On Exhibit at Robeson Library: Camden, World War I & the New York Shipbuilding Corporation
Camden, World War I & the New York Shipbuilding Corporation is on display at Paul Robeson Library from March 11 through March 30, 2017.
The New York Shipbuilding Corporation (or New York Ship for short) was an American shipbuilding company that operated from 1899 to 1968, ultimately completing more than 500 vessels for the United States Navy, the United States Merchant Marine, the United States Coast Guard, and other maritime concerns.
Originally envisioned as a shipyard on Staten Island, hence the name of the company, New York Ship broke ground on its southern Camden location on July 3, 1899. It quickly flourished under the innovative leadership of its founding president Henry G. Morse who survived the completion of the yard and the delivery of its first nine ships. Up until the time of his death in 1903, Morse would secure 20 ship contracts, including the first naval vessel ordered from New York Ship, an armored cruiser christened the Washington.
As the country entered World War I, New York Ship became one of the country’s leading builders of cargo ships, colliers, passenger ships, destroyers, and transport boats. The United States Navy ordered 30 destroyers between July 11 and December 29, 1917, and the Camden shipyard expanded its facilities to meet the demands. A critical shortage of worker housing led to the construction of Yorkship Village, a planned community financed by the War Department. Today, Yorkship Village is known as the Fairview section of the city of Camden.
The Emergency Fleet Corporation also called upon the building acumen of New York Ship to construct a fleet of 16 transport boats, over 50 feet in length, known as the “State” class. After the war ended, New York Ship transformed these vessels into first-class passenger liners.
New York Ship continued to flourish through World War II. After the Second World War, its fortunes changed and New York Ship eked by on a diminishing number of contracts from the United States Maritime Administration and the United States Navy. In 1968, lacking new naval orders, New York Ship went bankrupt. The yard’s site currently serves as the Port of Camden.