Newport News, independent city (1990 pop. 170,045), SE Va., on the Virginia peninsula, at the mouth of the James River, off Hampton Roads, near Norfolk; inc. 1896. It is a port for transatlantic and intracoastal shipping; commodities handled include coal, oil, tobacco, grain, and ores. Newport News is also one of the nation's major shipbuilding and repair centers—its shipbuilding industry began in 1886. The U.S.S. Enterprise II, the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was constructed there. The city's other industries include seafood processing, printing and publishing, and the manufacture of office and electronic equipment, plastic and paper products, and apparel. There are also oil refineries.
Newport News was settled by Irish colonists c.1620 but did not grow appreciably until 1880, when it became the eastern terminus of the Chesapeake and Ohio RR. In 1862 the famous battle between the ironclad ships Monitor and Merrimack took place off Newport News. Points of interest include the Mariners Museum (including the U.S.S. Monitor Center), the War Memorial Museum of Virginia, the Virginia Living Museum and Planetarium, and the Victory Arch (1919, rebuilt 1962). Fort Eustis, with the Matthew Jones House (1660) on the fort's grounds, is there. Christopher Newport Univ. is in the city.