Shipyard serves our nation

Northrop Grumman Newport News, the nation's largest shipyard, is one of the local economy's driving forces.

The yard — Hampton Roads' largest private employer, with about 20,000 workers — is the nation's sole maker of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and one of two submarine builders.

On the banks of the James River on the tip of the Peninsula, the yard went into operation in 1886, founded by railroad magnate Collis P. Huntington as a sidelight to his coal operations. The yard started out building Navy and commercial ships and has built ships for World War I, World War II and all wars since. It now focuses nearly exclusively on Navy vessels.

The yard boasts one of the strongest cranes in the Western Hemisphere, a 1,050-ton gantry. More than 23 stories high, it has been a local landmark of sorts since going into operation in 1975.

George H.W. Bush, the namesake of the yard's latest carrier, has visited the yard three times to see his ship, including once early this year to test its steam-powered catapults, the system that propels aircraft off the flight deck.

Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman bought the yard in 2001. Other area shipyards include Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth and BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair in Norfolk.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad