Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation

Summary

The Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation (also operating as Todd Pacific) was a United States corporation which built escort carriers, destroyers, cargo ships and auxiliaries for the United States Navy and merchant marine during World War II in two yards in Puget Sound, Washington. It was the largest producer of destroyers (45) on the West Coast and the largest producer of escort carriers of various classes (56) of any United States yard active during World War II.

Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation
IndustryShipbuilding
Founded1939
Defunct1946
HeadquartersTacoma, Washington United States
ParentTodd Pacific Shipyards and Kaiser Shipbuilding

HistoryEdit

The Todd Corporation acquired Seattle Construction and Drydock Company in Seattle Harbor during World War I some time in 1916. The yard was first leased and then acquired in 1918 by Skinner & Eddy. Todd moved his Seattle operation to nearby Harbor Island where a repair facility was constructed. In 1917 the company also set foot in Tacoma.

3 of 10 Omaha-class light cruisers and 27 chargo ships (7,500t) were built in the Tacoma yard (including Jacona, which survived till at least 1971), the Caldwell-class destroyer USS Gwin (DD-71) and the N-class submarines N-1 (SS-53), N-2 (SS-54) and N-3 (SS-55) as well as 8 cargo ships of 7,500t and 6 cargo ships of 5,000t were built in Seattle. All cargo ships were delivered to the United States Shipping Board.

In addition to these government contracts, the Tacoma yard built 2 cargo ships (named Red Hook and Hoboken after 2 of Todd's New York Harbor locations), 3 passenger ships and 6 barges. The Red Hook found its way into Imperial Japanese Army service as Naruo Maru[1] and was sunk in 1944.

Shipbuilding ceased in the Seattle yard in 1920 and in the Tacoma yard in 1924.

In 1939, the old Tacoma shipyard in Commencement Bay was revived by Todd and Kaiser Shipbuilding together with the aid of some $15 million in capital provided by the U.S. Navy, for the production of vessels in anticipation of possible US entry into World War II. The money enabled the owners to expand the number of ways from three to eight in total.

Following the enactment of the Two-Ocean Navy Act, Seattle-Tacoma was awarded a contract to build 25 destroyers.[2] The government invested $9 million in a new destroyer construction facility on Harbor Island which was then built next to the existing repair dock founded in 1918.

One notable vessel built by the yard was the Fletcher class destroyer USS Johnston (DD-557) which was famous for charging the Japanese navy center force at the Battle off Samar during the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf resulting in the loss of the destroyer but causing the center force to break off its assault on the US landing operations then underway.

In 1942 Todd bought out Kaiser's holding and some time thereafter the company was reabsorbed into Todd Dry Dock & Construction, which eventually became Todd Pacific Shipyards. Todd sold the Tacoma shipyard to the Navy after the war ended, which in turn sold the site to the Port of Tacoma in 1959. Today the site is set for redevelopment as part of the Port's Commencement Bay Industrial Development District.

The Harbor Island yard continued to be part of the Todd Corporation, building civilian and military ships and it remains active to this day as a facility of Vigor Shipyards.

World War II Ships builtEdit

Tacoma yardEdit

in Commencement Bay (47°16′29″N 122°24′59″W / 47.2747°N 122.41628°W / 47.2747; -122.41628)

Escort carriers (56)

Auxiliaries (14)

Cargo (5)

  • 5 of 95 C1-B (5 of 10 diesel variant C1-B)
    • Cape Alava (MC-119) ... Idaho (MC-123)

Seattle YardEdit

on Harbor Island (47°35′21″N 122°20′53″W / 47.58903°N 122.3481°W / 47.58903; -122.3481) in 2 separate facilities at the north end of the island. In 1918 Todd moved out of the seattle waterfront and opened a repair facility on the northwestern corner. In 1940 additional slipways were added on the northeastern end.[3] The expansion most likely initially had 10 slipways for destroyers, but in June 1945, 5 destroyers were building, the unfinished Seaman (DD-791) was about to be laid down and 2 destroyer tenders (Isle Royale (AD-29) and Great Lakes (AD-30) - eventually aborted) were using up 2 former destroyer slipways each.

 
World War II Destroyer Shipbuilders map from Department of Defense (DoD)

1 of 6 Shenandoah-class destroyer tenders

Destroyers (10 slipways, based on construction dates)

Pacific Reserve Fleet, TacomaEdit

After the war the United States Navy took over the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding shipyard and for use as part of the United States Navy reserve fleets, also called a mothball fleet. The Pacific Reserve Fleet, Tacoma was used to store the now many surplus ships after World War II. Some ships in the Commencement Bay Reserve Fleet were reactivated for the Korean War. The Navy sold the shipyard to the Port of Tacoma in 1959. The ships stored at Pacific Reserve Fleet, Tacoma were either scrapped or moved to other reserve fleets.[6]

  • Example ships:
  • USS Lunga Point was placed in the Pacific Reserve Fleet, Tacoma in 1946 and removed in June 1955 and recommissioned as CVU-94.
  • USS Kwajalein was placed in the Pacific Reserve Fleet, Tacoma in 1946 and removed in June 1955 and recommissioned as CVU-98 a utility aircraft carrier.
  • USS Tinian (CVE-123) a Commencement Bay-class escort carrier, was stored at Reserve Fleet, Tacoma, being completed in 1946, too late for World War II. On 12 June 1955, the ship was reclassified as an escort helicopter aircraft carrier and re-designated CVHE-123.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "IJA Naruo Maru Class Transport".
  2. ^ "Index to Vol. 23".
  3. ^ "Thirteenth Naval District (Cochrane Collection)".
  4. ^ Friedman, US destroyers, p. 449
  5. ^ Friedman, US destroyers, p. 450
  6. ^ shipbuildinghistory.com Todd Tacoma
  • Todd Pacific Shipyards Incorporated Tacoma WA WWII construction record.
  • Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation, from the Destroyer History website.
  • Ships built at Todd Dry Dock, Seattle-Tacoma, and Todd Pacific at ShipbuildingHistory.com
  • https://shipbuildinghistory.com/shipyards/large/toddseattle.htm
  • Friedman, Norman (1982). US Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History. Naval Institute Press.