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Fore River Shipyard

The Fore River Shipyard, more formally known as the Fore River Ship and Engine Building Company, was a shipyard in the United States from the late 1800s until 1986.


Started by Thomas A. Watson in 1884, the shipyard was located on the Weymouth Fore River near East Braintree, Massachusetts. In 1901, the site was moved closer to Quincy, Massachusetts, and currently straddles the town line, part of the Quincy Point neighborhood. By the time that the Russo-Japanese War broke out in 1904 the company was operated under the direction of former Navy Admiral Francis T. Bowles, who had become the company's President in a late 1903 reorganization, displacing Thomas Watson who assumed the title Chairman of the Board. Watson was pleased with how the yard was operated under Bowles and stepped aside in 1904 thus ending his shipbuilding career.

In 1913, Bethlehem Steel purchased the yard. It was notable for building many renowned warships and liberty ships during World War II; John J. Kilroy, the apparent originator of the famous "Kilroy was here" graffiti, was a welding inspector at Fore River during the war years.

Fore River changed hands again in 1964, when it was purchased by General Dynamics Corporation. The shipyard became General Dynamics Quincy Shipbuilding Division, and General Dynamics invested $23 million to improve the shipyard in order to make it more competitive in the shipbuilding industry. The yard constructed several ships for the US Navy, including nuclear-powered submarines, ammunition ships, replenishment oilers, and dock landing ships. The shipyard converted to building LNG tankers during its final years, but closed for good in 1986.

In 1994, — the last all-gun heavy cruiser ever built — returned to the Quincy yard, becoming the centerpiece of the United States Naval Shipbuilding Museum. Following several abortive attempts to restart the shipyard as a shipbuilding center, the property was bought by Daniel Quirk, a local auto dealer in 2004, to use as a motor vehicle storage and distribution facility, but is still a port for commuter boats to Boston and Hull run by Harbor Express for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). The yard also is used by Jay Cashman, Inc., for heavy construction and marine equipment services, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, as a sewage sludge heat-drying and pelletizing facility and by Quincy Bay Terminal Company, for a short line freight rail service to CSXT South Braintree.

Goliath crane

The shipyard is also notable for the "Goliath" crane, at one point the second largest shipbuilding crane in the world. Constructed in the 1970s for building LNG tankers, the crane is a prominent part of the harbor skyline. The 328 foot (100 m) tall crane located at the former shipyard has been sold to Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering of South Korea, which began dismantling it in July, 2008, for relocation to Mangalia, Romania. On August 14, 2008, ironworker Robert Harvey was killed when a portion of the crane collapsed during dismantlement. This was preceded by two other deaths involving removal of a smaller gantry at the shipyard on January 26, 2005. The earlier incident resulted in an OSHA ruling against Testa Corporation of Lynnfield, Massachusetts, including a proposed $60,400 fine.

Notable Ships


Numerous famous warships were built at the Fore River Shipyard. A partial list is below. The date in parentheses indicates the date the ship was commissioned by the U.S. Navy.

Aircraft carriers





O class

R class

S class

Other ships

Reading list

  • Palmer, David. Organizing the Shipyards: Union Strategy in Three Northeast Ports, 1933-1945. Cornell University Press 1998. ISBN 978-0801427343
  • Drummond, Dave. The Shipyard: Will It Float?. iUniverse 2003. ISBN 978-0595275328

External links



  • Blair, Clay Jr. (1975). Silent Victory, Volume 2. J.B.Lippincott Company.
  • Fahey, James C. (1941). The Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, Two-Ocean Fleet Edition. Ships and Aircraft.
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1968). U.S. Warships of World War II. Doubleday and Company.
  • Tillman, Barrett (2005). Clash of the Carriers. New American Library. ISBN 978-0-451-21965-5.

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