Newport News Shipbuilding has manufactured ships in times of peace, war, adversity, and abundance for the nation. Since 1886, Newport News Shipbuilding has built over 800 ships, including both naval and commercial vessels.
In 1940, the Navy ordered a battleship, seven more aircraft carriers, and four cruisers. In World War II, NNS built ships for the US Government’s Emergency Shipbuilding Program and was able to fill requests for “Liberty ships” as needed quickly. The North Carolina Shipbuilding Company was founded on the banks of the Cape Fear River, and its first Liberty ship was launched before the end of 1941. In total, 243 ships were built, including 186 Liberty ships. The Navy awarded the company its “E” pennant for excellence in shipbuilding during the war. NNS ranked 23rd among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts.
These photos offer a glimpse into the life of workers and the construction of ships in the Newport News Shipyard during the 1940s.