Roosevelt Roads Naval Station

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Coordinates: 18°14′17″N 65°37′40″W / 18.23806°N 65.62778°W / 18.23806; -65.62778

NS Roosvelt Roads
Department of United States Navy
NSRooseveltRoads.png
Roosvelt Roads NS logo
IATA: NRR[1]ICAO: TJNRFAA LID: NRR
Summary
Airport type Military: Naval Air Station
Operator United States Navy
Location Ceiba, Puerto Rico
Built 1943
In use until 2004
Elevation AMSL 38 ft / 11.58 m
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
7/25 11,000 3,352.8 Concrete
18/36 CLOSED indef. 5,800 100 Concrete
Helipad Concrete

Roosevelt Roads Naval Station is a former United States Navy base in the town of Ceiba, Puerto Rico. The site is run today as José Aponte de la Torre Airport, a public use airport.

History[edit]

In 1919, the future U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, toured Puerto Rico, visiting Ceiba. When he returned to Washington, D.C., he expressed a liking for the terrain where the base now is. This was during the World War I era, and the United States could benefit from an air field in Ceiba. While Puerto Rico is a commonwealth, its territorial rights belong to the United States, which made it perfectly feasible, and ideal, for the American government to build an airplane base in Ceiba.

It took many years for the United States Government to become convinced of the need for an air base in Ceiba. When Adolf Hitler and Nazi-led Germany began to invade other European countries, the US, led by then President Roosevelt, entertained the idea of a Naval air station in Ceiba. With war in the European and Pacific theatres, they saw an airbase in the Caribbean as necessary. The base had been inaugurated, but scaled down to maintenance status with a public works office in 1944. From then until 1957, the base went through many shifts, being opened seven times and closed eight times. Meanwhile, it continued as a source of employment for the citizens of Ceiba.

In 1957, it was upgraded to Naval Station status. Fort Bundy was located there, but it crossed over to parts of Vieques, a fact which would become important in the future. An American military mission, the M3, was located there. It was part of the "Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station, Puerto Rico Base Communication Department". M3 had a fleet center, a technical control facility and a Tactical support communications department, among other things. The M3 was designated to help Puerto Rico, the United States and other Caribbean and Latin American countries to deal with drug trafficking, illegal immigration and other problems. The main purpose of the base was tactical support for land/sea/air maneuvers on Vieques island.

For the next 47 years the base was utilized for flight practice, as well as other missions and control of the area's air space. In August 2002, a MC-130H airplane carrying seven airmen crashed in the town of Caguas, while en route from Roosevelt Roads to Rafael Hernández Airport in Aguadilla. All seven perished, in the largest air tragedy in Caguas history.

U.S Naval Forces Southern Command[edit]

US Naval Station Roosevelt Roads entrance sign 1986

COMUSNAVSO

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO) directs naval forces and interacts with partner nations to shape the maritime environment within United States Southern Command's Area Of Focus (AOF). With a focus on Theater Security Cooperation, NAVSO works to strengthen and build effective alliance and friendships, develop partner nation capabilities, and maintain U.S. operational access to defend the United States.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO), headquartered at Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, was the Naval Component Commander to the U.S. Southern Command, based in Miami, Florida. It provides strategic and operational command and control for U.S. Naval Forces in South America, Central America and the Caribbean.

On 10 December 1999 the U.S. Navy established Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, also known as NAVSOUTH, in a ceremony aboard USS Vicksburg (CG 69) inport Roosevelt Roads. The new organization is responsible for Navy operational forces in the United States Southern Command's area of responsibility (AOR), including Naval Special Warfare Unit Four, a training detachment for SEAL teams from the SOCOM operational area. It oversees U.S. naval forces participating in drug enforcement operations and interaction with South American naval forces, including the annual UNITAS operations around South America. As the Navy's senior representative, Commander, United States Naval Forces, Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO) serves as the principal liaison with the government of Puerto Rico. In January 2004 The Navy decided to relocate U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (USNAVSO) from Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, to Naval Station Mayport, Florida. Since the Navy had to close Naval Station Roosevelt Roads by March 31, 2004, relocation of USNAVSO was a high priority.

Life on Roosevelt Roads[edit]

Roosevelt Roads Naval Station from the air in 1997.

Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, or Roosey (pronounced "Rosy") as it was frequently called, was home to hundreds of military personnel and dependents. Education for children of those based at the Station was initially provided by teachers who were DOD contractors from the U.S. Later, more local teachers were hired.

Radio and television entertainment on the base during the mid-1970s was somewhat limited. News and information broadcasts were provided by Navy and Marine Corps journalists from the studios of The American Forces Caribbean Network (AFCN). Families could also tune into the on-base AFRTS radio and television station's family-oriented shows, or rig up an antenna for signals from St. Thomas or San Juan. At one time, the AFCN operated repeater transmitters broadcasting radio and TV to San Juan, and Ramey Air Force Base, which was located on the west coast of Puerto Rico.

At the El Coqui Theater, in the Bundy area of the base, movie goers watched films as bats flitted across the screen.

The base equestrian stables were across from the golf course aka:Lake Bundy. Most of the 'horses' were technically ponies, although several thoroughbreds, washouts from race tracks, found a home on base occasionally.

The base flying club had many members, and met regularly to plan trips and activities. Flight instruction was available to all members.

The Vieques effect[edit]

Main article: Navy-Vieques protests

In 1999, David Sanes, a civilian employed as a gate security guard by the US Navy, died from a stray bomb while observing a routine exercise. As a consequence of this and the high rate of cancer (correlation unconfirmed) among residents of Vieques many Vieques citizens and Puerto Rican activists from other towns (Ruben Berrios, Tito Kayak, etc.) began activism against the military presence in Vieques, which included illegally entering the live -fire areas at the military reservation. Other important activists included Jesse Jackson, Robert Kennedy Jr., Al Sharpton, U.S. Representative Luis Gutiérrez D-IL, Rigoberta Menchú and Edward James Olmos (the last was jailed in Puerto Rico for trespassing on federal property). An agreement between the Clinton Administration and the Government of Puerto Rico (then Gov. Rosello) agreed to cease all live bombing on Vieques by March 2003.

Ft. Bundy was affected by the protests, because part of it was in Vieques. After Sanes' death, there was a struggle between the autonomous Government of Puerto Rico and the American Government. This was over after President George W. Bush granted Puerto Rico the rights to operate the former military possessions in Vieques, including Ft. Bundy, a portion of which was aboard Roosevelt Roads Naval Station. As a consequence of President Bush's decision, the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station became NAPR (Naval Activity Puerto Rico), where DoD Police provides security, but still is considered a military installation. On March 31, 2004, the station again became inoperative.

The future[edit]

After the military left the station, Puerto Rican Governor Sila María Calderón announced that her party, the PPD, had political goals to turn the base into an international airport. This was backed in 2005 by the then-new Governor, Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, who asserted that the area might be converted to an airport. He also stated that Ceiba as a town would serve as an economic and tourist center for eastern Puerto Rico, and that converting the former military base into a civil airport would be part of a plan to open seven or eight large airports in Puerto Rico.[citation needed]

Currently,[when?] approximately 2,900 acres (12 km2) of the former Naval Station is being marketed to the public by the Los Angeles group of Colliers International,[2] on behalf of the Navy's Base Realignment and Closure Program Management Office,[3] as a public auction to commence in the near future. The remaining portion is also in the process of being conveyed to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and other Federal agencies in various stages. Since November 2008, Puerto Rico Ports Authority operates the José Aponte de la Torre Airport.[citation needed]

In 2012, the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station was under consideration as a possible location for the SpaceX private launch site, but was not selected.[4]

Some facilities were transferred to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Marine Environmental Remediation (MER) Group signed an agreement with the LRA to rent Pier 3 as a ship recycling facility in April 2016. MER Group is the first true GREEN recycling facility within the United States. There are currently three (3) ships, Seven Polaris, Lone Star and the Atlantic VII, at the pier for recycling. The company will bring over 700 jobs to the local area.

U.S. Army Reserve, Army National Guard & remaining military activities[edit]

The United States Armed Forces keep some portions of the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Base for the Reserve Component of the U.S. Army. It consist of the existing Roosevelt Roads U.S. Army Reserve Center and an Armed Forces Reserve Center (AFRC).[5]

The Roosevelt Roads Armed Forces Reserve Center was opened September 10, 2011. This facility with 78,350 square feet (7,279 m2) can serve 600 personnel on a rotating basis 345 service members per weekend. This AFRC includes a vehicle maintenance shop, storage building, weapons simulator, learning center, wash bay and parking.

The Armed Forces Reserve Center at Roosevelt Roads will accommodate the U.S. Army Reserve the 973rd Quartermaster Company and 346th Transportation Battalion. The Puerto Rico Army National Guard 7 FT Landing Craft Detachment, 380th Engineer Platoon, 232nd Engineering Dive Team and a Recruiting/Retention Office.

This facility will serve about 600 service members on a rotating basis with the maximum expected use of the facility being about 245 Reserve and Army Guard members per weekend.

The Roosevelt Roads U.S. Army Reserve Center is home for the 346th Transportation Battalion, the 390th Seaport Operations Company, the 273rd Transportation Detachment and the 756th Engineering Company.

The Boat Maintenance Facility that once belonged to the U.S. Army Reserve located at Ensenada Honda bay was transferred to the Puerto Rico National Guard Landing Craft Detachment, 191st Regional Support Group.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ colliersires.com Archived January 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ bracpmo.org
  4. ^ Nield, George C. (April 2014). Draft Environmental Impact Statement: SpaceX Texas Launch Site (Report). 1. Federal Aviation Administration, Office of Commercial Space Transportation. p. 87. 
  5. ^ Cuebas, Carlos M. (June 1, 2012). "Army Reserve investing big in Puerto Rico". U. S. Army. Retrieved February 4, 2016. 

External links[edit]