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Newark Bay Shipyard

John Holland (father of US submarines) founded the Electric Boat Company in 1899 to build submarines. The Holland Torpedo Boat Company was the first to build and turn over to the United States Navy a practical submarine boat. After Holland's death in 1914, the Holland Submarine Boat Corporation reorganized, and the name was changed to simply Submarine Boat Corporation around 1915.

The Submarine Boat Corporation had been engaged for years in the building of submarine torpedo boats for the United States Navy, for Great Britain and, with the exception of Germany and France, for practically all other countries of the world having naval establishments. The success of the Submarine Boat Corporation in the building of underwater boats convinced us that it would be highly advantageous to contract for the services of its experienced organization for the production of cargo vessels.

Prior to American entrance into the war, the Submarine Boat Corporation had completed for the British Admiralty 550 submarine chasers. These boats were built of wood, the hulls having been fabricated at the concern's shops in Bayonne, New Jersey, and shipped to assembling yards in Montreal and Quebec, Canada. This was done because at that time the United States was neutral. The plan of fabrication was so successful and the chasers were so effective in hunting down submarines that the company had been engaged to build similar boats for France and Italy. The corporation, therefore, had a very effective working organization and a knowledge of fabricating ships even though they were wooden vessels.

With the likelihood of the United States becoming involved in World War I in 1917, the Submarine Boat Corporation decided to commit its resources to building cargo vessels instead of submarines, and leased a large shipyard in Newark, NJ (Newark Bay) to build at least 30 ships. The contract for the construction of the Newark Bay Shipyard at Newark, New Jersey, was entered into on 14 September 1917. It was made with the Submarine Boat Corporation of which Mr. H. R. Carse was president, and Mr. H. R. Sutphen was vice-president. Carse had had extensive business experience and was a very successful executive. Sutphen was a naval architect and engineer, and had a broad knowledge of ship construction.

The contract eventually called for the creation of twenty-eight ways and the building of 150 five-thousand-ton ships, besides outfitting piers and shops for fabricating about 6 percent of the steel required. The yard cost seventeen million dollars. Because of the fact that its organization was established, the corporation was able to lay the keel of its first vessel on 30 December 1917. In all the history of ship construction, there is no record that compares with the speed made in this effort. Notwithstanding the difficulties of the extremely severe winter that followed the railroad embargo, and the shortage of men and materials, the submarine yard was completed so that its first ship, the Agawan, was launched on 30 May 1918, eight and one-half months from the time the contract was signed for the building of the yard.

During World War I the Submarine Boat Corporation's yard was the second largest shipyard in the United States. There were as many as twenty-five thousand men working there.

The ship parts were made in bridge and tank shops throughout the country and were assembled at the yard. Ninety-five per cent of the work in forming the parts entering into the hull of this vessel, and punching rivet holes, is done at shops widely separated, from drawings furnished by this company, and these drawings have been of such exactitude, and the work has been so carefully performed by the different bridge shops that when they are brought together at this yard they fit perfectly and the ship is absolutely fair.

The construction of the hull of this vessel required the driving of over four hundred thousand rivets, and by these method more than one quarter of these rivets are driven at the distant shops, the different parts being brought to the yard in sections as large as can be transported on the railroad. Each part is numbered and lettered and as they are shaped perfectly all that is necessary is to place them in position, bolt them, and finally fasten them with rivets.

All the work of the Newark Bay yard was completed during the fiscal year ending 30 June 1920. The last keel was laid on November 11, 1919, on the anniversary of the armistice, and the last ship was delivered 11 June 1920. All told, 118 ships were constructed for the Fleet Corporation by the Submarine Boat Corporation, aggregating 598,850 deadweight tons. The remaining thirty-two ships called for under its original contract were completed and taken over by the Submarine Boat Corporation for its own operation in the final settlement which it made with the Fleet Corporation.

The company eventually realized the decision to build cargo vessels instead of submarines was a mistake, but the war ended before they could complete setting up for submarine production. This costly mistake nearly bankrupted the company. After another reorganization in 1923, the name of the shipbuilding company was changed back to the Electric Boat Company, then located in Groton CT.

The Submarine Boat Corp. continued in business for some years thereaftre. While it made money during the War, it made a permanent dive into the sea of losses in 1925. In 1929 Submarine Boat, still submerged in losses, crashed into a receivership. The Transmarine Line was a subsidiary of Submarine Boat Corp. which emerged from this wreckage. It operated 22 freight vessels in the well-served intercoastal route, though they were withdrawn from service in 1928 and anchored at Port Newark, NJ. In July 1931 they were sold into the fold of the big Dollar Line fleet for $400,000.

In January 1923, the Newton Amusement Corporation awarded a construction contract for a stadium-type theater, capable of seating 1,000 people, to William Houghton. It was designed in "Colonial Style" by Reilly & Hall of New York. Load-bearing columns, consisting of 50 tons of steel supplied by the Submarine Boat Corporation of Newark, made the building of "the safest type known to modern engineering science."

All Federal's Gearings were built at a separate facility, completed during World War II, at Port Newark, New Jersey.

Newark Bay has a length of about 4 miles from Kill Van Kull to the junction of the two channels leading to Passaic and Hackensack Rivers. The greater part of the bay is very shoal, but a dredged channel leads through the bay to the rivers. The channel is well marked by lights and buoys. Strangers in small vessels should have no difficulty when using the chart as a guide. Deep-draft vessels should employ a pilot.

Deep-draft navigation occurs in New York and New Jersey Harbor from outside of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge to the various terminals lining Upper New York Bay, the Kill Van Kull, the Arthur Kill, and Newark Bay. Kill Van Kull separates the southern shore of the city of Bayonne from Staten Island and connects the Upper Bay of New York Harbor with Newark Bay and Arthur Kill. Kill Van Kull is a major channel for petroleum and bulk cargo in New York Harbor, and has extensive through traffic and large factories on its shores.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:54:13 ZULU