TRG Historic Content Co.

The Philadelphia Navy Yard Builds a Battelship (60 minute presentation)
Part of the six part naval history series from TRG Historic Co. (

Watch the Philadelphia Navy Yard build the battleships USS New Jersey, USS Wisconsin, and USS Washington during World War II. This presentation consists of 80 B&W photos of battleships being built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard (PNY), from authorization and planning through keel laying, construction, launch, fit out, dry dock, and commissioning. Virtually every department and shop of the PNY is shown. This material is adapted from a series of April 1942 articles in The Beacon, the weekly newspaper of the Philadelphia Navy Yard (secondary source: The USS Washington website).

“This series of photographs takes us through the various stages. It tries to show that the work of many hearts and brains and minds, the sweat and toil and application of thousands of men and women is required before the mighty warship is completed. The welders and the riveters, machinists and the electricians, blacksmiths, painters and riggers, do work on a battleship which all can see. But behind them are the planners and the draftsmen, the chemist and the loftsman, the folks in the Supply Department who procure the equipment, the people in the Accounting Department who check and pay the bills and salaries, the folks who carry messages or run a typewriter or an adding machine, or do the thousand and one jobs, each of which is indispensable in the successful completion of the task.” (From the original newspaper article.)

See WWII film of the Battleship New Jersey being launched from the building ways into the Delaware River on 7 Dec 1942, the first anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Note that the full text of the newspaper article and the photo captions are unedited from their original publication in the Beacon in April, 1942 so that the audience can perceive the story in the context of the culture and the atmosphere of the time, World War II. Notice how the newspaper tries to motivate the Yard workers toward patriotic responsibility and not missing work because of possible impact on other dependent jobs and shipbuilding schedules.

This story is interesting but also important in that it highlights the contribution made to the war effort by the thousands of Navy and civilian workers of the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Unfortunately, this story is not told today at the site of the former Philadelphia Navy Yard, where the US Navy and US Marine Corps were born, and up to 50,000 workers built the mighty US warships that defended our country and won the peace.

About the Developer/Presenter
Ron Gottardi is Volunteer Director of the Oral History Program of the Battleship New Jersey, a former docent (tour guide) and volunteer educator for the ship. This gives him access to the rich material in the museum-ship’s libraries, curatorial archives, and oral history recordings and transcripts. Ron has also developed naval history exhibits for the New Jersey and other organizations. He is a member of the Oral History Association, the Oral History Mid-Atlantic Region association, the United States Naval Institute and the Historic National Ships Association. Ron is a former Associate Professor at Drexel University and was also adjunct faculty at Rowan University and Temple University. He is a graduate of Rutgers University (B.S.) and completed his master's degree at Temple University. Ron also was a consultant to the Philadelphia Navy Yard when it was in operation and helped the yard obtain several billion dollars’ worth of aircraft carrier overhaul work and extend the life of the yard by about 10 years.

This presentation can be delivered for a fee to local (southern New Jersey and Philadelphia area) veterans, civic, and public organizations. Contact Ron Gottardi at 856-608-7984 or by email at Part of the fee goes to the Battleship New Jersey Oral History Program to continue its interviews of military veterans and develop more US naval history content. For more info, visit

The Philadelphia Navy Yard Builds a Battleship talk 2015fJE12.doc; © 2015 Ron Gottardi


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