Meeting Scheduled on Air Station Salem Buildings

It looks like the city of Salem is going to finally do something with Air Station Salem. This is from

SALEM, MA – A public meeting will be held tomorrow night on the reuse of the former U.S. Coast Guard administration building on Winter Island.

The city received a grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission to conduct the study on the future use of the historic building. The Coast Guard operated a hangar and administration building at the 32-acre Winter Island park from the 1930s until 1970.

Air Station Salem History:

The Coast Guard Air Station was moved from Gloucester, Massachusetts to Salem in February, 1935. The station was commissioned with a complement of 35 men and two airplanes. It was officially opened on 15 February 1935. Until November, 1941 the station operated as an agency for rescue patrol, law enforcement and assistance duties. During that period it was under the authority of the Boston District, but in November there came a change of command. The station was transferred to the Commander, Inshore Patrol Force, First Naval District for all operational activities.

During the Second World War most of the station’s activities were geared toward anti-submarine patrols between 1942 and 1944. It functioned as an integral part of the coastal defense system until 21 October, 1944, when it was officially designated as an Air-Sea Rescue Task Unit under the Commander of the Northern Group, Eastern Sea Frontier.

In order to cover the coast adequately, the station had established small, temporary detachments at Brunswick, Maine and Quonset Point, Rhode Island in cooperation with the Naval Air Stations at those points. The Air-Sea Rescue Task Unit at Salem covered the entire New England coastline, from the Canadian border to Long Island Sound.

The Air Station was decommissioned and replaced by Cape Cod Air Station in the fall of 1970. It was considered at the time to convert the facilities into a Coast Guard-Navy reserve training center. Later these plans were changed to an Army reserve facility. On 20 July, 1972, the City of Salem took over the area despite these plans and on 2 August, 1972, the Department of Defense dropped plans for a reserve facility and gave up its claims to the land.

Coast Guard Air Station Salem in a photograph taken in 1945.  Note the ASR

Coast Guard Air Station Salem in a photograph taken in 1945. Note the ASR “crash” boat and the Grumman JRF “Goose” in the foreground.

The Coast Guard Historian’s office has a great article about the air station – The Coast Guard Flies to the Rescue from the April 1937 issue of Coast Guard Magazine.

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