How Destroyers Were Built

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One Of The Building Yards

Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company's Kearny, New Jersey yard is seen in this July 1941 photo.

The destroyers USS Bristol (DD-453) and USS Ellyson (DD-454) are at left awaiting launching in a  few days. Various merchant ships are under construction in the center. Toward the right are two light cruisers, USS Atlanta (CL-51) and USS Juneau (CL-52). To their right are the destroyers USS Hambleton (DD-455) and USS Rodman (DD-456).

To see details about Bethlehem Steel's Staten Island Shipyard, follow this link.

Keel1.jpg (20919 bytes)   Keel Laying

The first step was the laying of the keel. The keel may be a single "I" beam or it may be a prefabricated section. Here is the keel section of DD-854, a Gearing Class destroyer, being laid on 7 July 1945 at Bethlehem Steel's Staten Island Shipyard.

Just out of sight to the right of this view is a destroyer that was launched just moments before this photo was taken. It was common during World War II to swing the keel of the next ship into place as the one before her entered the water.


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The Ship Takes Shape

USS Hart (DD-594), a Fletcher Class destroyer, under construction at Puget Sound Shipyard in January 1944.

Hart's keel was laid about five months before this photo was taken.

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Ready For Launching

USS Brownson (DD-868) just hours before launching at Bethlehen Steel's Staten Island Shipyard. The stand for the official party is in the foreground.

DD868-Christening.jpg (19785 bytes) Christening

The ship's sponsor prepares to break the traditional bottle against the ship's bow.

DD874-Launch.jpg (40162 bytes) Sliding Down The Ways!

USS Duncan (DD-874) being launched at Consolidated Steel Corporation's Shipbuilding Division, Orange Texas, on 27 October 1944.

Some workers ride the ship to the water while others watch from areas at the left.

DD861-Entry.jpg (38158 bytes) Most Slid In Backwards!

USS Harwood (DD-861) enters the water at the Bethlehem Steel's San Pedro, California, yard on 22 May 1945.


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But Some Were Launched Sideways!

USS Bearss (DD-654) starts to make a huge splash as she enters the water at Gulf Shipbuilding, Chickaswa, Alabama, on 25 July 1943.


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Completion at Boston Navy Yard, 1 January 1942

Unlike the ships shown in the launching photos above, some ships were launched with virtually no superstructure completed. Much of their visible structure was then built pierside. Seen here are USS Earle (DD-635) and USS Knight (DD-633), two Gleaves class destroyers. Earle was launched just three weeks before this photo was taken. Knight is further along, having been launched three months ago.

USS Kearny (DD-432) is visible at the upper left.


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Fitting Out At Staten Island

Four destroyers are seen in this 9 July 1945 view of the Bethlehem Steel facility. USS Cone (DD-866) is the only ship identifiable. Note that her 5" guns are enclosed in temporary housings pending installation of their shields.


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Ready To Join The Fleet

USS Brownson (DD-868) the day before she was commissioned.