Virginia is home to two major ship shipbuilding facilities: Newport News Shipyard and Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Each of these has a long history; each played an important part in World War II, and the New Deal played a major role in the part they played. The National Industrial Recovery Act of of 1933 (NIRA) gave president Franklin D. Roosevelt the authority to build ships and an agency, the Public Works Administration (PWA)[2,3] to pay for them: 2 aircraft carriers, 1 heavy cruiser, 3 light cruisers, 4 submarines, 2 gunboats, and 20 destroyers. The two carriers — Yorktown and Enterprise — were built at Newport News shipyard, and the destroyers Tucker and Downes at Norfolk.
Nor was that the only appropriation by which the PWA financed military ships. The PWA book America Builds, Table 20 on page 290 notes that as of February 28, 1939, the PWA had financed 60 naval ships and 99 Coast Guard vessels.
A great deal of work also was done on the Navy yards themselves through allocations from NIRA, the CWA, WPA, and PWA appropriations. “Between 1938 and 1945, a total of $590,000,000 was expended for construction and improvements at navy yards. The program was initiated by an appropriation of $20,045,000 for public works at navy yards in the Naval Appropriation Act of 1938. These funds, which seemed so large at the time but which, in retrospect, were extremely modest, were earmarked by Congress for specific projects to overcome recognized deficiencies and to meet, in part, the enhanced needs of the Vinson fleet expansion bill of 1938. In the fall of 1938, the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks prepared a comprehensive plan for the improvement of the naval shore establishment, based on a survey of overall requirements for these purposes. This plan, which was issued on January 1, 1939, contemplated total expenditures of $330,000,000. Of this total amount, the sum of $75,000,000 was proposed for correction of accumulated deficiencies at navy yards, and $70,000,000 additional was proposed for yard improvements needed in connection with the Vinson fleet expansion program. Projects at navy yards thus represented 44 per cent of the total plan. During the fiscal years 1939 and 1940, funds were provided by Congress under the appropriation 'Public Works, Navy,' for navy yard projects totalling $116,000,000, in support of this program.” See this page on the Newport News shipyard for further confirmation of New Deal expenditures on shipyards.
|Navy Yard||Location||Ships (hull numbers)|
|Charleston Navy Yard||South Carolina||PG51|
|Mare Island||Vallejo, CA||DD378, DD379|
|Brooklyn Navy Yard||New York City||PG50|
|Norfolk Shipyard||Virginia||DD374, DD375||(Tucker, Downes)|
|Philadelphia||Pennsylvania||CL41, DD372, DD373|
|Portsmouth||Kittery, Maine||Submarines 172, 173|
|Puget Sound||Bremerton WA||DD376, DD377|
|Newport News||Virginia||CV5, CV6||(Yorktown, Enterprise)|
|NY Shipbuilding||Camden NJ||CL42, CL43, DD356-359|
|Electric Boat||Groton CT||Submarines 174, 175|
|United Dry Docks||Staten Island NYC||DD364, DD365|
|Bath Iron Works||Bath, Maine||DD366, DD367|
|Federal Shipbuilding||Kearny NJ||DD368, DD369|