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
December 7, 1941 is a date that is indelible in American history, but 24 years earlier, that date also marked an important moment: the arrival of Battle Division 9 to Scapa Flow, the first American battleships to join the British Grand Fleet, which included the Brooklyn Navy Yard-built USS New York and USS Florida. We will discuss the special role of the US Navy in the naval war, in which battleships actually played a very small part. Places like the Brooklyn Navy Yard were instead tasked with building submarine chasers and painting “dazzle” camouflage schemes to counter German U-boats, and American manufacturing was mobilized to produce more than 50,000 mines for the North Sea Mine Barrage to close off passage to the Atlantic from Germany.
- William S. Sims, The Victory at Sea (Archive.org)
- Intrepid Museum Pearl Harbor Tribute
- U-boats in World War I
- Naval History and Heritage Command interactive map of U-boat attacks on US ships in World War I
- WATCH: Veterans Day in Prospect Park
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”
For just the second time in 33 years, Fleet Week New York has been cancelled this year, so instead, we will look back at Fleet Weeks and naval reviews held over the past century in New York Harbor. From the return of the victorious fleet after World War II to OpSails to ships of the contemporary Navy, we will share images and stories of some of the special visits of military vessels to our harbor and to the Brooklyn waterfront. We normally host our Fleet Week tours with our friends at Classic Harbor Line, so they will be joining us to share about their own beautiful fleet of wooden sailboats and motor yachts that take visitors around the harbor.
- Virtual Fleet Week New York 2020 / Facebook • Twitter • Instagram
- Navy League New York Council
- Scarano Boat Building
- Helicopter crash from HMCS Fredericton
After nearly 12 years of leading tours at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, one of the most difficult questions we get – and almost always from young people – is this: Were there slaves here?
This question is vexing not just because of the complex and painful subject matter, but also because the historical record is incomplete. The result is usually an imprecise and unsatisfying answer. In short, yes, enslaved people were an integral part of life at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for the 60 years leading up to the Civil War, just as they were across Brooklyn and New York City.
This is an effort to unpack that complexity and get somewhere closer to the historical truth of the matter.
On August 14, 1965, the Landing Platform Dock USS Duluth (LPD-6) floated out of Dry Dock No. 3 at the New York Naval Shipyard. In the preceding 145 years, this shipyard had witnessed the launch of 125 commissioned warships of the US Navy, beginning with the 74-gun ship of the line USS Ohio, and this would be the 126th – and final – to be built on Wallabout Bay.>> Continue reading
Since Fleet Week returned to New York City after a sequestration-imposed hiatus in 2013, I have watched the annual parade of ships from underneath the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which gives you a good vantage point on the Navy and Coast Guard vessels as they pass through the channel into the Upper Bay. This year, however, I got the opportunity to actually be in the parade thanks to the New York Council of the Navy League.>> Continue reading
New York City used to be a Navy town. Sailors were a regular sight at the city’s shipyards and bases, and ships made regular port calls. Now the Navy’s footprint is nearly gone, so we really have only Fleet Week New York to look forward to for sailor visits. Below is our annual guide to some of the units that will be in town – be sure to check out the full schedule of events on the official Fleet Week NYC website.
If you can’t make out to all of these spots during the week, join us on Memorial Day for our Fleet Week Harbor Tour with our friends at Classic Harbor Line, where we will cruise past all four docking locations, get a waterside view of the ships aboard a beautiful motor yacht, and discuss the rich naval history of the harbor.
As Memorial Day approaches, that can only mean one thing – it’s Fleet Week in NYC! Here’s our annual guide to some of the units that will be in town – be sure to check out the full schedule of events on the official Fleet Week NYC website. If you can’t make out to all of these spots this week, join us on Memorial Day for our Fleet Week Harbor Tour with our friends at Classic Harbor Line, where we will cruise past all four docking locations and get a waterside view of the ships aboard a beautiful motor yacht.
Manhattan Pier 90
- Ships open for visitors May 24–28, 8am–5pm