Bureau of Construction and Repair

The Bureau of Construction and Repair (BuC&R) was the part of the United States Navy which from 1862 to 1940 was responsible for supervising the design, construction, conversion, procurement, maintenance, and repair of ships and other craft for the Navy. The bureau also managed shipyards, repair facilities, laboratories, and shore stations.

On 20 June 1940, Congress passed a law which consolidated the Bureau's functions with those of the Bureau of Engineering (BuEng), creating the Bureau of Ships (BuShips).


The Bureau was staffed by officers of the Construction Corps (called constructors) with advanced degrees in naval architecture. Six civilian constructors were hired by the Navy in 1794 to supervise construction of the frigates authorized by Congress that year.[1] The Bureau of Construction, Equipment, and Repairs was established in 1842 as one of the five original material bureaus replacing the former Board of Navy Commissioners. In 1862, Congress decided to replace the Bureau into three new organizations: the Bureau of Construction and Repair, the Bureau of Steam Engineering (later called the Bureau of Engineering), and the Bureau of Equipment. The Bureau of Construction and Repair was established by Congress by an act of July 5, 1862 (12 Stat. 510). The new organization, headed by a Chief of the Bureau, was responsible for all aspects of ship construction, except for propulsion systems, which were the responsibility of the Bureau of Engineering; and equipage, which fell under the Bureau of Equipment.

The Construction Corps was created in 1866 to be staffed by constructors graduated from the United States Naval Academy cadet-engineer curriculum implemented in 1864.[2] The Construction Corps provided permanent naval status for personnel who had formerly been employed in a civilian capacity on an as-needed basis.[3] Naval constructors gained the rank and recognition previously available to doctors of the Medical Corps and pursers of the Supply Corps.[3] Two cadet-engineers of the Naval Academy class of 1879, Frances Bowles and Richard Gatewood, set the standard for postgraduate education of Construction Corps officers.[3] Bowles and Gatewood completed postgraduate work in England in the developing science of naval architecture.[3] The postgraduate program shifted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1901.[3]

The Bureau of Equipment was discontinued in 1910, and formally abolished in 1914. Its functions were divided between the Bureau of Construction and Repair and the Bureau of Steam Engineering. These two bureaus were placed under the supervision of the Coordinator of Shipbuilding in 1939, and were superseded by the Bureau of Ships in 1940. The "engineering duty only" (EDO) designation of Bureau of Engineering officers expanded to include naval architects of the Construction Corps when the Bureau of Ships was formed in 1940.[1]

The consolidation with BuEng into BuShips had its origins when USS Anderson, first of the Sims-class destroyers to be delivered, was found to be heavier than designed and dangerously top-heavy in early 1939. It was determined that an underestimate by BuEng of the weight of a new machinery design was responsible, and that BuC&R did not have sufficient authority to detect or correct the error during the design process. Initially, Acting Secretary of the Navy Charles Edison proposed consolidation of the design divisions of the two bureaus. When the bureau chiefs could not agree on how to do this, he replaced both chiefs in September 1939. The consolidation was finally effected by a law passed by Congress on 20 June 1940.[4]

Chiefs of the Bureau

Individuals who served as Chief of the Bureau include:

  • Commodore David Conner, September 1, 1842 - March 1, 1843
  • Captain Beverly Kennon, March 2, 1843 - April 9, 1844
  • Commodore Charles Morris, April 10, 1844 - May 31, 1847
  • Commodore Charles W. Skinner, June 1, 1847 - February 28, 1852
  • Commodore WIlliam B. Shubrick, March 1, 1852 - June 30, 1853
  • Chief Naval Constructor Samuel Hartt, July 1, 1853 - November 16, 1853
  • Chief Naval Constructor John Lenthall, November 17, 1853 - January 22, 1871[5]
  • Chief Constructor Isaiah Hanscom, January 23, 1871 - April 27, 1877
  • Chief Constructor John W. Easby, April 28, 1877 - December 13, 1881
  • Chief Constructor Theodore D. Wilson, March 3, 1882 - July 7, 1893
  • Rear-Admiral Philip Hichborn, July 23, 1893 -
  • Rear Admiral Washington L. Capps, served 1903-1910
  • Chief Constructor Richard Morgan Watt, served 1910-1914
  • Rear Admiral David W. Taylor, served during World War I
  • Rear Admiral Emory S. Land, served 1932-1937
  • Rear Admiral Alexander H. Van Keuren, -July, 1940 (Last Chief of BuC&R. Thereafter, also July, 1940, became Vice-Chief of new Bureau of Ships [BuShips] which supplanted BuC&R)


This article includes public-domain text from the United States' National Archives.

  1. ^ a b Snyder, Philip W., RADM USN "Bring Back the Corps" United States Naval Institute Proceedings February 1979 p.49
  2. ^ Snyder, Philip W., RADM USN "Bring Back the Corps" United States Naval Institute Proceedings February 1979 pp.50-51
  3. ^ a b c d e Snyder, Philip W., RADM USN "Bring Back the Corps" United States Naval Institute Proceedings February 1979 p.51
  4. ^ Furer, Julius Augustus (1959). Administration of the Navy Department in World War II. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. pp. 217–222.
  5. ^ Tucker, Spencer C., ed., Civil War Naval Encyclopedia, Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2011, ISBN 978-1-59884-338-5, pp. 348-349.

External links

Bureau of Ships

The United States Navy's Bureau of Ships (BuShips) was established by Congress on 20 June 1940, by a law which consolidated the functions of the Bureau of Construction and Repair (BuC&R) and the Bureau of Engineering (BuEng). The new bureau was to be headed by a chief and deputy-chief, one selected from the Engineering Corps (Marine Engineer) and the other from the Construction Corps (Naval Architect). The chief of the former Bureau of Engineering, Rear Admiral Samuel M. "Mike" Robinson, was named BuShips' first chief, while the former chief of the Bureau of Construction & Repair, Rear Admiral Alexander H. Van Keuren, was named as BuShips' first Deputy-Chief. The bureau's responsibilities included supervising the design, construction, conversion, procurement, maintenance, and repair of ships and other craft for the Navy; managing shipyards, repair facilities, laboratories, and shore stations; developing specifications for fuels and lubricants; and conducting salvage operations.

BuShips was abolished by DOD Order of 9 March 1966, as part of the general overhaul of the Navy's bureau system of material support. BuShips was succeeded by the Naval Ship Systems Command (NAVSHIPS), known as the Naval Sea Systems Command or NAVSEA since 1974.

Bureau of Steam Engineering

The Bureau of Steam Engineering was a bureau of the United States Navy, created by the act of 5 July 1862, receiving some of the duties of the former Bureau of Construction, Equipment and Repair. It became, by the Naval Appropriation Act of 4 June 1920, the Bureau of Engineering (BuEng). In 1940 it combined with the Bureau of Construction and Repair (BuC&R) and became the Bureau of Ships (BuShips).


C is the third letter in the English alphabet and a letter of the alphabets of many other writing systems which inherited it from the Latin alphabet. It is also the third letter of the ISO basic Latin alphabet. It is named cee (pronounced ) in English.

Cachalot-class submarine

The Cachalot-class submarines were a pair of medium-sized submarines of the United States Navy built under the tonnage limits of the London Naval Treaty of 1930. They were originally named V-8 and V-9, and so were known as "V-boats" even though they were unrelated to the other seven submarines (V-1 through V-7) constructed between World War I and World War II. An extensive study was conducted to determine the optimum submarine size under the treaty restrictions, factoring in total force, endurance, and percentage of the force that could be maintained on station far from a base, as in a Pacific war scenario. Joseph W. Paige of the Navy's Bureau of Construction and Repair (BuC&R) developed the basic design, but the builder, Electric Boat, was responsible for detailed arrangement; this was fairly bold, since EB had not built any new submarines since finishing four obsolescent boats for Peru. The previous V-boats were all built in naval shipyards. Cuttlefish was the first submarine built at EB's facility in Groton, Connecticut; construction of previous Electric Boat designs had been subcontracted to other shipyards, notably Fore River Shipbuilding of Quincy, Massachusetts.

David W. Taylor

David Watson Taylor (March 4, 1864 – July 28, 1940) was a U.S. naval architect and an engineer of the United States Navy. He served during World War I as Chief Constructor of the Navy, and Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair. Taylor is best known as the man who constructed the first experimental towing tank ever built in the United States.

Emory S. Land

Emory Scott Land (January 8, 1879 – November 27, 1971) was an officer in the United States Navy, noted for his contributions to naval architecture, particularly in submarine design. Notable assignments included serving as Chief of the Navy's Bureau of Construction and Repair during the 1930s, and as Chairman of the U.S. Maritime Commission during World War II.

John Lenthall (shipbuilder)

John Lenthall (16 September 1807 – 11 April 1882) was an important American shipbuilder and naval architect. He was responsible for the construction and repair of United States Navy ships during the American Civil War (1861–1865), as well as in the years immediately before and after it. His career spanned the U.S. Navy's transition from sail to steam propulsion and from wooden ships to ironclads, and in retirement he participated in early planning for an eventual steel navy.

Theodore D. Wilson

Theodore Delavan Wilson (also Theodore Delevan Wilson) (11 May 1840 – 29 June 1896) was an American naval ship designer, constructor and instructor of naval architecture and shipbuilding. As chief constructor for the Bureau of Construction and Repair from 1882 to 1892, he was in charge of all new warship design for the United States Navy. Through his efforts, the Navy began its transition out of a post–Civil War slump to become a modern naval power. Warships he designed include the pre-dreadnought battleship USS Maine, whose destruction in Havana, Cuba in 1898 precipitated the Spanish–American War.

USS Etlah (1864)

USS Etlah, a single-turreted, twin-screw monitor, was still under construction at St. Louis, Missouri, at the close of the American Civil War. A Casco-class, light-draft monitor, she was intended for service in the shallow bays, rivers, and inlets of the Confederacy. These warships sacrificed armor plate for a shallow draft and were fitted with a ballast compartment designed to lower them in the water during battle.

Though the original designs for the Casco-class monitors were drawn by John Ericsson, the final revision was created by Chief Engineer Alban B. Simers following Rear Admiral Samuel F. Du Pont's failed bombardment of Fort Sumter in 1863. By the time the plans were put before the Monitor Board in New York, NY, Ericsson and Simers had a poor relationship and Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair John Lenthall had little connection to the board. This resulted in the plans being approved and 20 vessels ordered without serious scrutiny of the new design. $14 million US was allocated for the construction of these vessels. It was discovered that Simers had failed to compensate for the armor his revisions added to the original plan and this resulted in excessive stress on the wooden hull frames and a freeboard of only 3 inches. Simers was removed from the control of the project and Ericsson was called in to undo the damage. He was forced to raise the hulls of the monitors under construction by 22 inches to make them seaworthy.

The entire class was considered a disappointment, and Etlah was laid up at one or another location until sold 12 September 1874. Between 15 June and 10 August 1869, she bore the name Hecate while being laid up at Mound City, IL.

USS Momsen

USS Momsen (DDG-92) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in service with the United States Navy.

Momsen is the twenty-sixth destroyer of the Arleigh Burke class to be built by Bath Iron Works. She is named after Vice Admiral Charles B. "Swede" Momsen of Flushing, Queens, New York (1896–1967). Vice Admiral Momsen made many contributions to the navy such as the invention of the Momsen Lung when he was assigned to the Bureau of Construction and Repair. Momsen was also involved in the first successful rescue of a crew of a sunken submarine, USS Squalus, and subsequently supervised the salvage of the boat.

Momsen's keel was laid on 16 November 2001. She was launched on 19 July 2003, sponsored by the Admiral Momsen's daughter, Evelyn Momsen Hailey. Momsen was commissioned on 28 August 2004, at Panama City, Florida.As of 2008, Momsen is serving in the Pacific Fleet, homeported in NAVSTA Everett, Washington, and recently assigned to Destroyer Squadron 21 out of San Diego.

The construction of Momsen and sister ship Chafee, from initial steelcutting to sea trials, was documented on the Discovery Channel television special Destroyer: Forged in Steel. The destroyers were not referenced by name, but their numbers were visible on their prows.

Washington L. Capps

Rear Admiral Washington Lee Capps (31 January 1864 – 31 May 1935) was an officer of the United States Navy, who served during the Spanish–American War and World War I. In the first years of the 20th century, he served as Constructor of the Navy and Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, with responsibility for naval shipbuilding.

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