Todd Shipyards – Seattle Overview
Through expansionary wartime years when maritime and naval demands spurred the incorporation of new shipyards, William Todd found it difficult to maintain the “family” atmosphere that Todd Shipyards enjoyed for so many years. In those years, however, Todd Shipyards still managed to issues several magazines and publications including The Keel, The Todd Daily Maritime and The Bridge.
In 1932 William H. Todd died. Todd Shipyards was a strong company but experiencing financial strain at the onset of the stock market crash and through the Depression. Todd Shipyards, however, experienced tremendous business activity with World War II. The Todd yards were extremely busy building ships, converting ship and repairing ships for both the military and commercial use. In the mid-1940’s Todd Shipyards diversified into non-shipbuilding industries including the Todd Insecticidal Fog Applicator (TIFA).
The Todd Corporation diversified even more under a 3rd president named Joseph Haag, Jr. in 1953. Even though Haag took on his role in peacetime, the Navy established a policy of giving work to private shipyards. Todd Shipyards repair business benefited greatly from that policy during that time. In 1958 John Gilbride was named the fourth president of Todd Corp. In 1975 Todd Corp was in a difficult spot financially due to bad inflationary trends and failed diversification programs. At that time Arthur W. Stout, Jr. was named president. With refinancing, the corporation was set back on its feet. Today Stephen G Welch, president and CEO, presides over Todd Shipbuilding Corporation as it continues to strive on in a narrowing industry.
Todd Shipyard – Seattle, Washington Division
Seattle Construction & Dry Dock Company became the third of the three companies that converged to form the Todd Corporation in 1916. Robert Moran, who established the Yesler’s Warf repair shop, founded the yard, and his company later became the Moran Brother’s shipyard in 1906. In 1911, the yard took the name Seattle Construction and & Dry Dock Company. The company joined with Robins Dry Dock & Repair Company of Erie Basin in Brooklyn, New York and the Tietjen & Lang Dry Dock Company of Hoboken, New Jersey to complete the current Todd Corporation five years later.
Famous for pioneering iron and steel shipbuilding in the Pacific Northwest, the yard produced its first steel ship in 1897. Twelve 176-foot stern wheel river steamers also came from the yard in the same year. The USS Nebraska, however, launched October 7, 1904, is the yard’s best-known creation. At 15,000 tons, 435 feet, and three funnels, it’s easy to understand the notoriety. Eventually, demand for submarines, freighters, and other naval vessels exceeded what the yard could produce. The Todd Corporation took the opportunity to remove the yard from the Moran Brothers’ control.
The Seattle Division Shipyard received a great deal of attention during the first World War, when it constructed the N-1, N-2, and N-3 submarines along with the United States Destroyer Gwin, and a number of dry-cargo vessels. The war kept the yard so busy, in fact, that it had difficulty keeping up with demand. The Todd Corporation expanded the yard, during this period, by adding the Tacoma yard. The Tacoma yard did unexpectedly well, and Todd sold the Seattle Construction & Dry Dock Company in 1918 to the Emergency Fleet Corporation.
The company changed greatly between the 1930s and 1940s. A new 16,000-ton floating dry-dock replaced the small, historic one in 1935. Dry-dock No. 2 was sold for breakwater use in 1940 and a new, much larger dock was built. Measuring 532 feet in length, the dock consisted of five wooden pontoon sections with a novel rounded-bottom design intended to eliminate accumulated water that had not been discharged.