History of Naval Station Argentia

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This article is about the U.S. naval operations in and around the community of Argentia, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Naval Station Argentia is a former base of the United States Navy and was located in Argentia, Dominion of Newfoundland.

Established under the British-U.S. lend-lease program, the base was first occupied on January 25, 1941 following the expropriation of the flat headland facing Placentia Bay by Newfoundland's colonial government; over 400 families were displaced.

Construction crews rushed to build the base as well as an adjoining air field. On July 15, 1941, the Naval Operating Base was commissioned.

On August 7, 1941 the heavy cruiser USS Augusta carrying U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived in the anchorage at Little Placentia Bay off the base. Roosevelt inspected the base construction progress and did some fishing from Augusta over the next few days. Augusta was joined by the British warship HMS Prince of Wales carrying British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on August 10, 1941. While in the Argentia anchorage from August 1012, the two leaders and their delegations managed to negotiate what was called the "Atlantic Charter" which established the basis for UK-US military cooperation and objectives. This history-altering agreement was signed on August 12 whereby both vessels departed for their home territories at high speed. The "Atlantic Charter" was publicly announced in a declaration on August 14, presumably after Prince of Wales had returned to UK waters.

On August 28, 1941 Naval Air Station Argentia was commissioned. Beginning that summer, USS Prairie was used to house Flag Headquarters at the base.

February, 1942 saw the Argentia base at the centre of one of the worst disasters in the US Navy's history when USS Pollux and USS Truxtun were wrecked 40 miles south of the base. Over 100 victims were buried in Argentia's military cemetery.

In March 1942 the United States Army established Fort McAndrew at Argentia to provide security to the navy base through an anti-aircraft battery. Later that spring the Royal Navy established a small maintenance base at Argentia to service its ships involved in convoy escort groups operating out of Halifax, Sydney, St. John's and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

In the spring of 1943 a 7,000 ton floating drydock was installed at Argentia, along with a ship repair facility. In August 1943, CTF-24 Flag Headquarters moved ashore to permanent facilities after having been housed aboard USS Prairie.

Following the war in August 1945, the first dependents of naval personnel were permitted to move to Argentia to live in permanent quarters on base.

In 1946, Fort McAndrew was transferred to the U.S. Army Air Force which became the United States Air Force in 1947. In 1948, Fort McAndrew was renamed McAndrew AFB.

In 1949, Newfoundland joined Canadian Confederation as the 10th province. During the Cold War, Argentia Naval Station became a key "node" in the Northwest Atlantic's SOSUS network, helping to detect Soviet nuclear submarines. The base was the target of several espionage attempts between the 1940s1990s as a result.

In 1955 McAndrew AFB was decommissioned and the facility was turned over the US Navy with USAF personnel moving to other locations in Newfoundland such as Ernest Harmon AFB, Goose AFB or various radar installations being built in conjunction with the Royal Canadian Air Force such as the Pinetree Line, Mid-Canada Line and DEW Line. Radar picket ships such as the USS Hissem used the base.

In 1973, Naval Air Station Argentia was decommissioned and the land transferred to the government of Canada, which then transferred it to the provincial government for development.

In 1994 the US Navy left Argentia completely when the base was decommissioned and the last personnel moved out.

Naval Air Station Argentia

Naval Air Station Argentia is a former air field of the United States Navy and was located in Argentia, Newfoundland.

Built adjacent to Naval Station Argentia, Naval Air Station Argentia was commissioned on August 28, 1941.

NAS Argentia was used to base convoy protection, coastal patrol and anti-submarine aircraft during the Second World War and into the Cold War.

The air field was decommissioned in 1973 and the majority of the property was turned over to the Canadian government in 1975 for development. Naval Station Argentia remained an active base until 1994.

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