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Maritime Metals Corporation
Tongue Point
Astoria, OR

Maritime Metals hopes to begin scrapping ships at Tongue Point, a former Navy base located at the mouth of the Columbia River. Steel Capital is a global strategic steel investment and corporate governance firm -- multi-business company -- owning subsidiaries engaged in steel business activities. The Firm actively participates in global steel markets through a closely integrated network of companies, such as Maritime Metals Corporation.

The former Naval Station Tongue Point is located on Cathlamet Bay along the Columbia River near Astoria, Oregon. As a former Defense site, Tongue Point falls under the Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) program, which was established by the Department of Defense (DoD). The Corps of Engineers administers the FUDS program and is responsible for the investigation and remediation of properties previously owned or operated by DoD.

Tongue Point was established in 1921 as a submarine and destroyer base, though extensive development did not occur until the late 1930s. In 1930 Navy planners selected the 13th Naval District, which included Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, as well as Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, as a prospective location for two new communications intercept sites: one, a large site to cover Japanese point-to-point traffic with Europe and China on low and high frequencies during wartime; the other, a small site in Alaska ("but not in the islands") to cover Japanese ship-to-shore communications in both peace and war. Because of budgetary restrictions, the Navy was forced to wait until May 1932 before directing the establishment of the first of these sites at Astoria, Oregon, where the Navy had a DF station providing navigation assistance to commercial vessels. Rather than build and equip a new site, planners were by then reduced to postponing delivery of the new equipment and acceptin a plan in which a COMINT mission against Japanese targets was to be conducted using idle communications equipment.

Between 1939 and 1945, the site was developed into a seaplane air station, which involved the hydrofilling of intertidal land, building of hangars, installation of a complex fuel storage and distribution system, and development of an ordnance storage area. In 1946, Tongue Point's mission was changed and long piers were constructed to accommodate ships. Tongue Point was a component of the Columbia River Group of the Pacific Reserve Fleet and mothballed ships were berthed there. The base was deactivated in January 1962, and since then the property has been divided among several different owners including non-DoD agencies of the Federal government, the Oregon Division of State Lands, and private parties.

In 1964 the Tongue Point Job Corps Center opened as a Job Corps center. 540 students live in four dormitories on center. The center is the only one in the country to offer a seamanship vocational trade in the specialty area of maritime transportation, which is certified by the US Coast Guard. It is operated by the Inland Boatman's Union (IBU) in conjunction with the U.S. Dept. of Labor. The Tongue Point fleet consists of training ship Betsy Ross (a 176 ft freighter), the ocean-service tug Iuka, the tug John N (a 66 ft yard ship assist tug), and several smaller vessels. We also have a 30 man lifeboat mounted on roller gravity davits for our Coast guard certified lifeboatman's training. Our classrooms, rigging loft, and storage areas are located on the barge TP Eagle. The town of Astoria is about three miles away and buses are provided after work and on weekends. Although there are no malls in the area, there is a Fred Meyer and several small stores in the area. Occassionally the center will have a Saturday trip to a large mall in Portland for a day of shopping.

Urged on by the desire to find a fabled "Northwest Passage" across the North American continent by water, Spanish and British explorers sailed along the Oregon and Washing coastlines. However, the Columbia River was not discovered until 1792, when Captain Robert Gray of Boston entered the river and named it after his ship the COLUMBIA RENDIVA. In 1804, President Jefferson appointed Captains Meriweather Lewis and William Clark to head an expedition across the western plains and mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Lewis and Clark explored the lower Columbia region and spent the winter of 1805-06 at Fort Clatsop, near Astoria.

In 1810, John Jacob Astor of New York organized the Pacific Fur Company, to engage in the trade on the Columbia River. The company sent the ship TONQUIN by sea and another party overland, to meet at the mouth of the Columbia River. The men on the TONQUIN arrived at their destination in March 1811 and built Fort Astoria, the first permanent American settlement on the Pacific Coast. After many hardships and loss of lives, the overland party arrived in the winter of 1811. As a result of the War of 1812 and the loss of relief ships, the fort passed into the possession of the British but was returned to the United States in 1818. During the following decades, Astoria was the goal of traders, explorers, missionaries, and pioneer settlers.



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