Thursday, May 28, 2020


The Fore Shipyard was an active shipyard on Quincy Point in 1901. They were bought by Bethlehem Steel in 1913 and later became known as the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation. Sold in the 1960s to General Dynamics and finally closed in 1986. They made all sort of ships, cargo vessels, submarines, tankers, even some ships for foreign navies.

This is the Thomas Lawson, a seven masted schooner they built in 1902.

But it's the U.S. Navy ships I want to focus on.

They built the first USS Lexington (CV2) in 1927 and when she was sunk at the Battle of the Coral Sea and they built the second USS Lexington (CV16) in 1943, along with the carriers USS Wasp, USS Bunker Hill, and USS Hancock.

The battleships USS New Jersey (BB-16), USS Rhode Island (BB-17), USS Vermont (BB-20), USS North Dakota (BB-29), USS Nevada (BB-36), and the USS Massachusetts (BB-59).

Here's the USS Massachusetts. Another ship with a battle history worthy of a post.

Add to that 32 Cruisers, 63 Destroyers, and 49 Subs. 

A lot of that was WWII production. There were 32,000 people working in the shipyard in 1943. In 1950, the number of workers was around 3,200. There was production throughout the life of the yard, but in the end the last ship was a cargo vessel, the USNS SGT William R. Button.

The docks and buildings are there and have been reasonably maintained.  The tools, the equipment, and most importantly, the people are gone. Maybe we'll never need to build ships like these again. But if we do, at least at Quincy, we'll be starting from scratch. Here's what's left.


MacD said...

What the heck happened? Who allowed all our industry to be sent to China?

Paul, Dammit! said...

I grew up in the shadow of the shipyard. After the last ships were built and General Dynamics closed shop, the shipyard was mothballed until a few years later when a Greek con artist convinced the Maritime Administration (who has overseen the dimunition of the US merchant fleet from thousands of ships to less than 100 today) to loan him 100+ million to reopen the yard. He spent a small portion of that on some new equipment, then disappeared, and that was the end of the shipyard.

Today it's a parking lot for a car dealer in Quincy, and also holds some fish tanks for the New England Aquarium as a rescue center. General Dynamics does keep one building there still, as a test center for their autonomous underwater vehicle line.

libertyman said...

I can't imagine the amount of money it would take to do something with that property. It was an amazing accomplishment to have built all those ships, and in so short a time as WW2.

Old NFO said...

And the change in technology for building ships has definitely made the whole infrastructure, other than the piers obsolete.

gruvinbass said...

For those interested, the Massachusetts is available to tour in Fall River, MA. There's also the Lionfish and the Joseph P. Kennedy. I'll admit that when I was there I was far more interested in the Kennedy, as it's a virtual twin to the destroyer my dad served on, but the Massachusetts is fascinating as well.

Ted said...

Battleship Cove also holds the Lionfish sub and PT Boats 617 and 796. My father was the skipper of PT-96 in Panama and Alaska and managed to NOT get run over by a Jap Destroyer like some other guy in his training squadron.

John said...

I was working in the Beth Steel Sparrows Point during the late 70's and early 80's.
I paid attention to the politics of US ship building and though I
voted for Reagan to get rid of that sadsack Carter, it was Reagan who let the US
shipbuilding industries fall into the basement by ignoring the unfair trade practices
of the foreign shipbuilders. He satyed silent as the yards were shuttered, one by one.

AnarchAngel said...

I slept overnight on the Massachusetts when I was a boyscout.

... And God knows I spent a lot of time in and around the shipyard, having lived in Milton, Quincy, and Weymouth. My dad and his family still live in Weymouth in fact, and usually I go over the fore river bridge when I'm visiting him.

AnarchAngel said...

Oh and I believe the button is still in service... I can find evidence of it on active sealift support missions as late as 2018 or 2019.