BAE Systems commemorated the 100th anniversary of its Norfolk, Virginia shipyard over the weekend.
The company, which had been known for many years as the Norfolk Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Corporation, has been a driving force and mainstay of the Hampton Roads business community. Today, as one of the largest private employers in the region, BAE Systems is a leading provider of ship maintenance and modernization to the U.S. Navy, other government agencies, and commercial customers.
On the eve of World War II, the company was contacted by the U.S. Navy to build a modern shipyard facility in the Berkley area of Norfolk. It was designed to dry dock and repair ocean-going vessels of all types and to handle expected battle damage to cruisers, jeep aircraft carriers, troop transports, and other large ships. Employment peaked at the height of the war.
After a series of ownership changes, the shipyard joined BAE Systems in 2005. Today, the company employs approximately 2,200 people and encompasses 109 acres along the southern branch of the Elizabeth River. The facility maintains two dry docks, one of which is the largest floating dry dock on the East Coast, plus four piers and 16 cranes.
The Apprentice Program has been operating continuously since 2004 and has graduated nearly 1,000 welders, electricians, riggers, and ship fitters, many of whom have become supervisors, managers, and senior leaders with the company.
Image: BAE Systems