1903: SF Drydock Co. builds a second graving dock
The San Francisco Drydock Company—formerly the California Drydock Company—constructs a second graving dock at Hunters Point. At 750 feet long and 30 feet deep, the facility is capable of docking the largest merchant vessels then afloat. According to one engineer: “The plant at Hunters Point is one of the best to be found anywhere. The conditions there are ideal. The drydocks are built on a rock foundation and the channel there is deep at all times. When the company desires to clean it out, all that is necessary is to send a tug in and work the propeller and the current cleans the approach.”
1908: The world’s greatest shipping yard
Union Iron Works purchases the San Francisco Drydock for $1.9 million. That’s about $48 million today. Charles M. Schwab negotiates the deal. Schwab, who bears no relation to the banker, is head of Bethlehem Steel, Union Iron Works’ parent company. In an interview, he says with the modesty of a steel magnate, “We intend to improve the plant in such a manner that it will provide facilities for docking and repairing ships unequaled by any shipping yard in the Pacific and probably unsurpassed by any system of docks in the world. There will not be a ship afloat in any part of the world we will not be able to handle.”
1908: Roosevelt seeks help from the San Francisco Shipyard
President Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet” calls in San Francisco during its two-year circumnavigation of the globe. Because the channel at Mare Island Navy Yard is too shallow for battleships, Roosevelt orders the fleet to report to the drydocks at Hunters Point. Between May and July, Union Iron Works services 23 of the ships.