Texas Group - Atlantic Reserve Fleet Orange, Texas

<--The Fleet in the 1950's

Notice that
the housing complex has also disappeared.

A 2013 image

Navy Addition has been an Orange landmark since 1941. The addition served as the first housing addition built in Orange to fill a desperate need for rental units immediately prior to the start of World War II, and since that time has served as housing for private citizens.

There is a MEMORIAL with six historical markers off the intersection of Green Avenue and Simmons Drive. See map below.

The shipbuilding efforts and contributions of Orange to the war effort are well documented in the records of Consolidated, Levingston, and Weaver Shipyards. Orange had the distinction of being the only Texas city to build warships for the navy.
Consolidated Steel. Record   Weaver Shipyard Record

In August 1945 the Navy Department announced that Orange would be one of eight sites selected for a reserve fleet location. Orange was selected for its location on the Sabine River with the abundance of fresh water and also because of the shipbuilding facilities in the city. Bids were requested for the construction of the facilities and the construction of 12 piers in the river began. The first buildings were the barracks and the administration building, later called “The Baby Pentagon.”

In November, 1945, the Texas Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet was established to inactivate and provide maintenance for ships transferred to the Reserve Fleet. The first vessel to report to Orange for in-activation was the U.S.S. Matagorda on November 5, 1945.

In 1950 when the Korean Conflict started, the base began to perform the work it had been designed to do. Even though the naval activity in Korea was limited, the Orange base sent over 30 ships to that conflict.

After the cease fire in Korea the base returned to the preservation work, though on a more limited scale. In 1961 the Defense Department announced that 52 naval bases would either be closed or scaled back. The Texas Group and the Florida Group would be in the affected class. 140 ships were transferred from Florida to Orange.

At the height of activity during the Korean era there were 850 Navy personnel assigned to Orange. That number would decrease to 25 officers and enlisted men.

By 1980 all of the ships had been removed from the facility. Some of the property was sold to American Bridge division of U.S. Steel to once again be used for construction. Some of the property went to Lamar State College, Orange. Some of the adjacent land was sold to the Orange County Navigation and Port District. Eighteen and one half acres remained with the Navy and was used as the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Training Center.

On July 23, 2006 the Department of the Navy announced that the property was surplus and was for sale. The installation closed in September, 2008. In 2009 the Reserve Center was sold for use by the community as a Port center. The existing administration building and one adjacent building is now used for the offices of Signal International. The remaining warehouse structures are used by various local businesses, the exception being the buildings used by Lamar State College, Orange as their welding training facility.

There is one of the 12 original piers on the river that remains in use. The pilings of one pier upstream are still visible. The other 10 piers have been removed with only the ramps still remaining along Pier Road. From: Remembering Orange’s Naval Base History

One ship built at Weaver Shipyards was YMS-371 - It became a reef for diving in California. Another was YMS-68.
The USS Patapsco AOG-1, USS Vermilion AKA-107,
USNS Mission De Pala (T-AO-114), was berthed in reserve here.

Interesting Images from the fleet via:
The Portal to Texas History

Consolidated and Levingston Ship Yards

Ship Launching

YD-181 Floating Crane (Non Self Propelled)

Yard Dry Dock with LST in repair.

A METTAWEE Class Gasoline Tanker

Non-Self-Propelled Barracks Ship - APL