Todd San Francisco Division
Established in the early 1900s by the United Engineering Company, the Alameda yard was purchased by Union Iron Works (later called Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation) in 1916 and came to be known as the Alameda Works. The site was expanded from seven to 75 acres with facilities for constructing up to six major vessels simultaneously, making it one of the largest and best equipped yards in the country. After 1923, the Alameda Works ceased making ships but continued its dry docking and ship repairing operations.
At the beginning of World War II, the Alameda Works was re-established as the Bethlehem Alameda Shipyard, and modernized and expanded to include new shipways and on-site worker housing. During the war, the yard repaired more than 1,000 vessels and produced P-2 troop transport ships, and it continued to produce structural steel.
The Union Iron Works Powerhouse is one of many designed for the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG & E) in northern California between 1905 and the 1920s. Designed by San Francisco architect Frederick H. Meyer, the Union Iron Works Powerhouse stands as the last remnant of the Alameda Works Shipyard. Meyer was one of San Francisco's leading architects between 1905-1955 and is best known for his role in the development of the San Francisco Civic Center, for his many downtown San Francisco office buildings and for his careful and imaginative use of orthodox ornamental detail. The Union Iron Works Powerhouse is a one-story rectangular industrial building, 25 feet high, 53 feet wide and 110 feet long, which rests on a concrete base. Borrowing imagery from classical antiquity and the Renaissance, the powerhouse is an excellent example of a building type--the "beautiful" power house--for which the Bay Area was nationally known. It contained several large generators and was constructed specifically to meet the massive electricity requirements of the yards. Today, the little building that once powered an entire shipyard has been converted into private office space.
A new addition to Todd in 1948 included a yard inside the Golden Gate of San Francisco. This shipyard came to Todd, initially in the form of a ten-year lease, as an asset for its capacity to build the larger passenger and cargo vessels as well as tankers. This yard, located at Alameda, California, contributed immensely to Todd and became one of the main shipbuilding yards. The San Francisco Division, as a high-tech and versatile yard, was well implemented with dam- and lock gate-producing equipment as seen in the Stanislaus River project where the yard constructed flood-control and irrigation dam radical gates. The San Francisco yard also contributed to the space technology with huge compressor stator for a supersonic wind tunnel among various other space-related projects.
The Alameda yard first came on board as part of the Todd Pacific Shipyards Corporation. The name changed in 1949 to the San Francisco Division when it merged with the main Todd Shipyard Corporation. The San Francisco Division had been a shipbuilding yard and a repair yard and as times required a ship conversion yard. Shipbuilding came to an end in the early 1950s and the yard was closed in 1956.
In 1954 the yard teamed up with the Los Angeles Division to repair a defective diesel engine in the Swedish tanker Atlantic Queen using the newly established Todd policy of the "forward pass" method of repair to save the ship lost time at sea. A major reconstruction conversion project came to the Alameda yard in 1958 to alter three Matson refrigerated C-3 Freighters to carry cargo vans. This reconstruction called for strengthening of the ship, mainly the decks and hatch covers, and for installations of precise positioning, locking, and lashing devices up to 75 24-foot containers stowed two high. In 1959 the ten-year lease was up and Todd purchased the yard from Matson for $1,650,000 in hopes to continue benefiting from the yard's success.
This anticipated success was seen in 1962 when the yard completed ahead of schedule, the repair of the Norwegian freighter Hoegh Cape. The sixties brought to San Francisco many jumboizing undertaking including four Keystone T-2 tankers: Perryville, Tullahoma, Northfield, and Chancellorsville. A major accomplishment for the yard was the production of the largest drilling boat yet put afloat, Wodeco IV. To achieve such an enormous size, the boat was put together by welding together two T-2 midbodies abreast; this body allowed the rig to set an oil drilling record by drilling in 994 feet of water off of the California coast. Later on, in 1975 after a large push for more Navy repair work in private yards, the San Francisco Division performed extensive repair in the overhaul and alteration on the nuclear aircraft carrier Enterprise. Like the other Todd yards, the San Francisco Division continued to thrive on steady naval and merchant orders for shipbuilding, ship repair, and conversations.
The old Todd Shipyard site adjoins the Oakland Inner Harbor on the south and is located between the Naval Supply Center Annex and Main Street. The site is leased to private developers for industrial and warehouse purposes. The former Todd Shipyard facility in Alameda site might be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The majority of the Todd Shipyard structures now exceed 50 years of age. Some of those structures are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history because of their connections to early public transit, World War II tugboat construction and ship repair, and postwar conversion of ships to civilian uses. Todd Shipyard comprises an assortment of structures built over a span of more than 50 years, for a wide variety of purposes, in a wide variety of designs, materials, and workmanship.
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