Brown Shipyard
DE 387 Destroyer Escort
WDE 487 Coast Guard Destroyer Escort
DER 387 Destroyer Escort Radar Picket
Brown Shipyard

Story from Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center web site.

Brown Shipyard

The Brown Shipbuilding Company was formed in Houston, Texas in 1941. The yard was formed as a subsidiary of the existing Brown and Root, an American engineering and construction company operating out of Houston. The Brown Shipbuilding Co. was initially formed as an emergency shipyard to begin construction for WWII naval vessels, particularly a type of U.S. Navy destroyer known as a submarine chaser.

Initially established on a Navy subsidy of $9 million, the Brown Shipyard was located at the junction of Houston's ship channel and Green's Bayou inlet. The founders, Herman and George Brown, had no experience in shipbuilding but were well versed in what it would require to manage a large scale industrial operation. Between May of 1943 and August 1944, the Brown Shipbuilding Co. produced 61 vessels, an average of one ship every week. Following the emphasis on destroyer escort ships, the yard switched focus to amphibious assault craft, of which they built nearly 250 amphibious assault craft known as "LM's" between 1944 and 1946. By the conclusion of WWII and the occupation of Japan and Germany, the Brown Shipbuilding Co. had produced almost 350 vessels, accumulating nearly $500 million in sales to the navy. Following the war, the yard was sold to Todd Houston Shipbuilding Company until Todd Houston closed its operation in 1985. The Yard reopened under Brown and Root in 1986 for barge and large vessel repair and remained an important piece of the Gulf's shipping industry until 2004 when the property was sold in pieces to a number of different buyers.

At the height of WWII, the Brown Shipbuilding Co. employed over 25,000 skilled workers. Production was so efficient under Brown management that they yard was recognized with a Presidential citation in 1944. The driving force behind all this production was the will of the workers who manned shipyards such as the Brown operation during WWII. These men and women poured their hearts and souls into the industrial war effort. They were an indispensable aspect of the war effort.

Some of these workers manned jobs that left them exposed to potentially dangerous chemicals or toxins, including asbestos. Asbestos was used in the internal construction of nearly all ships during the WWII era. In areas such as boiler rooms, piping, and electrical installations, asbestos was used as an insulation material and was regularly exposed to the workers of these areas. It is important that if you worked at the Brown or other shipyards and may have been exposed to asbestos, that you seek the counsel of a physician who is literate in asbestos induced respiratory ailments. Early detection is the single most important aspect of these illnesses with regards to improvement of treatment options and quality of life issues. If you or someone you know may have been exposed, symptoms can take several years to develop. It is important to know early so you can employ the full range of medical, emotional, or legal options available to you.


The Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center aims to provide the most current and accurate information regarding asbestos exposure and its link to mesothelioma cancer. As you know, many Navy veterans were unknowingly exposed to asbestos while working in shipyards, and while onboard ships and submarines. The USS Vance is one of those vessels. When built at Brown Shipyard, asbestos was used as an insulator for many parts of the engine room and boiler room.


You can find much more information and a list of shipyards at their web site.

Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center web site
Return to TOC 

Comments / Questions


You don't have to be a former crew member to sign

Sign the Logbook

Main.html GO TO THE TOP OF THIS PAGE Vance/pictpag1.htm Vance/story.htm Vance/factnthe.htm

Sign Vance's Logbook

Bridge ~ Top of Page ~ Photos ~ Stories ~ Facts