History of the Base of New Orleans
Michoud Assembly Facility
The original tract of land, located in eastern New Orleans, was part of a 34,500 acre French Royal land grant to local merchant, Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent in 1763. By the early 1800s, the property was owned by architect/engineer Bartholomey Lafon, whose maps of the waters surrounding the tract were used by General Andrew Jackson in defeating the British in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.
Later, the land was acquired by French transplant Antoine Michoud, the son of Napoleon's Administrator of Domains, who moved to the city in 1827. Michoud operated a sugar cane plantation and refinery on the site until his death in 1863. His heirs continued operating the refinery and kept the original St. Maxent estate intact into the 20th century. Two brick smokestacks from the original refinery still stand before the Michoud facility.
In 1940, with the outbreak of World War II, the U.S. government purchased a 1,000 acre tract as the site of war-related construction. Within three years, the world's largest building at that time -- 43 acres under one roof -- was completed, and plywood cargo planes and landing craft rolled off the production line to aid the war effort.
During the Korean conflict the facility was again activated for the production of 12-cylinder air-cooled engines for Sherman and Patton tanks.
In 1961, with the space race with the Russians heating up, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) took over the facility for design and assembly of large space vehicles. The first space project at the Michoud facility was the design and development of the first stage of the powerful Saturn booster, destined to place man on the moon. Construction of the Saturn S1B and S1C boosters continued at the Michoud facility until the early 1970s, when the Apollo program wound down and work began on the Space Shuttle, the next generation launch vehicle.
Base New Orleans
The history of Base New Orleans begins with the establishment of the Lighthouse Service's New Orleans Depot in 1934 along what was to become the present day Industrial Canal lock. In 1939, the Lighthouse Service was integrated into the Coast Guard, and in 1949, that facility was officially designated a Coast Guard Base. In 1966, a base machine shop was built, and construction of the administrative building and barracks began the following year. On 1 July 1987, the base was redesignated as Support Center New Orleans under the Maintenance & Logistics Command Atlantic.
On 29 May 1996, Support Center New Orleans became Integrated Support Command New Orleans (ISC) and brought together financial, personnel, work-life, civil rights, housing support, industrial support, facilities engineering, and the medical and dental clinic, under one command. In 2003, the Naval Engineering Support Unit (NESU) and Electronics Engineering Support Unit (ESU) were placed under the authority of the ISC.
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina severely damaged the site and forced the ISC and its tenants to relocate. Two of the original buildings from the 1934 New Orleans Depot remain on the site in what was the ISC Industrial Division portion of the base. The ISC temporarily located to the Louisiana Convention Center in Alexandria, LA. immediately after Katrina struck, then moved back to New Orleans in December 2005, utilizing vacant spaces at the Naval Support Activity (East bank).
In September 2006, the ISC moved to its new base as a tenet of NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans East. This modular building facility was designed as a temporary facility in anticipation of a permanent facility being built on adjacent property within the NASA MAF.
The new facility was completed in April 2010 and was renamed Base New Orleans. This 89 million dollar facility sits on 26-acres and represents the largest single facility contract in Coast Guard history. Base New Orleans is responsible for financial, personnel, work-life, housing, industrial, facilities engineering, and medical and dental support to the more than 900 personnel assigned to the region’s various units.
The nearly 86,000 square foot administrative building houses offices, a medical unit, dental facilities, a galley, and classrooms for the Gulf Regional Fisheries Training Center (GRFTC). The GRFTC trains law enforcement agents from the Coast Guard, the National oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and state and federal fish and wildlife agencies ranging from Brownsville, Texas, to Key West, Florida. There is also berthing space, a gym, and a Coast Guard Exchange.
The 57,000 square foot industrial building is home to an engine and electric shop, an air conditioning and refrigeration shop, a carpentry shop, and a welding shop. The industrial building also has an additional 7,200 square feet of covered storage. Waterfront facilities consist of a pier, a wharf, and a floodwall gate, which will be used to transport vessels and buoys to the industrial building.