Pusey and Jones
The Pusey and Jones Corporation was a major ship and equipment manufacturer from 1846 to
1959. Ship building was the primary focus from 1853 until the end of World War II, when the
company converted the shipyard to production of paper manufacturing machinery. During the
operation of the shipyard over 500 ships were produced ranging from large cargo vessels, to
small warships and yachts, including “Volunteer” the winner of the 1887 America’s Cup.
The company began in 1848, with the partnership between Joshua L. Pusey and John Jones in
the operation of a machine shop in space rented from a whaling company, in Wilmington,
Delaware. The shipyard was located between the Christina River and the main line of the
Pennsylvania Rail Road. In 1851 Edward Betts and Joshua Seal, who were operating an iron
foundry in Wilmington purchased an interest in the business, and the name of the company
then became Betts, Pusey, Jones & Seal.
In 1854 Pusey and Jones built the first US iron hulled sailing vessel the schooner "Mahlon Betts"
In 1887 the company built the first steel hulled yacht to win the America’s Cup, Volunteer.
At the beginning of the Civil War the company began building war vessels. The first ship built
was a sloop of war, which required immediate expansion of the workforce. the company also
built engines and boilers for other shipbuilding firms.
World War I
More than 2.000 employees worked for the firm during World War I shipbuilding. A second
shipyard was added in Gloucester City, New Jersey, it was initially called Pennsylvania
Shipbuilding Company, but this was soon changed to Pusey & Jones. But after producing 19
ships, the name was changed to New Jersey Shipbuilding Company. The yard was closed after
the war ended.
After the business slump of the early 1920s, the Company reorganized in 1927 under
Midwestern businessman Clement C. Smith, becoming Pusey and Jones Corporation. The
company focused on building large luxury steam and motor yachts for wealthy patrons. As
World War II approached military orders increased.
World War II
The highest employment was reached during World War II when more than 3600 employees
worked in the shipyards, plants and offices of the Company. The Wilmington shipyard was
increased from two to three ways. Pusey and Jones built 19 Type C1 ships for the U.S. Maritime
Commission During World War II, an example is USS Cyrene (AGP-13) which was converted
from a freighter to a patrol boat tender.
Other craft such as minesweepers were built along with specialty and smaller vessels, and many
commercial and private vessels originally built by the company were converted to military use.
On Liberty Fleet Day 27 September 1941 one of the first Liberty ships SS Adabelle Lykes was
launched by Pusey and Jones.
After WWII, Pusey and Jones converted the shipyard's facilities for the manufacture of paper-
making machinery but the company closed in 1959.
In 1867, the prevailing custom in the United States was to order papermaking machines from
abroad. Pusey Jones had made parts for papermaking machines, but had never built a complete
machine. That year William Luke of the Rockland Paper Mills hired Pusey Jones to construct
two complete papermaking machines to replace machines lost in a fire.
Notable vessels built by Pusey and Jones
Gay Head (steamboat) engines only
SS Tarpon (shipwreck)
T. J. Potter engines only
Volunteer - Launched 1887. Successful defender of the 1887 America's Cup
United States lightship Nantucket (LV-112)
United States lightship Portsmouth (LV-101)
USCGC Mohawk (WPG-78) museum
USNS Neptune (ARC-2)
USNS Albert J. Myer (ARC-6)
USS Alacrity (SP-206)
USS Albatross (1882)
USS Anacapa (AG-49)
USS Aquamarine (PYc-7)
USS Crystal (PY-25)
USS Cyrene (AGP-13)
USS Eider (AM-17)
USS Galatea (SP-714)
USS Galaxy (IX-54)
USS General Putnam (SP-2284)
USS Jamestown (PG-55)
USS Lydonia (SP-700)
USS Miantonomah (CMc-5)
USS Monadnock (ACM-10)
USS Nokomis (SP-609)
USS Thrush (AM-18)
The Golden Century, Classic Motor Yachts, 1830–1930, by Ross MacTaggart, W. W. Norton &
Company, 2001, ISBN 0393049493
The City That Launched a Thousand Ships: Shipbuilding in Wilmington, 1644-1997, Richard
Urban, Cedar Tree Books, 1999, ISBN 1892142066
The American Clyde; a history of iron and steel shipbuilding on the Delaware from 1840 to
World War I,by David Budlong Tyler, University of Delaware Press, 1958
Lane, Frederic Chapin (2001) . Ships for Victory: A History of Shipbuilding under the U.S.
Maritime Commission in World War II. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. ISBN 9780801867521.
Pusey and Jones paper industry website
List of ships built at the Wilmington shipyard shipbuildinghistory.com
List of ships built at the Gloucester City shipyard shipbuildinghistory.com
Wilmington Industrial History by Patrick Harshbarger
Delaware River Shipyards yorkship.com
Shipyards and Suppliers for U. S. Maritime Commission During World War II usmm.org
Ship builders and Owners (list) wrecksite.eu
Wilmington Strike Ends; Workers Return Today to Pusey & Jones Shipyards New York Times,
December 5, 1941
"Wilmington: Review of 2004 Fall Tour", Society for Industrial Archeology Newsletter, Vol. 34,
No. 1 (Winter 2005), p. 7.
Outboard Profiles of Maritime Commission Vessels, The C1 Cargo Ship, Conversions and
WWI Standard Built Ships, Shipbuilding Yards
Photos of Pusey and Jones ships and facilities
Building the Lydonia II Digital exhibit about a ship built at Pusey and Jones
|Delaware Military History