The Ships of Ira S. Bushey & Sons, 1907-1966
Ira S. Bushey & Sons' was a shipbuilder and oil company based in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Remarkably, the company combined three different endeavors: a shipyard, a fuel terminal, and a fleet of vessels that moved fuel.
Busheys built around 200 vessels for the Navy and for private service. These included 57 barges (including 10 tank barges) 21 tankers, 12 yard oilers, and 90 tugs! PortSide’s tanker, the Mary A. Whalen, is one of Bushey's ships, though they didn't build her. She was built for them in 1938 by Mathis, a shipyard in New Jersey. At that time, American fuel consumption was soaring, and we are told that Bushey was building fuel-moving vessels on spec (no buyer yet identified for them) in anticipation of demand. The history of our tanker Mary A. Whalen thus follows the trajectory of fuel consumption in the USA, her jobs changing and her voyages shrinking over time as she became small relative to demand until she was retired in 1994.
Bushey developed distinctive designs and fabrication methods for its fleet, making this Red Hook company an innovator in shipbuilding of national significance.
Bushey operated from the early 1900s until 1977 when it was sold to Amerada Hess. Located at the foot of Court Street, the site was last used as a fuel terminal by Buckeye Energy Services.
Buckeye sold the facility, and most of it was levelled during the pandemic to make way for a last mile, ecommerce facility. As of January 2023, Vane Brothers tugs and barges, which move fuel, continue to have a homeport with piers and one building on the eastern end of what was Bushey's.
For a complete list of vessels built by Bushey built see the website