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Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Blog #1. January 31, 2011.
Photographer: Gardner. Circa 1864.Norfolk Navy Yard ruins, looking north from
Drydock 1. Ex-building 18 in the near view.

A few weeks ago Jennifer Zingalie, a Public Affairs Specialist working in the NNSY Public Affairs Office (PAO) asked me if I would be interested in creating and maintaining material for a consistent historical look at our shipyard's history for posting on NNSY's Facebook page.

Well, it did not take me long to positively respond, as if any of you know me personally, history within the walls and gates of this Navy Yard in the last few years has become my passion. We have a great story to tell. I am a firm believer and have said many times "you must know where you came from in order to know where you are going". My friends, this will be the first of many postings to share Norfolk Naval Shipyard's rich and interesting historical heritage.

It will be a journey that expands on unique little known facts taken and explored from the larger story of this great institution, our Norfolk Naval Shipyard. It will be a journey to gain insight of the people, the facilities and the vast waterfront that has served our country for the last 244 years from its humble beginnings on the banks of the Elizabeth River when first founded 1 November, 1767. Today we walk over history, we work under the roof of history, and we owe it to future generations to tell the story.

To honor those that have recorded the story about our shipyard's history, beginning with published accounts going back into the 19th century, I will bring together facts and various quotes from the writings of those great authors that have gone before me, chiefly being Commander Edward Lull, Lieutenant Commander Simon Barksdale, Technical Librarian Marshall Butt and Public Affairs Officer Joe Law.

Their collection of works and reference materials document our earliest beginnings and will provide unlimited opportunities. I too shall provide unique insight and materials from my own personal collection of newspapers and periodical materials that document our work establishment environment, especially the 18th and 19th centuries. My emphasis mostly shall focus on the old Gosport Navy Yard (from late 1700's) to the end of the Norfolk Navy Yard period (mid 1940's).

Who am I and what creditability do I have to speak on our history? My name is Marcus W. Robbins and I was born and raised locally in Norfolk Virginia. Upon graduation from Norview High School I found myself in Public Works, Shop 07 with an apprenticeship being trained as a Welder in the fall of 1977. After 4 years of waterfront time and trade theory with Shop 26, my career has been involved around Public Works either working with my tools as a Journeyman Welder, serving as a Planner & Estimator, serving as an Engineering Technician in the Facilities Support Contracts Division, serving staff to the Public Works Officer as a Facilities Maintenance Specialist and most recently my career has lead me to NNSY Code 1100 as the Command Facilities Program Manager.

The reoccurring theme of "my work life" is our NNSY facilities. I know these grounds and facilities well, along with how they have historically performed their functions by personal observation these 33 years.

Our people do a good work and I have seen many changes at this establishment over the years. Our people have a story to tell, your family members have a story to tell. Together I want to help tell their story because, "history matters".

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