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.
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
1947, the Mott Basin piers eventually held over 200 vessels during it's
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
The pier facilities also served as maintenance points for the ships
moorings in the Astoria Reserve Fleet.
The ships were moored in Mott Basin as seen below, before the piers
When the US Navy began to consolidate its West Coast Reserve Fleets to
Bay in California in the 1960s and 1970s, the warships held at Mott
towed away to Suisun Bay or to Bremerton Navy Yard. The Astoria
facility officially ceased operations in 1963.
East side of Tongue Point. View is looking at the
area of Lewis and Clark's campsite of March 23, 1806, lower foreground
the Columbia. Mill Creek is just visible merging into the Columbia.
May 25, 2004. from: Columbia River Images
above is a combination of several web based sources.
"The Astoria Reserve fleet at the old Tongue Point
Naval Air Station had over 500 vessels moored in it from 1947 until it
eliminated in 1962 or 63. During those years, possibly 350 or more
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
and fully loaded with grain, much of which was later given to India and
"The tow from Astoria to Vancouver was about 90
nautical miles. We would bid to make the tows by how many hours would
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
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
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
to the anchor windlass of the towed vessel so that in an emergency, we
able to drop and recover the anchors of the vessel. In the winter, it
miserably cold on the river... snow, freezing rain and foggy weather
challenge and we had a few close calls but the "old girl" never let