The Mare Island Naval Shipyard (MINSY) dates back to the mid 1800′s, when Commander David Farragut was at the helm of all shipbuilding and repair operations. During the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay, it was Farragut who gave the order, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”
Later, the Marines also took up residence at the Mare Island base.
The first U.S. submarines built on the west coast were constructed at Mare Island.
In 1996, the Mare Island Naval Shipyard ceased operations and was decommissioned. Today, the shipyard is a ghost town of empty buildings, broken glass, and rusted steel and burned timbers.
During WWII, the Mare Island base saw a huge surge of activity. Over 50,000 were employed to build and repair ships of all sizes and duties, and to staff a large hospital, a paint and rubber testing facility, a firefighting unit, and more. Mare Island was the bustling hub of all Pacific naval activities.
The massive cranes that were once used to hoist ships and submarines into dry dock now serve as decaying shelters for water birds. Osprey nests are common on the tops of the booms that tower above the island.
More than 500 vessels were constructed at the shipyard, including the first nuclear sub built on the west coast. Interestingly, the extremely patriotic military and civilian workers on Mare Island raised enough funds (War Bonds) to pay for every single submarine built at MINSY).
The island’s past is filled with hot steel, the clanking and whirring of heavy machinery, and of patriots’ love for their country and an unwavering respect for the military.
A visit to Mare Island is a journey to the very core of the United States. You can sense the hard work, the sweat, and the pride that went into keeping our country safe.
The setting today, though, is of gloom and doom and the feel of a post apocalyptic horror film.
I can’t help wondering what tomorrow will bring. However, if how we’re taking care of the planet is any indication of our future, well…