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Berth 240 - The Bethlehem Shipyard

Discover how this shipyard played a tremendous role during World War II in winning the war in both Europe and the Pacific.

View from wharf near slip No. 1
Click and drag to view a 360° panorama (238k)

The Bethlehem Shipyard (Southwest Marine Terminal) facility is located at Berth 240 near the southwestern part of Terminal Island along Seaside Avenue. The site comprises two separate areas: a mostly vacant region to the north and a paved area to the south, which is occupied mainly by World War II–era buildings. A chain-link fence encloses the entire yard, which is accessed by a metal gate.

Bethlehem Steel machine storage and warehouse building
Bethlehem Steel machine storage and warehouse building

This facility is significant for the role it played in World War II as the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Ltd. (Bethlehem) plant. Built in 1917, this shipyard is one of the oldest shipbuilding and repair facilities at the Port. Bethlehem was one of the smallest shipyards at the Port, employing 6,000 workers in ship repair and construction. In comparison, California Shipbuilding Corporation employed 40,000, Todd Corporation employed 12,000, and Consolidated Steel Company employed 7,000. Of these shipyards, however, the Southwest Marine Terminal facility (formerly operated by Bethlehem) is the only one that remains in existence.

Construction of the transportation shop
Construction of the transportation shop

The history of shipbuilding at this facility dates back to World War I. In 1917, Southwestern Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company established a shipyard on the channel side of Terminal Island (Berth 240) at the Port of Los Angeles. Because the location flooded at high tide, the Port pumped sand from the Main Channel to form an area of approximately 50 acres. Southwestern Shipbuilding quickly laid out its site and immediately began construction on its vessels, completing 18 large ships by November 11, 1918, the end of World War I.