Photo: "Blast Lock Doors, Silo No. 1"


100 feet below the surface, inside a pitch dark Titan I ICBM Missile Silo, looking through a blast lock door. 

These doors protected the complex from an explosion inside the silo or an attack on the silo. Each of the silos was separated from the complex by 2 blast lock doors. You can see the second set in the background of this image. 

Photo: "Blast Lock, No.3"

Blast doors for Launch Silo No.3 - Beale 851-C Titan I Missile Base

To me, these types of images are really fun to create.  This space was pitch dark, so to get this shot, I set up an LED panel at the camera, shining towards the blast doors to get a composition. Once the framing was set, I took a LED panel and placed it beneath the walkway on the right. I also placed a panel behind the ajar door. Lastly, during the exposure, I light painted the circular section of the tunnel, near the camera, with a flashlight.

Photo: "B-52E"

Night, full moon. 7minutes @ ISO 160, f/11. Canon 5D Mark III + 17mm TS-E

This B-52E aircraft was used by General Electric in the 1960's to test their TF-39 engine and was disposed of in the desert after the tests.

Fast forward nearly 30 years later to 1991 when the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was signed and 350 nuclear bombers were being destroyed as part of the agreement. The Russians saw this bomber on aerial footage and soon after, the US destroyed the aircraft by placing explosives in the fuselage.

Photo: "Hospital Corridor"


The Mare Island Naval Shipyard Hospital was constructed when the shipyard was established in the late 1800's, however the beautiful, original building experienced severe damage in an 1898 quake. 

The replacement building shown here is the central section of a three and four story building and a great example of Beaux Arts classicism. Not only that, but it is unique in style for the shipyard.

Since the building's inception, many modifications have been made, including drop ceilings, many new layers of paint and the addition of better HVAC systems. 

When the shipyard closed in the 1990's, the hospital became vacant. In the recent years Touro University has been using the building for storage.  

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Photo: "Winery & Fuel Depot"


This location was a former winery, once known as the largest in the world, which closed down in 1919 due to prohibition.

In 1941, the Navy purchased the land and turned the property into a fuel depot, which remained in operation for 54 years.  

Like many other military sites in the United States, this one was decommissioned in 1995 due to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program. 

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I Miss These Places

Since TheSouthern1800 trip to a few Southern states in May, I haven't explored too many abandoned buildings. I miss the asylums and hospitals, waking up at 3am to be in the buildings for blue hour and dawn, the hours spent in the car listening to music and getting to know your travel companions. 

A few weeks ago, some of that longing was fulfilled when a friend invited me to this old shipyard to photograph a few of the buildings I hadn't yet explored.

This is an old military barrack at the former Mare Island Naval Shipyard, which housed around 100 military personnel when the base was in operation from the late 1800's to the late 1990's. 

Around California, most of the abandoned historical locations once belonged to the military. Land is so expensive here that when most things become abandoned, they are torn down and replaced by something new. The old shipyard and military bases are typically the longest standing abandonments in the area. 

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USS Holland AS-32 Being Recycled

The USS Holland, the second Hunley class submarine tender, was removed from the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet on Thursday, July 10, 2013. She was transported to Mare Island where her hull will be cleaned, by Mare Island Ship Yard, prior to her final journey to Brownsville, Texas to be recycled.  

For me this is a big moment, as USS Holland was the first ship I ever visited in Suisun Bay back in 2010. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to wander her corridors a few more time over the years, exploring the memories and artifacts left behind by the men and women who served aboard her. 

Docked at Mare Island Ship Yard, taken during twilight

Just before the workers arrived to begin work on the hull 

The bow of USS Holland in the Mare Island Ship Yard dry dock

USS Holland was built by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Company in Mississippi and commissioned in 1963. Her mission was to service submarines, replenish food supply, fuel and weapons. She carried a machine shop and was capable of repairing any portion of a submarine. 

Her first major mission began in 1964 across the Atlantic Ocean in Rota, Spain where she took over for U.S.S. Proteus, restocking missiles and supplies to the Polaris Submarines.

During her thirty three years in service, USS Holland was recognized ten times for battle efficiency. 

She was decommissioned in 1996, while in Guam, and placed in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet shortly thereafter.  

Looking towards Mare Island, from Vallejo, at the dry dock 

The ship name has faded since being moored in the Fleet 

Read more about the USS Holland here.  

Photo: "Railroad Avenue"

The Mare Island Naval Shipyard contains several hundred buildings and other structures, all erected at various times throughout the 120-year operation and constructed in a variety of architectural styles. Among these structures are the Naval Weapons Station, Marine Barracks, Nuclear Power School and Combat Systems Technical Schools Command, Hospital and Power Plant.