March 7th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1965, The Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram reported that a familiar Naval Weapons Station landmark on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Bay Boulevard (Seal Beach Boulevard today) would soon be gone.

The landmark was the stack of anti-submarine buoys stored on the base since World War II. The buoys had once been an effective barrier for enemy submarine gaining entry into California harbors. Modern submarine technology no longer needed such close proximity for attacks, and the buoys were ultimately declared obsolete.

For the better part of two decades, the buoys sparked fears that they would explode a scant few feet from Pacific Coast Highway traffic and opposition from developers and realtors who felt those fears hurt Seal Beach property values. But these were buoys, not weapons or munition, and the only thing explosive about them was the interest of photographers itching to use the buoys in cleverly composed images for newspapers and local publicity.

In early 1965, the Department of Defense announced that the obsolete buoys would be auctioned off with the expectation that the winning bidders would have the buoys cleared from the Naval Weapons Station by late May. This expectation was partially fulfilled. 17,000 buoys were sold and carted off mostly to be used for scrap metal, and 5,000 remained in symmetrical stack formation to continue intriguing and vexing residents and motorists well into the seventies.

I have a line out to the the weapons station to find out when the remaining buoys were finally removed. I’ll update this post if I get an answer.


Can’t quite picture where the buoys were located? Click here to view a 2010 post that pinpoints the location.

– Michael Dobkins

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3 Responses to March 7th in Seal Beach History

  1. Lonnie Brownell says:

    Going to school at J. H. McGaugh in the cold war era of the early to mid 60s — when “Duck and Cover” drills were part of everyday student life — we knew that if The Big One broke out, we were likely toast. Not because of those giant balls of ammo (we knew they were buoys), but because we were right across the street from the largest weapons depot on the west coast, a highly strategic target.

    Like

    • Michael Dobkins says:

      I’m a Zoeter/McGaugh alumni from the sixties into the seventies, and I remember having those same exact thoughts. In that era, there was a newscast on the effects of a single nuclear missile in stages starting from ground zero on out that detailed what survivors would face: fallout, radiation sickness, blindness and injury from shattered glass, lingering fatal sicknesses, etc. I took a perverse solace in knowing I’d face none of those post-apocalyptic sufferings because I (and Seal Beach) would be instantly vaporized.

      Looking back, it bothers me that we kids were aware of such dire stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Cindy Baker Nodson says:

    Yes, it was common knowledge (graduated Mc Gaugh 1965)…when South Park did the episode with the “duck and cover lava drills” I laughed like crazy and shared with my son about our duck and cover drills back in good old Seal Beach!

    Like

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