Caddell Drydock and Repair Company Inc. opened its doors to business in 1903. Founded by shipbuilder and drydock master John Caddell, salesman Eugene Schuyler, and accountant John Payne, the shipyard grew to become one of the most profitable shipyards in New York State. More than a century later, it has thrived to become the oldest shipyard operation in New York Harbor
The operation includes six dry docks, annually servicing more than 300 vessels.
Throughout its history, Caddell Drydock and Repair Company has focused primarily on commercial, non-governmental clients. But during World War II, the shipyard was involved in supplying the Navy with several craft, and its labor force boomed as a result.
The company has remained under the ownership of the same family for its entire existence, spanning three generations of Caddells, and servicing coastal schooners, excursion boats, ferries, deep sea fishing boats, and yachts, in addition to tugboats, barges, and tankers, including some operated by Exxon Mobil.
Today, in addition to its commercial and government clients, Caddell is working side-by-side with non-profit groups whose goals are to restore and maintain historic ships. The shipyard has made repairs to the famous replica of Henry Hudson’s Half Moon, as well as the city’s South Street Seaport Museum’s historic vessels.
Throughout the years, Caddell has prided itself on the caliber of its repair work. But like many shipyards existing in the first three-quarters of the 20th century, much of that repair work involved components which were manufactured using asbestos.
Over the years, shipyards have gained a notorious reputation for the rampant use of asbestos-based materials and components, including boilers. Individuals employed by the Caddell company, as well as other shipyards during this time, were unknowingly exposed to asbestos risks, breathing in large quantities of harmful asbestos fibers which can cause malignant mesothelioma. Such exposure contributes to the high instance of mesothelioma navy cases.
The risks of asbestos were not realized until the 1970s, when government legislation put an end to their use in manufacturing. But for many shipyard employees, they damage had already been done, and the fibers had already lodged securely in the lungs and airways of many of these men and women, waiting to cause potentially deadly effects, like mesothelioma and asbestosis.