New York Shipbuilding Corporation

The New York Shipbuilding Corporation (or New York Ship for short) was an American shipbuilding company that operated from 1899 to 1968, ultimately completing more than 500 vessels for the U.S. Navy, the United States Merchant Marine, the United States Coast Guard, and other maritime concerns. At its peak during World War II, NYSB was the largest and most productive shipyard in the world. Its best-known vessels include the destroyer USS Reuben James (DD-245), the cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA-35), the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), the nuclear-powered cargo ship NS Savannah, and a quartet of cargo-passenger liners nicknamed the Four Aces.

New York Shipbuilding Corporation
HeadquartersCamden, New Jersey


It was founded in 1899 by Henry G. Morse (1850–2 June 1903),[note 1] an engineer noted in connection with bridge design and construction and senior partner of Morse Bridge Company.[1] The original plan was to build a shipyard on Staten Island, thus the name of the company.[2] Plans to acquire a site failed and, after exploration as far south as Virginia with special attention being paid to the Delaware River area, a location in the southern part of Camden, New Jersey, was chosen instead.[3] Site selection specifically considered the needs of the planned application of bridge building practices of prefabrication and assembly line production of ships in covered ways.[4] Construction of the plant began in July 1899 and was so rapid that the keel of the first ship was laid November 1900.[1] That ship, contract number 1, was M. S. Dollar, later to be modified as an oil tanker and renamed J. M. Guffey.[5][note 2] Two of the first contracts were for passenger ships that were among the largest then being built in the United States: #5 for Mongolia and #6 for Manchuria.[6] Morse died after securing contracts for 20 ships. He was followed as president by De Coursey May.[1]

On November 27, 1916, a special meeting of the company's stockholders ratified sale of the "fifteen million dollar plant" to a group of companies composed of American International Corporation, International Mercantile Marine Co., W. R. Grace and Company and the Pacific Mail Steamship Company.[7][note 3]

New York Ship's unusual covered ways produced everything from aircraft carriers, battleships, and luxury liners to barges and car floats.

During World War I, New York Ship expanded rapidly to fill orders from the U.S. Navy and the Emergency Fleet Corporation. A critical shortage of worker housing led to the construction of Yorkship Village, a planned community of 1,000 brick homes designed by Electus Darwin Litchfield and financed by the War Department. Yorkship Village is now the Fairview section of the City of Camden.

New York Ship's World War II production included all nine Independence-class light carriers (CVL), built on Cleveland-class light cruiser hulls; the 35,000-ton battleship USS South Dakota (BB-57); and 98 LCTs (Landing Craft, Tank), many of which took part in the D-Day landings at Normandy.

After World War II, a much-diminished New York Ship subsisted on a trickle of contracts from the United States Maritime Administration and the U.S. Navy. In 1959 the yard launched the NS Savannah, the world's first nuclear powered merchant ship. The yard launched its last civilian vessel (SS Export Adventurer) in 1960, and its last naval vessel, USS Camden, was ordered in 1967. The company's final completed submarine was USS Guardfish (SSN-612), which had been ordered in the early 1960s, but construction was halted from 1963 to 1965 because of the loss of the USS Thresher. Guardfish was commissioned in December 1967.

In 1968, lacking new naval orders, NYS went bankrupt. USS Pogy (SSN-647), then under construction, was towed to Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, for completion.

The yard's site is now part of the Port of Camden.

Ships built

Ships built by New York Ship include:

See also


  1. Not to be confused with architect Henry Grant Morse, Jr. (1884 – May 28, 1934).
  2. U.S. Navy as USS J. M. Guffey (ID-1279) commissioned 14 October 1918 at Invergorden, Scotland, decommissioned Philadelphia 17 June 1919 (DANFS).
  3. On page 510 of the reference notes that American International Corporation holds interests in the International Mercantile Marine Company, Pacific Mail Steamship, Grace Lines and other ocean transportation companies. The same journal in the October issue, page 440, states American International Corporation had "control of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company."



  • American International Corporation (1920). History and development of New York Shipbuilding Corporation.
  • Marine Engineering (1903). "Death of Henry G. Morse, President New York Shipbuilding Company". Marine Engineering. New York: Marine Engineering Incorporated. 8 (July 1903): 376. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  • Marine Engineering (1916). "Shipbuilding and General Marine News". Marine Engineering. New York: Marine Engineering Incorporated. 21 (December 1916): 510, 557. Retrieved 4 March 2015.

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