Re: delivering stuff to build Iowa-class battleships

joseph nevin

This is interesting. The Gun Factory is on the west bank of the Anacostia River (once known as the East Potomac). The Navy Research Labority is on the east bank, below Bolling Air Force Base. This means the gun components would be moved to be assembled in sight of where they were manufactured, but to get there the Navy would have to interchange the components with the PRR to be moved to Bennings yard. At Anacostia they would need to be interchanged to the B&O for delivery back to the Navy at the site now occupied by the NRL. In most other citets this would be no big deal, but in Washington, where there was very little heavy industry, this would be big time railroading! Anybody know if this is how it happened?


--- In STMFC@..., William Keene <wakeene@...> wrote:

Scott & Group,

While I can not confirm where the big gun -- 16-inch -- barrels of the Iowa Class battleships were manufactured, I can tell you that the breach mechanisms were cast and machined at the Washington Navy Base in Washington, DC. These were then moved to a large facility at what is now the Navy Research Laboratory located across the river from Alexander, VA. The barrels had arrived by train from wherever they were manufactured. At this location the barrel and breach were mated and the assemble test mounted on a gun mount.

I have been told that the final assemble was then test fired at this location in a building designed for that purpose.

The completed gun barrel assembly was then shipped via rail to the shipbuilder to be installed into the turret. A spur track ran into the assembly building for this purpose.

This is a small bit of trivia, but it shows that the construction of any capital ship was a complicated effort in logistics, scheduling, and operations.

Bill Keene
Irvine, CA

On Mar 17, 2010, at 2:51 PM, blindog@... wrote:

Brian Chapman wrote:

For some time I've wondered about railroad transportation and the building of the last battleships ever built -- the Iowa Class (Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri, and Wisconsin -- because of their great speed, also known as super-cruisers).
A colossal project. The railroads had to be intimately involved. Mustn't there have been marshaling yards for the big east coast building docks? Logistics must have been pretty carefully orchestrated, wouldn't you think?

In Iowa's and Missouri's case, I'd guess much of the material arrived in New Jersey ports and were shipped to the NY Navy Yard?

For some time I've thought that the story of building these ships would be interesting. Anyone have thoughts or information to offer?
I'd guess that much of the heavier steel plate came in by water, not by rail. I gather the big guns were made at Bethlehem, PA, so they would have traveled by rail to the shipyards, and I think there are plenty of photos of that. Certainly lots of smaller parts came by rail, but in terms of total carloads you didn't need a big yard to hold them before they were used. If the parts were manufactured well before they were needed at the shipyard they were probably warehoused to free up the boxcar for another load, and the government built many warehouses on both coasts during the war to stage material.

As for calling them "super cruisers", one could call the Iowas and South Dakotas that for several reasons, although speed isn't one of them, and they were generally not used in traditional cruiser roles. Air power made cruisers vulnerable, a lesson learned early in WW2 by both sides, and the fast battleships spent most of their service lives working in concert with fleet carriers. In this role they excelled.

Scott Chatfield

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