HISTORY OF PORT PANAMA CITY
The Port in the 1940s
First Ship Through the Pass
On January 21, 1939, the first deed was executed on property that is now Port Panama City with the purpose of construction of the Panama City Shipbuilding Corporation. Known as Wainwright Shipyard, from July 1942 until the end of the war a total of 102 Liberty Ships and six tankers were constructed and launched from Panama City. It is estimated that during peak production, between 18,000 and 30,000 people were employed at the shipyard.
In 1945 The Panama City Port Authority was created by special act of the Florida Legislature. After the war, the Port Authority assisted the Government in dismantling the Liberty Ships for scrap reprocessing. Although the Port Authority began leasing facilities from the General Service Administration in the mid-1950s to pursue industrial development, the dismantling effort continued until the mid-1960s when the City of Panama City purchased the property from the Government.
Today’s port operations date from 1967, when the port’s first 500-foot deepwater berth and 40,000-square foot warehouse were constructed. Since that time, the Port has added 3,900 linear feet of deepwater bulkhead, 350,000 square feet of warehouse space and five miles of railroad track as well as cranes and other cargo-handling equipment. The Port’s tenant base has expanded to include manufacturers, warehouse operators, stevedores, government agencies, shipping agents, and other maritime-related entities.