The Alabama Drydock and Shipbuilding Company (ADDSCO) located in Mobile, Alabama, was one of the largest marine production facilities in the United States of America during the 20th century. It began operation in 1917, and expanded dramatically during World War II; with 30,000 workers, including numerous African Americans and women, it became the largest employer in the southern part of the state. During the defense buildup, which included other shipyards, Mobile became the second-largest city in the state, after Birmingham.
Shipbuilding declined in the United States in the later 20th century, and ADDSCO closed its yard in the mid-1970s. It later re-opened. ADDSCO is now owned by BAE Systems, which purchased the yard from Atlantic Marine in May 2010.
World War II
During and after World War II, ADDSCO became the largest employer in southern Alabama, building Liberty ships, tankers and other vessels from the keel up, often at rapid speeds during the stateside war effort. The first yard was built on Pinto Island in Mobile Bay. During World War II, the facility was primarily tasked for production of the Liberty ships, but wartime losses caused a shift to repair of tanker vessels. Twenty Liberty ships were produced in Mobile. From 1943 to 1945, 102 T2 tanker ships were produced at ADDSCO.
Thousands made their way to Mobile to find work. By 1943 some 18,500 men were employed at ADDSCO, including 6,000 African Americans. White hostility to blacks being promoted to welder positions resulted in a white riot starting the evening of May 24, 1943. An estimated 4,000 white workers at the shipyard attacked black workers; others threw bricks at black housing in the city. The governor ordered National Guard troops to protect the workers. In order to settle the riot, federal, city, union and NAACP leaders agreed to four segregated shipways, where African Americans could occupy all positions. Those employed in these highly skilled jobs earned wages equal to the white defense workers and had the chance to have equally skilled positions.
Achieving racial equality continued to be a problem at the shipyard following the war. Legal segregation of facilities in the state did not end until the late 1960s, although federal defense contractors were not supposed to practice segregation. Although racial tensions were addressed repeatedly by both management and trade unions, a small race riot erupted and forced temporary closing of the yard.
In the mid-1970s, the Mobile yard closed due to declining business and labor unrest. The facility later re-opened and remains in operation today. The ship repair subsidiary of ADDSCO closed in September 1988.
A portion of the facility was leased to Atlantic Marine in March 1989, which acquired the site outright in December 1992. The investment company, headed by former U.S. Navy Secretary John Lehman, operated the yard from 2006 until 2010. It was acquired by BAE Systems in May 2010, which continues to operate it as a full service shipyard, BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards.
On the 1st of March 2018, the parent company for the shipyard, BAE Systems, announced it was going to close the yard permanently when all ongoing projects there were completed. As of Oct. 9th 2018 Epic Companies acquired BAE systems shipyard.
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- "ADDSCO", Encyclopedia of Alabama