William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Company was located in Philadelphia’s Kensington district, northeast of city center along the Delaware River.

Founded in 1830, its eventful early history included the construction of clipper ships and other commercial ships. By the end of the nineteenth century, Cramp had become one of the Philadelphia area’s largest businesses and a leading builder of US Navy warships including Indiana, the US Navy’s first battleship, Maine and three others engaged at the 1898 Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish-American War.

Production of 16 early destroyers commenced in 1908 with six “flivvers” including the first, USS Smith, Torpedo Boat Destroyer No. 17. These were followed by ten 1,000-tonners, then 48 flush deckers. Several of the latter were among those mothballed in the early 1920s, then recommissioned en masse in 1930.

On 14 April 1936 in the western Pacific, Smith Thompson was rammed by Whipple and subsequently scrapped. All of Cramp’s other flush-deckers served in World War II as follows:

  • Three transferred to Britain—Conner (as HMS Leeds), Stockton (as HMS Ludlow) and Yarnall (as HMS Lincoln).
  • All thirteen ships of Asiatic Fleet’s DesRon 29 in World War II—Alden, Barker, John D. Edwards, Whipple, Parrott, Edsall, Bulmer, Stewart, Pope, Peary, Pillsbury, John D. Ford and flagship Paul Jones.
  • Eight of nine ships of DesRon 30 in the Atlantic (less flagship Dallas)—Lea, Tarbell, Upshur, Greer, Du Pont, Bernadou, Ellis and Cole.
  • Five of nine ships of DesRon 31 in the Atlantic—Broome, MacLeish (flagship), Simpson, McCormick and Truxtun.
  • Six of nine ships of DesRon 33 in the Atlantic—Borie (flagship), Breckinridge, Barney, Blakeley, Biddle and J. Fred Talbott.
  • Destroyer-transports Rathburne, Talbot, Waters, Dent and Roper.
  • Destroyer-minesweepers Dorsey, Elliot, Chandler, Southard, Hovey and Long.
  • Destroyer-minelayer Tracy.
  • In 1919, Cramp was bought by the W. Averell Harriman-owned American Shipping & Commerce Corporation. Idled in 1927, the site was reopened in 1940 as Cramp Shipbuilding with $22 million in government investment. Wartime production consisted largely of light cruisers and submarines. After World War II, the facility closed permanently and today is an industrial park.