Norfolk Naval Shipyard

The Norfolk Navy Shipyard (NNSY) is located in Portsmouth, Virginia. It is one of the largest shipyards in the world and it is the oldest and largest industrial facility that belongs to the U.S. Navy. The shipyard specializes in repairing, overhauling and modernizing ships and submarines. It can not only dry-dock, overhaul and repair any ship in the U.S. fleet, it can also perform any technical, fabrication, manufacturing and engineering work your organization might need accomplished. NNSY has earned it numerous awards and the reputation of being the nation’s number one shipyard.

Norfolk Naval Shipyard  Portsmouth, VA 23709

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On November 1, 1767 Andrew Sprowle, a merchant and ship owner, established the Gosport Shipyard on the western shore of the Elizabeth River under the British flag. The shipyard developed and prospered as both a naval and merchant shipyard. When the American Revolution began in 1775, Sprowle chose to remain loyal to the Crown and fled the area aboard the Royal Governor’s flagship. All his properties were confiscated by the Colony of Virginia. While being operated by Virginia, in 1779, the shipyard was burned by the British.
This former colonial shipyard became the Navy’s nucleus in the Hampton Roads area where the largest naval base in the world has developed. The Norfolk Naval Shipyard is the U.S. Navy’s oldest shipyard and actually predates the United States Navy Department by 31 years. The largest shipyard on the East Coast. Known for most of its first century as “Gosport”, it was renamed “Norfolk” in 1862 after the largest city in the area. It has never borne the name of its home city of Portsmouth.

During its more than 230 years, the Norfolk Naval Shipyard has assisted the nation in winning nine major wars, putting an end to piracy, sending the Great White Fleet around the world, scientifically exploring the Pacific, and opening Japan to American trade.

Built here in 1794-99 was the U.S. frigate USS CHESAPEAKE, a sister ship of the USS CONSTITUTION and one of the first six ships to be built for the U.S. Navy after the Revolution. One hundred more ships slid down the ways here before the yard completed its last ship, a wooden minesweeper, in 1953.

The first dry dock in the western hemisphere opened here on June 17, 1833 by hosting the 74-gun ship-of-the-line USS DELAWARE. Dry Dock 1, now a national historic landmark, is still in use.

CSS Virginia

It was in this yard that the partly burned steam frigate USS MERRIMACK was converted by the Confederates into the CSS VIRGINIA. In March 1862, world wide attention focused on the battles between the VIRGINIA and the wooden Union ships USS CONGRESS and USS CUMBERLAND and the federal ironclad USS MONITOR. The battles in Hampton Roads spurred changes in naval technology around the world.

USS TEXAS, first U.S. naval battleship to be commissioned, was built here in 1889-92 as was USS RALEIGH, the first modern cruiser completely built by the government.

Flying from the first flight deck built on a ship, by the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Eugene B. Ely took off from USS BIRMINGHAM (CS-2) in Hampton Roads on November 14, 1910. Scheduled to land at NNSY, he touched down instead in Norfolk.

The first aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy’s history, the USS LANGLEY, was converted here between 1919 and 1922 from the collier USS JUPITER.

The yard’s employment peak of nearly 43,000 workers was reached during World War II when the yard built nearly 30 major vessels and repaired 6,850 U.S. and Allied ships. It also built 20 tank landing ships and 50 medium landing craft.

During the three years of the Korean War, the shipyard completed work on more than 1,250 naval vessels and built two wooden minesweepers.

The shipyard attained nuclear technology capability in the early part of 1965 when USS SKATE (SSN-578) became the first modern submarine to undergo a major overhaul here.

Shipyarders here have built a tradition of professional leadership through hard work and technological innovation. As sailing ships yielded to steam-powered ironclads, they learned new skills. From the early experiments with Polaris missiles to the latest installation of complex weapons systems, shipyarders have come up with productive ways to get their jobs done. That is why today Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s ability to repair and overhaul ships with speed and efficiency has earned it numerous awards and the reputation of being the nation’s number one shipyard.

History 2

Disaster struck on May 23, 1939 when the Portsmouth submarine, USS Squalus sank off the Isles of Shoals during sea trials (approximately 12 miles from the shipyard) in 240 feet of water because the main induction valve failed to close. USS Sculpin, a sister ship of Squalus, located Squalus on the bottom and rescue vessels and workers began to pour in from Boston, New London, and Washington. The McCann Rescue Chamber was rushed from New London and the first of the survivors were brought to the surface on May 24. After several attempts and much trouble, Squalus was finally raised on September 13 and towed to the shipyard. She was put out of commission two months later, rebuilt and recommissioned as USS Sailfish just a year after she had sunk. The bridge and conning tower of Sailfish (shown here) are now at the shipyard as a memorial to the 26 officers and men lost on Squalus. For more shipyard history, click on our History link on this page.


Proud of our past…Ready for the future
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s primary mission is the overhaul, repair and modernization of Los Angeles-class submarines. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard provides the U.S. Navy’s nuclear powered submarine fleet with quality overhaul work in a safe, timely and affordable manner. This includes a full spectrum of in-house support–from engineering services and production shops, to unique capabilities and facilities, to off-site support–all of which serves the multifaceted assortment of fleet requirements. With the commissioning of the Virginia-class submarine, USS New Hampshire (SSN 778) in 2008, the shipyard and the Seacoast Communities got their first look at the next generation of submarine technology and the future of ship repair. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard performed the first extended availability on the new class of submarine on USS Virginia (SSN 774) gaining valuable knowledge and experience for future Virginia-class availabilities. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is committed to maximizing the material readiness of the fleet by delivering on-time, affordable quality, safely achieved.

The official mission assigned to this shipyard by the Secretary of the Navy is:

Provide logistic support for assigned ships and service craft
Perform authorized work in connection with construction, conversion, overhaul, repair, alteration, dry docking, and outfitting of ships and craft, as assigned
Perform manufacturing, research, development and test work, as assigned
Provide services and material to other activities and units, as directed by competent authority.

You can bring any job — no matter the size — to NNSY because of its location and layout. Situated on the southern branch of the Elizabeth River, NNSY’s boundaries encompass approximately 800 acres. The property houses seven dry docks, four miles of waterfront, about 30 miles of paved streets and 19 miles of railroad tracks, its own police and fire departments, electricity and steam generating plant, and about 400 cranes.

NNSY also is ready and able to travel to wherever your job site is located, lessening your ‘down time’. The work force is capable of working in the shipyard proper, at area bases, forward sites, at sea and overseas. In addition, selected submarine ship alterations are routinely installed by shipyard “Tiger Teams” at remote sites.

When you learn more about NNSY, you’ll understand why this shipyard is an acknowledged industrial leader. And its capabilities are now available for you.

Some of the shipyard’s other distinctions include

Naval Shipyard Development and Integration Test Site which is a multi disciplinary engineering site dedicated to integrating, testing and implementing business process improvements in Navy and Department of Defense maintenance depots

Network Center of Excellence and Network Operations Control Center which are the Navy’s entities responsible for coordinating and controlling the wide area network (WAN) and local area network (LAN) in the shipyards

East Coast cryptographic repair depot which repairs, modifies, overhauls, certifies and installs cryptographic equipment

Depot level antenna repair facility and range site that removes, restores, tests, ranges and reinstalls IDD, ACLS, navigation and surface/air search antennas

Accredited environmental and materials testing laboratory that provides complete chemical, metallurgical and metrology analysis and engineering services

Shipyard Instructional Design Center which is a full-service training development and media production facility

Fun Facts!
Population : The work force at Norfolk Naval Shipyard comes from the following areas: 24 percent Portsmouth; 15 percent Virginia Beach; 30 percent Chesapeake; 7 percent Norfolk; 9 percent Suffolk; 8 percent other Virginia areas; and 7 percent from North Carolina.

Skill Base: The productive work force of the shipyard can be categorized as 70 percent highly skilled, 20 percent moderately skilled, and 10 percent unskilled.

Transportation Access: The metropolitan area highway system includes I-64, I-264, I-664, I-464,US 13, US 58, and US 460. These major highways provide access to the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Suffolk, Newport News, and Hampton. The Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, the Mid-town Tunnel, Monitor-Merrimack Bridge Tunnel, and the Elizabeth River Tunnel join these cities. Interconnecting primary state highways supplement these major routes. Rail service in the Tidewater area is excellent. The Norfolk and Portsmouth Belt Line Railroad serves the improved waterfront on the south side of Hampton Roads. Interstate rail service is provided by the Norfolk and Western Railway Company, the Seaboard Coastline, and the Southern Railway System. Virginia and North Carolina are served by the Norfolk, Franklin, and Danville Railroad Company and the Norfolk Southern Railway Company. Daily passenger service to Newport News is provided by Amtrak, and freight service by ConRail. The Norfolk International Airport also serves the Hampton Roads. Daily long distance and commuter service is provided by commercial airlines. The facility has complete general aviation services, including service for private jets and freight and air express transport. In addition, there are five DOD airfields in the area, consisting of three Navy facilities, one Air Force facility, and one Army facility.

Local Industries: Major employers in the area include Newport News Shipbuilding, Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock Company.

Norfolk Naval Shipyard has:

A total of 3,585,239 square feet of Production Space.
A total of 1,195,480 square feet of Warehouse Space.
800 acres of land
4 miles of waterfront
30 miles of paved roads
19 miles of railroad tracks
400 cranes
Its own police & fire departments
Its own electric & steam generating plant

Dry Docks:

#1 – 319 feet 5 inches – opened 17 June, 1833
#2 – 498 feet 6 inches – opened 19 September, 1889
#3 – 550 feet – opened 8 December, 1908
#4 – 1011 feet 10 inches – opened 1 April, 1919
#6 – 465 feet 9 inches – opened 31 October, 1919
#7 – 465 feet 8 inches – opened 31 October, 1919
#8 – 1092 feet 5 inches – opened July, 1942


Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth Military Personnel Section: (757) 396-0489.
Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Norfolk and Norfolk Ship Support Activity Quarterdeck: (757) 443-2650.
Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (757) 445-0369
Sexual Assault 24/7 Response Hotline (757) 438-3504
Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) Portsmouth – (757) 953-7801 – Norfolk – (757) 444-2102
Navy Marine Corp Relief Society – NNSY – (757) 953-5956 – Norfolk – (757) 322-1171