WWII to 1962
World War II to 1962
With World War II breaking out in Europe, the Commandant of the Yard, Rear Admiral George Pettengill, recommended contracting all possible ordnance work, leaving the Naval Gun Factory for emergencies. In January 1942, the Naval Gun Factory was relieved of ordnance production but specialized in unique and urgent assignments, including battle damage repair and development of new or improved systems. As the war progressed, the Gun Factory was responsible for the development of aviation ordnance. The employment of civilian women grew due to the draft and Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services (WAVES) replaced the male sailors ordered for sea and overseas duty. On 1 December 1945, the Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal formally changed the name of the Washington Navy Yard to the Naval Gun Factory, though production decreased. Adapting to make guided missiles, the Navy changed the Naval Gun Factory’s name to the United States Naval Weapons Plant in 1959, which was reverted back to Washington Navy Yard in 1962 when production ceased, ending a 114-tradition of ordnance manufacture.
Image: 80-G-38490: U.S. Naval Gun Factory, Washington Navy Yard, 1943. Charging small heating furnace. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.