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Newport News Shipbuilding is the largest non-government-owned shipyard in the U.S. It designs, repairs, constructs, and overhauls vessels for the Navy, and for various commercial customers. The company also refuels nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines for the Navy.

The company built 9 of the 12 active carriers in the Navy, including all eight nuclear carriers. This yard handles the majority of carrier repair work performed today. Newport News Shipbuilding has constructed 264 naval ships and 543 commercial vessels, and it is one of the two shipyards building nuclear submarines for the U.S. Navy.


Founded in 1886 by Collis Huntington, Newport News Shipbuilding was originally known as Chesapeake Dry Dock and Construction Company. This yard would eventually become famous for having the first dry dock in the world. The tugboat Dorothy emerged from the shipyard in 1891, the shipyard’s first hull. Naval ships soon followed and for the next twenty years, business grew steadily.

The yard was highly active during WWI, but by the end of the war the yard ceased building naval ships altogether. At this time, the yard began constructing yachts, turbines, traffic lights, and railroad cars. The number of employees at the yard dropped drastically as well.

Demand picked up again with the dawn of the Second World War, and the yard designed the aircraft carrier, Ranger, in 1933. The yard also delivered a record-breaking passenger vessel, America, the largest up to that time. In 1943, the number of shipyard workers employed at Newport News peaked at 31,000.

The yard took on very large projects between 1945 and 1975. Newport News Shipbuilding delivered the Robert E. Lee, the yard’s first nuclear submarine in 1960. The Robert E. Lee was followed the next year by the Enterprise, the first nuclear carrier in the world. The yard also launched the Nimitz in 1975. Newport News regained independent ownership in 1996; it had originally been owned by Tenneco.

Many veterans worked at Newport News Shipyard in Virginia. While there, many of these veterans were exposed to asbestos and as a result, are at risk for developing mesothelioma. Additionally, if you are a veteran and diagnosed with mesothelioma you may be entitled to compensation. Many mesothelioma navy lawsuits are currently being filed.

Written By

Tara Strand Senior Content Writer

Tara Strand specializes in researching and writing about asbestos, raising awareness and advocating for a ban.


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Reviewed By

Jennifer Lucarelli Legal Advisor and Contributor

Jennifer Lucarelli is a partner at the law firm of Early, Lucarelli, Sweeney & Meisenkothen, specializing in asbestos litigation.


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