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North Carolina Shipbuilding Company Collection

Identifier: SC-MS-352

Scope and Contents

This collections contains materials related to the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, a shipyard in Wilmington, North Carolina that was created as part of the U.S. Government's Emergency Shipbuilding Program during World War II. Included in the collection is a typed manuscript documenting the history of the company, a photocopied map of the Maffit Village neighborhood, and 19 photographs and 2 printing plates illustrating the company's grounds, workers and shipbuilding activities.


  • Creation: 1941-1946, undated

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 University of North Carolina at Wilmington, all rights reserved (subject to exceptions). Certain items in this collections were conveyed to UNCW without the accompanying copyright. Where the donor did not convey copyright to UNCW, copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Historical Note

North Carolina Shipbuilding Company

To get around the Neutrality Acts of World War II, which prevented the United States from becoming involved in the war, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made a proposal for a “bridge of ships” that would be used to deliver war relief supplies across the Atlantic Ocean. While that was the initial goal, President Roosevelt anticipated the inevitable, which was the United States’ eventual entry into the war.

To prepare the nation for war at sea, the President called for new shipyards to be built, which would be used to create a vast naval fleet for the United States. Homer L. Ferguson, who was the President of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company of Virginia, was touring the Atlantic and Gulf coasts on behalf of the United States Shipping Board. His mission was to search for potential sites where shipyards could be built. It was during this search that he discovered a 59.6 acre location that was about three miles south of downtown Wilmington nestled on the east bank of the Cape Fear River. Ferguson officially made the decision to build a shipyard at this location.

This Wilmington shipyard would evolve into the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company (NCSC), which came about from a contract that was awarded to Newport News by the United States Maritime Commission. From 1941 to 1946, the company built naval ships that were specifically for the war effort. Along with AKA’s and C-2 ships, the company also built liberty ships, which comprised the majority of the 200+ ships built overall. The very first NCSC ship launched on December 6, 1941, just a few hours before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. This ship was named the S.S. Zebulon Vance in honor of North Carolina’s governor during the period of reconstruction. It was christened by Mrs. Alice Broughton, North Carolina first lady and wife of Governor Joseph Melville Broughton.

The North Carolina Shipbuilding Company proved to be instrumental to the war effort. Long after its closure, liberty ships were used in the Korean War, Vietnam War, and the first Gulf War. Today, the grounds of the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company have become part of the North Carolina State Port in Wilmington.


2 Folders (Contains 1 folder and 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials


Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Scott Nunn on December 7, 2018.

Digital Access

Portions of this collection have been digitized and/or are born-digital. These items are identified by a black icon beside the item title when browsing via the collection organization hierarchy (to the right in desktop view; on the bottom in mobile view).

To view or access all of the digitized and/or born-digital materials in the collection directly, please select "View Digital Material" in the blue header above, just below the collection title.

North Carolina Shipbuilding Company Collection
Gavin Nelson
2019 July 10
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Randall Library Special Collections Repository