Ladies Who Launch - Ship Christening Photographs from Delaware Valley Shipyards - Independence Seaport Museum

Album Four

SS Gulfoil, 1912

SS Gulfoil, 1912

Unidentified sponsor, SS Gulfoil, August 29, 1912. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.

The Gulfoil was the first American oil tanker built using the British design system of longitudinal framing, which allowed for the hull to better withstand the demands of heavy cargo.

On May 16, 1942, the ship was sunk by a German U‑boat in the Gulf of Mexico. Eighteen crew and the captain survived after the ship sank in less than 2 minutes, and were rescued 35 hours later.


USS DeLong, 1918

USS DeLong, 1918

Launching party, USS DeLong, October 29, 1918. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.

Miss Emma DeLong Mills, sponsor, is pictured with her mother, Mrs. W. S. Mills, and grandmother, Mrs. George W. DeLong. The ship was named for George W. DeLong, who died commanding the USS Jeannette on its failed attempt to reach the North Pole in 1881.

This ceremony was held just 2 days after Philadelphia’s public venues reopened after the deadly outbreak of influenza.


USS Bainbridge, 1920

USS Bainbridge, 1920

Miss Juliet Edith Greene, great-great granddaughter of William Bainbridge, sponsor, USS Bainbridge, June 12, 1920. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.

This destroyer was named after William Bainbridge, a naval officer who commanded ships during the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812, and served as a commandant of the Philadelphia Navy Yard in the 1820s.


SS Camden, 1920

SS Camden, 1920

Miss E. May Watson, sponsor, SS Camden, November 24, 1920. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.

This oil tanker was built for the Standard Oil Company, and was sunk by a Japanese submarine off the coast of Oregon on October 3, 1942.


USS Reuben James, 1919

USS Reuben James, 1919

Miss Helen Strauss, sponsor, USS Reuben James, October 4, 1919. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.

Reuben James was named after a sailor who served in the U. S. Navy for more than 30 years. He distinguished himself in the fighting with Barbary Pirates aboard the USS Philadelphia by defending Lt. Stephen Decatur from an enemy attacker. Although wounded himself, James was heroically willing to risk his life for his commanding officer.

The ship escorted Independence Seaport Museum’s own Olympia at the ceremonies in France marking the return the Unknown Soldier to the United States in 1921.

When the ship was sunk by a German U‑boat on October 31, 1941, it became the first U. S. Navy ship lost to hostile action in World War II. The story of the sinking inspired Woody Guthrie to write a song about it.


Unidentified ship, c. 1920

Unidentified ship, c. 1920

Unidentified sponsor and ship, n. d. [c. 1920]. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware.

 


USS Indianapolis, 1931

USS Indianapolis, 1931

Launching party, USS Indianapolis, Miss Lucy Taggart, sponsor, November 7, 1931. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.

Indianapolis already had a distinguished wartime record when it was chosen in 1945 to secretly transport components of the atomic bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima. After the ship made its delivery, it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, and sank in 12 minutes. Miscommunication regarding the ship's expected arrival delayed rescue efforts for 4 days, leaving survivors to fend for themselves in shark-infested waters. Only 316 men were saved from a crew of 1,199.


USS Kitty Hawk, 1960

USS Kitty Hawk, 1960

Mrs. Camilla F. McElroy, sponsor, USS Kitty Hawk, May 21, 1960. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.

This aircraft carrier was the largest ship ever built in Camden, requiring a specially made drydock. In 1998, it became the ship with the longest active status in the U. S. Navy.


Album Four

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