Description: Commissioned September 15, 1942 and named for the sawmill community, which it replaced, NAS Richmond became the world’s largest blimp base. Located on 2,107 acres nineteen miles southwest of Miami’s central business district, the need for this facility came from the Nazi U-boat threat to Allied merchant marine. To provide anti-submarine patrol, rescue, escort and utility services in this area, Blimp Patrol Squadron ZP-21 arrived in October 1942. Over $13,000,000 was expended in the creation of the fully independent base which boasted three 16.5 story hangars over 1,000 feet in length.
Officers and men received training in the use of portable helium processing equipment beginning in August 1943 at the Helium Plant Operators School. The base complement by March 1944 included 99 officers, 607 enlisted men and 202 civilians including Goodyear technicians. This number included a small contingent of WAVES as well.
The only recorded contact between a blimp and a submarine occurred on July 18, 1943 when Navy airship K-74 encountered Nazi U-134 in the Florida Straits. Shot down by anti-aircraft fire from the U-boat, the blimp sunk with loss of one life.
A major hurricane in September 1945 resulted in the destruction of the three “hurricane proof” blimp hangars and the resultant loss of twenty-five blimps and 365 fixed wing aircraft parked in the hangars.
NAS Richmond ceased operations in November 1945 with portions of the facility becoming Miami University, Miami Metrozoo, and assorted private and government applications. The only remaining base-related building is, Building 25, the Headquarters Building.