HM-40 B Battery: An Derelict Nike Hercules Missile Base in Florida

Abandoned Nike Hercules missile site HM-40 B Battery radar tower in Florida (Image: Brett Levin; derelict radar towers of HM-40 B Battery Nike Hercules missile base)

It wasn’t too long ago that the world – led by its nuclear superpowers – was on the brink of total war. The tense 12 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis were particularly terrifying, and as we looked at in our piece on the America’s now-abandoned Nike missile bases, there still exist frightening reminders of how close we came to World War Three.

By the early 1960s, relations with the Eastern Bloc had deteriorated to the point that an order was given for the construction of hundreds of missile sites across the country. The HM-40 base (previously designated HM-66 B Battery) built in North Key Largo is one of only three Florida bases still in existence. It was active from June 1965 to June 1979.

HM-40 Nike-Hercules missile site in North Key Largo, Florida

The now-abandoned missile base housed re-designed MIM-14 Nike Hercules missiles – a safer alternative to their predecessors, the MIM-3 Nike Ajax. Bases typically covered about 120 acres, and included five radar towers, missile storage vaults, a ready room, and systems for both launching missiles and tracking incoming objects, in a bid to identify their intentions through a system called IFF: Identification, Friend or Foe.

(Image: Brett Levin)

When The Bohemian Blog headed to Florida, the site examined the remains of the abandoned HM-40, which had been decommissioned in 1979 and passed to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. While much of it has been destroyed, the former Integrated Fire Control (IFC) site was still there. Despite its location near the ominously-named Crocodile Lake, the intrepid explorers pressed on.

The abandoned radar tower of decommissioned HM-40B, a former Nike Hercules missile base in Florida (Image: Brett Levin)

Note: Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a protected area for the American crocodile – an endangered species – and is also home to countless Burmese pythons, amid what was once America’s first line of defence against an incoming Soviet missile strike.

Reclaimed by nature: abandoned buildings at the derelict HM-40 B Battery site (Image: Brett Levin)

The BB documented several remaining buildings, almost completely reclaimed by nature. Drowned in palm trees and mosses, covered in mould with windows turned green with vegetation, it’s hard to believe that the HM-40 site once housed some of the most hi-tech weapons and radar technology in the world.

Related: 10 Abandoned Gun Emplacements, Artillery Batteries & Flak Towers



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