At a moment in history when dramatic war events were daily front-page news, the explosion and ensuing mutiny trial soon virtually were lost to memory. But they would contribute to major changes in racial policy and practices in the Navy, the U.S. military, and American society.
Dangerous Duty at Port Chicago
With the outbreak of war in the Pacific, the need for a major ammunition transshipment facility on the West Coast became urgent, and a site was proposed near the small town of Port Chicago, California. The location, on Suisun Bay in the Sacramento River, was 25 to 30 miles from the major population centers of San Francisco and Oakland, yet had access to train transport and a deepwater port. Construction started in February 1942, and the first ammunition ship began loading on 8 December. Port Chicago became the most important ammunition-handling facility on the West Coast.