After serving in the Navy during World War II, Juan F. Crofton returned to Hampton Roads and went to work as a diver for Submarine Engineering Company. In June of 1949, Juan decided to start a business with a friend, Ernest “Duke” Morris. Together, Juan and Duke founded Crofton and Morris Diving and purchased a 50-foot wooden workboat, the Cromo, so named because Juan won the toss of a coin. Crofton and Morris Diving serviced the Hampton Roads harbor for 19 years. In 1968 Duke decided to leave the diving business and Crofton Diving Corporation was born. Setting up shop on the Norfolk waterfront, Crofton Diving Corporation worked for every shipyard in the area in addition to serving the numerous utilities and industries that kept the area thriving. By 1983, all four of Juan’s children were working in the family business. In 1984, Crofton Diving Corporation expanded its services to include marine construction and in 1986, having grown out of its half-acre facility in Norfolk, moved across the river to Portsmouth with a 7 acre facility and 9000 square feet of office and warehouse space. Today, Crofton offers comprehensive solutions including heavy lifting, barge & tug services, and specialized hauling in addition to commercial diving and marine construction. Crofton is proud to still be a family owned and operated business and serves as an employer to over 120 individuals including many third generation family members.
- Length: 50’
- Beam: 14’
- Draft: 5’
- Hull: Wood
- Year Built: 1935
- Powered By: GM Detroit 671 Diesel
The Cromo was constructed in Bremerton Naval Shipyard in Washington State as a Liberty Launch in 1935. In 1936, the vessel was shipped to Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia and converted to a Motor Sail Launch. She spent the duration of her military career in Annapolis, Maryland as a training vessel for the midshipmen at the Naval Academy as the “Seaman Shipboat No. 1”.
Juan Crofton and Ernest “Duke” Morris purchased the Cromo in 1951. The conversion to a commercial dive vessel took place in Weems, Virginia at Humphreys Railway and was designed by founder Juan Crofton.
Today, the Cromo is still in use. Outfitted with a high-pressure water jet that allows divers to blow mud off underwater structures. The Cromo is used when repairing underwater power lines, bridge piles, and damaged pipe lines. The vessel also has a mooring system with four anchors that enables positioning above projects in the middle of the harbor.
The Cromo logged many hours serving the Port of Hampton Roads. Many divers including all three of Juan’s sons-Jay, Kenny, and Bobby Crofton were mentored and trained off the deck of the Cromo.
After working commercial dive projects in the Port of Hampton Roads for nearly 60 years, the Cromo has become a fixture in the harbor and beloved by many local mariners. She can also be spotted at various maritime events and is a staple at Norfolk’s annual Harbor Fest.