Tuesday, November 30, 2010

fly navy - key west

The U.S. Navy's presence in Key West dates back to 1823 when a Naval Base was established to stop piracy in the area.

The base was expanded during the Mexican War (1845 - 48) and again during the Spanish - American War (1898). The battleship Maine (remember the Maine?) sailed from Key West to Havana Cuba where it sank, giving the United States government an excuse to declare war on Spain. At that point the entire U.S. Atlantic Fleet was moved to Key West for the duration of the war.

During World War I (1914 - 1918) the base was expanded again. The project involved dredging the land leased from from the Florida East Coast Railroad Company for construction of station buildings, a hydro generator and barracks. Because Key West offered such easy access to open sea - lanes and usually ideal flying conditions, construction also included a dirigible hangar, three seaplane ramps and a submarine base.
Now known as Trumbo Point, the base's mission, at that time, was to spot and block German ships from reaching Mexican oil supplies while supplying oil to the U.S. fleet.

After the war, the base was decommissioned, most of the buildings were destroyed and the station remained inactive until two years before the United States entered the 2nd World War. Fortunately, the government had retained the property and the base was reopened and designated as a Naval Air Station to support Navy destroyers and PBY aircraft.
After that war had finally ended, NAS Key West was kept alive as a training facility.

By the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), NAS Key West sites included Meachum Field, Boca Chica, Harry S. Truman Annex and Trumbo Point. During the Cuban crisis, NAS Key West flew reconnaissance and operational flights in support of the blockade and reinforced Key West's title as "Gibraltar of the Gulf" as coined by Commodore Porter a hundred
years earlier.

Today, Trumbo Point is used mostly for military housing but is also home to the U.S. Coast Guard Group - Key West, a Naval Research Laboratory, Naval Legal Services Office and the U.S. Army Special Forces Waterborne Operations Division.

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