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Long Beach Naval Station

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In 1943, the US Naval Dry Docks were established on a large portion of Terminal Island, that mass of land that sits between Long Beach and San Pedro. The name was changed to Terminal Island Dry Dock in 1945 and then to Long Beach Naval Shipyard (LBNSY) in 1948. The LBNSY became part of the larger Naval Station, which included fuel storage, Marine barracks, a prison, a hospital, an airfield and training facilities.

At its height the Naval facility employed over 17,000 civilian employees and was a vital contributor to the Long Beach community. Navy housing throughout the city, but especially on the west side, grew to support the thriving shipyard and related Naval installations.

While in service the Naval Station was home to the U.S.S. Missouri and the U.S.S. New Jersey. The conversion of the famous hospital ship “Hope” was also done here. The base served as a receiving center at the start of World War II and a demobilization center at the end of it. The shipyard closed in 1950, but was reactivated for the Korean conflict in 1951. In 1974 the base was downgraded to a support facility, but upgraded again in 1979 to a Naval Station.

While open, many social activities also occurred around the base and the many Navy and Marine families stationed in the city. My cousin’s wedding reception was held at the Officers’ Club on the base in 1976 and my aunt did all her shopping at the Commissary until it closed. Sailors would flock to the Pike on their leave, with tattoo parlors and bars doing great business, thanks to the Naval Station.

A slowing economy and the downsizing of the military complex slated the Naval facilities for closure in the late 1990’s and it officially closed in 1997. The former LBNSY grounds are now part of the Port of Long Beach and little remains to remind us of the important contribution the Navy had to the city.

In Bluff Park, at the corner of Ocean Boulevard and Paloma Avenue stands a reminder: The Lone Sailor, which was dedicated in December 2004. The sailor, with his duffel bag, looks out to sea. The statue honors all the men and women who served in the military and pays tribute to those who made Long Beach their home.

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