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PORTSMOUTH NAVAL SHIPYARD

Nicholas Simo

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Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
Nicholas Simo

The Portsmouth Naval Ship Yard was established in 1800 in the town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire on the mouth of the Piscataqua River. Over the course of its 212 years in business it has contributed heavily not only to the state of New Hampshire, but the entire country as a whole. When it comes to the biggest impact the Portsmouth Naval Ship Yard (PNSY) has had on the nation, it is without a doubt the breathtaking contribution it gave to the World War II effort in the Pacific.

Overall, the images help capture this crucial contribution by showing the efforts of a highly motivated workforce, innovative techniques to reach a higher level of performance, and the effects both had on the outcome of the war.

For example, the image of the construction and release of the three submarines the USS Razorback, the USS Scabbardfish, and the USS Ronquil along with one other submarine in a different dry-dock on the 27th of January, 1944 was a huge event. The reason being is because not only did the launching of four submarines in one day break the Portsmouth Naval Ship Yard record, it broke US Naval history as well. Furthermore, submarines were crucial to holding the upper-hand in the Pacific. Therefore, with the constant production of submarines at PNSY, the Navy did not have to be concerned with not having an abundance of top performance submarines.

The workforce at PNSY was just as exceptional as the submarines they produced. The images of the workforce at Portsmouth Naval Yard as they construct the ships hold heavy significance. It was shown that before World War II the amount of workers on the yard were around 5,000. However, midway through the war that amount skyrocketed to a stunning 25,000 workers. In addition, the employment of women was something the Portsmouth Naval Ship Yard became a forerunner in as well, helping back up the idea that swept the nation during the war known as "Rosie the Riveter." During my tour at the PSNY, my tour guide Gary Hildreth said, "There's not a single job that a man can do better than a woman here at Portsmouth Naval Ship Yard."

Also, another extremely important factor that was included in some of the images was the innovative technique of mass production using an idea loosely related to an assembly line. Teams of specialized workers went from dock to dock, each constructing a certain part of the submarine and then moving on until the submarines are completed. This technique was critical and extremely effective, shortening the completion time of a submarine from 500 days at the start of the war, to less than 190 days.

In order to understand the kind of mindset that was coursing through the employees at the PNSY at the time of the war, it is more than necessary to learn about WWII veteran William Tebo. William Tebo had completed three tours on a US submarine in Japan and by the time he had finished he was only a couple of months older than I am today. However, Mr. Tebo did not stop there; he proceeded in working on the testing of German U-boats that were surrendered to Portsmouth shortly after the war in Europe had ended. The testing of the surrendered German U-boats was also a proud moment in PSNY history because not only did it signal a sign of defeat, it allowed the US access to German technology. All in all, William Tebo is a perfect example of the kind of mindset that had overwhelmed the 25,000 local employees of the Portsmouth Naval Ship Yard.

In conclusion, the mass production of quality submarines produced by the highly motivated workforce at PNSY during World War II saved the lives of countless Americans and aided in the end of the war in the Pacific. Within the five year-span of the war, the PNSY had constructed over 70 submarines which sank over 1.7 million tons of Japanese ships. The great contribution of the Portsmouth Naval Yard should be held in the highest regards and remembered as a proud moment for New Hampshire and the United States.

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