Blog #57. June 20, 2015 by Marcus W. Robbins
Our Dry Dock 1 can be attributed to the one of the young country’s finest civil engineers at the time, Colonel Loammi Baldwin Jr. Baldwin in his personal profession had made two different trips to Europe studying and examining public works, the last being in 1824. This coincided with a report of the Secretary of the Navy urging the building of two dry-docks in America that was presented on May 25, 1825 thus the die was cast leading to his acceptance of an appointment to oversee the construction of the new dry-docks at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston, Massachusetts and the Gosport Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia between the years of 1827 & 1834.
Colonel Baldwin was one of a family of engineers, all more or less distinguished in their profession. He had visited many of the dry docks of Europe, and was particularly qualified for the work which he afterward preformed of building the docks at Gosport and Charlestown (Lull 1874).
Yet today the spirit of the USS Delaware lives on. You can see a remarkable scale model of at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum, constructed by the craftsmen at the old Norfolk Navy Yard. There is a small tag from when it graced the Building 33 museum years ago that reads:
BUILT BY BOAT SHOP
RIGGED BY RIGGERS SHOP
|Full Rigged Model of USS Delaware, 74 gun ship-of-the-line|
(Courtesy of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum)
Photo by Curator of History ~ Diane L. Cripps on June 19, 2015
USS Delaware began its life here in 1817, then made history with the first dry docking in the Western hemisphere 182 years ago in 1833 and ultimately met its death in 1861. The vessel is forever tied to our shipyard here on the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River because -“history matters”.