The City of Newport News, Virginia was founded by Collis P. Huntington, who also founded the Central Pacific, Southern Pacific and Chesapeake & Ohio railroads. The latter’s route from Ohio via West Virginia coalfields followed the the James River to its estuary at Chesapeake Bay where, in 1886 as an extension of his interests, Huntington also founded the shipyard that became today’s Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS).

As one of the United States’ five largest shipbuilders before World War II, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. was one of several facilities given government funds to expand. Construction before and during the war, both at Newport News and an additional yard built in North Carolina, ranged from small craft and liberty ships to battleships and aircraft carriers, although it included only two destroyers, Sims-class Mustin and Russell.

At its wartime peak in 1943, NNS employed more than 31,000 people. After the war, it continued as both a naval and merchant shipbuilder and repairer. Today, owned by Northrop Grumman, it remains the nation’s largest private shipbuilder.