The shipyard is located on the southern branch of the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth, Virginia, which is in the southeastern part of the state, known as Hampton Roads. This area includes the cities of Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton, and Newport News.
The shipyard is composed of several noncontiguous areas totaling 1,275 acres, of which the basic industrial area is 498 acres (179 acres in the Controlled Industrial Area). There are 17 production shops located in 69 production shop buildings for a total of over 3.6M SF. Total facility value including the annexes exceeds $2.0B.
The end of FY94 civilian work force totaled
7,563 with an annual payroll of $409M. The 150 military personnel
had a payroll totaling $7M.
In 1794, Congress passed "An Act to Provide a Naval Armament" and the Gosport Shipyard was leased from the State of Virginia by the Federal Government. In 1798, Congress created the US Navy Department. Gosport Shipyard, laid the keel of the frigate CHESAPEAKE, and launched it in 1799.
In 1801, for $12,000, the federal government purchased the shipyard from the Commonwealth of Virginia. This tract of land contained 16 acres in the northeast corner of the present shipyard. Congress passed an act for the gradual improvement of the Navy in 1827, and construction on one of the first two dry docks in the United States began at Gosport. Then in 1845, the tract of land on the eastern side of Elizabeth River, known as St Helena, was purchased for storage and repair.
When Virginia joined the Confederate States, war seemed imminent in April 1861. The shipyard commander ordered the burning of the shipyard and the Confederacy then took over the shipyard. The shipyard was burned again in May 1862 by departing confederate forces. It was rebuilt following the war, but no major expansion occurred until World War I.
During World War I, the shipyard expanded to accommodate more than 11,000 employees and their families. This facility repaired numerous vessels and constructed four destroyers and twenty-one 110-foot submarine chasers. In 1925 a battleship modernization program began, and in 1933, a naval construction program (the National Industrial Recovery Act) was initiated. Nine destroyers were constructed and launched by 1939.
During World War II, the shipyard doubled its physical size and multiplied its productive capacity. From 1940 to 1945 the shipyard worked on 6,850 naval vessels. One-hundred and one new ships and landing craft were constructed, and defense equipment worth millions of dollars was manufactured. At its peak period, the shipyard's employment totaled nearly 43,000 personnel.
Following World War II the shipyard became primarily an overhaul and repair facility, and has remained in this status until today. During the Korean War more than 1,250 naval vessels were repaired, and its last two ships--wooden hull minesweepers--were constructed.
Today Norfolk Naval Shipyard provides repair/modernization to the entire range of naval ships including aircraft carriers, submarines, guided missile cruisers and amphibians. Norfolk is the oldest continuously operated shipyard in the United States and the only east coast naval shipyard capable of dry docking nuclear aircraft carriers. Norfolk Naval Shipyard continues its history of leadership by its newest role as a partner in the Regional Maintenance Concept which efficiently consolidates the shipyard's resources of skilled mechanics and production facilities and equipment with those of the military personnel and ships forces of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Functions currently undergoing this regional transformation include motor rewind, pump repair, and laboratories.Major employers in the area include Newport News Shipbuilding, Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock Company.