Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. at Kearny, New Jersey looking west in 1945.
Contemporary Coast and Geodetic Survey map
Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. was originally located at Kearny Point, Kearny, New Jersey on the west bank of the Hackensack River, about three miles from today’s Newark International Airport. A subsidiary of United States Steel Corporation, it was organized in 1917 for the construction of steel ocean-going vessels.

From 1930 through the last of the Gearing class, Federal built more destroyers than any other builder except Bath Iron Works, including the lead ships of the Somers, Benham, Fletcher, Allen M. Sumner and Gearing classes. Federal’s Gearings were built at a separate facility, completed during the war, at Port Newark, New Jersey.

Federal, Kearny from the air in 1945 and from the ground in 2003.

Federal, Kearny looking north Federal, Kearny looking west Federal, Kearny looking east River Terminal Development looking west River Terminal Development looking southwest River Terminal Development north basin Hackensack River Bridge from north basin River Terminal Development south basin River Terminal Development south basin

Concurrently, Federal also built other types, including cruisers and merchant ships. In such a large operation, even different destroyer classes were under construction at the same time, as reflected in the mingling of commissioning dates for Gleaves- and Fletcher-class ships.

Shortest time from keel laying to launch was achieved with Melvin, at 103 days. Shortest launch-to-commission was set with Thorn at 21 days, as was the yard’s record for keel laid to commissioning at 137 days.


Today the yard no longer exists. In its place is the sprawling River Terminal Development complex, a 300-acre site on which some of the old buildings have been converted as warehouse and distribution facilities. Reminders of the site’s historic past may still be seen, however, including a rusting construction crane and basins on the Hackensack River and a monument “to the veterans who served aboard the ships launched from this Kearny Federal shipyard and to the men and women who built them.”