Immediately before the start of World War II, it became apparent that a major anchorage and operation area was needed in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-San Pedro area. In 1940, the city of Long Beach ceded 108 acres of land on Terminal Island for Navy use, retaining the mineral rights to the recently discovered oilfield under the site and extending offshore. The shipyard was established in 1940 with an initial funding of $19.8M for land acquisition, a harbor breakwater, and buildings. Completion of the Moreell Drydock (Drydock No. 1) permitted shipwork to begin on 7 April 1942. The first major ship drydocking was in September 1942.
On 25 February 1943, the U.S. Naval Dry Docks activity (later to be renamed Long Beach Naval Shipyard) was established to encompass the existing Terminal Island facilities, with the mission to perform routine and battle-damage repairs to naval ships. By August 1945, the shipyard's wartime employment level topped out at 16,091.
The Naval Station was established on 15 November 1946, as a homeport for Pacific Fleet ships, providing port facilities, fleet support personnel, and recreational facilities.
On 31 December 1948, the world's largest self-propelled floating crane TITAN (YD 171) (a.k.a. "Herman the German") was placed in operation. TITAN was a prize of World War II.
Through the war years, Long Beach and other oil operators had continued to pump out oil from under the Terminal Island site. Over time, the removal of the underlying oil caused the surface of the land to sink as much as ten feet in some areas of the site. On 1 June 1950, partly due to concerns about sinking of the land surface, the shipyard and naval station were placed in inactive status. However, with the outbreak of the Korean War several weeks later, there was a renewed need for ship overhaul and repair facilities. On 4 January 1951, Long Beach Naval Shipyard was reactivated to support the ships engaged in the Korean War, and by 1952, a growing Navy fleet was again homeported at Long Beach. The problem of the sinking land surface was addressed by a water injection program to replace the pumped out oil and stabilize the surface at the site.
By 1958, the Navy sued Long Beach and oil operators who were not cooperating with the water injection program. The lawsuit was settled in 1963. Subsequently the city and the oil operators began fully implementing the remedial water injection program. The city deeded 288 additional acres to the Navy.
Between 1965 and 1970, 140 ships and 40,000 personnel were homeported at Long Beach. Following the end of the Vietnam War, the number of homeported ships declined, until by 1990, there were 38 ships stationed there, including the battleships USS MISSOURI and USS NEW JERSEY and 16,000 sailors.
*Cited directly from “Long Beach Naval Shipyard Transition and Closure Plan Report,” published(SEA 07), and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) – 18 September 1997 by: The Naval Shipyard BRAC Implementation Group (SEA 074), Naval Shipyard and SUPSHIP Management and Field Activity Directorate (SEA 07), and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) - 18 September 1997.
Closure and Reuse
The Long Beach Naval Station and Naval Shipyard were closed under the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990. The Naval Station was closed under the 1991 Round of Closure (BRAC II) on 30 September 1994 and the Naval Shipyard was closed on 30 September 1997 under the 1995 Round of Closure (BRAC IV).
To facilitate the economic reuse of the former military bases, the Department of Navy authorized the use and redevelopment of the property under a Lease in Furtherance of Conveyance. Under the lease, the Port of Long Beach was able to take stewardship of the property and begin redevelopment on a parallel track with the Navy’s environmental cleanup actions.
As a result, the Port of Long Beach has successfully constructed and currently operates one of the largest and most modern container terminals in the world.
Property Transfer Status
Over 96% of the former Long Beach Naval Complex has now been transferred by deed to the City of Long Beach for port related uses and other entities. All remaining property (approximately 56 acres) is expected to be transferred by 2020.