Hog Island

Hog Island Shipyard and Hog Island Ships

Hog Island

Once upon a time, long ago but not so far away there was an island. It was at the confluence of the Schuylkill And Delaware rivers where the current day Philadelphia Airport is located.  It is opposite National Park on the New Jersey side.


A brief history of the island:

     1640 – Swedish settlers banked and diked part of the island so that it would not flood out on high water. They then used the island to raise livestock.

     1680 – The island purchased from the Lenape Indians.

     1810 - About 360 acres reclaimed land available for agricultural use (dairy and livestock).

     1855 – Lack of land maintenance caused deterioration of land for agricultural purpose.

     1894 – Owners of the land, sold the right to dump dredge spoils on the land making it no longer available for agriculture.

     1900 - Covered by about 10 feet of spoils.

     1916 – The government created the United States Shipping Board (USSB) that purchased the land.  Cost, with improvements needed to make it a shipyard, about $65 million.

     1917– USSB contracted with American International Shipbuilding to build a shipyard and construct ships. The shipyard was for 50 shipways along the Delaware River.

     1925 – The creek connecting the island to mainland was filled in.

     1927 – A small part of island used for Philadelphia Municipal Airport. Christened by Charles Lindberg.

     1930 – Purchased by Philadelphia for three million dollars.

     1937 – 1940 – Construction of Philadelphia International Airport. Opened in 1940. Area along river used as a marine terminal.

USSB and Hog Island

Prior to World War I, ocean commerce was dominated by European controlled merchant ships. With WWI looming and few American controlled merchant ships, Congress created the United States Shipping Board to increase the number of ships. The USSB funded creation of a shipyard on the island for mass production of ships. They created a shipyard of 50 slipways and 7 wet docks. The ship production process utilized subassemblies produced by many subcontractors. The subassemblies were then transported and assembled at the shipyard. It was the biggest shipyard in the world during WWI and employed about 35,000 people. 180 standard design ships were contracted for, 122 ships were completed by 1921 when the shipyard closed. No ships were completed in time to contribute to WWI effort. The ships were used by the American Merchant Marine after the war. About half were sunk in WWII mostly by German submarines.

Hog Island Shipyard along

Delaware River 1919 - 1921


Philadelphia and Hog Island

The land was sold to the City of Philadelphia for $3 million dollars in 1930. The City added more fill and opened up an airport. Part of the land is still used as a marine terminal along the Delaware river. Most of the land is now an international airport.

Hog Island Ships

There were two major designs. A Cargo Ship (design 1022) and a troop transport (design 1024) with some minor variation of individual ships. All were about 448 feet long, 58 feet wide, 23 foot draft and capable of 15 knots. All were oil fired geared steam turbines.


Hospital Ship USS Samaritan (AH-10)


Typical Hog Islander ships


USS Argonne (AS-10) 

USS St. Mihiel (AP-32)

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