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

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USS Alaska, 1943

USS Alaska, 1943

Launching party, USS Alaska, Mrs. Ernest Gruening, sponsor, August 15, 1943. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.

Alaska, a large cruiser, was part of a task force that provided protection to aircraft carriers in the Pacific during attacks on Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and Japan.


USS Ambridge, 1919

USS Ambridge, 1919

Mrs. L. D. Reilly, sponsor, USS Ambridge, May 24, 1919. Federal Shipbuilding Company, Kearny, New Jersey.


USS Ambridge and USS Belfort, 1919

USS Ambridge and USS Belfort, 1919

Mrs. L. D. Reilly, sponsor USS Ambridge and Mrs. W. W. Smith, sponsor USS Belfort, May 24, 1919. Federal Shipbuilding Company, Kearny, New Jersey.


SS Atlantic Navigator, 1950

SS Atlantic Navigator, 1950

Launching party, SS Atlantic Navigator, November 14, 1950. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.


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.


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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 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.


SS E. L. Doheny Third, 1918

SS E. L. Doheny Third, 1918

Mrs. E. L. Doheny, Jr., sponsor, SS E. L. Doheny Third, August 17, 1918. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.

Built for Petroleum Oil Transport Company, this tanker was named for a member of a prominent California family.


SS Eurana, 1921

SS Eurana, 1921

Miss Mary Eurana Ward, sponsor SS Eurana, July 16, 1921. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.


SS Gold Star, 1919

SS Gold Star, 1919

Launching Party, SS Gold Star, July 1919. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware.

Built for the U. S. Shipping Board, the Gold Star was soon after obtained by the U. S. Navy. From 1924 until 1946, it served in the Pacific, transporting cargo and passengers among ports in Japan, China, the Philippines and Australia.


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USS Guam, 1943

USS Guam, 1943

Mrs. George Johnson McMillin, sponsor, USS Guam, November 21, 1943. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.


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 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 Kansas, 1905

USS Kansas, 1905

Launching party, USS Kansas, August 11, 1905. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.

Miss Anna Hoch, sponsor and daughter of the Governor of Kansas, used a bottle of water from the John Brown Spring in Linn County to christen the ship. Kansas being a prohibition state at the time accounted for this deviation from custom.

Observers reported the day of the event was "warm and sultry" and the guests at the ceremony "suffered from the heat during several vexatious delays."


USS King, 1920

USS King, 1920

Mrs. Allene A. King, widow of Frank Ragan King and sponsor, USS King, October 14, 1920. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.

This ship was named after the commander of the minesweeper Richard Buckley, who displayed extraordinary heroism in saving the lives of the crew when his ship struck a mine in the North Sea on July 12, 1919 and sank in 7 minutes. King’s last act was to put his own life preserver on a sailor and help him over the side.


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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.


SS Lone Star State, 1920

SS Lone Star State, 1920

Miss Georgiana W. Dean, sponsor, SS Lone Star State, December 23, 1920. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.

This ship was one of 16 large transports ordered by the Emergency Fleet Corporation for the First World War. Completed after the Armistice, vessels of this class were converted to passenger ships. After service with the United States Lines, the Lone Star State was sold to a Belgian passenger line in 1940. It was bombed by German aircraft later that same year.


USS Lorain, 1919

USS Lorain, 1919

Launching Party, USS Lorain, April 17, 1919. Federal Shipbuilding Company, Kearny, New Jersey.

The steam merchant ship Lorain was given to Britain in 1942 and renamed Empire Thrush. Later that same year, it was sunk by a German U‑boat near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.


USS Mercer, 1918

USS Mercer, 1918

Mrs. R. McGregor, sponsor, USS Mercer, 1918. Federal Shipbuilding Company, Kearny, New Jersey.

In this ship's 39-year history, under 6 owners and 3 ports of registry, it was known variously as Mercer, Empire Kangaroo, Parthenia, Erminia Mazzella and Pina Onorato.


USS Nashville, 1937

USS Nashville, 1937

Misses Mildred and Ann Stahlman, daughters of James G. Stahlman, publisher of Nashville Banner, sponsors, USS Nashville, October 2, 1937. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.

In April 1942, light cruiser Nashville escorted the aircraft carrier Hornet on its mission to launch the surprise attack on Japan led by Lt. Col. James Doolittle. This daring operation, using Army bombers modified to take off from carrier flight decks, was conceived mostly as a way to boost American morale after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and although only a modest strategic success, it demonstrated resolve and ingenuity.


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SS Newton, 1925

SS Newton, 1925

Miss Doris Shannon, sponsor, SS Newton, 1925. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware.

The tug Newton was built for the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad, and worked in New York harbor.


USS Oklahoma City, 1944

USS Oklahoma City, 1944

Mrs. Anton H. Classen, sponsor, USS Oklahoma City, February 20, 1944. Cramp Shipbuilding Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


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.


SS Salem County, 1919

SS Salem County, 1919

Launching Party, SS Salem County, Mrs. J. Dale Dilworth, sponsor, August 30, 1919. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware.


NS Savannah, 1959

NS Savannah, 1959

Launching party, NS Savannah, Mrs. Mamie Eisenhower, sponsor, July 21, 1959. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.

Savannah was the world’s first nuclear-powered cargo and passenger ship, built as part of President Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" initiative. Although not meant to be profitable, its economic inefficiency destined it to a short career.


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Sinclair Oil Company tanker, c. 1921

Sinclair Oil Company tanker, c. 1921

Unidentified sponsor, Sinclair Oil Company tanker. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware, c. 1921.


SS Solana, 1921

SS Solana, 1921

Launching party, SS Solana, Miss Elise Shearman, sponsor, January 22, 1921. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.


USS Sonoma, 1912

USS Sonoma, 1912

Unidentified sponsor, USS Sonoma, May 11, 1912. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.

Tugboat Sonoma served as a tender ship in the Atlantic during the first World War, and in World War II did towing, salvage and fire-fighting duty in the Pacific.


USS Twiggs, 1918

USS Twiggs, 1918

Miss Lillie S. Getchell, granddaughter of Levi Twiggs and sponsor, USS Twiggs, May 28, 1918. New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.

The career of the Destroyer Twiggs was almost as long and varied as that of its namesake, Levi Twiggs, who served 34 years in the U. S. Marine Corps. He fought in the War of 1812, the Indian Wars in Florida and Georgia in the 1830s, and died in action during the Mexican War in 1847.

The ship was in service for 33 years, first as part of the U. S. Navy, then turned over to the Royal Navy in 1940 and renamed HMS Leamington, and later lent to the Russian Navy. Upon its return to Britain, it was broken up in 1951.


Unidentified ship, c. 1920

Unidentified ship, c. 1920

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


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USS Westmoreland, 1919

USS Westmoreland, 1919

Launching party, USS Westmoreland, June 14, 1919. Federal Shipbuilding Company, Kearny, New Jersey.


USS Winona County, 1919

USS Winona County, 1919

USS Winona County Entering the Hackensack, August 16, 1919. Federal Shipbuilding Company, Kearny, New Jersey.

Winona County was built for the U. S. Shipping Board, and was sold to Great Britain in 1941. The ship, renamed Empire Whale, was sunk by a German U‑boat on March 29, 1943.


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