The Brooklyn Navy Yard was first established as the New York Navy Yard in the late 1700's on the East River in Brooklyn. The shipyard built a merchant ship under its first contract and in 1798 built a vessel for the Navy.
The shipyard's rich history continued to develop when it set the very first US steam warship, The Fulton, to sea in 1837. This launch was followed by the launch of Niagara, a steam frigate that historical documents indicate laid the very first transatlantic cable. Unfortunately, the New York Navy Yard, like most shipyards in the 1920's found business drying up in that decade. In fact, business came to a dead crawl and the situation was further exacerbated by the loss of contracts to private shipyards as a result of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936.
In the 1930's, however, business picked up and the New York Navy Yard became the premier battleship construction shipyard in the US. The most famous battleships to emerge from the New York Navy Yard include the battleship North Carolina (1937) and the battleship Iowa (1942). As a result the New York Navy Yard became one of the largest employers in for area men and women and in the late 1900's local area people dubbed the New York Navy Yard, the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Throughout World War II, the Brooklyn Navy Yard concentrated on ship repairs and conversions and was a favored home base for British ally ships needing work. The Shipyard also gained experience in building coal and oil barges and freight lighters. It truly grew to be one of the largest complexes in New York state.
Those years represented the hi-light years for the Brooklyn Navy Yard, however. While ship repair work continued to some degree during the Cold War, work levels never reached the heights that existed during WW II. And in 1966, the Brooklyn Navy Yard shut down operations following a devastating fire earlier in the decade that forced a significant slow down in the amount of work that the Shipyard could handle.
Unfortunately there are many individuals who worked at this shipyard and are now filing lawsuits after developing mesothelioma after working in Brooklyn. This is because they were exposed to asbestos while working there. Because mesothelioma has a long latency period it can be many years before symptoms develop. By then the disease is in advanced stages and the prognosis and projected life expectancy for mesothelioma victims is not favorable. How veterans are affected by mesothelioma is also of concern as they represent a large percentage of the population diagnosed with the disease. If you are a veteran exposed to asbestos at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and have mesothelioma please consult our page that discusses veteran medical support for mesothelioma. There are also New York mesothelioma lawsuits currently being filed in New York City for people who were exposed at Brooklyn Navy Shipyard.Sources
Coletta, Paolo E., Ed. United States Navy and Marine Corps Bases, Domestic. Greenwood Press: Westport, CT. 1985. Ppgs. 359-365.
"Earnings and Hours in Private Shipyards." Monthly Labor Review of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Washington. Sept. 1938. Ppgs. 2&3.
Coletta, Paolo E., Ed. United States Navy and Marine Corps Bases, Domestic. Greenwood Press: Westport, CT. 1985. Ppgs. 365-367.