William Cramp & Sons

Coordinates: 39°58′19.34″N 75°7′4.13″W / 39.9720389°N 75.1178139°W / 39.9720389; -75.1178139
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William Cramp
Founded1830 (1830)
FoundersWilliam Cramp
Defunct1947 (1947)

William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Company (also known as William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Company) of Philadelphia was founded in 1830 by William Cramp, and was the preeminent U.S. iron shipbuilder of the late 19th century.

Company history[edit]

William Cramp, of German descent, was born in Kensington, Philadelphia in 1807. In 1855, his sons Charles Henry (born 1828)[1] and William C., became partners with their father. In 1872, his other sons Samuel H., Jacob C. and Theodore were taken into the firm. The company was incorporated under the name "The William Cramp and Sons' Iron Shipbuilding and Engineering Company."[2]

The pilot boat Thomas Howard was built by the Cramp shipyard in 1870 for the Delaware Bay & River pilots. She was one of the Philadelphia port's fastest pilot boats.[3]

In 1890 the company built the battleships USS Indiana and USS Massachusetts, armored cruiser USS New York, and protected cruiser USS Columbia. Three of these ships took a part in the battle with the Spanish fleet in 1898 at Santiago de Cuba. The victory in this battle heralded America's emergence as a great power.[4] The American Shipping and Commercial Corporation bought the yard in 1919 but closed it in 1927[5] as fewer ships were ordered by the U.S. Navy after passage of the Naval Limitations Treaty in 1923.

Charles H. Cramp, circa 1900

In 1940, the Navy spent $22 million to reopen the yard as Cramp Shipbuilding to build cruisers and submarines. Cramp used the long slipways to construct two submarines at a time, with the intention of launching them simultaneously. However, the shipyard's submarine construction program was not especially successful, as poor management hindered the delivery of the boats.[6] The first delivery was made two years after keel laying, and fitting out was then done by Portsmouth Navy Yard. The best construction time for a submarine was 644 days.[7]

Cramp closed in 1947 and the site, on the Delaware River in Philadelphia's Port Richmond neighborhood was turned into residential estate in early 2020s.

Aerial view of Cramp shipyard

Notable projects[edit]

1899 advertisement for William Cramp & Sons

Vessels built by the firm that are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places include:

See also[edit]

39°58′19.34″N 75°7′4.13″W / 39.9720389°N 75.1178139°W / 39.9720389; -75.1178139


  1. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cramp, Charles Henry" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 363.
  2. ^ "William Cramp, the Ship-Builder". Bedford County Press and Everett Press. Everett, Pennsylvania. 15 Jul 1870. p. 1. Retrieved 2021-08-17.
  3. ^ "Launch". The Evening Telegraph. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 26 Apr 1870. p. 8. Retrieved 2021-08-16.
  4. ^ "William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Company". Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  5. ^ "Ships for the Seven Seas: Philadelphia Shipbuilding in the Age of Industrial Capitalism". Economic History Association. 1997.
  6. ^ Stefan Terzibaschitsch, Submarines of the US Navy, Arms and Armour Press, 1991. p.70, 71
  7. ^ Terzibaschitsch, p.70, 71
  8. ^ Preble, George H. (1895). A Chronological History of the Origin and Development of Steam Navigation. L.R. Hamersly & Company. p. 398. Retrieved 9 September 2013. Valencia maiden voyage May 1882. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  9. ^ Belyk, Robert C. Great Shipwrecks of the Pacific Coast. New York: Wiley, 2001. ISBN 0-471-38420-8
  10. ^ Paterson, T. W. (1967). British Columbia Shipwrecks. Langley, BC: Stagecoach Publishing. pp. 72–76. Archived from the original on 2006-09-05. Retrieved 2006-08-26.
  11. ^ Scott, R. Bruce; A.G. Brown. "The History of the Sinking of the Valencia". Breakers Ahead. Archived from the original on October 8, 2007. Retrieved 2006-08-26.
  12. ^ "William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilders". Shipbuilding History. Archived from the original on 20 December 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  13. ^ "Some Notable Early Cruise Ships from Miami". Original. GetCruising.com. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  14. ^ a b c d "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to William Cramp & Sons at Wikimedia Commons