On December 19, 1960, the Brooklyn Navy Yard suffered the worst accident in its history, a devastating fire aboard the USS Constellation that killed 50 workers. This fire was not only a tragedy for those who were killed and injured and their families, but it marked a turning point in the Yard’s history that many believe led to its closure less than six years later. Over the years, we have had the honor to meet many people that lived through this ordeal, and we will share oral histories and photos from the Brooklyn Navy Yard Archives to reconstruct this fateful day and examine its impact on individuals, the city, and the Navy.
- From Fulton to Constellation: The Worst Accidents in the History of the Brooklyn Navy Yard
- USS Constellation Alumni Association
- Memorial plaque dedication, May 2, 2016
- USS Constellation, Historic Ships in Baltimore
For well over a century, City Island in western Long Island Sound was an important maritime community, not only as a destination for tourists — which it still is — but also as a center of yacht building and sail-making. As fiberglass superseded wood, the boatbuilding ceased, and the sail-making industry moved on to other locations, but the island remains proud of its nautical heritage, which is celebrated in the City Island Nautical Museum.
Since its founding over 52 years ago, South Street Seaport Museum has faced the daunting job of preserving its historic fleet. Join us for a photographic voyage with Director of Historic Ships Jesse Lebovics to see the challenges and remarkable efforts made for the long term preservation of 1885 ship Wavertree, 1930 tugboat W.O. Decker, 1885 schooner Pioneer, and the planned upcoming work on 1907 lightship Ambrose.
One of the most frequent questions from visitors on our Brooklyn Navy Yard Tours is, where are the ships of the US Navy built today? At its height in 1966, the US Navy operated 12 shipyards that built and repaired a huge proportion of the fleet; today, it operates only four, and all ship construction is done at private yards. This virtual program with Andrew Gustafson will discuss the decline of the government shipbuilding, the major private shipyards working today, and the current and future challenges to the naval shipbuilding program.
- Google Map of US shipyards
- Shipyards of New York Harbor
- RAND Corporation (2017) A Strategic Assessment of the Future of U.S. Navy Ship Maintenance
- US Naval Institute, “Fincantieri Wins $795M Contract for Navy Frigate Program”
- US Naval Institute, “Shipbuilding Industry Struggles to Recruit And Retain Workforce”
- War on the Rocks, “More than Just a Fire: The Implications of the Bonhomme Richard Catastrophe”
Join the Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Program (BCAP) every weekday at 10am for Adventures in Brooklyn. Virtually visit many different cultural partners as we explore art, science, reading, and more across Brooklyn from home! From July 6 to 10, we will be hosting special programs all about the Brooklyn Navy Yard, including learning about ships and how they are built and repaired, looking at many of the products that are made in the Yard today, and exploring stories of people, ships, and even animals from the Yard’s long history.
This program is designed for children ages 5 to 10 and their families. Click the links below to watch the 30-minute episodes on YouTube:
- Monday: Boats of Wallabout Bay
- Tuesday: Fixing Boats in a Dry Dock
- Wednesday: Animal Stories of the Yard w/ Thyra Heder
- Thursday: Making Products at the Brooklyn Navy Yard w/ Carrie Bilbo
- Friday: Reusing and Recycling
The Whitehall skiff, a style of boat developed in New York 200 years ago, has been changing the lives of teens in the Bronx for the last 20 years at a program called Rocking the Boat. Founder and Executive Director Adam Green joins us to discuss the Whitehall and the impact of youth development based on teaching with small boats that combines engineering, craft, rowing and sailing, and marine ecology.
Enjoy this hands-on virtual program with the whole family! Ships are giant structures that can weigh hundreds or even thousands of tons. So how do they get them out of the water? Join us at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s history Dry Dock No. 1 for an exploration of the science behind dry docks and learn how this amazing machine is still used today to repair ships in New York Harbor. After we visit the dry dock, we will then show you how to make your own model of one to “fix” your own toy boats, using items you can find around your house. This video was created with support from the Brooklyn Public Library.
Dive into the collections of South Street Seaport Museum with Director of Collections Martina Caruso, who will share some of the highlights among the museum’s 28,000+ artifacts and 55,000+ archival materials that document the rise of New York as a port city. In honor of the recent visit of the hospital ship USNS Comfort, we will look at items related to past hospital ships that have visited New York, and we will examine some fascinating shipbuilding tools, including those used by workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and other nearby shipyards.
- South Street Seaport Museum • DONATE
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- History of Hospital Ships in New York City
For over 200 years, the Brooklyn Navy Yard has been on the cutting edge of innovation, first as a leading shipyard for the US Navy, and today as a home to 500+ industrial, manufacturing, design, and technology companies. We’ll look back at inventions – some small enough to hold, some as large as ships – both groundbreaking and mundane, that shaped the history of the Yard and the wider world.