Richmond Shipyard Number Three
|NRHP Reference #||00000364 |
|Added to NRHP||April 28, 2000|
The four Richmond Shipyards, located in the city of Richmond, California, United States, were run by Permanente Metals and part of the Kaiser Shipyards, and were responsible for constructing more ships during World War II than any other shipyard in the country, at one point building 3 ships in a single day. The shipyards are part of the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park. The park's Rosie the Riveter memorial is located on the former grounds of Shipyard #2. Shipyard #3 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Henry J. Kaiser had been building cargo ships for the U.S. Maritime Commission in the late 1930s. When orders for ships from the British government, already at war with Nazi Germany, allowed for growth, Kaiser established his first Richmond shipyard, beginning in December, 1940.
More than 747 vessels were built here in the four Richmond Kaiser Shipyards during World War II; a feat not equaled anywhere else in the world, before or since. These ships were completed in two-thirds the amount of time and at a quarter of the cost of the average of all other shipyards. The Liberty ship SS Robert E. Peary was assembled in less than five days as a part of a special competition among shipyards; but by 1944 it was only taking the astonishingly brief time of a little over two weeks to assemble a Liberty ship by standard methods.
Henry Kaiser and his workers applied mass assembly line techniques to building the ships. This production line technique, bringing pre-made parts together, moving them into place with huge cranes and having them welded together by "Rosies" (actually "Wendy the Welders" here in the shipyards), allowed unskilled laborers to do repetitive jobs requiring relatively little training to accomplish. This not only increased the speed of construction, but also the size of the mobilization effort, and in doing so, opened up jobs to women and minorities.
During WWII, thousands of men and women worked in this area every day, in very hazardous jobs. Actively recruited by Kaiser, they came from all over the United States to swell the population of Richmond from 20,000 to over 100,000 in three years. For many of them, this was the first time they worked and earned money. It was the first time they were faced with the problems of being working parents—finding day care and housing. Women and minorities entered the workforce in areas previously denied to them. However, they still faced unequal pay, were shunted off into "auxiliary" unions and still had to deal with day-to-day prejudice and inequities. During the war, there were labor strikes and sit-down work stoppages that eventually led to better conditions.
Many workers commuted from other parts of the Bay Area to the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond by way of the Shipyard Railway, a temporary wartime railway which ran from a depot in Emeryville, California to a loop line serving all four of the shipyards, and using cars of the local Key System.
The SS Red Oak Victory is docked nearby.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2006-03-15.
- "Richmond Shipyard District". Office of Historical Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-09-05.
- "Richmond Shipyard Number Three". World War II in the San Francisco Bay Area. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-04-02.
- Arroyo, Cuahutémoc (Faculty Mentor: Professor Leon F. Litwack). "Jim Crow" Shipyards: Black Labor and Race Relations in East Bay Shipyards During World War II. The Berkeley McNair Journal, The UC Berkeley McNair Scholars Program. - Accessed from Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University on August 24, 2007
- Images and oral history transcripts describing the early days of the Richmond Shipyards, via Calisphere, California Digital Library.
- Permanente Metals Corporation - Kaiser Richmond CA Shipyards
- "Birth of Victory - Shipbuilding in Richmond" on YouTube