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Bremerhaven Port of Embarkation
US Army, Europe

Looking for more information from military/civilian personnel assigned to or associated with the U.S. Army in Germany from 1945 to 1989. If you have any stories or thoughts on the subject, please contact me.


17th Major Port

Bremerhaven POE

UK Terminal

Rotterdam Terminal

Rhine River Terminal

Farge POL Depot

 
Bremerhaven Port of Embarkation (7802nd AU)
 

Bremerhaven Port of Embarkation, 1960s
 

Columbus Quay, Bremerhaven POE, mid-1950s
 

Columbus Quay, Bremerhaven POE, September 1958
 
1945 - 1967
(Source: US Army Terminal Command, Europe Organization and Functions manual, 1968)
Bremerhaven Port of Embarkation History

The Port of Bremerhaven is located in Land Bremen. Land Bremen, the official name of which is Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, is the political successor to the old city-state of that name.

The term "Bremerhaven" (Port of Bremen) was first applied to several strips of land along the embankment of the Weser River which had been purchased by Bremen from Hannover and Prussia in 1827 for the construction of a new Bremen port. This land was situated in approximately the same location as the present Bremerhaven port area. The City of Bremerhaven, as now constituted, did not come into existence until after World War II when the former Prussian City of Wesermünde became the Bremen City of Bremerhaven.

Bremerhaven was about fifty percent destroyed as a result of Allied fire bomb raids during World War II. The area on both sides of Bürgermeister-Smidt-Strasse, the main street in Bremerhaven, was almost completely destroyed. No extensive damage was done in the port area.

The US Port was established by the US Army on 7 June 1945, and the 17th Major Port took over the operation of a terminal port for Europe.

Columbus Quay activity as a troopship departs Bremerhaven for the trip back to the States, c. 1946-47
 
At that time units of the 17th were stationed throughout the entire Bremen Enclave, in such places as Farge, Nordholz, Bremen and a replacement center at Grohn, just outside of Bremen. Though northern Germany was part of the British Zone of Occupation, the British granted the use of the Enclave as a communications and supply point for the American forces in southern Germany.

Then, on 14 March 1947, the Enclave was redesignated as BPOE and the Bremerhaven Port of Embarkation was born as part of an entire command change throughout Europe.

The mission of the port has changed very little since 1945. In March 1947, this description of port services was given:
"BPOE activities will include Army activities pertaining to operation of the redeployment of dependents, war brides, immigrants, and Pet Staging Area; rehabilitation control and operation of all port facilities in the Bremen Enclave; discharging, handling and forwarding all cargo to ultimate destinations by way of rail, water, or road; receiving outbound freight; loading cargo; preparing documentation and clearing vessels; debarking and embarking troops and other personnel; serving Army transports; operating cargo service from Bremerhaven for the movement of supplies to Bremen for depot storage; and coordination of all programmed rail, water, or motor transport movements into or out of the Enclave..."
 

1. Bremerhaven POE, 1951

2. Large mobile crane at BPOE used for loading equipment and supplies, 1951


3. Ship pulls away from dock, 1951

On 16 August 1955, command of all US Army ports in the United Kingdom was extended to BPOE and consisted of Burtonwood, Cardiff, Hull, Carin Byan, Liverpool, and Southampton, of which only the last two remained under PEB control with Detachment Headquarters (UK Subport) in London until 31 December 1961, at which time the UK Ports were established as a special foreign activity under the direct jurisdiction of the Chief of Transportation, Washington, DC.
In 1957, subports in Mannheim, Germany, and Rotterdam, The Netherlands, were activated by BPOE for use in shipping supplies to the US Seventh Army.

Effective 1 April 1962, the ports in the United Kingdom were reassigned to USATCEUR as the United Kingdom Terminal. At the same time, the Lisbon Terminal, Portugal, was activated as a USATCEUR Terminal, supporting DoD activities in Portugal.

Effective 1 July 1964, the St. Nazaire Terminal, France, was assigned as the fourth USATCEUR Terminal and inactivated on 31 March 1967, as a result of the withdrawal of US Forces from France.

US Army Port of Embarkation, Bremerhaven (USARPEB) - designated as such on 1 January 1957 - continued to operate as a major command of USAREUR until 1 July 1960, at which time it was placed under the administrative control and operation of Headquarters, US Army Communications Zone, Europe. Effective 1 May 1964, the command has been redesignated US Army Terminal Command, Europe, by USACOMZEUR General Order No. 55, dated 30 April 1964.

Unique to this command, and perhaps not to be found elsewhere in Europe, are the many US services stationed at Bremerhaven. All three major services, Army, Navy and Air Force, are represented in the USATCEUR area of responsibility. The Army is responsible for the logistical support of all services located here.

Practically all operations in the port area are on a contract basis, utilizing local stevedoring and other cargo-handling organizations. Much of the warehouse space utilized by the US Forces in the port areas is rental space. This being an Open Port, it is not possible for the United States to purchase this property, but only to use it on a lease or tariff basis.

A major responsibility of USATCEUR is the shipment of private vehicles to and from the United States. Since World War II, the port has processed over a half million vehicles for American servicemen and their families.

US Army Terminal Command, Europe - 1970.



Harbor Craft Branch (Port Operations) and US Naval Advance Base, Europe
 

Several German members of the Harbor Craft Branch, Kaiserhafen I area (Walter Elkins)
 
More Harbor Craft Branch photos (Walter Elkins)
1950
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, March 19, 1950)
The Bremerhaven Port of Embarkation (BPE) is responsible for operating the port of Bremerhaven for the Occupation Army in Germany. The command's mission is threefold: port operation; security and administration.

BPE encompasses nearly 200 square miles, coinciding with the boudaries of the former Bremen Enclave. The command takes in Bremerhaven, where most of the troops are located, and Bremen, where most of the HICOG functions are concentrated (US diplomatic mission).

Some statistics of port operations in 1949:
- 86,061 incoming and 79,391 US-bound passengers on Army transports processed;
- 118,620 DPs processed through Bremerhaven for resettlement in US (transported on Army transports);
- 1,720,865 tons of cargo destined for occupation forces handled (included POL); 79,115 tons of outbound cargo also loaded;
- 129,843 pieces of outbound household goods moved and 34,184 pieces of inbound goods received;
- 143,000 pieces of incoming baggage (excluding household goods) handled as well as 101,000 pieces of US-bound pieces;
- 8,285 automobiles (owned by US military personnel) were received at Bremerhaven and 5,471 shipped from the port;

The vast volume of freight and passengers was m,oved by 303 cargo vessels, 97 tankers amd 217 passenger ships.

Dependents processing inbound or outbound through Bremerhaven stay at the Dependents Staging Area.

Troops process through the troop-staging area. Processing has been streamlined to a matter of a few hours. They are fed at a consolidated mess at Marine Barracks in Bremerhaven.

Bremerhaven is reported to be the only post in Germany where active-duty members from all three US armed services as well as from the Coast Guard are stationed.

 
1951 
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, Aug 12, 1951)
Bremerhaven Port of Embarkation

The Bremerhaven Port of Embarkation (BPE) operates the Occupation Army's (North Sea) port. BPE encompasses nearly 200 square miles coinciding with the borders of the Bremen Enclave.

Responsible for the functions of the port are the 7802 BPE and its supporting units. In a recent year (1949?), the port processed 86,000 inbound personnel and 79,000 outgoing passengers on Army transports. Processing of incoming personnel now takes only a few hours, whereas it took several days just a few years ago.

 

USNS Geiger with troops & dependents embarked is ready for its voyage back to the States, 1958
 
1957 
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, March 15, 1957)

POE officials estimate that about 3.5 million persons have been processed through the Port of Embarkation since its inception in March 1947. About 90 percent of US military personnel in Germany have been affected either directly or indirectly by port operations at Bremerhaven.

Nearly all of the port's activities are centered in Bremerhaven with the exception of the oil and gasoline depot at Farge Farge is the unloading point for most of the oil and gasoline shipped to Europe for American forces on the Continent).

In addition to Bremerhaven and Farge, the Port Command is responsible for operating subports at Southampton and Liverpool (England), Mannheim (Germany) and Rotterdam (the Netherlands) .

Principal units involved with operation of the Bremerhaven Port:
USARPEB Hq Co
77th Armd Inf Company
33rd Station Hospital
61st Army Band
6913th Radio Sq
7011th Personnel Processing Sq
US Naval Advanced Base
Naval Security Group
2nd Marine Platoon

Processing of inbound personnel at the port has been streamlined to the point where a soldier arriving by troop train early in the morning will board the transport ship for the trip back to the States within five hours.



Original BPE Vehicle Processing Point, early 1950s (Horst-Dieter Brinkmann)
 

Location of former Vehicle Processing Point, Bremerhaven
 
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, March 30, 1957)
The BPE Vehicle Processing Center was moved to the Staging Area in March 1957. The move was prompted by economy and the desire to improve service as well as making the former property available for derequisitioning.

The former location of what was also called the "largest used-car lot" in Europe, was one block across from the Dependents' Hotel on Bürgermeister in the Kaiserhafen I area.

The VPC served as the pick-up and turn-in point for privately-owned vehicles of US military and US civilans working for the US Government in Europe. During 1956, the Vehicle Processing Center delivered 21,520 cars to their owners while, at the same time, processing 16,732 for shipment to the U.S. This figure was more than 10 times the number of cars handled 10 years before when the shipment of POV's of military personnel stationed in Europe was initiated.

One of the disadvantages of the old location was that the QM gasoline station was several miles from the processing point.

Formerly cars unloaded from ships arriving from the States were limited to three gallons of gasoline which was put in the cars at dockside. The cars were then driven to the processing point. After the owner claimed his car he had to drive more than four miles to the QM gasoline station before he could fill his tank for the return trip to their duty stations. On several occasions newcomers to Bremerhaven used the three gallons before finding the QM pumps at the Troop Staging Area.

Now the gasoline station is next door to the vehicle processing point, as is an EES repair and parts facility for those few cars that do not pass the pre-delivery inspection.

(Webmaster note: If you worked at the VPC at either the original site (near the Dependents' Hotel) or at the Staging Area once it moved there, have photos of the VPC operations and/or remember how it was organized and how the pick-up/turn-in process worked, please contact the webmaster (see email link at top of page).

 
Farge POL Storage Depot
 

Depot Headquarters building, Farge POL Depot, 1952 (Hugo Kann)
 

Shipping area at Farge POL Depot, 1952
(Hugo Kann)
 
1954
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, Apr 29, 1954)
An agreement has been signed between Army authorities in Bremerhaven and the German enterprise VTG (Vereinigte Tanklager und Transportmittel GmbH) of Hamburg that enables the VTG to utilize portions of the Army-controlled POL Depot at Bremen-Farge.

The VTG is an organization primarily concerned with the storage and transport of peroleum products. It maintains several storage depots, more than 10,000 tank railcars, and an inland tanker fleet, as well as a pipeline system.

 
1957
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, April 1, 1957)
US Army Depot Farge

The Farge POL Depot is part of the Army's Port of Embarkation, Bremerhaven, and serves as USAREUR's principal ocean terminal for petroleum products.

The Farge installation was originally constructed by the Germans during WWII as a bombproof underground fuel storage depot. Although raided on many occasions by British and US bombers during the war, the plant remained relatively undamaged and in operation until the war's end.

Today, the depot is operated by the US Army and holds 8 million gallons of fuel for the US Armed Forces in Europe.

In the 800-acre, wire-enclosed, wooded area encompassing the depot there are 80 miles of underground pipeline, 15 miles of railroad track, 16 storage bunkers and nearly 100 permanent-type buildings, many of the latter underground. 46 main pumps are installed in the various bunkers and pumping stations, capable of transferring fuel products from one storage tank to another, from one bunker to another, to and from the riverside pier and from storage to the railroad sidings for loading and unloading tank cars.
 

The Farge POL Depot (Courtesy www.relikte.com)


Recent satellite view of the former POL depot at Farge (GOOGLE Maps)
The dark blue border on the WiFo map I believe encompasses the area when it was a U.S. Army POL Depot in my time there.

Note the two sets of rail sidings shown on the WiFo map and on the Google Maps view. The shipping area was between and along those rail sidings. Headquarters was located nearby, where you now see a parking lot with cars and a building with a white roof.
 
Originally there were 80 tanks of more than a million gallons each distributed between the 16 huge concrete-reinforced bunkers. Two of those (in Bunker #13) were destroyed during the bombings toward the end of the war, leaving 78 that make up Farge's total capacity.

Ordinarily, 25 of the 78 storage tanks are devoted to regular motor gasoline, the kind that is dispensed at Quartermaster gasoline stations throughout USAREUR. Seven others hold special motor gasoline, eight diesel oil, five jet fuel, 13 are utilized for aviation gasoline and the remainder are used for kerosene and cleaning solvents. 15 of the tanks are used by a commercial company on a lease arranged with the Army.

In a typical operation, Farge can unload 120 railroad cars a day. However, there are facilities to load 288 cars with bulk fuel each day, or enough to fill 12 trains of 24 tank cars each. The depot can also fill, stencil and stack as many as 1,000 55-gallon drums of fuel daily. The receiving capability is limited by the pumping capacity of the ship (super tanker) being unloaded - generally more than two million gallons a day.

The task of handling more than 100 million gallons of POL products a year is accomplished by a small, technically skilled staff of Army personnel headed by Capt Edwards T. Molloy, depot commander. He is assisted by four officers and 19 enlisted men.

The depot also employs nearly 250 German civilians from the surrounding communities of Blumenthal, Vegesack and Neuenkirchen. About 25 of them were employees of the depot when the Americans first arrived there in May 1945 to begin operations for the occupying forces.

Due to the nature of the installation, the depot is one of the most security minded installations in the Army. Open flames, smoking and other means of possible ignition are not permitted.

Each of the 16 storage bunkers has an automatic fire extinguisher system utilizing a deadly, smothering gas, under pressure. Should a fire start while a person is down in one of the fume-filled bunkers, his first thought is to race up the stairs for the heavy steel door guarding the entrance. There an automatic device can be tripped flooding the atmosphere of the bunker with the extinguisher.

The central pumping station, 70 feet underground, is similarly equipped. Machinery spaces and anterooms are meticulously clean and free from fire hazards.

Persons entering one of the underground rooms must go directly to the spark-proof telephone and report their presence to a central switchboard. Otherwise, an electrical watchman will flash an alarm that an unauthorized person is in the area.

Another part of the mission and responsibility of the Farge depot is quality control of the POL products passing through its hands. This procedure , consucted by a handful of enlisted specialists, requires sample-taking and laboartory tesding of all POL to assure that appropriate standards are met.


 
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