Newport News Shipbuilding, 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.
Formerly a part ofNorthrop Grumman Corp., the yard is now a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., which is headquartered in Newport News and owns two additional shipyards along the Gulf Coast.
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. It 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, visited the yard three times while his ship was under construction.
Other area shipyards include Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth and BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair in Norfolk.