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Guide to the Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection ARC.003

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn 11201

Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Amy Lau, Mary Mann, Aliki Caloyeras, and Margaret Fraser

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on  , September 3, 2020
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Oral History Interview with Clayton Colefield, October 6, 2009

Biographical / Historical

Clayton Colefield (1921- ) was born in Jamaica but grew up in the Bronx. After working for 25 years at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Colefield taught industrial arts at a high school while earning his bachelor's degree. He eventually moved from the Bronx to Long Island with his family. Following his retirement from teaching, he spent many years traveling with his wife in trailers that he constructed himself. After the death of his wife, Colefield moved to North Carolina.

Scope and Contents

During his interview, Clayton Colefield (1921- ) gave detailed accounts of the construction of carriers, destroyers and cruisers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, as well as repairs made on damaged warships. Because he was able to read blueprints, Colefield was soon promoted to quarterman shipfitter, overseeing other supervisors. Colefield recalls the fatal fire that took place on the USS Constellation (CV-64) when a drum of oil was knocked over into a shaft where welders were working. He also discusses his work on the USS Missouri, the USS Iowa and the USS Wisconsin, for which he was sent to Bayonne, New Jersey to repair. Colefield fondly remembers testing catapults, where the launching pads on the carriers were tested with large weights to see if they could reach a certain speed. He also recollects being invited by a ship captain for a sea trial, when the ship's speed and breaks were tested, as well as and the launching of the USS Missouri. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access

This interview can be accessed onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online at the Oral History Portal.

Subject Organizations

  • New York Naval Shipyard
  • Missouri (Battleship : BB 63)
  • Iowa (Battleship)

Subject Topics

  • World War, 1939-1945
  • United States -- Armed Forces -- Civilian employees

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Bronx (New York, N.Y.)