USS Thetis Bay

and the "Spruce Goose"


From its recommissioning in July, 1956 until December, 1961 when it left for the Atlantic coast, Thetis Bay was home ported at Long Beach Naval Shipyard on Terminal Island, CA. The ship usually moored at the carrier pier at the East end of the island, along the ship channel. There was an unusual looking metal building at the water’s edge at the north end of the pier. It had a high center section and two lower sections extending out from the left and right sides. Each week day, several men could be seen going in and out through a standard size exterior door that was never left open. Some crewmen knew and others wondered without asking what was going on in that building. The answer is in these pictures.

The "Goose" was built in Culver City, CA and moved to its location in these photos in four sections in July, 1946. The building was erected around the airplane after it was positioned over its boathouse like foundation. The plane was floated out of the building for its famous and only flight on November 2, 1947 and returned there afterward. Later, the Goose suffered damage from high water. A new larger hanger was built next to the pier. It remained inside that building until it was moved a short distance in 1980 to its new location near the Queen Mary. "Herman the German", the largest floating crane in the world was used to lift the airplane out of the water. Herman was captured from Germany during WWII and was stationed at Long Beach Naval Shipyard. The Spruce Goose now rests at a flight museum in McMinville, Oregon.



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