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Lake Charles Naval Station
Lake Charles, Louisiana

In the early 1980s Congress approved the strategic homeporting initiative to build additional bases and disperse the fleet from the main concentration areas. Navy Secretary John Lehman first proposed the original strategic homeporting scheme. In the early 1980s Congress approved the strategic homeporting initiative to build additional bases and disperse the fleet from the main concentration areas. The strategic homeport program was extensively debated in Congress. It enjoyed the support of not only of the House and Senate but of the Reagan Administration and the Department of Defense. It was decided in 1985 that the strategic homeport program was the best method for implementing the militarily sound principles of dispersal, battlegroup integrity, and increasing the naval presence in the geographic flanks. The Commission on Base Realignment and Closure decided, however, that Congress, the administration, and the Department of Defense, were wrong.

The FY1990 Defense Appropriation bill provided funding of $63 million for continuation of construction of strategic homeport sites at Mobile, Alabama; Staten Island, New York; Pascagoula, Mississippi; Ingleside, Texas; and Everett; Washington. In April 1990 Defense Secretary Cheney extended the moratorium on most military construction and announced that construction at four of the six homeports would be candidates for rescission. This resulted in th closure of the incomplete naval station at Lake Charles, Louisiana.

In the mid 1920's, people of the town voted to dredge a deep water channel to the Gulf, build their own dock facilities, and establish Lake Charles as a deep water port just 34 miles from the sea.

The Port of Lake Charles is the 12th largest seaport in the U.S., 4th largest liner service seaport in the U.S. Gulf and a major West Gulf container load center. The Ship Channel has a project depth of 40 feet and a bottom width of 400 feet The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway intersects the Ship Channel 12 miles south of the City Docks. The District's Industrial Canal Terminal intersects with the Ship Channel and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The Industrial Canal is 3 miles long, has a 1,400-foot by 1,400-foot turning basin at its east end, a project depth of 40 feet, and a bottom width of 400 feet. Principal cargoes moving through the District's terminals are bagged rice, flour and other food products, paper products, plywood, petroleum coke and other petroleum products, woodchips, barites, and rutile.

The Calcasieu is a small river in southwestern Louisiana that runs southwesterly into Calcasieu Lake. The river's 3,500-square-mile basin is composed of hills and prairies in the upper portion and coastal wetlands along the lower portion. Rich oil and gas fields lie within the 100-mile curve of the upper river. Ricelands surround the city of Lake Charles, which is 34 miles from the Gulf, just south of the point where the West Fork enters the mainstream of the Calcasieu. Navigation and port facilities in/around Lake Charles are also a highlight.

The Lake Charles Deepwater Channel project originally provided for Federal maintenance of the 30-foot-deep by 125-foot-wide channel constructed by local interests between the Calcasieu and Sabine rivers, a distance of approximately 24.9 miles. However, the project is now inactive, because direct access from Lake Charles to the Gulf was provided by the Calcasieu River and Pass Project. The Calcasieu River and Pass improvement consists of enlargement of the previous 35-foot-deep ship channel to provide an approach channel 42 feet deep and 800 feet wide in the Gulf of Mexico, and construction of a channel 40 feet deep and 400 feet wide extending from the jetties at the mouth of the river to Lake Charles.

Every year the city of Lake Charles, Louisiana, hosts Contraband Days festival in celebration of the legendary pirate Jean Lefite, who is believed to have buried the bounty of his treasures and sought refuge from the law in the location of Lake Charles. The twelve-day festival begins with invading buccaneer pirates overtaking the city and tossing the major of the town in the water of Lake Charles.

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