May 14th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1951, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Seal Beach Naval and Ammunition Depot was busier than any time since World War II.

Depot workmen repair anti-submarine nets. The crane would lower each net section after it was repaired.

According to Captain Russell G. Sturges, commanding officer, the Korean War had spurred activity at the 5,000 acre facility, and personnel had expanded from a stand-by staff of 50 to 800 civilians, 50 Marines, and 20 Naval Officers. Contractors were busy repairing and rebuilding railroad lines, docks, fences, and depot buildings.

Before any ship entered the Long Beach Naval Shipyard for repairs or refitting, its ordinance would be unloaded at sea and taken to the Seal Beach depot for inspection and storage under the supervision of chief quartermaster, Udor Labossier. Additional work done at the depot included repair of large steel anti-submarine nets, processing spent shell casings for either reuse or to be sold as scrap metals, and leased farming of 2,000 acres of the base to provide revenues and act as an aid to fire prevention.

This was a dramatic change from the previous year. In 1950, the depot had been all but deactivated. Navy use of Anaheim Landing was so slow that The city of Seal Beach had been negotiating  a 20 year lease for Anaheim Bay for aquatic and recreational use when the Korean conflict heated up. This would have severely curtailed any further development of the depot, and the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station would not probably not exist in its present form (or might have been closed by now). Anaheim Landing would not have been available (or suitable) for loading Saturn rockets for sea transport in the sixties, and Seal Beach would have missed out on being part of the history of NASA’s Apollo program.

– Michael Dobkins


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