Bath Iron Works looking east in 1945.
Beginning in 1934, Bath Iron Works
completed 83 destroyers and destroyer-minelayers by the end of World War II—the largest destroyer output of any builder. Among these were the first ships to commission of the Gleaves
, Allen M. Sumner
and Frank Knox
, respectively. Fastest from keel laying to commissioning was Knapp
at 191 days, one of five launched in a wartime record 124 days (Noa
, commissioned after the war, held Bath’s overall launch record at 110 days).
Sixty-seven Bath-built Fletcher-, Allen M. Sumner- and Gearing-class destroyers commissioned in 38½-months. Excluding first-in-class ships, this reflected a new fleet addition every 17.3 days—standard deviation 2.5 days.
The aerial photos at left show the shipyard and the town of Bath, Maine as they appeared late in the war, with approximately 14 Gearing
-class destroyers visible. Launches were timed to occur during slack water at high tide, when there would be no current to carry a new ship the short distance upstream into the Carlton Bridge over the Kennebec River. Purchased by General Dynamics in 1995, Bath Iron Works is today Maine’s largest private employer.
Lead designer and builder of Arleigh Burke-class AEGIS guided missile destroyers, in 2001 it began launching ships from a Land Level Transfer Facility (LLTF) with floating drydock (top right) rather than from an inclined slipway.