Abandoned Hovercraft Rotting Away on a Disused Florida Airfield

abandoned-hovercraft-florida-2 (Image: UrbexLinda – Facebook; abandoned hovercraft on the disused NAS Green Cove Springs)

This abandoned hovercraft makes for a weirdly incongruous sight, lying in the middle of a vast, derelict aircraft dispersal ramp amid the ruins of a long-disused US Navy base. Little more than a grey, hulking shell standing several storeys high, the skeletal hovercraft is by far the most bizarre fixture of the abandoned Naval Air Station Green Cove Springs.

Originally named Naval Air Station Lee Field, the military base opened on September 11, 1940. Later, after World War Two, its strategic location by Florida’s St Johns River, south of Jacksonville, made the facility an ideal home for the US Navy’s “ghost fleet” of reserve vessels, which had been mothballed following the end of the conflict.

But by 1960 NAS Green Cove Springs had been decommissioned, its stored vessels relocated. By 1984 the city had annexed the abandoned Navy base and turned it into the Reynolds Industrial Park. Though its 5,000-ft runway reportedly remains in use, much of the former military airfield has been left to rot. And with it, the mysterious, long-abandoned hovercraft. But how did it get there?

abandoned-hovercraft-florida-3 (Image: UrbexLinda – Facebook)

One of the tenants of the dilapidated industrial estate is reported to have been ATLAS Hovercraft, Inc. According to Jax Psycho Geo, the company’s vision was to construct commercial hovercraft to serve commuters and other passengers on the St Johns River and other local waterways. Vessels could also have been used by the emergency services.

But it’s understood that the abandoned hovercraft pictured here didn’t progress beyond a bare, empty hull. Devoid of its internal fittings, which were never installed, the plan to transport it to Chicago for use on river cruises never came to pass.

Shedding a ray of light on its history, Metro Jacksonville writes: “An abandoned unfinished hovercraft lies on the former naval base’s airport apron. The large hovercraft was the center of transportation news in 2006. Then, ATLAS Hovercrafts had intentions of bringing hovercrafts into the mainstream, envisioning a ferry between Downtown Jacksonville and Clay County. This hovercraft was originally intended to be built for a Chicago business that planned to use it for dinner cruises from Navy Pier.”

abandoned-hovercraft-florida-4 (Image: UrbexLinda – Facebook)

Inside the hollow, windowless shell, the scene is unsurprisingly one of emptiness. The vessel’s decks remain eerily silent, their large cabins never hosting a single passenger. Only urban explorers visit now, along with the occasional military enthusiast documenting the expansive wartime naval base.

Writer Tim Gilmore visited the abandoned hovercraft in 2014. Reflecting on his experience, he wrote on Jax Psycho Geo of how “yellow waters pool through the body of the boat. Up a central staircase at the stern, the upper compartment opens up to us, its spacious windows separated by narrow mullions that offered spectacular post-apocalyptic views of the airstrip and the trees.”

Gilmore concluded: “Now I’m standing on the bow at the top, looking out into the storm clouds, and I remember seeing the tombstone of the poet Conrad Aiken in Savannah, whose epitaph reads, ‘Cosmos Mariner, Destination Unknown.'”

abandoned-hovercraft-florida (Image: Michael Hill Photography; the unfinished top deck of the abandoned hovercraft)

Related – MS Lord Selkirk II: The Rusting Hulk of Manitoba’s Abandoned Cruise Ship

 
 


 
 
 

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