Key West Military Base

November 6th, 2019

 

 

AIR FORCE PLANES ON THE GROUND AT
BOCA CHICA NAVAL AIR STATION; TROOPS ARRIVE IN KEY WEST BY
TRUCK; ENTRANCE GATE BOCA CHICA GUARDED; AERIALS OF NAVAL BASE.

 

In honor of Veteran’s Day, Learning From Miami travels south to Naval Air Station Key West and explores the rich history of this active military base.  Military presence in Key West dates back to 1823, when a United States naval base was established and commanded by Commodore David Porter. Wealthy shipping merchants whose fleets operated from these waters needed protection to keep pirates from stealing their precious cargo. In 1845, the base was expanded during the Mexican-American War. During the Civil War, more ships were stationed at Key West than at any other port in the United States. Key West remained in Union control during the war, which prevented the Confederacy from receiving much-needed war supplies from overseas. In 1898, the battleship Maine sailed from Key West to Havana, Cuba, where it exploded and sank. The sinking of the Maine resulted in the U.S. declaring war on Spain and beginning the Spanish-American War. The entire U.S. Atlantic Fleet moved to Key West for the duration of the war.

During World War I, the Navy’s forces expanded to include seaplanes, submarines and blimps. Ground was broken for construction of a small coastal air patrol station on July 13, 1917, at what is now Trumbo Point, on land leased from the Florida East Coast Railroad Company. After World War I, the base was decommissioned and its personnel were transferred or released. Most of the buildings were destroyed or dismantled and moved to other locations. The remaining facilities were used only occasionally during 1920–1930 for seaplane training. The station remained inactive until 1939.

The seaplane base was designated as  Naval Air Station Key West on 15 December 1940 and served as an operating and training base for fleet aircraft squadrons, including seaplanes, land-based aircraft, carrier-based aircraft and lighter-than-air blimp squadrons. This set the stage for America’s entry into World War II.

After the war ended, Naval Air Station Key West was retained as a training facility. It responded to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, which posed the first threat in close proximity to the U.S. in more than a century. Reconnaissance and operational flights began on Oct. 22, 1962, in support of the blockade around Cuba.

Today, NAS Key West is the nation’s premier East Coast training facility for tactical jet fighter pilots. The air station also has a research laboratory, communications intelligence, narcotics interdiction air surveillance operations, and special forces training. In addition to naval activities and units, other Department of Defense and federal agencies are located at NAS Key West.

 

-Ursa Gil

 

A Lot Of Stuff About The History Of The Navy In Key West. (2018, February 22). Retrieved from https://floridakeystreasures.com/a-lot-of-stuff-about-the-history-of-the-navy-in-key-west/.

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