Historical Facts

Navy Ships

Ship Fact
Dahlgren (TB-9) On December 21, 1899, BIW delivered Dahlgren (TB-9), a 148-ton torpedo boat, to the US Navy. Dahlgren’s aft conning tower and galley were aluminum – the first time it was used in a Navy ship. Dahlgren also was the first Navy torpedo boat to reach 30 knots on sea trials.
USS Georgia (BB-15) USS Georgia (BB-15), which launched in 1904, is the only Bath-built battleship and was the largest ship built on the Kennebec until the 1960s. During sea trials, Georgia achieved 19.26 knots, making her the fastest battleship in the U.S. Navy. This news was cause for celebration. The returning heroes were greeted by 300 people and a band onboard a river steamer. Cannons were fired, church bells rung and steam whistles were blown. Once moored, the crew and shipbuilders were celebrated with fireworks and a parade that included, by some accounts, 1,000 marchers.
USS Chester (CL-1) USS Chester (CL-1), which launched in 1907, was one of the first two U.S. Navy vessels to have a steam turbine engine, placing it at the cutting edge of naval design. Another technological marvel during that time period was the automated potato peeler, which was considered state-of-the-art equipment on advanced naval vessels and luxury cruise liners. At Bath Iron Works, shipbuilders calculated the project cost of installing an automated potato peeler in USS Chester to be $186.06, which would be over $4000 in today’s dollars.
Nobska On April 9, 1925, Bath-built coastal passenger and cargo steamer Nobska was delivered to the New England Steamship Co. It carried passengers and freight to the Nantucket Islands and later became Baltimore’s first floating restaurant in 1976. It was short-lived, however, closing its doors in 1978 due to bad food and poor service. She was later acquired by the New England Steamship Foundation for restoration but was eventually scrapped in 2006. Nobska had been the last surviving coastal steamer.
USS Lamson (DD-367) On Oct. 21, 1936, the Bath-built USS Lamson (DD-367) was commissioned. It was the fastest destroyer built for the U.S. Navy at the time, with a top speed at trials of 41.43 knots. The ship and its crew earned five battle stars in World War II but perhaps its greatest contribution to American security was its last. It was sunk by an atomic bomb on July 2, 1946 as part of testing off the Bikini Atoll.
USS Calypso (AG-35) In July of 1941, Bath-built USS Calypso (AG-35) set out for Nova Scotia. During a portion of the trip she carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was headed to the Atlantic Conference, where he and Prime Minister Winston Churchill would discuss the Atlantic Charter—a joint declaration by the United States and Great Britain that set out a vision for the postwar world.
USS Emmons (DD-457) BIW launched USS Emmons (DD-457) in 1941. During the battle for Okinawa in 1945, the Gleaves-class destroyer was hit by five separate Japanese kamikazes. Survivors abandoned ship and the vessel was sunk intentionally to keep it from falling into enemy hands. Lying in 140 feet of water, the ship is now a popular scuba diving site. In 2010, thieves stole the keel plate, which had commemorated the laying of the keel at BIW in 1940. NCIS recovered the plaque and the original is now preserved at the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, D.C. A copy was returned to the wreck site – resting place for some 60 sailors and a ship that earned four battle stars and the Navy Unit Commendation.
Liberty Ships During World War II, BIW delivered 244 Liberty Class and 30 Ocean Class cargo ships. Deliveries in 1943 and 1944 averaged 1.8 ships per week. Combined, all US shipyards delivered 2,710 Liberty Class and 60 Ocean Class ships during the war.
USS Buchanan (DD-131) Launched in 1919, Bath-built USS Buchanan (DD-131) would come to an interesting fate. In 1940, the ship was given to the United Kingdom to support the war effort and renamed HMS Campbeltown. In 1942, in an effort destroy a dry dock and prevent repairs to large German surface ships, Campbeltown was loaded with 4.5 tons of explosives and sent to the German-controlled port of St. Nazaire disguised as a German ship. Once it closed in on its target, it switched its flag to the Royal Navy ensign and after a successful raid by Royal Navy soldiers and commandos, Campbeltown exploded and successfully rendered the dry dock out of commission.
USS O’Bannon (DD-450) On April 5, 1943, Bath-built USS O’Bannon (DD-450) won a battle thanks to a well-known Maine product. DD-450 found itself parallel to a Japanese submarine. It was in danger because the sub was too close to train the ship’s guns on it. To prevent the Japanese from manning the sub’s deck guns and firing on the ship, the DD-450 crew began chucking potatoes at them. The Japanese sailors were so preoccupied with throwing these potato “grenades” overboard that DD-450 was able to move away to a distance where it could fire its guns and ultimately win the battle. The Association of Potato Growers of Maine sent the ship a plaque to commemorate the event.
USS Taylor (DD 468) On June 10 in 1944, Bath-built USS Taylor (DD 468) sank the Japanese submarine RO-111 in the South Pacific. Taylor, a Fletcher-class destroyer, was launched in 1942 and had an impressive battle history throughout World War II. So respected was the ship and its crew that she was invited, along with her sister ships USS O’Bannon and USS Nicholas, to escort USS Missouri into Tokyo Bay to accept the Japanese surrender.
USS Spence (DD 512) Typhoon Cobra (also known as Halsey’s Typhoon) formed on December 14, 1944 and dissipated five days later. It struck the U.S. Pacific Fleet operating in the Philippine Sea during WWII. Bath-built USS Spence (DD 512), along with USS Hull (DD 350) and USS Monaghan (DD 354), capsized and sank. Only 24 of Spence’s crew survived. One of its survivors, David Moore, was an African American who floated at sea for two days and saved the lives of two other men. This typhoon led to the establishment of weather forecasting infrastructure of the U.S. Navy, which eventually became the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
USS Williamsburg (PG-56) In 1945, Bath-built USS Williamsburg (PG-56) became President Harry Truman’s personal yacht and gained a reputation as the ‘seagoing White House.’ Dignitaries such as Winston Churchill were invited to conferences on board, while the vessel sailed around the world taking Truman on a series of exotic vacations. However, when Dwight Eisenhower became president, he was less enamored of the ship, and ordered her to be decommissioned after just one voyage on June 30, 1953.
USS Barry (DD 933) On October 1, 1955, USS Barry (DD 933) was launched at BIW. The Forrest Sherman-class destroyer served in the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War. After its Navy career, Barry became a museum ship from 1984 to 2015 at the Washington Navy Yard in the nation’s capital. It was during this time period that the ship was featured in two episodes of NCIS: “Dead Reflections” and “Newborn King.”
USS Noa (DD-841) On February 20, 1962, the Bath-built USS Noa (DD-841) recovered astronaut John Glenn and his spacecraft in the Atlantic after he became the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the earth. Friendship 7 entered the atmosphere with a loud sonic boom that was heard clearly on Noa. When Glenn stepped onto the ship’s deck, excited sailors used white paint to draw circles around his footsteps.
USS Glover (FF-1098) USS Glover (FF-1098) was laid down in 1963. Glover served as a research ship and tested equipment designed to better detect and track enemy submarines as well as evaluate tactics later used on future classes of escorts. Glover was one of the earliest combatant ships to have women assigned as part of its crew. Its first female crew members were a Navy lieutenant and four other women in their last year of Naval Academy.
USS Cogswell (DD 651) One of the astronauts in the Apollo program was Alan Shepard, who was the first American to travel into space, and walked on the moon in 1971. Before exploring space, he explored the seas on USS Cogswell (DD 651), which launched at Bath Iron Works on June 5, 1943. While on the ship, he helped rescue 172 sailors from a cruiser that was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and witnessed the surrender of Japan in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.
 USS Belknap (CG 26) On this January 30, 1976, reconstruction began on USS Belknap (CG 26), which was severely damaged during a fatal fire. Because the fire would’ve caused less damage if the superstructure was made of steel, the US Navy began to pursue all-steel construction in future classes of surface combatants. During reconstruction, the Navy decided to use Belknap as a test platform for the Aegis class cruiser electronics and updated weapons systems. Until the Aegis class cruisers came along, Belknap was one of the most powerful warships in the world and became the first ship to fire on an enemy since the Vietnam War.
USS Aubrey Fitch (FFG 34) On Oct. 17, 1981, BIW launched the frigate Aubrey Fitch (FFG 34), one of three frigates launched that year. The keel had been laid in April of the same year. In 1986, FFG 34 was training in the Bahamas when the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated after launch. FFG 34 rushed to the scene and recovered several tons of debris from the shuttle that was later used in the investigation into the tragedy.
USS Arleigh-Burke (DDG 51) All US Navy ships have two captain’s chairs on the bridge; one on the port side and one to starboard. During the sea trials in April 1991 for DDG 51, there was a very special captain’s chair for the ship’s namesake, Admiral Arleigh Burke. It was borrowed from a WWII museum ship, which was one of the ships he had commanded during the war. Once the sea trials were over, the chair was returned and replaced by a modern, standard issue captain’s chair.
Arleigh-Burke Class The Zumwalt-class may have perfected it, but the Arleigh-Burke Class was the Navy’s first ship designed to incorporate shaping techniques to reduce radar cross-section and detectability, reducing the probability of being the target of enemy weapons and sensors.
USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53) During the Revolutionary War, U.S. Navy Captain John Paul Jones captured British frigate Serapis and sailed to the neutral Dutch port of Texel. Britain said Jones was a pirate since he sailed a captured vessel flying no known national ensign. Ben Franklin responded with a description of an American flag and a sketch was made as well as an actual flag to fly on the Serapis. The Dutch officially recognized the flag, and the piracy charges were dropped. The Serapis flag can be seen in the crest of Bath-built USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53).
USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) BIW delivered USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) in 2000. It was the first destroyer to be named for a non-American citizen and is the only US Navy vessel to fly a foreign ensign and have a Royal Navy Officer permanently assigned to the ship’s company.
USS Mason (DDG 87) The last ship to be launched down the ways was USS Mason (DDG 87) in 2001. Although these launches usually took about ninety seconds, a lot went into a smooth launch. The sliding ways had to have the right width to get the right amount of pressure on the grease that lubricated them. A destroyer may have launched on an inclined ways that was 4 feet wide, while the one for a large commercial ship could be 7 feet wide. Speed was also important, with a ship accelerating to between 15 and 18 miles per hour in a matter of seconds. Once it hit the water, it had to slow enough so it didn’t pull tug boats under, hit the bridge or get stuck in mud across the river.
 USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) On Dec. 7, 2015, the first of the Zumwalt-class destroyers left BIW for its initial sea trials, a memorable trip that made international headlines when five days in, the BIW crew pulled off a life-saving, nighttime rescue. A 3 a.m. distress call from the fishing boat Danny Boy, 40 miles southeast of Portland, alerted the Coast Guard that the boat’s captain was experiencing chest pains. BIW’s operating crew heard the call and quickly covered the 60 miles to the area. When a rescue helicopter could not safely hoist the man off the fishing boat, Zumwalt launched one of its rigid hull inflatable boats to retrieve him. The boat returned to Zumwalt and the man was lifted safely off the ship’s flight deck into the helicopter and flown to the hospital.
USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) On May 20, 2016, Bath Iron Works delivered USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), the most advanced ship in the world. Zumwalt generates enough 4160 volt power to electrify a small city and has the radar signature of a fishing boat. It is automated to the point it can be operated by a crew almost half the size of a DDG 51.


Commercial Ships

Ship Fact
Cottage City On May 31st, 1890, Bath Iron Works delivered its first hull, Cottage City, to the Maine Steamship Co. It was 232 feet long, 40 feet wide with a draft of just over 16 feet and was powered by a triple expansion steam engine capable of producing 1,400 horsepower. Cottage City hauled passengers and freight between Portland and New York City for seven years before being sold to a company serving the Pacific Northwest. The ship was lost in a storm off British Columbia in 1911.
Alleghany On April 14, 1892, BIW launched the Alleghany, a steam dredge for the Pennsylvania Railroad. The 95-foot long vessel – drafting just four and a half feet – was the first wooden hull built by BIW. The keel for Alleghany – BIW Hull 7 – had been laid just a month earlier.
Frank Jones On August 8, 1892, the side-wheel steamer Frank Jones was delivered. The wooden hull was built by New England Co. and the engines were built by BIW. It ran between Portland and Machias. It had two accidents in Maine: when the ship City of Bangor rammed into the steamer, and when a log got stuck in its paddle wheel. Later on, Frank Jones ran the Fall River Line in Massachusetts and NYC, the Manhattan Line between NYC and Albany, and the Capital City Line on New York’s Hudson River. In World War I, it carried ammunition for the US Navy.
City of Lowell BIW’s first steel-hulled commercial vessel was Hull 008, City of Lowell. At its launch in 1893, it was the largest ship built in Maine. City of Lowell was meant to compete against the Fall River Line that transported people across the Long Island Sound to New York. After entering service in 1894, it didn’t take long for City of Lowell to earn the title of fastest passenger vessel on the Sound. The ship remained active until the mid-1930s.
 Eleanor Some ships have many lives, like Eleanor, BIW Hull #9, which was launched on May 7, 1894. The three-masted, steam-powered bark was the largest American yacht, with a crew of 32 sailors and seven officers. In 1900, the businessman who had it built, sold it and it was renamed Wacouta. In 1917, it was donated to the U.S. for use in World War 1, renamed Harvard, and used as convoy escort and coastal patrol. After the war it was renamed Athinia and served as a passenger steamer between Greece and Italy. German aircraft sank it on April 22, 1941 during the Nazi invasion of Greece in World War II.
Light Vessel #71 On February 7, 1898, BIW delivered Light Vessel #71, a copper sheathed, steel framed light ship that was eventually stationed off Diamond Shoal in North Carolina. In World War I, the ship rescued the survivors of a cargo ship that had been attacked by a German U-boat. When LV-71 radioed ships in the area to warn them, the U-boat returned. It let the lightship crew and those they had rescued escape in a lifeboat, then sank LV-71 – the only U.S. lightship sunk by enemy action. Her remains, 12 miles from shore, are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Corsair IV On May 21, 1930, Corsair IV was launched at Bath Iron Works. It was a T.S.turbo-electric yacht for J.P.Morgan II of New York. The yacht cost $2.5 million to build, which is around $60 million in today’s dollars. Not only was it Morgan’s largest yacht, but at the time it was the largest yacht ever built in the U.S. When asked, “Sir, how much will it cost to operate a boat of this size?” Morgan’s response was, “Sir, if you have to ask that question, you can’t afford it.”
Caroline Delivered in September of 1931, the T.S. Diesel Yacht Caroline was the second largest Bath-built yacht. It was the only Bath-built ship until the 1970s to be equipped with an elevator and was more than your average luxury yacht. At one time, she carried a scientific expedition to unravel the mysteries of the Easter Island stone statues.
French Fishing Trawlers Shortly after WWII, BIW won a $10.5 million contract to build thirty-two trawlers for the French Purchasing Commission to replace many of the French fishing vessels lost during the war. Not only was this the largest contract BIW received until that time, it was also the largest single order ever placed for fishing vessels in an American shipyard. Six of the trawlers, measuring 240.67 feet, were also the largest fishing vessels yet built in the country.
HSTC-1 Thirty seven years ago this month, BIW delivered HSTC-1 – at the time, the largest barge built in the United States. Built for the California & Hawaiian Sugar Co., the 634-foot barge was an integrated tug-barge, meaning its propulsion was a tug that clamped onto the barge, forming a single vessel. The configuration allowed for a much smaller crew than would be required for a cargo ship that size.
DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant When DiMillo’s floating restaurant in Portland was in danger of going under – literally – in 1993 they looked to BIW to shore up the decrepit hull. The restaurant had been built in 1941 as a car ferry and the hull was wasting away. Fabricators in Bath produced hull sections that were assembled at BIW’s Portland facility. The new hull was submerged in the Portland drydock, the restaurant floated over it, and then the drydock was floated. The restaurant settled into the new, rugged hull, which was a perfect fit. DiMillo’s was only closed for two weeks and reopened for Mother’s Day.



Subject Fact
BIW Founder Gen. Thomas Hyde took over the Bath Iron Foundry in the fall of 1865 after his return from the Civil War, where he had served in Maine regiments alongside his good friend, Joshua Chamberlain. Hyde distinguished himself during the battle of Antietam, earning the Medal of Honor. At the age of 24, after commanding a brigade of 3,000 men, he returned to Bath to oversee seven employees and one melting furnace in what would become Bath Iron Works.
Water Street The original location of the business that would eventually become Bath Iron Works was on Water Street, north of Centre Street, an area now occupied by the municipal parking lot behind Reny’s and other Front Street shops. That was the Moses Brothers Foundry in 1825. It would be more than 60 years later before the company bought land on the Kennebec River.
1894 Fire It’s hard to imagine Bath Iron Works being anywhere but in Bath, Maine, but it could have relocated to Connecticut. On February 13, 1894, a small fire started in the moulding loft. It spread quickly because the water company would turn the water off at night. An employee sounded the alarm, signaling the water company to turn the water back on, but the hydrants were frozen due to low water pressure. An unhappy Gen. Thomas Hyde, who had complained about the water problem weeks earlier, was displeased with the Bath council’s reaction to the fire and in a letter to the Bath Times wrote that BIW was “driven away by a city government.” He began to seriously consider moving BIW to New London or Norwich. The Bath council reacted quickly and arranged for the water company to have water running at night. On February 23, shipbuilders began rebuilding their yard.
BIW Flag The iconic BIW Flag first appeared in a 1931 yacht construction advertising brochure under the banner “Bath Will Always Build Good Ships.” An excerpt from the advertising copy reads: “Bath-built boats contain more than steel and copper and wood and fiber. Into them is built the spirit of the Kennebec…absolute dependability, design and construction at the forefront of modern engineering skill…workers’ pride in craftsmanship from keel to truck.”
Crane 11 Crane 11, the dominant feature on Bath’s waterfront skyline, is also probably the state’s largest weathervane. When it is not in use, the crane is allowed to swing in the wind to reduce force on the boom and pressure on the internal mechanisms. The practice is actually called “weathervaning” a crane. When the boom points south, wind is from the north.
Keyes Fibre Company After WWI, there was a slump in shipbuilding. BIW Ltd. went into bankruptcy and all tooling was sold at auction. Keyes Fibre Company of Waterville decided they wanted to produce paper pie plates in the yard because their contractor, Hyde Windlass Company, created the pie plate machines in a lot beside BIW. However contracts fell through, giving William “Pete” Newell, an M.I.T. graduate and manager of Engineering at BIW during WWI, an opportunity to step in. He was determined to recover BIW back to its former glory. With some help, he was able to purchase the abandoned yard in 1927 and brought it back to life, changing the name from Bath Iron Works Ltd. to Bath Iron Works Corp.
Dry Docks Over the years, Bath Iron Works has had three floating dry docks. The first was acquired from the GD Quincy Shipyard in 1975 and was a wooden dock built in 1916-1918. The second floating dry dock which was acquired in 1981-1982 for BIW Portland Ship Repair Co., was a surplus WWII dock bought by the state of Maine from the U.S. Government and leased to BIW. The final floating dry dock, which we still own today, is the one on the Land Level Transfer Facility. It was built in China and arrived at BIW in February 2001.
Portland Repair Yard and Todd-BIW Yard During Bath Iron Works’ rich history, we expanded to other areas of Southern Maine depending on our needs. During War World II, from 1940 to 1945, there were two Todd-BIW yards in South Portland where Liberty ships were built. In order to install sonar domes for Ticonderoga Class Aegis Cruisers and Arleigh Burke destroyers to make ship repairs, we had a yard in Portland in the Old Port district equipped with a dry dock.
Harding Plant (Structural Fab) Originally called the Harding Plant, the Structural Fabrication Facility was built in 1940 after then-BIW President William S. “Pete” Newell received a telegram from Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox. It read, “Take immediate steps to expand your facilities with the view to greatly enlarged shipbuilding program.” BIW purchased the site of an old trotting park in East Brunswick, which was originally planned to be a steel storage facility but President Newell’s son, John Newell, envisioned the steel fabricating and galvanizing plant we all know today.
Industrial Production During the 1950s and 60s, Bath Iron Works looked to industrial production to fill in gaps in the shipbuilding schedule. Some of the jobs included fabricating submarine hull sections for the Kittery Naval Shipyard and our sister company, Electric Boat. Our support services even got into the act by providing computer services to analyze flock records for Maine’s poultry farmers.
Shipyard Modernization In the 1970s, in an effort to modernize the shipyard, engineers and production employees were dispatched to Europe and Japan to look for ideas in the latest methods of ship production. Some of the best ideas were found in Japan, and Ishikawajima Heavy Industries (IHI Corp) was hired as a consultant. The modernizations included the construction of the Assembly Building and a blasting and painting facility using steel shot, along with replacing the wooden building ways with concrete and steel. The main centerpiece, however, was Crane 11, which enabled BIW to handle much larger pre-outfitted hull sections than was previously possible.
Crane 11 Crane 11 was designed by the Japanese company IHI Corp. but the crane was built here in 1970 and 1971. The company sent representatives and extensive plans -but they were in Japanese with all the measurements in metric. Work instructions had to be issued in English based on the Japanese plans and BIW employees developed custom metric measuring tools that were used to build the crane to its designed specifications.
First Computer at BIW The first computers arrived at BIW in late 1975. They were dumb computer terminals (remote terminals attached to a server), which were used by the Lofting group for design work on the new fleet of FFGs. Before their arrival, BIW only had adding machines, typewriters and calculators. These terminals had 13-inch screens with white text on a black background and were linked to a large main frame. This was a decade before IBM came out with the 286 personal computer.
Assembly Building Did you know, that the Assembly Building is 1,280 feet long and 131 feet wide, giving it a floor area of 161,840 square feet. That’s half again as big as a city block in Manhattan or more than two and a half football fields and more than twice the floor space as the White House. The first section of the AB was completed in 1971, the same year Crane 11 was installed, and was completed in 1981 with a new panel line.
Portland Repair Yard From 1982-2001, BIW leased the BIW Portland Repair Yard from the City of Portland. The Repair Yard came with a World War II era floating drydock. Nicknamed “the Hog,” the 744-foot drydock could lift 81,000 tons and was needed to win overhaul and modernization work for ships too large to have sonar domes attached in Bath.
Outfit Fabrication Facility In 1989, the Pipe Shop and Tin Shop fabrication operations were moved from the main shipyard in Bath to the East Brunswick Manufacturing Facility (EBMF), now known as Outfit Fabrication.
Crane Lift The heaviest crane lift recorded at the shipyard was more than 900 tons in 2012 when the complete DDG 1000 deckhouse was lifted with four cranes – two of them borrowed from Reed and Reed Inc. – onto the Zumwalt hull.

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