National Steel and Shipbuilding Company

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National Steel and Shipbuilding Company
Number of locations
San Diego, California, Norfolk, Virginia, Mayport, Florida, Bremerton, WA
Key people
Kevin Graney (president)
ParentGeneral Dynamics
The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) in dry dock at NASSCO shipyard in San Diego. The 840-foot ship is the largest that can be accommodated in NASSCO's drydock.

National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, commonly referred to as NASSCO, is an American shipbuilding company with three[1] shipyards located in San Diego, Norfolk, and Mayport. It is a division of General Dynamics. The San Diego shipyard specializes in constructing commercial cargo ships and auxiliary vessels for the US Navy and Military Sealift Command; it is the only new-construction shipyard on the West Coast of the United States.[2] The Virginia shipyard primarily performs ship repairs and conversions for the U.S. Navy.


The origin of NASSCO traces to 1905 and a small machine shop and foundry known as California Iron Works.[3][4] In 1922 California Iron Works was taken over by U.S. National Bank and renamed National Iron Works.

In 1944 National Iron Works moved to its present location at 28th Street and Harbor Drive on San Diego Bay, and in 1949 the company was renamed National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. to reflect its expansion into ship construction. In 1959 the company was acquired by four owners, including Henry J. Kaiser Company and Morrison Knudsen. In 1979 Morrison Knudsen bought out Kaiser's share, and in 1989 management acquired the company from Morrison Knudsen via an employee stock ownership plan.

In 1940 the company's ironworkers organized into a union. By 1979 the company had 7,900 employees organized into six unions. There was a labor strike in 1988 which was eventually resolved with a 49-month contract. Another 25-day-long strike in 1992 resulted in workers returning to work without a contract. Another 4-week-long strike in 1996 ended without any concessions to the workers, many of whom eventually returned to work.

Since 1991, much of NASSCO's work on US Navy warships has been outsourced to TIMSA in Mexico.[5]

In 1998 General Dynamics bought NASSCO in a $415 million deal, and in 2000 the company underwent a $135 million upgrade of its facilities.

On October 31, 2011 General Dynamics-NASSCO acquired Metro Machine Corp, a surface-ship repair company in Norfolk, Virginia, and renamed it NASSCO-Norfolk.[6] The company had been conducting ship repairs and conversions for the U.S. Navy since 1972. The NASSCO-Norfolk shipyard had the newest dry dock in the country, with two auto-start generators, automated ballast control system and automated ship hauling and centering system.[7]

Work done[edit]

The guided-missile frigates USS Vandegrift (FFG-48) and USS Curts (FFG-38) conduct a double dry-docking at NASSCO

NASSCO began building commercial cargo ships in 1959, eventually including large cargo ships and Alaska class oil tankers. Its most famous commercial ship was the Exxon Valdez tanker, which completed construction at NASSCO in 1986, and in 1989 returned to NASSCO for repairs after its accident and oil spill in Alaska.[8] In December 2012 the company signed a contract to build two 764-foot (233 m) container ships powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). When completed they will be the largest LNG-powered ships of any kind in the world.[9]

Beginning in the 1990s the company won Navy contracts to build AOE-10 support ships, strategic sealift ships, and TOTE Orca-class trailerships. Additional Navy contracts awarded during the 2000s included maintenance of the San Diego-based USS Ticonderoga (CG-47) and USS Spruance (DD-963) warships. In 2001 the Navy awarded NASSCO its largest order in company history, to build the Lewis and Clark class dry cargo ship (T-AKE), a 14-ship program with a contract value of $3.7 billion. The company has a contract to build at least three Mobile Landing Platform ships, a new class of ship for the U.S. Navy.[10] Construction on the first vessel began in July 2011 and the keel was laid for the second in December 2012.[11] In 2016, Matson, Inc ordered two Kanaloa-class freighters, to be delivered near the end of the decade.[12]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-05-21. Retrieved 2015-05-19.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Ronald D. White (July 3, 2011). "Full steam ahead for Nassco shipyard in San Diego". Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ Linder, Bruce (2001). San Diego's Navy. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. pp. 64–65 (photo insert). ISBN 1-55750-531-4.
  4. ^ [1] "San Diego-based NASSCO's history to date" 29 Nov 2005
  5. ^ Potter, Matt (May 29, 2014). "General Dynamics exports San Diego shipyard employment to Mexico". San Diego Reader. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  6. ^ General Dynamics NASSCO. "U.S. NAVY REPAIR". article. Archived from the original on 7 April 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  7. ^ NASSCO-Norfolk. "Facilities". powerpoint. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  8. ^ [2] "Nassco Gets Contract to Fix Valdez's Hull", 13 Jun 1989
  9. ^ "NASSCO, TOTE: Historic Deal to Build World's First LNG Powered Containership". MarineLink. December 4, 2012. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  10. ^ "Construction Begins On First Mobile Landing Platform". Naval Sea Systems Command Public Affairs. June 30, 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  11. ^ "Nassco Starts Work on Second Mobile Landing Platform". San Diego Business Journal. December 7, 2012. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  12. ^ "Matson orders two new conro ships". American Shipper. August 26, 2016. Retrieved April 5, 2018.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°41′25″N 117°08′21″W / 32.690163°N 117.139277°W / 32.690163; -117.139277