Concord Weapons Station

Port Chicago is the name associated with the tidal portion of the 13,000 acre Concord Naval Weapons Station, the largest coastal munitions storage facility in the West. The site is in transition, with portions being transferred from the Navy to the Army, and Navy portions now administered by the Seal Beach weapons center in Orange County. The base is in three sections: the 7,648 acre tidal site, on the water, used for storage and loading; the administration/personnel area, on the south side of Highway 4, with barracks, equipment shops, recreational facilities, and offices; and the inland area, on the north side of Highway 4, with 5,272 acres for weapons storage, which has recently been emptied by the Navy. There are different loading systems on the shore, from a barge dock to piers with overhead cranes and rail access. Both the tidal area and the inland area are covered with around one hundred protected rail spurs for storing explosive laden train cars, called rail barricaded sidings (RBS). Concord has been known to be a nuclear weapons depot for decades, though it is the official policy to neither confirm nor deny their presence on site. A high-security "Q" area near the water, with 41 magazines surrounded by double fencing, and with its own guard station, is still in use. Port Chicago came to national attention in 1944, when the most powerful manmade, non-nuclear explosion in history occurred, killing 320 men who were loading a ship at Pier 1. The remains of the pier are visible today, and a memorial has been built recently on the site.