Here at Berth 240, Southwest Shipbuilding was founded in 1917, leased by Bethlehem in 1921 and purchased in 1925. A ship repair facility for most of its existence, it was one of several yards provided with Maritime Administration funds to built ships for World War II. Beginning in 1940, these included 26 destroyers: four Benson-class ships laid down in 1941, then ten Fletchers (including museum ship Cassin Young), eight Allen M. Sumners and four Gearings, the last of which was commissioned after the war.
Three of San Pedro’s four Bensons took more than a year to launch. The Fletchers, Sumners and Gearings all took much less. Minimum time to commissioning was set with the last ship completed before VJ day, Norris at 253 days.
After the war, shipbuilding was discontinued but repair and other facilities were maintained. In 1981, Bethlehem Steel sold the yard to Southwest Marine, Inc. which continues to operate it today.