Richmond Shipyards

Richmond Shipyards

Richmond Shipyard Number Three
Richmond Shipyards is located in California
Richmond Shipyards
Location Richmond, California
Built 1940
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 00000364 [2]
CHISL # 1032[3]
Added to NRHP April 28, 2000

The four Richmond Shipyards, located in the city of Richmond, California, United States, were run by Permanente Metals and part of the Kaiser Shipyards. During World War II, Richmond built more ships than any other shipyard, turning out as many as three ships in a single day. The shipyards are part of the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park, whose Rosie the Riveter memorial sits on the former grounds of Shipyard #2. Shipyard #3 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


  • History 1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Henry J. Kaiser had been building cargo ships for the U.S. Maritime Commission in the late 1930s. When he received orders for ships from the British government, already at war with Nazi Germany, Kaiser established his first Richmond shipyard in December 1940.

The four Richmond Kaiser Shipyards built 747 ships during World War II, a rate never equaled.[4] Compared to the average ship built elsewhere, Richmond ships were completed in two-thirds the time and at a quarter of the cost. The Liberty ship SS Robert E. Peary was assembled in less than five days as a part of a competition among shipyards. By 1944, the yard routinely needed only a bit more than two weeks to assemble a Liberty ship.[4]

A "Wendy the Welder" at the shipyard

Kaiser and his workers applied mass assembly line techniques to building the ships. This production line technique, bringing pre-made parts together, moving them into place with huge cranes and having them welded together by "Rosies" (actually "Wendy the Welders" here in the shipyards), allowed unskilled laborers to do repetitive jobs requiring relatively little training to accomplish. This sped up construction, allowed more workers to be mobilized, and opened jobs to women and minorities.[4]

During the war, thousands of men and women worked in this area in hazardous jobs. Actively recruited by Kaiser, they came from all over the United States to swell the population of Richmond from 20,000 to over 100,000 in three years. For many of them, this was the first time they worked, earned money, and faced the problems of working parents: finding day care and housing.

Women and minorities entered the workforce in areas previously denied to them. However, they still faced unequal pay, were shunted off into "auxiliary" unions and still had to deal with prejudice and inequities.[5] During the war, labor strikes and sit-down work stoppages eventually led to better conditions.[4]

Many workers commuted from other parts of the Bay Area to the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond on the Shipyard Railway, a temporary wartime railway whose trains used cars of the local Key System and whose line extended from a depot in Emeryville to a loop serving all four shipyards.

The SS Red Oak Victory is docked nearby.

See also


  1. ^ "Richmond Shipyard District". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-09-05. 
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  3. ^ "Richmond Shipyard District". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-09-05. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Richmond Shipyard Number Three". World War II in the San Francisco Bay Area.  
  5. ^ Arroyo, Cuahutémoc (Faculty Mentor: Professor Leon F. Litwack). "Jim Crow" Shipyards: Black Labor and Race Relations in East Bay Shipyards During World War II. The Berkeley McNair Journal, The UC Berkeley McNair Scholars Program. - Accessed from Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University on August 24, 2007

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Park Service.

External links

  • Images and oral history transcripts describing the early days of the Richmond Shipyards, via Calisphere, California Digital Library.
  • Permanente Metals Corporation - Kaiser Richmond CA Shipyards
  • "Birth of Victory - Shipbuilding in Richmond" on YouTube