Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Naval History of the FEC Slip in Downtown Miami. By Suzette Rice

Historic Naval Document about the FEC Slip, unfortunately Page 2 is missing.
I have been watching with disappointment, the very public discussion about filling the Naval Headquarters slip located on downtown Miami’s water front.  My late husband, Charles W. Rice spent much time researching not only locally, but at the military archives in Georgia and in Washington DC. I am distressed that those Navy veterans which my husband interviewed are so unimportant to us who benefited from their contribution to our country, that we as a “World Class” community cannot acknowledge their sacrifices and determination, by respectfully maintaining the very symbol of their commitment to our nation.

Miami was central to the coastal war on the German submarines and U-boats. The Germans sank over 400 ships off the coast of the United States from the north all the way around into the Gulf of Mexico.

These attacks gravely affected the free flow of supplies traveling around the point of Florida to our troops, Allies and northern ports. Millions of gallons of crude oil, gasoline, and other petroleum products desperately needed in the Allied war effort were being shipped along the Florida coast in tankers from the south of Miami; places such as Texas, Venezuela, and the islands to New Jersey and New York ports.  Between February and May 1942, twenty-four ships were sank off the Florida coast, oftentimes with tourists watching from beach-side hotels while sipping cocktails. There were even rumors of German crew members snapping photos of the burning ships destroyed by their attacks.

World War II came home to Miami on May 14, 1942, with the sinking of the Mexican oil tanker Portero del Llano which occurred close enough to the Miami coastline that the flames could be viewed throughout the night. As the ship drifted, Miamians were dumbfounded to see it floating just beyond their shores. Survivors were brought to Miami and sadly, thirteen crewmen did not live to make it ashore. Following del Llano's sinking and that of another boat, Mexico joined in the war.

The motto of the sub chaser school on Miami's waterfront: "The difficult things we will do at once, the impossible things will take a few moments longer."
The military presence was so strong along Biscayne Boulevard and Flagler Street that each time an old hotel comes down and a condo goes up, a memorial to Miami’s historical contribution during WWII goes down in a puff of concrete dust.

Miami Beach hosted soldiers on leave on its sandy beaches and ritzy hotels. Coral Gables and the Biltmore Hotel were home to the Army Air Forces Regional Hospital (that's where my husband was born in '46). The Naval Blimp Base was located on what is now known as ZooMiami.

Downtown Miami was the heart of the naval response to the German sub and U-boat attacks. Our good weather coupled with the abundance of hotels available to be commandeered for barracks and offices allowed for the year-round training of Naval Sub-chaser crews. Military boats could be outfitted up the Miami River at the boat yards. Miami city commissioners had to approve zoning changes to accommodate the boat building.

That precious slip by the arena which everyone seems to be so determined to give away, was one of three slips that the sub-chasers were tied to during training. There were classrooms housed in the hangar-like buildings on the edge of the docks. Two of those boat slips now lie filled-in and part of the museum park coastline.

Submarine Chaser in slip. School to right?
Even as early as June 10, 1943, the city of Miami was involved in the care-taking of those slips while maintaining a great interest in the piers on Bay Front Park. In a letter from the commandant of the 7th Naval District, the officials were speaking of the congestion at the slips and that even with the commandeering of the Piers 2 and 3 at Bay Front Park, it was not relieving the congestion. The navy wanted Pier 1 as well. In response to the military request, the city manager, A. B. Curry told newspaper reporters on June 20, 1943 that the Navy’s acquisition of Pier 1, the last non-military facility on Bay Front, would not interfere with commerce thru Cuba and the Bahamas. And indeed, the sub-chaser school was important to maintaining shipping into those areas.

I could go on and on with stories of the historical importance of Miami and Downtown Miami during WWII. The stories are endless and not very well known by county residents.

What puzzles me is: why is it that the endeavor which spurred the after-war growth of our great community, as well played an incredibly important role in saving lives of American and Allied troops, cannot be memorialized by a simple park and waterfront venue. It is freshly updated, clearly historically important and simply needs it's story told via appropriate signage.

Where is the memorial to the greatness of Miami’s wartime contribution to the people of our country, and perhaps, the world?

David Beckham, YOU of all people, should recognize that the very slip that you seek to acquire helped save your homeland. Do the right thing: Find less sacred digs for your concrete monster.

The Historic FEC Slip today (thank you Golden Dusk). This is exactly where Beckham wants his soccer stadium.
More pictures On Save the WW II Sub Chaser Slip (FEC SLIP).

the second page is missing of the attachment - I would guess that it was missing from the file when charlie pulled it.  I am still looking for other stuff that would be raw notes.


Anonymous said...

This is so ridiculous. Where is the memorial? IDK but just look at the freedom tower which is one of downtown's most iconic buildings representing freedom. It belongs to Miami Dade College and is used as an occasional gallery. At least do something useful with the space at the slip.

Anonymous said...

With all the wasted funds being spent by our BCC, how hard can it be to find funding for this memorial even if it's just a plaque. This county is so wrong. I do believe WWII occurred before the Bay of Pigs.

For Gimenez to dare to compare Chicago's lakefront and Soldier's field to a soccer stadium on what's left of our public waterway shows just hoe much he needs to study the history of what Soldier's field was before football. He not only put his foot in his mouth, he portrayed to the world just how uneducated and stupid our Miami Dade County politicians are. Why do you think Beckham is still down here talking like a carnival barker selling snake oil.

Geniusofdespair said...

Where is the memorial? You are kidding right. You need a plaque to experience your history.

Brickell Business person said...

I found this site https://www.facebook.com/savetheslip
with some photos on it.

The link to the herald article has an awesome photo of the slip. The herald article also has a diagram of the ugly stadium in place.

I know which I would rather look at when I pass by or visit the arena/museum area.

Anonymous said...

The boat slip saved England in WWII.... Now I have heard it all.

sundayniagara said...

Don't mess with Suzette. Dynamite comes in small packages. :)

Anonymous said...

The boat slip saved England in WWII.... Now I have heard it all.

Obviously, you haven't heard it all, or you would know the importance of this site to the Allies.

NO OIL from the merchant marines = no military industry to build equipment, no planes flying and no protection for Europe.

Anonymous said...

Everyone should forward and/print this article and then send to every elected official. Politicians appear to have no respect for history unless it involves them receiving pensions.

Anonymous said...

No need for any of this history to be memorialized. Our Cuban-American politicians, their friends, family and political backers just returned from 70th anniversary D-day celebrations in France with a side-trip to Spain(paid by us taxpayers), so they absorbed all the history this community needs.

Anonymous said...

just think, without the subchasers taking out and controlling the German subs and Uboats that were sinking the oil ships coming around Florida, there may have not been a D-Day celebration for our elected officials to go to.

I find it highly offensive that our officials hightail it across the world to think about WWII and then want to give away the parcel that should be a state-side memorial.

Anonymous said...

If the Bay of Pigs fiasco had trained and launched from this slip and not the Coral Gables waterway this would be a non-starter.

Anonymous said...

Pretty stupid and pointless article

Anonymous said...

Here is an idea, how about a museum somewhere along the extra 4.3 acres that the park will have under the Museum Park & Field proposal to commemorate and explain the history of the area, including but not limited to the native American Indians and Fort Dallas, rather than a dirty collection of trash and debris in a manufactured attempt to replicate a boat slip that no longer has any use or value (that is why the rest of them have been filled in). It is called progress and development, and it happens in every city. A museum will do a much better and accurate job of telling the stories (and not just one story about a small period in time), than a boat slip and people who think it saved England in WWII.

Anonymous said...

"I got no ideas so lets fill it in."
That's what I call visionary.

Even mega yacht slips with Bellagio fountains a rain curtain with lasers would be better than the stadium.

Yes that was once proposed by Merrill Stevens and there are drawings. Looks like Monaco in season

Anonymous said...

Not one mention of the FEC boat slip or of it saving England during World War II.... I wonder why??


Anonymous said...

The military is one of the worst polluters of our country. Show me the soil tests for this area.

Anonymous said...

Oh yah. Lets not have a mature dialogue on Miami history and what we can better do to preserve it.

We should be proud to preserve this slip, the miami circle, and other important locations in the place they exist.

There is a history museum. No one goes there except for wine and cheese. Have You noticed that the county gives all these huge mega museums money to exist, which is fine, but a memorial seems to work well for Washington DC -

Is miami so important that it doesn't need places to go and reflect history?

Why can't we have history commemorated in the open without a million dollar museum? Or a without a give away of public space? Soccer does not require a historical boat slip to be successful.

Miami Dade county is 2000 square miles in size. Find your acreage in a less congested spot. Or go north up the coast of Florida for your waterfront property.

Anonymous said...

who is the nitwit hung up on England?

Anonymous said...

The boat slip should stay....we should try to get a retired navy ship and convert it into a museum, dock it at the slip and create a great maritime museum. The soccer stadium should be built on the Miami river waterfront.

Suzette said...

Love the idea of the floating Museum. There was a ship named the USS Miami (CL-89), 1943-1962... she was sold for scrap, but maybe we can find a similar ship.

At the very least, we should look for a sub-chaser to renovate and bring home. Richmond VA has done amazing things for tourists at their ship yard.

What about creating a Naval Memorial here on the land. A simple bow of a sub-chaser looking out to sea? Put it above ground level a little and put a telescope towards the sea.

Geniusofdespair said...

The slip is off the table said Mayor Regalado.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Regalado made the only legitimate choice possible. Anyone notice the local commissioner (Sarnoff) was MISSING-IN-ACTION? DOA? Hiding? Rumor was he wanted more money from Beckham's handlers...

Anonymous said...

I would look-out for an end run:

The Herald also said:

Alschuler, Beckham’s real-estate adviser, said the group plans to take some time to consider its remaining options in light of the sudden setback.

“Our team’s going to pause,” he said. “They’re going to consider all alternatives and look forward to constructive engagement.”

Regalado said they suggested: next to Marlins Park. But Beckham’s longtime business partner, Simon Fuller, has called that property “spiritually tainted” by the unpopular ballpark financing deal.

I don't know if the spirits will ever recover from demolishing the Orange Bowl --- But, I do know that I am getting tired of the voters kissing butt for all these sports millionaires. How many bait and switches do we have to eat?

Gimenez is nuts; he is clueless, (or doesn't give a crap about his constituents over his buddies) maybe even more so than Alvarez.

Thank you City of Miami for caring about the public view. Please don't change your mind.

They can go buy some land from the old Miami herald/casino group. The 10 story building will blend into the the theaters and get omni some life.

rolmas said...

Very happy for all of you suburbanites who will never come to the "park" after the first month. Do any of you guys come to Bayfront park?

Congrats on the open space! The homeless will love you.

Geniusofdespair said...

I go there all the time Rolm ass.

Anonymous said...

Didn't you know that Miami was founded in 1960 by Cubans? Sheesh! History? What history?

Anonymous said...

As the daughter of a native Miami woman who experienced WWII, I have heard stories about the selfless involvement of the citizens to help the military. Businesses, hospitals, etc. being used for military purposes was common and people were willing to do their part to help the war effort. Those involved with the sub-chasers provided enormous assistance in fighting back the Germans. The pier is a critical part of that history and should be preserved for future generations. Building a museum, docking a refurbished sub-chaser there, having historical tours would all honor the memory of those who gave so much to our country and it would provide a tourism draw and tax dollars. I highly encourage those involved in the consideration of a stadium to preserve this important pier as a tribute to our citizens that were invaluable to protecting freedom.