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The United States Navy's Bureau of Ships (BuShips) was established by Congress on June 20, 1940, by a law which consolidated the functions of the Bureau of Construction and Repair and the Bureau of Engineering. The new Bureau was to be headed by a Chief and Deputy-Chief, one selected from the engineering corps (Marine Engineer) and the other from the construction corps (Naval Architect). The Chief of the former Bureau of Engineering, RAdm. Samuel M. "Mike" Robinson, was named BuShips' first Chief, while the former Chief of the Bureau of Construction & Repair, RAdm. Alexander H. Van Keuren, was named as BuShips' first Deputy-Chief.

BuShips was abolished by DOD Order of March 9, 1966, as part of the general overhaul of the Navy's bureau system of material support. BuShips was succeeded by the Naval Ship Systems Command, now known as the Naval Sea Systems Command or NAVSEA.


The bureau's responsibilities included supervising the design, construction, conversion, procurement, maintenance, and repair of ships and other craft for the Navy; managing shipyards, repair facilities, laboratories, and shore stations; developing specifications for fuels and lubricants; and conducting salvage operations.

After 1947, BuShips purchased ships for the Departments of the Army and the Air Force, coordinated Department of Defense (DOD) shipbuilding activities, and coordinated Navy repair and conversion programs with other federal agencies.

Chiefs of the Bureau

The following is an incomplete list of individuals who served as Chief of the Bureau of Ships.

  • Chief, Rear Admiral Samuel M. "Mike" Robinson, July, 1940-January, 1942 (1st Chief Bureau of Ships)
    Deputy-Chief, RAdm. Alexander H. Van Keuren
  • Chief, Rear Admiral Alexander H. Van Keuren, January, 1942-November, 1942
    Deputy-Chief, RAdm. Claude Ashton Jones (Medal of Honor Recipient)
  • Chief, Rear Admiral Edward L. "Ned" Cochrane, November, 1942-1946
    Deputy-Chief, RAdm. Earle W. Mills
  • Chief, Rear Admiral Earle W. Mills, 1946-
  • Chief, Rear Admiral Homer N. Wallin, 1951-1953
  • Rear Admiral Nathan Sonenshein, early 1970s


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