Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hangars at Naval Station Norfolk

Naval Station Norfolk covers about 3400 acres and is the largest naval station in the world. It is an immense complex of wharfs, warehouses, barracks, repair shops, hangars, offices, and runways. Thousands of servicemen, servicewomen, and civilians enter and leave every day as they do their work supporting fleet operation, repair and overhaul, and administrative duties. The base began operations in World War I and has been in continuous operation since then. You can read more about the base in Globalsecurity.org:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/norfolk.htm
History of the facility is here:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/norfolk-history.htm



In 1940, with war imminent, the government dredged Willoughby Bay just north of the base and built hangars for seaplanes. I think the hangar in the photographs above is one of the 1940 units but am not sure. I saw workers inside but it was a hard hat area and I could not enter.

Looking through the building, you see Willoughby Bay through the hangar doors. The wharf facing the bay now has steel sheet pile bulkheads, but in the 1940s, there must have been ramps to allow seaplanes to be winched into the hangar.

The building consisted of steel girders and steel panels, assembled like a giant Meccano construction kit. I wonder if it was custom made or if some hangar company sold units in various standard sizes (the 100-ft unit, the 200-ft unit, etc.)?

At the northern tip of the base is the old degaussing station. Degaussing is a process to reduce the magnetic signature of a steel hull. The tower was formerly housed control building for the process but has been converted to some new test equipment (of undisclosed function).

(All photographs taken with a Sony R1 digital camera)

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