As God’s hand paints a morning hew above the still horizon a typical morning begins at Naval Station Key West as hundreds of our fine servicemen are busy mopping the decks of ships, armed guards pacing in front of the main gate, & cooks ready the day’s chow at the mess hall… those are but a distant memory now at the abandoned US Navy Shipyard as it lies silently susceptible to its latest enemy “Decay”!
Originally part of Fort Zachary Taylor built in 1845 as an Army installation, the Navy eventually took over the docks & shipyard portion expanding its ports in 1932 to accommodate submarines. This Naval base survived intact almost 30 years after the end of WWII being decommissioned in 1974 because contemporary nuclear submarines were too large to use the facility. Most of the annex was sold to private developers who have made it a gated residential community with only a small portion of the docks and attached dry land remaining. A ship berthing dock has been retained by the Navy and collects 40 percent of cruise ship docking fees that now visit this tourist mecca! For you history buffs and families of those from the 1980 Mariel Boatlift, it’s here that many Cuban refugees arrived.
There are nearly NO tourist visiting this area of Key West south of Duval and you will fight NO crowds in seeing the other attractions on and around the pier like: two floating maritime museums both Navy & Coast Guard ships and a free Oceanic Exhibit. Parking if FREE and is well worth an hour of your time for a visit and needs to be seen before it too is sold to developers wanting oceanfront condos.