The Naval Air Station at Green Cove Springs was established in 1941 as an auxiliary base for Jacksonville Naval Air Station, becoming a naval air station in 1943. At the war’s end, Green Cove Springs was selected to berth ships selected for deactivation.
The construction of berthing facilities began in December 1945 and lasted for several years. Some 100 deactivated ships were anchored in the St. Johns River waiting to be “moth-balled” or “zippered.” Beginning in July 1947, these ships were moved into permanent berths and the preservation process commenced.
About 500 ships were eventually “moth-balled” at Green Cove Springs. This procedure consisted of the sealing and protection of the vessel’s hull, machinery and armaments. Crews thoroughly cleaned, removed rust, painted the vessels, sealed all openings, protected all equipment with lubricants and set up dehumidification systems. The Florida Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Green Cove Springs, was the largest of seven “moth-ball” fleets maintained by the Navy.
During the Korean War of 1950-1953, 175 ships “moth-balled” in Green Cove Springs were reactivated. Upon the conclusion of that conflict, many of these ships returned to the Reserve Fleet, which by 1960 numbered over 300 vessels. The Navy decommissioned the station in 1962.