machinery built 1871 - 1879 at Norfolk Navy Yard. She wrecked on Gay Head, Martha's Vineyard in 1891.

Steam Ferry Daisy photoSteam Ferry Daisy
Built 1885. Condemned by survey 29 October 1919.


USS Texas (USS San Marcos) photoUSS Texas (USS San Marcos)
The Navy's first battleship, the USS TEXAS, was commissioned August 15, 1895. Machinery was built by Richmond Locomotive Works, Richmond, Virginia. The TEXAS was also the first all-steel vessel built by Norfolk Naval Shipyard. The ship saw active service in the Spanish-American War. It's name was changed to SAN MARCOS in 1911. The ship was used as a target and sunk in the Chesapeake Bay later that year.

USS Amphitrite photoUSS Amphitrite
Built 1874 - 1883 by Harlan and Hollingsworth, Wilmington, Delaware. AMPHITRITE was rebuilt at Norfolk Navy Yard 1890 - 1894 where it was commissioned 23 April 1895. It saw active service in the Spanish-American War and was stricken from the Navy List on 24 July 1919. It was sold and converted to a floating hotel in 1967 and is still in use at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

 USS Hulbert and USS Noa photoUSS Hulbert & USS Noa
Keels laid November 18, 1918. Launched June 28, 1919.
Participated in the defense of Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941, and other active service in World War II. It was stricken from the Navy List 28 November 1945.
Converted in World War II to a High Speed Transport (APD-24). It was lost in the South West Pacific 12 September 1944.


USS William B. Preston photoUSS Wm B. Preston DD-344
Keel laid November 18, 1918. Launched August 9, 1919. Converted in World War II to Auxillary-Seaplane Tender (Destroyer) AVP-20 and later designated AVD-7. It was sold 23 May 1946.




USS New York photoUSS New York
Completely modernized at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in 1926 - 1927. It served in active service during World Wars I and II. USS NEW YORK was the target ship for the Bikini bomb test and later sunk at sea near Pearl Harbor 8 July 1948.




USS Nevada photoUSS Nevada  BB-36
Built 1912 - 1915 at Fore River S.B. Co. USS NEVADA was completely modernized 1927 - 1929 at Norfolk Navy Yard. It saw active service during World Wars I and II. USS NEVADA was beached during the Pearl Harbor attack 7 December 1941, repaired and rejoined the Fleet in 1943. It was a target ship at the Bikini atomic bomb test and was destroyed 31 July 1948.

USS Arizona photoUSS Arizona
This rare photograph shows the USS Arizona (BB 39) at the Shipyard on June 3 1930. The historic battleship was one of several worked on here during the Battleship Modernization Program in the 1930s. In the photograph, the ship's superstructure has been removed and new masts have been installed. The Arizona was sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and now serves as a memorial.

USS Mississippi photoUSS Mississippi
The USS Mississippi (BB 41) underwent an extensive modernization overhaul at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in 1931-33. MISSISSIPPI saw heavy action in the Pacific during World War II. It was converted in 1946 at Norfolk Navy Yard to a training and gunnery ship and designated AG-128.

USS Tucker photoUSS Tucker
Keel laid 15 August 1934. Launched 26 February 1936. TUCKER was one of the Navy's first all welded vessels. It saw active service during World War II and was sunk off New Hebrides on 4 August 1942.


USS Downes photoUSS Downes  DD-375
Keel laid August 15, 1934. Launched April 22, 1936.
Destroyed by Japanese bombs at Pearl Harbor while in drydock 7 December 1941. Its machinery was salvaged and placed in a new hull at Mare Island. DOWNES was the first of twelve vessels lost in World War II which had been built at Norfolk Navy Yard.




USS Bagley  DD-386
Keel laid July 31, 1935. Launched September 3, 1936.

USS Bagley photo

USS Helm and USS BlueUSS Blue DD-387 & USS Helm DD-388
Keels laid September 25, 1935.








USS Rowan

USS Rowan
Keel laid 25 June 1937. Launched 5 May 1938. ROWAN saw active service during World War II and was sunk by enemy action off Italy 11 September 1943.



USS StackUSS Stack
Keel laid 25 June 1937. Launched 5 May 1938. STACK saw active service during World War II. It was a target ship at Bikini atomic bomb test and was later destroyed 24 April 1948.


USS WainwrightUSS Wainwright
Keel laid 7 June 1938. Launched 1 June 1939. USS WAINWRIGHT saw active service during World War II. It was a target ship at Bikini atomic bomb test and later destroyed 2 July 1948.





USS WahtahUSS Wahtah
Keel laid 28 August 1939.
Launched 14 December 1939.


USS AlabamaUSS Alabama
The Shipyard began building the 3,500-ton battleship on February 1, 1940 and launched it February 16, 1942. The USS ALABAMA (BB-60) was commissioned at the Shipyard on August 16, 1942.




Minesweeper AUK-AM-57
Keel laid April 15, 1941. Launched August 26, 1941.

Minesweeper AUK-AM-57

Water Barge YW-59
Keel laid July 26, 1941. Launched August 29, 1941.

Water Barge YW-59

USS Herndon
Keel laid 26 August 1941. Launched 5 February 1942. HERNDON saw active service during World War II.

USS Herndon

USS Shubrick
Keel laid 17 February 1942. Launched 18 April 1942. SHUBRICK saw active service during World War II and was sold 28 September 1947.

USS Shubrick

USS Kentucky BB-66USS Kentucky BB-66
Keel laid March 7, 1942. Construction was suspended April 17, 1946 when 70% completed.

Landing Craft, Mechanized LCM
Fifty of these 50 foot vessels were built starting May 20, 1942 and completing August 21, 1942.

Landing Craft, Mechanized

Tank Landing ShipTank Landing Ship
The Shipyard built 20 tank landing ships (LST's) during World War II, for use in amphibious landings at Normandy, Southern France and on Pacific Islands. The Shipyard laid the first keel on July 17 1942, for LST 333. This ship was sunk by a submarine in the Mediterranean on June 22 1943. Four of the 20 LSTs were sunk during the war.

USS Reuben James and USS SimsUSS Sims & USS Reuben James
Keels laid 7 September 1942. Launched 6 February 1943.

SIMS was altered to high speed transport (APD-50) and saw active service during World War II.

REUBEN JAMES saw active service during World War II.



USS Shangri-La CV-38USS Shangri-La CV-38
Keel Laid January 15, 1943. Launched February 24, 1944. SHANGRI-LA saw active service during World War II.



USS Reeves & USS Fechteler
Keels laid 7 February 1943. Launched 22 April 1943.

REEVES was altered to a high speed transport (APD-52) and saw active service during World War II.

FECHTELER was sunk by a submarine in the Mediterranean Sea on 4 May 1944.

USS Fechteler and USS Reeves

Sea Plane Wrecking Derrick YSD-40
Keel laid March 8, 1943. Launched May 6, 1943.

Sea Plane Wrecking Derrick YSD-40

USS Lake Champlain CV-39USS Lake Champlain CV-39
Keel laid March 15, 1943. Launched November 2, 1944. LAKE CHAMPLAIN was at Norfolk Navy Yard for post shakedown availability when the war with Japan ended. It established a new world's record for trans-Atlantic crossing while transporting troops from Europe in November 1945.

USS ChaseUSS Chase
Keel laid 16 March 1943. Launched 24 April 1943. CHASE was altered to a high-speed transport (APD-54). It saw active service during World War II and was sold 13 November 1946.



Floating Drydock (Machinery)  YRD(M)-3
Keel laid April 15, 1943. Launched May 14, 1943.

Floating Drydock (Machinery) YRD(M)-3

USS Laning & USS Loy
USS Loy and USS LaningKeels laid 23 April 1943. Launched 4 July 1943.

LANING was altered to a high speed transport (APD-55) and saw active service in World War II.

LOY was altered to a high speed transport (APD-56) and saw active service in World War II.

USS LovelaceUSS Lovelace
Keel laid 22 May 1943. Launched 4 July 1943. LOVELACE saw active service during World War II.




USS TarawaUSS Tarawa
Keel laid 1 March 1944. Launched 12 May 1945 and completed 26 January 1946, too late for action in World War II.




USS Bulwark and USS BoldUSS Bold & USS Bulwark
Keels laid 12 December 1951. Christened 28 March 1953.





Return to top

Former Shipyard Commanders





Captain Richard Dale 1794 July 1794 SLOOP-OF-WAR
William Pennock July 1794 30 April 1798  
Captain Thomas Williams 30 April 1798 16 July 1799  
Captain Samuel Barron 16 July 1799 August 1799  
William Pennock August 1799 26 April 1802  
Daniel Bedinger 26 April 1802 10 February 1808  
Theodorick Armistead 10 February 1808 7 July 1810  
Captain Samuel Barron 7 July 1810 10 November 1810  
Lieutenant Robert Henley 10 November 1810 1 May 1811 DD-39
Captain Samuel Evans 1 May 1811 10 August 1812  
Captain John Cassin 10 August 1812 1 June 1821  
Captain Lewis Warrington 1 June 1821 1 December 1824 See below
Captain James Renshaw 1 December 1824 25 May 1825  
Captain James Barron 25 May 1825 26 May 1831  
Captain Lewis Warrington 26 May 1831 7 October 1840 DD-30
Captain William B Shubrick 7 October 1840 1 October 1843 STEAMER
Captain Jesse Wilkinson 1 October 1843 1 October 1846  
Captain Charles W. Skinner 1 October 1846 1 June 1847  
Captain Lawrence Kearney 1 June 1847 19 January 1848 DD-432
Captain John D. Sloat 19 January 1848 17 February 1851 DD-316
Captain Silas H. Stringham 17 February 1851 1 April 1852 TB-19
Captain Samuel L. Breese 1 April 1852 10 May 1855  
Captain Issac McKeever 10 May 1855 6 May 1856  
Captain Thomas A. Dornin 6 May 1856 30 April 1859  
Captain Charles H. Bell 30 April 1859 1 August 1860  
Captain Charles S. McCauley 1 August 1860 20 April 1861  
Captain Robert B. Pegram
(Virginia State Navy)
21 April 1861 22 April 1861  
Captain French Forrest
(Virginia State Navy)
22 April 1861 1 July 1861  
Captain French Forrest
(Confederate States Navy)
1 July 1861 15 May 1862 CSS St Tug
Captain Sidney S. Lee
(Confederate States Navy)
15 May 1862 20 May 1862  
Commodore John W. Livingston 20 May 1862 16 November 1864  
Captain John M. Berrien 16 November 1864 31 October 1865  
Commodore Robert B. Hitchcock 31 October 1865 7 August 1866  
Rear Admiral Stephen C. Rowan 7 August 1866 15 August 1867 TB-8
Commodore Augustus H. Kilty 15 August 1867 1 October 1870 DD-137
Rear Admiral Charles H. Davis 1 October 1870 1 July 1873 TB-12
Commodore Thomas H. Stevens 1 July 1873 1 July 1876 DD-86
Commodore J. Blakeley Creighton 1 July 1876 1 July 1879  
Commodore Aaron K. Hughes 1 July 1879 3 July 1882  
Commodore William K. Mayo 3 July 1882 10 April 1885  
Commodore William T. Truxton 10 April 1885 11 March 1886  
Commodore George Brown 11 March 1886 14 January 1890  
Commodore Aaron W. Weaver 14 January 1890 16 January 1893  
Captain Edward E. Potter 16 January 1893 29 July 1893  
Rear Admiral George Brown 29 July 1893 1 June 1897  
Rear Admiral Norman H. Farquhar 1 June 1897 5 October 1899 DD-304
Rear Admiral Albert S. Barker 5 October 1899 16 July 1900 DD-213
Rear Admiral Charles S. Cotton 16 July 1900 1 April 1903  
Rear Admiral Purnell F. Harrington 1 April 1903 7 July 1906  
Rear Admiral Robert H. Berry 7 July 1906 26 December 1907  
Rear Admiral Edward D. Tussig 26 December 1907 20 November 1909 DD-746
Rear Admiral William A. Marshall 20 November 1909 1 November 1911  
Rear Admiral Robert M. Doyle 1 November 1911 1 December 1913  
Rear Admiral Nathaniel R. Usher 1 December 1913 25 Sept 1914  
*Commodore Louis R. deSteiguer 25 Sept 1914 4 January 1915  
Rear Admiral Frank E. Beatty 4 January 1915 25 November 1915 DD-640
Rear Admiral Walter McLean 25 November 1915 4 February 1918  
Rear Admiral Augustus F. Fechteler 5 February 1918 10 April 1919 DE-157
*Captain Benjamin F. Hutchison 10 April 1919 15 November 1919  
Rear Admiral Guy H. Burrage 15 November 1919 1 July 1921  
Rear Admiral Philip Andrews 1 July 1921 6 June 1923  
Rear Admiral Henry J. Ziegemeier 6 June 1923 10 January 1925  
*Captain Clarence S. Kempff 10 January 1925 18 May 1925  
*Captain William T. Tarrant 18 May 1925 16 November 1925  
Rear Admiral William C. Cole 16 November 1925 2 July 1928 DE-641
Rear Admiral Wat T. Cluverius 2 July 1928 31 May 1930  
Rear Admiral Frank H. Brumby 31 May 1930 28 Sept 1932  
*Captain William N. Jeffers 28 Sept 1932 14 February 1933 DD-621
Rear Admiral A. St. Clair Smith 14 February 1933 23 July 1935  
Rear Admiral Charles S. Freeman 23 July 1935 15 October 1937  
*Captain Lawrence P. Treadwell 15 October 1937 22 November 1937  
Rear Admiral Manley H. Simons 22 November 1937 17 June 1941  
*Captain Lawrence P. Treadwell 17 June 1941 1 August 1941  
Rear Admiral Felix X. Gygax 1 August 1941 19 October 1944  
Rear Admiral Carl H. Jones 19 October 1944 1 December 1945  
Commodore Lisle F. Small 1 December 1945 1 November 1946  
*Captain Noah W. Gokey 1 November 1946 19 March 1947  
Rear Admiral Homer N. Wallin 18 February 1949 15 February 1951  
Rear Admiral David H. Clark 15 February 1951 30 June 1953  
*Captain William H. Leahy 30 June 1953 11 August 1953  
Rear Admiral Logan McKee 11 August 1953 13 Sept 1956  
Rear Admiral George A Holderness, Jr. 13 Sept 1956 30 June 1958  
Rear Admiral William H. Leahy 30 June 1958 29 June 1960  

Rear Admiral William E. Howard, Jr.

29 June 1960 28 June 1963  
Rear Admiral James M. Farrin 28 June 1963 30 June 1965  
Rear Admiral James A. Brown 30 June 1965 27 June 1970  
Rear Admiral Jamie Adair 27 June 1970 24 June 1972  
Rear Admiral Randolph W. King 24 June 1972 22 June 1973  
Rear Admiral Joe Williams, Jr. 22 June 1973 31 August 1974  
Rear Admiral Elmer T. Westfall 31 August 1974 25 June 1977  
Captain Alfred Kurzenhauser 25 June 1977 26 July 1980  
Commodore David P. Donohue 26 July 1980 29 April 1983  
Captain Michael R. Gluse 29 April 1983 12 June 1987  
Captain Edward S. McGinley 12 June 1987 11 May 1990  
Rear Admiral James L. Taylor 11 May 1990 12 August 1994  
Captain Willam R. Klemm 12 August 1994 8 August 1997  
Captain Timothy E. Scheib 8 August 1997 18 August 2000  
Captain Mark A. Hugel 18 August 2000 7 November 2003  
Captain Joseph F. Campbell 7 November 2003 30 June 2006  
Captain Richard D. Berkey 30 June 2006 26 June 2009  
Captain William C. Kiestler 27 June 2009 30 June 2010  
Captain Anthony J. Mullarky 30 June 2010 17 September 2010  
Captain Gregory R. Thomas, USN 17 September 2010 23 May 2011  
Rear Admiral Joseph F.
23 May 2011 16 February 2012



Return to top




Shipyard Commander's Residence (Quarters "A")
Construction of the original brick portion of Quarters "A" began in the fall of 1837, several months after Congress authorized its creation as the second commandant's house in the shipyard history.

Commodore Lewis Warrington, who twice commanded the shipyard, was the first shipyard commander to enjoy Quarters "A" after the gracious central section was completed in 1838. His two-block move began from the original two- story brick commandant's house built in 1805 on the riverside shoulder of Water Street (now Warrington Ave.). It was located about midway between Hammerhead 110 and Building 59.

The first commandant's quarters continued to serve the shipyard variously as a residence and as an office until 1861 when it was destroyed by fires set by federal personnel evacuating the yard during the onset of the Civil War.

Commander's QuartersWarrington's rhetoric championing the new Quarters "A" was compelling. In the fall of 1836, 10 months after Quarters "B" and "C" were declared ready for occupancy, he wrote Secretary of the Navy Mahlon Dickerson that first on his list of proposed improvements was "a house for the Commander of the Yard.

"The work carrying on, and to be carried on, in the creek south of his present residence, renders it unfit for a family from June to November, on account of its unhealthiness, for the whole year, by reason of its exposure to the noise and the observation of the workmen," he wrote. "For this the mason's estimate is $20,800 and the joiners estimate is $24,604."

His request for more suitable accommodations was forwarded by the Secretary of the Navy to Congress on December 3, 1836. Public Works records in the National Archives show construction outlays in 1837 and 1838.

This two-story, Flemish-bond brick structure is a handsome and finely crafted example of a style in national favor during a period of rapid expansion for the United States and the shipyard.

Quarters "A" has striking features copied from Asher Benjamin's famed book, "The Practical House Carpenter." published in 1830.

The central entry has Doric pilasters, plain full entablature and blocking course. The curving flights of stairs with original iron railings ascend to a landing at the front-door level. Three-part windows, each consisting of two-over-two sash flanking a six-over-six window, have ramped white marble lintels with corner blocks.

Carved pilasters and elaborate jig-sawn balusters help make Quarters "A" a handsome example of its style.  
Profile of Commander's Quarters
Large arches stand between reception rooms. Paralleling the central entrance hall is an elliptical stair with eased and scrolled banister. To the right of the entrance hall is the dining room, and the rear half of the house is occupied by a double parlor separated by a flattened segmental arch with corner block imposts, a central table, and symmetrically molded trim. The Italian marble fireplaces in the double parlors and the dining room are the originals but the hearths may not be. There is a small side porch, a large glass-enclosed sun porch, two kitchens and butler's pantry on the first floor.

The second-floor plan is similar to the first, but double doors rather than an open arch separate the two rear chambers.

Much original detail remains, including paneled window reveals, simple marble mantels and Greek-fret stair brackets.

Frame two-story porches with bracketed cornices were added to the sides and rear of the home, in 1890 and 1910. The stable and carriage house added in 1915 is now a garage. It stands near the site of the greenhouse added in 1915.

The spacious grounds, which once hosted extensive vegetable gardens, now feature spreading oak, crepe myrtle and sycamore trees, as well as more than 100 roses planted and tended by shipyard commanders and their families.

Entries in the Quarters "A" Log date from 1963, when the diary was placed in the residence by friends of Rear Admiral W.E. Howard Jr., who then commanded this historic shipyard.

Entries provide glimpses into the lives and achievements of officers whose names are famous in the naval annals of America, including as Acting Secretary of the Navy and as fleet commanders. Many other outstanding figures of the Navy, the nation and the world have at some time or another visited Quarters "A", sometimes to pay their respects to the commandant while their ships were being overhauled and repaired.

Observers have described hospitality being extended to Quarters "A" guests with style and grace. "Handsome collations...elegant repast...lavish dinner...choice viands" appear in eyewitness accounts. There also have been accounts of simpler entertainment, including potluck suppers, that reflect occupants' continuing enjoyment of a gracious and historic home.

Quarters "A" is listed in the Nation Register of Historic Landmarks.

Historic Quarters (Quarters "K")
Quarters "K" is an early Victorian, three-style house that dates from 1890. Its large, glass-enclosed porch once was a sleeping porch equipped with hammocks before the days of air-conditioning.
A collection of Mexican pottery, bisque dolls, crystal table bells, bull's eyes over doors and window frames, and original ceiling medallions are among the attractions of the eight-bedroom, nine fireplace home.

Return to top


Under Four Flags
Over the past 230 years, shipyarders have seen four sovereign flags flown over the shipyard gates.

The first flag raised over the yard was the British (Old Union, 1606) flag. It was the official yard banner from 1767 until 1775. After the British fled the area, the state of Virginia inherited the yard. The United States did not have an official flag until 1788 as most American units fought under their own pennants.

British (Old Union) FlagCurrent Union flag (1801).



Since the Virginia Navy occupied the shipyard, the colonial flag that reads 'Don't Tread On Me' was probably hoisted daily until the Betsy Ross design replaced the dozen or so that were used from 1775 to the end of the war. The flag used by the Virginia Navy may have had a disjointed snake in 13 sections representing the original colonies sewn in the background. Some may find the design unpleasant, but its message was clear.

Betsy Ross FlagThe first official flag was the United States flag supposedly designed by Betsy Ross and adopted by Congress as being most representative of a united country. The winning design had the traditional 13 alternating red and white stripes and a circle of 13 white stars sewn on a blue background.

Virginia FlagIt wasn't until 1861 that the shipyard added another flag to its collection. On April 21st, the day after Union forces burned and evacuated the shipyard, the seceded Commonwealth of Virginia raised its flag over the industrial post.
The Virginia flag flew less than one week.

Confederate FlagThe Confederate Navy then claimed the shipyard and raised the state flag of the Confederacy in 1862. The flag resembled the Betsy Ross flag but had only seven stars.

After the shipyard was recaptured that same year, the American flag was raised for a second time and has flown over the shipyard ever since. Replicas of the four sovereign flags are still flown occasionally at the shipyard's Fourth Street gate as a memorial to all who worked and fought beneath them.



Return to top




Ships Built by Norfolk Naval Shipyard 

CHESAPEAKE frigate, 36 guns, 1244 tons, keel laid December 10, 1798, launched December 2, 1799
FERRET cutter, 12 guns, length on deck 73', built 1806-1809
GUNBOATS 146 to 155 – length approx 50' built 1808-1810
DELAWARE ship, 74 guns, 2633 tons, keel laid August 1817, launched October 21, 1820
NEW YORK ship, 74 guns, 2633 tons, keel laid 1818, never completed, burned on the stocks by evacuating Federal forces
ST. LAWRENCE frigate, 44 guns, 1708 tons, keel laid 1826, launched March 25, 1847
NATCHEZ sloop, 20 guns, 691 tons, built 1827
JOHN ADAMS sloop, 20 guns, 700 tons, keel laid 1829, launched November 17, 1830
MACEDONIAN frigate, 36 guns, 1341 tons, keel laid 1832, launched 1836
PIONEER brig, 6 guns, 230 tons, built 1836
YORKTOWN sloop, 16 guns, 566 tons, keel laid 1838, launched June 17, 1839
GERM experimental horizontal paddle wheel, steam craft, built 1841
UNION steam schooner, 4 guns, 956 tons, keel laid 1841, launched May 12, 1842
TRUXTUN brig, 10 guns, 331 tons, keel laid 1842, launched April 16, 1842
SOUTHAMPTON storeship, 4 guns, 567 tons, keel laid 1842, launched 1845
PERRY brig, 10 guns, 280 tons, keel laid February 18, 1843, launched May 9, 1843
JAMESTOWN sloop, 20 guns, 1150 tons, keel laid 1843, launched September 16, 1844
POWHATAN steam bark, side-wheel, 9 guns, 2415 tons, keel laid August 6, 1847, launched February 14, 1850
CONSTELLATION corvette, 24 guns, 1278 tons, keel laid 1853, launched August 26, 1854
ROANOKE steam frigate, screw, 40 guns, 3400 tons, launched December 13, 1855
COLORADO steam frigate, screw, 40 guns, 3400 tons, keel laid May 1854, launched June 19, 1856
DACOTAH steam sloop, screw, 6 guns, 998 tons, keel laid 1858, launched March 23, 1859
RICHMOND steam sloop, screw, 14 guns, 2700 tons, keel laid 1858, launched January 26, 1860
POCAHONTAS steam sloop, screw, 5 guns, 694 tons, rebuilt and enlarged from 558 to 694 tons
VIRGINIA ironclad ram, steam screw, 10 guns, 3200 tons, constructed from steam frigate MERRIMACK
RICHMOND ironclad ram, steam screw, 4 guns, length 180', keel laid 1861, launched May 6, 1862
NANSEMOND gunboat, wood, steam screw, 2 guns, 80 tons, built 1862
HAMPTON gunboat, wood, steam screw, 2 guns, 80 tons, built 1862
NORFOLK gunboat, wood, steam screw, building 1862, burned on the stocks by evacuating Confederate forces
PORTSMOUTH gunboat, wood, steam screw, building 1862, burned on the stocks by evacuating Confederate forces
ESCAMBIA gunboat, wood, iron protected, 2 guns, construction begun, burned on the stocks by evacuating Confederate forces
ELIZABETH gunboat, wood, iron protected, 2 guns, construction begun, burned on the stocks by evacuating Confederate forces
YADKIN gunboat, wood, iron protected, 2 guns, construction begun, burned on the stocks by evacuating Confederate forces
GALENA steam sloop, screw, 8 guns, 1900 tons, built 1871-1879
ALLIANCE steam bark, wood, screw, 6 guns, 1375 tons, keel laid 1873, launched March 8, 1875 as the Huron
DAISY steam, ferry, wood, length 64' 6", built 1885
TEXAS battleship, twin screw, main battery - two 12" and six 6" rifles, 6315 tons, keel laid June 1, 1889, launched June 28, 1892
RALEIGH cruiser, twin screw, 11 guns, 3183 tons, keel laid December 15, 1889, launched March 31, 1892
AMPHITRITE Monitor, twin screw, double turrets, 4 guns, 3990 tons, rebuilt 1890-1894
SAMOSET harbor tug, steel, 225 tons, keel laid January 13, 1896, launched March 20, 1897
COURIER steam Ferry, wood, length 56' 8", built 1897
NAVY YARD steam ferry, composite, length 80', built 1901
GALVESTON cruiser, twin screw, 10 guns, 3200 tons, construction completed February 15, 1905
INDIAN steam ferry, wood, length 60' 9", built 1906
PATUXENT ocean tug, steel, 755 tons, keel laid July 25, 1907, launched May 16, 1908
CHEMUNG ocean tug, steel, 575 tons, keel laid October 2, 1915, launched April 1, 1916 as the Pocahontas
SUBMARINE CHASERS SC–116 TO 136 – 21 vessels, wood, 110' long, triple screw, built 1917-1918
CRAVEN DD–70 – destroyer, 1125 tons, keel laid November 20, 1917, launched June 29, 1918
HULBERT DD–342, destroyer, four funnels, 1215 tons, keel laid November 18, 1918, launched June 28, 1919
NOA DD–343, destroyer, four funnels, 1215 tons, keel laid November 18, 1918, launched June 28, 1919
WM. B. PRESTON DD–344, destroyer, four funnels, 1215 tons, keel laid November 18, 1918, launched August 9, 1919
LANGLEY CV–1, aircraft carrier, 12700 tons, electrically propelled, converted from JUPITER 1919-1922
NORTH CAROLINA BB–52, battleship, 43200 tons, keel laid January 12, 1920, construction suspended February 8, 1922 and scrapped in accordance with treaty limiting Naval Armaments
TEXAS BB–35, battleship, 27000 tons, modernized 1925-1926
NEW YORK BB–34, battleship, 27000 tons, modernized 1926-1927
NEVADA BB–36, battleship, 29000 tons, modernized 1927-1929
ARIZONA BB–39, battleship, 32600 tons, modernized 1929-1931
MISSISSIPPI BB–41, battleship, 33000 tons, modernized 1931-1933
IDAHO BB–42, battleship, 33400 tons, modernized 1931-1934
TUCKER DD–374, destroyer, 1500 tons, keel laid August 15, 1934, launched February 26, 1936
DOWNES DD–375, destroyer, 1500 tons, keel laid August 15, 1934, launched April 22, 1936
BAGLEY DD–386, destroyer, 1500 tons, keel laid July 31, 1935, launched September 3, 1936
BLUE DD–387, destroyer, 1500 tons, keel laid September 25, 1935, launched May 27, 1936
HELM DD–388, destroyer, 1500 tons, keel laid September 25, 1935, launched May 27, 1936
ROWAN DD–405, destroyer, 1500 tons, keel laid June 25, 1937, launched May 5, 1938
STACK DD–406, destroyer, 1500 tons, keel laid June 25, 1937, launched May 5, 1938
MORRIS DD–417, destroyer, 1570 tons, keel laid June 7, 1938, launched June 1, 1939
WAINWRIGHT DD–419, destroyer, 1570 tons, keel laid June 7, 1938, launched June 1, 1939
RAVEN AM–55, minesweeper, 756 tons, keel laid June 28, 1939, launched August 24, 1940
OSPREY AM–56, minesweeper, 744 tons, keel laid June 28, 1939, launched August 24, 1940
WAHTAH YTB–140, harbor tug (big), 237 tons, keel laid August 28, 1939, launched December 14, 1939
YF–257 covered lighter (self propelled), keel laid January 31, 1940, launched June 29, 1940
ALABAMA BB–60, battleship, 35000 tons, keel laid February 1, 1940, launched February 16, 1942
YF–287 covered lighter (self propelled), keel laid February 21, 1941, launched May 3, 1941
AUK – AM–57 minesweeper, 890 tons, keel laid April 15, 1941, launched August 26, 1941
YW–59 water barge (self propelled), keel laid July 26, 1941, launched August 29, 1941
HERNDON DD–638, destroyer, 1630 tons, keel laid August 26, 1941, launched February 5, 1942
SHUBRICK DD–639, destroyer, 1630 tons, keel laid February 17, 1942, launched April 18, 1942
KENTUCKY BB–66, battleship, 45000 tons, keel laid March 7, 1942, construction suspended April 17, 1946; scrapped 70 percent complete
LANDING CRAFT, MECHANIZED LCM, 50 vessels, 50' in length, program started May 20, 1942, completed August 21, 1942
LANDING SHIPS, TANK LST–333 TO 352, 20 vessels, 1625 tons, program started July 17, 1942, completed February 7, 1943
REUBEN JAMES DE–153, escort vessel, 1400 tons, keel laid September 7, 1942, launched February 6, 1943
SIMS DE–154, escort vessel, 1400 tons, keel laid September 7, 1942, launched February 6, 1943
YSD–38 seaplane wrecking derrick, keel laid November 10, 1942, launched January 16, 1943
HOPPING DE–155 escort vessel, 1400 tons, keel laid December 15, 1942, launched March 10, 1943
SHANGRI- LA CV–38, aircraft carrier, 27100 tons, keel laid January 15, 1943, launched February 24, 1944
YSD–39 seaplane wrecking derrick, keel laid January 18, 1943, launched March 8, 1943
REEVES DE–156, escort vessel, 1400 tons, keel laid February 7, 1943, launched April 22, 1943
FECHTELER DE–157, escort vessel, 1400 tons, keel laid February 7, 1943, launched April 22, 1943
YSD–40 seaplane wrecking derrick, keel laid March 8, 1943, launched May 6, 1943
LAKE CHAMPLAIN CV–39, aircraft carrier, 27100 tons, keel laid March 15, 1943, launched November 2, 1944
CHASE DE–158, escort vessel, 1400 tons, keel laid March 16, 1943, launched April 24, 1943
YRD(H) –3 workshop, floating dry dock (hull), keel laid April 1, 1943, launched May 14, 1943
YRD(M) –3 workshop, floating dry dock (machinery), keel laid April 5, 1943, launched May 14, 1943
LANING DE–159, escort vessel, 1400 tons, keel laid April 23, 1943, launched July 4, 1943
LOY DE–160, escort vessel, 1400 tons, keel laid April 23, 1943, launched July 4, 1943
BARBER – DE–161 escort vessel, 1400 tons, keel laid April 27, 1943, launched May 20, 1943
YSD–41 seaplane wrecking derrick, keel laid May 7, 1943, launched June 16, 1943
LOVELACE DE–198, escort vessel, 1400 tons, keel laid May 22, 1943, launched July 4, 1943
ATHERTON – DE–169 escort vessel, 1240 tons, transferred to NNSY June 23, 1943 when 73% complete, completed September 17, 1943
BOOTH – DE–170 escort vessel, 1240 tons, transferred to NNSY June 26, 1943 when 57% completed, completed September 30, 1943
CARROLL – DE–171 escort vessel, 1240 tons, transferred to NNSY June 26, 1943, when 53% complete, completed November 8, 1943
THOMAS – DE–102 escort vessel, 1240 tons, transferred to NNSY August 4, 1943 when 53% completed, completed December 4, 1943
YRD(H) –4 workshop, floating dry dock (hull), keel laid August 16, 1943, launched September 20, 1943
YRD(M) –4 workshop, floating dry dock (machinery), keel laid August 17, 1943, launched September 20, 1943
BREEMAN – DE–104 escort vessel, 1240 tons, transferred to NNSY September 8, 1943 when 46% complete, completed December 27, 1943
YRD(H) –5 workshop, floating dry dock (hull), keel laid October 15, 1943, launched October 26, 1943
YRD(M) –5 workshop, floating dry dock (machinery), keel laid October 15, 1943, launched October 26, 1943
TARAWA CV–40, aircraft carrier, 27100 tons, keel laid March 1, 1944, launched May 12, 1945
YF–1092 covered lighter (self propelled), keel laid January 14, 1946, launched March 15, 1946
BOLD AM–424, minesweeper, wood (non-metallic), 665 tons, keel laid December 12, 1951, christened March 28, 1953



AM–425, minesweeper, wood (non-metallic), 665 tons, keel laid December 12, 1951, christened March 28, 1953



Return to top


How did the Navy's oldest and most successful shipyard come to be called Norfolk Naval Shipyard?
The name stems from colonial development that came 147 years before the formation of the United States government and about 130 years before the establishment of the city of Portsmouth.

In 1634, the colony of Virginia was divided into eight shires or counties. English colonist John Wood applied for a patent for a shipyard along the Elizabeth River as early as 1620. The area along the Elizabeth River was named Norfolk County.

For more than 300 years, Norfolk County and Norfolk - the dominant city in the area - continued to serve as significant and vital political entities. Although the shipyard was called Gosport by its founder in 1767, and this name was used by the U.S. Navy when it leased the yard in 1794 and purchased it in 1801, the shipyard was often called "Norfolk" or the "Gosport Yard at Norfolk" in official correspondence.

Early pay records bear the name "U.S. Navy Yard, Norfolk". Ships logs, including those of the USS CONSTITUTION (Old Ironsides) and USS CONSTELLATION, entered the name Norfolk when those ships were undergoing repairs in the shipyard. Early pilot records also show the name Norfolk in reference to the yard. Nineteenth century maps also designate the shipyard as Norfolk because of its location within Norfolk County.

On, May 10, 1862, the shipyard's name was designated as "U.S. Navy Yard, Norfolk". The Navy Department further focused the designation in 1929 with "Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth". The present name, Norfolk Naval Shipyard was formalized in December, 1945. It is a Navy tradition to name a station or yard after the largest cities in the geographical area.

Norfolk, the name with the greatest staying power through the centuries, also has provided the greatest geographic recognition that also reflects the location of the heart of the United States Atlantic fleet. Under this name, it has won world recognition as perhaps the finest repair and overhaul yard in history.


Return to top

Rules of the 1800's
For the Regulation of the Navy-Yard at Gosport
It being essential to the Public Interest, that the Officers, Workmen, and others employed in the Service of the United States, at the Navy Yard at Gosport, should conduct themselves with Order and Regularity in the execution of their several Duties, whereby the same may be carried on with Economy and Dispatch - I HEREBY ORDER AND DIRECT, that all Officers, Workmen, and others of every denomination whatsoever, employed therein, do conform themselves to the following REGULATIONS as a GENERAL RULE for their conduct.


Each officer will receive from the Constructor, such Orders and Instructions, from time to time, as may be judged best for the Public Service, to which he must undeviatingly adhere: He will have such persons placed under his directions as may be deemed necessary: he will direct them in the performance of such parts of the work as he may be entrusted with, which will be his duty to forward by all means in his power, and see that the same be properly and efficiently executed, at the smallest expense possible.

He will discourage those placed under his direction, from quarrelling, committing excesses of any kind, or absenting themselves from work. He will use his utmost endeavors to protect all public property placed under his charge, or otherwise disposed. It is expected, that he shall attend to the business of the Navy Yard in Preference to any other whatever, and shall on no account absent himself therefrom, without leave, except in case of sickness, or other unavoidable causes. He will be careful to check each person under his direction, for the time he may be absent from his work: and observe those who show an idle disposition: and in all cases to report transgressors.


All persons on being entered in the Navy Yard, will report their real names to the Constructor and Clerk, that they may be inserted in the roll.

Such wages will be allowed to each Workman or other person, as the Constructor may judge his qualifications entitle him to receive, which shall be paid on the Saturday of each week, (or as soon after as can be done) to himself, or the person who may be qualified to receive the same, as circumstances may be.

To each Workman who may be sent on board any ship or vessel to work, the same lying below Fort Norfolk, one quarter of a dollar per day, will be allowed him in addition to his Wages at the Yard: to those who may work on board any ship or vessel above that place, the same wages will be paid him, as if he had actually worked in the yard, and no more.

As soon as possible after his name has been entered on the roll, he will be placed under the direction of a Quarterman, or other Officer, as occasion may require, to whom he will apply for instructions respecting his work, &c. and from whose orders he shall in no wise deviate, (unless directed so to do by a Superior Officer) but in all respects he is to execute the same with diligence, care, fidelity, economy and dispatch.

The time of Daily Labour will be from sun-rise to sun-set: The commencement and termination of which will be noticed by Ringing of the Yard-Bell, as well as at Breakfast and Dinner: for the former three quarters of an hour in Winter, and one Hour in Summer will be allowed; for the latter, one Hour in Winter and two in Summer: The Winter to be considered from the first of September to the first of May; and the Summer from the first of May to the first of September following. N. B. From Sun-rise to Noon is to be understood as comprising one half a Day's Work; and from Noon to Sun-set the remaining half - and he shall not at any time quit his work, before the Bell rings for that purpose, without leave of his Officer, unless compelled thereto by rain or other unavoidable cause.

To perform his work in the best and most expeditious manner, he shall provide himself with such Tools as the officer placed over him may deem required for his occupation, -- He shall not make use of Tools belonging to another person, without his leave, neither shall he conceal, injure, nor destroy them.

He shall not loiter at his work, nor set an example of idleness to others by unnecessary conversations or otherways - He shall neither Game, Quarrel, give abusive Language, get intoxicated, or insult any Person whatsoever within the Yard, nor be absent on Public Day.

He is not to perform work for individuals during the hours of Work, without leave being first obtained; and it will be expected that he shall not leave his Work to perform Military Duty without leave (except in the case of an emergency) unless the Fine for absence shall exceed the amount of a Day's Work.

He shall not willfully Waste, Destroy, nor embezzle any part of the Public Property, nor suffer others to do it; and it is strictly forbidden to cut up any serviceable Timber, Boards, &c. for Chips - He is not to break the Fence of the Yard , or enclosures, nor take off any Boards. &c. from the same, nor suffer others to do it, without leave being first obtained from the principle Officer at the time in the Yard.

In case of fire happening in the Yard, or to any Ship of War, or other Public Vessel lying in the vicinity thereof, it will be required of him to use every endeavor in his powers to extinguish the flame, and preserve and protect all Public property that may in any wise be endangered thereby - And it is strictly ordered that no fires shall be kindled in the Yard, but at such places as may be appointed for that purpose.

He will be accountable for such Tools, Implements, &c. belonging to the United States, as he may occasionally be furnished with, and in case they are left or willfully destroyed, the amount of their value will be deducted from his wages.

If any person finds himself insulted, or personally aggrieved, he is required to make his case known to the Constructor, on in his absence to the Superior Officer, who will take the same into consideration, and afford him such redress as circumstances may dictate.

As it may happen that Workmen and others, whose residence is distant from the Yard, may have occasion to quit their Work on Saturday Afternoons at an early hour, those will have the time noticed, and when the same shall amount to a Day's Work, it will be deducted from their wages.

A printed copy of the preceding "Rules for the Regulation of the Navy Yard:" shall be hung up in the CLERK's OFFICE. Or some other conspicuous place, for the perusal of all Persons concerned; and no plea will be admitted of ignorance of any part thereof.

Given under my hand at the Navy Yard, Gosport, this______day of______________, 18____

JOSIAH FOX, Navy Constructor and Superintendent.



Return to top



Birthplace of Naval Technology
The Norfolk Naval Shipyard has built historic ships, developed mines, and torpedoes, outfitted ships for around- the-world diplomatic voyages, aided the fleet during the wars, made the transitions from sails to coal and oil and then to nuclear power, and developed skills and technologies that embrace Dahlgren guns, 16-inch batteries and guided missiles.

Milestone ships have included the USS CHESAPEAKE (one of the first six built after the Navy Department was established), the USS TEXAS (the first U.S. Navy battleship to be commissioned), the USS RALEIGH (early cruiser), the USS MERRIMACK/CSS VIRGINIA (pioneer ironclad), and the USS LANGLEY (first U.S. Navy aircraft carrier).

The nation's first drydock is still functioning here, with a nearby marker proclaiming it as a national historic landmark. A few blocks away are three more official landmarks - Quarters A (1837) and, Quarters B and C (1830) .

Within the span of history here, the shipyard has hosted presidents, created the Navy's first hospital, recruited workers from many states, repaired and overhauled thousands of American and allied ships, and earned a host of awards.

Just as it has since being charged with building a ship capable of protecting the American merchant ships from the Barbary pirates, the shipyard is still serving the nation with its work on ships that keep the world's sea lanes free and also serve as ambassadors of history's greatest democracy.



Return to top


The Burning of Gosport Navy Yard
An on-scene war correspondent with THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER wrote the following story that appeared in his newspaper May 13, 1862. It describes how the Confederates partially burned Gosport Navy Yard, forerunner of Norfolk Naval Shipyard, when they heard Northern troops had occupied the city of Norfolk. For historical accuracy, all expletives about the Confederates appear as they were printed, 135 years ago. It should be noted that the yard was not totally destroyed, as envisioned by the writer.

"The barbarous and wanton Rebels on the other side of the river have just learned that the city is occupied by Federal troops, and they are already applying the torch to everything that will burn at the Gosport Navy Yard. Now, at eight a.m., I can plainly see the entire yard in flames, which leap madly upward as if fanned by the cowardly Rebels behind as they fly before the advance of the union armies. The ship house, machine shop, carpenter shop and barracks, with the officers' quarters, are all in flames and will be totally destroyed. The steamers William Selden, Cayuga and Pilot Bay are burning in the stream, off the Navy yard, as are a large number of schooners and canal boats. They have now just set fire to a canal boat, which is running down the stream with the tide, but has her rudder so strapped up that she is heading in for the shore. There, she strikes the main street wharf, but the fire engines are on the ground, and the flames do not communicate. The citizens have scuttled her, and she will sink somewhere below."



Return to top


Tar House
Photo of the Tar House insideThe Tar House is one of the oldest surviving structures at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Dating back to 1834, this small, eight sided building was built with leftover granite blocks from the construction of Dry Dock One between 1827 and 1833. It is predated by the dry dock and by Quarters "B", "C" and "D" (but not by Quarters "A").

Architect, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, designer of the south wing of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. as well as the Capitol's reconstruction after the British destroyed it during the War of 1812, may have designed Building 3.

Originally used as a tar pitch cooking house, Building 3 has since been used as a storage facility. Former British Royal Navy officer and commissioner of the Virginia State Navy, Captain James Maxwell, claimed that he provided the money for the construction of Building 3.

Located adjacent to
Photo of the Tar House outside Trophy Park, this building now features assorted souvenirs, snacks and food items. Merchandise includes NNSY coffee mugs, hats, patches, pins, clocks, apparel and more. Convenience items include sodas, snacks, hot dogs, magazines, toiletries and a number of health and comfort items. It has been refurbished and is open weekdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. When TRT trolley tours of downtown Portsmouth begin Memorial Day weekend, the Tar House is also open on weekends.



Return to top

Thanks for reading about Norfolk Naval Shipyard's History!