Uraga Dock Company was founded by Enomoto Takeaki in 1869. A shipyard had already existed in Uraga from the end of the Edo period. When Commodore Perry's flagship anchored off Uraga in 1854, one of the officials of the Tokugawa shogunate who boarded the American vessel was a trained shipwright, Nakajima Saburosuke. His observation of the ship's interior enabled him to deduce the details of its design and construction, and after the departure of Perry back to the United States, the government ordered him to start construction of a three-masted barque, called the Hōō maru. He subsequently participated in the repair of the Dutch-built Kanrin maru, during which time he constructed the first dry dock built in Japan in 1859. However, the Tokugawa government decided to establish its own shipyards at nearby Yokosuka, and the Uraga facilities went out of business in 1876.
Nakajima died during the Boshin War of the Meiji restoration fighting on the Tokugawa side. After the establishment of the Meiji government, his former colleagues Enomoto Takeaki and Arai Ikunosuke gained important positions in the new administration, and supported the establishment of a modern shipyard on the foundation established by Nakajima. The new facility was inaugurated in 1897, and faced an immediate crisis when Tokyo-based Ishikawajima Harima opened a rival facility the following year and started to dump prices in an effort to destroy its competition. Uraga Dock Company managed to buy out Ishikawajima in 1902.
In 1907, Uraga Dock Company launched its first destroyer for the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Nagatsuki. Over its subsequent history, the dockyards at Uraga constructed over 1000 vessels, including ferries, passenger liners, training vessels, and warships of various sizes. Numerous vessels were also produced for the export market.
By 1919, Uraga Dock Company was considered one of the largest and best equipped private shipyards in the world. Subsidiary companies were established in Yokkaichi, Mie and in Tsingtao.
Uraga Dock Company was also characterized by its organized labor force, one of the earliest in Japan, which went on strike in 1905-1907, 1910-1911, and in 1915. In post war Japan, Uraga Dock Company was acquired by the Sumitomo group in 1969. It was modernized extensively on several occasions, but increasing competitive pressures from overseas ship builders forced Sumitomo to close down operations in 2003.
- Brown, the Mastery of the Far East
- Gordon, Andrew (1992). Labor and Imperial Democracy in Prewar Japan. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-08091-2.
- Brown, Arthur Judson (1919). The Mastery of the Far East. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-520-08091-2.
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