Bath Iron Works
Bath Iron Works is a shipyard located on the Kennebec River in Bath, Maine. Incorporated in 1884, Bath Iron Works was formed by General Hyde Windlass, who was a remnant of the Union Army's American Civil War commanders. Having witnessed the might and power of early prototypes in combat, the general saw the emerging iron ship market as a formidable stepping stone in the shipbuilding business. By 1890, General Windlass had secured the first naval contracts for two of his enormous gunboats from the United States Navy. The Machias was the first of these 190 vessels to launch. By 1892, the shipyard received its first commercial contract for a large passenger vessel called City of Lowell.
Through 1917, the shipyard continued to produce for the U.S. Maritime Commission's demands. In fact, during this period, government contracts were responsible for 86% of Bath's shipyard revenues. It wasn't until WWII however, that Bath truly transcended the perceived barriers of ship construction speed. During this time the shipyard was rolling out a destroyer every seventeen days, an unprecedented degree of production at the time. Business slowed following the war, but Bath Iron Works level of production was still robust compared to the many post-war closures of other shipyards. In 1981, Falcon Transport ordered two tankers. These were the last commercial orders filled by Bath, who now only deals exclusively through government contracts for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. In 1995, Bath Iron Works was purchased by General Dynamics. Today it is still one of Maine's largest private employers.
Bath Iron Works answered the call to country by producing the necessary equipment needed for transcontinental warfare at a pace not even the government could have anticipated. They were an important aspect of the domestic fight for production, of which many industries were party to. The backbone of the operation fell on the employees of Bath Iron Works, who worked long hours to ensure that deadlines and production quotas were met. Unfortunately, shipyards are dangerous places and Bath Iron Works was no exception.
One of the more common hazards found by shipyard employees is exposure to asbestos. Asbestos was used in many electrical, plumbing, and insulation capacities because of its fire-retardant and heat-resistant qualities. Asbestos has been linked to serious respiratory health complications. Those who worked within or around the above mentioned aspects of ship construction could potentially be at risk. Seek medical consultation if you think you may have been affected adversely by shipyard asbestos exposure. Support systems are in place to ensure that you don't have to battle these things alone.
Example ships built by Bath Iron Works:
Last modified: December 28, 2010.