Tongue Point Navy Ship Yard
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Pacific Ready Reserve Fleet - Columbia River Group - 1958
Tongue Point was first named in 1792 by Lieutenant William Broughton of the George Vancouver expedition.

Before 1939, Tongue Point consisted of an island and a triangle-shaped peninsula, separated by about 1000 feet of tidal flats. The tidal flats were filled in during construction of the naval seaplane station, built  in 1946.  The Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge covers much of the rest of Cathlamet Bay.

Following the Second World War, in 1946, the US Navy built eight concrete piers, 1000 to 1500 feet long, out into Cathlamet Bay to accommodate surplus warships no longer in active service with the peacetime US Navy. The National Defense Reserve Fleet "NDRF", operated by MARAD, formally began to accept vessels in 1947, the Mott Basin piers eventually held over 200 vessels during it's peak in the 1950s. Mainly consisting of Amphibious Ships, Destroyers and Fleet Tugboats, the ships here were maintained in a condition to allow rapid activation for a return to service, which several saw during the Korean War. The pier facilities also served as maintenance points for the ships stored at moorings in the Astoria Reserve Fleet.

When the US Navy began to consolidate its West Coast Reserve Fleets to Suisun Bay in California in the 1960s and 1970s, the warships held at Mott Basin were towed away to Suisun Bay or to Bremerton Navy Yard. The Astoria Reserve Fleet facility officially ceased operations in 1963.

The ships were moored in Mott Basin as seen below, before the piers were constructed.





East side of Tongue Point. View is looking at the area of Lewis and Clark's campsite of March 23, 1806, lower foreground along the Columbia. Mill Creek is just visible merging into the Columbia. Image taken May 25, 2004. from: Columbia River Images

"The Astoria Reserve fleet at the old Tongue Point Naval Air Station had over 500 vessels moored in it from 1947 until it was eliminated in 1962 or 63. During those years, possibly 350 or more cargo ships were drawn out of the fleet to be used for grain storage.

They were towed up the Columbia River to Longview or Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon to have their cargo holds cleaned and fully loaded with grain, much of which was later given to India and Pakistan."

"The tow from Astoria to Vancouver was about 90 nautical miles. We would bid to make the tows by how many hours would be involved. On the return trip, with the Seaborn's speed, we could shave off 3 to 4 hours running time and were able to comer a good bit of the work thanks to a friendly operations officer and my service time in the Navy."

"We towed over 200 merchant ships and 50 naval vessels from the reserve fleet without any damage. The Seaborn had no radar and the vessels we towed were dead tows with no power other than what we provided. The Seaborn had a commercial air compressor installed on the main deck aft of the stack. We would run an air hose from the compressor to the anchor windlass of the towed vessel so that in an emergency, we were able to drop and recover the anchors of the vessel. In the winter, it was miserably cold on the river... snow, freezing rain and foggy weather was a challenge and we had a few close calls but the "old girl" never let us down."


Information above is a combination of several web based sources.
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