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Friday, March 13, 2015

Historical Bronze Plaque at Gate 10

Blog #43. March 13, 2014 by Marcus W. Robbins
The below is a second installment concerning the bronze plaque found just inside of Gate 10 that I first featured with Blog #31 written in May 12, 2014.  I left off at that time with the tease that photos had been uncovered that recorded the unveiling of the historical bronze plaque and I shall share them below.

I did want to re-purpose and repeat again some of my same text from Blog #31 because it continues to be relevant as we always have new employees and others seeking to understand the great history found here at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

Our Norfolk Naval Shipyard lives on today because of the proud accomplishments of not only its past but its promise of the future.  It is so very important that new employees here learn of the great milestones we accomplished here on the southern branch of the Elizabeth River, not only for the Navy but for the United States.  The one thing I try to tell everyone is history is not just something abstract that happened in the past.  The history of our shipyard going into the future depends on you also, the new employee “you must own it”.

The historical events story of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard are like a great tapestry; it is woven of many individual fibers all coming together to create something larger.  Those fibers begin with our people as they demonstrate pride, knowledge and the craftsmanship of shipbuilding and repair.  Those fibers are the tools used and raw materials that are transformed into ships and equipment.  Those fibers are the facilities and buildings that are utilized to bring everything together in order to deliver a world class product.

Norfolk Naval Shipyard delivers world class products as evidenced by our motto – “Any Ship, Any Time, Any Where”.

One of the best physical artifact tools for learning and teaching a quick overview of our historical events at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard is the bronze plaque inside of Gate 10.  I often take new employees there or advise the more seasoned ones to take time to go read what they have driven past for years.  It was erected by the Norfolk Naval Shipyard Historical Association in 1950 with the very mission of telling our story.

Bronze Plaque Inside of Gate 10
 Text sourced from Marshall W. Butt

And now, the long promised recent finds from the archives in order to take you back exactly 65 years ago this month (March 27, 1950) to the unveiling ceremony of a most wonderful artifact. 

Unveiling Ceremony Program for Historical Plaque
March 27th 1950
Erected by NNSY Historical Association
(Program Courtesy of US Navy)

Unveiling Ceremony for Historical Plaque
March 27th 1950
USS Coral Sea Band Playing
(Photo Courtesy Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum)


Unveiling Ceremony for Historical Plaque
March 27th 1950
Looking Northwest Inside Gate 10
(Photo Courtesy Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum)

Unveiling Ceremony for Historical Plaque
March 27th 1950
Marshall W. Butt on left
(Photo Courtesy Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum)
If you read the above text carefully you shall learn of the four flags this yard has had flown from its flagstaff (British, Virginia, Confederacy & United States) and you shall learn of the three different burns (1779, 1861 & 1862) of the shipyard.  From the first dry docking in 1833 of a ship in the United States (USS DELAWARE) our Drydock 1 still remains in operation today a testament to the craftsman that built it.  Other facts contained on the plaque high lite the conversion of the ironclad (CSS VIRGINIA) of which was important because it helped changed modern naval warfare, it too can trace its heritage to Drydock 1.  The US Navy’s first Battleship (USS TEXAS) and the first aircraft carrier (USS LANGLEY) also were constructed here.  Finally the plaque gives the various specific dates that this great institution underwent formal name changes.

And so went the events of March 27, 1950 - a mere 65 years ago this current month.  Important dates, institution names, flags and milestones supporting the United States Navy were relevant back then to be remembered and continue to be relevant now because –“history matters”.

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