In 1886 he built a shipyard to repair ships servicing this transportation hub. In 1891 Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company delivered its first ship, the tugboatDorothy. By 1897 NNS had built three warships for the US Navy: USS Nashville, Wilmington and Helena.
Old Dominion Line steamship Monroe launch 1902.
When Collis died in 1900, his nephew Henry E. Huntington inherited much of his uncle's fortune. He also married Collis' widow Arabella Huntington, and assumed Collis's leadership role with Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company. Under Henry Huntington's leadership, growth continued.
In the early years, leaders of the Newport News community and those of the shipyard were virtually interchangeable. Shipyard president Walter A. Post served from March 9, 1911 to Feb. 12, 1912, when he died. Earlier, he had come to the area as one of the builders of the C&O Railway's terminals, and had served as the first mayor of Newport News after it became an independent city in 1896. It was on March 14, 1914 that Albert L. Hopkins, a young New Yorker trained in engineering, succeeded Post as President of the company. In May 1915 while traveling to England on shipyard business, aboard RMS Lusitania, Albert L. Hopkins tenure and life ended prematurely when that ship was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat off Queenstown on the Irish coast. His assistant Fred Gauntlett, was also on board, but was able to swim to safety.Homer Lenoir Ferguson was company vice president when Hopkins died, and assumed the presidency the following August. He saw the company through both world wars, became a noted community leader, and was a co-founder of the Mariners' Museum with Archer Huntington. He served until July 31, 1946, after the second World War had ended on both the European and Pacific fronts.
Just northwest of the shipyard, Hilton Village, one of the first planned communities in the country, was built by the federal government to house shipyard workers in 1918. The planners met with the wives of shipyard workers. Based on their input 14 house plans were designed for the projected 500 English-village-style homes. After the war, in 1922, Henry Huntington acquired it from the government, and helped facilitate the sale of the homes to shipyard employees and other local residents. Three streets there were named after Post, Hopkins, and Ferguson.
Navy orders during and after the First World War
After the First World War NNS completed a major reconditioning and refurbishment of the ocean linerSS Leviathan. Before the war she had been the German liner Vaterland, but the start of hostilities found her laid up in New York Harbor and she had been seized by the US Government in 1917 and converted into a troopship. War duty and age meant that all wiring, plumbing, and interior layouts were stripped and redesigned while her hull was strengthened and her boilers converted from coal to oil while being refurbished. Virtually a new ship emerged from NNS in 1923, and the SS Leviathan became the flagship of United States Lines.
Navy orders before and during the Second World War
The newly built USS Birmingham is launched from the Newport News yards in 1942
By 1940 the Navy had ordered a battleship, seven more aircraft carriers and four cruisers. During World War II, NNS built ships as part of the U.S. Government's Emergency Shipbuilding Program, and swiftly filled requests for "Liberty ships" that were needed during the war. It founded the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, an emergency yard on the banks of the Cape Fear River and launched its first Liberty ship before the end of 1941, building 243 ships in all, including 186 Liberties. For its contributions during the war, the Navy awarded the company its "E" pennant for excellence in shipbuilding. NNS ranked 23rd among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts.
In 2007, the US Navy found that workers had used incorrect metal to fuse together pipes and joints on submarines under construction and this could have led to cracking and leaks. In 2009 it was found that bolts and fasteners in weapons-handling systems on four Navy submarines, including USS New Mexico (SSN-779), North Carolina (SSN-777), Missouri (SSN-780), and California (SSN-781), were installed incorrectly, delaying the launching of the boats whilst the problems were corrected.
In 1968, Newport News merged with Tenneco Corporation. In 1996, Tenneco initiated a spinoff of Newport News into an independent company (Newport News Shipbuilding). 
On 7 November 2001, Northrop Grumman entered an agreement to purchase Newport News Shipbuilding for a total of $2.6 billion. This acquisition created a $4 billion shipyard called Northrop Grumman Newport News.