Air Force Bases

Titan I at Larson AFB, Washington

Responsibility for this project initially fell on the Walla Walla District of the Corps of Engineers, which set up an area office in October 1959. Nine Titan I silos split between three sites (3 x 3) at Odessa, Warden, and Quincy would be built along with support facilities at Larson AFB. In October 1960, the construction oversight responsibilities were passed on to the Corps of Engineers Ballistic Missile Construction Office (CEBMCO).

On November 18, 1959, the Walla Walla District opened bid packages. Of the eight bid packages, the lowest submitted ($31.6 million) had been assembled by a joint venture of contractors composed of MacDonald Construction Company, The Scott Company, Paul Hardeman Company, G.H. Leave11 Company, F.E. Young Construction Company, and Morrison-Knudsen Company, Incorporated. Subsequent contracts for such components as the propellant loading system (PLS) were let by the Omaha District office.

The contractor broke ground on December 1, 1959. A cut and fill method was used to install the missile silos and launcher control facilities. Water seepage proved to be a challenge at these northwestern locations. By August 1961, one site had pumps removing 175,000 gallons a day. Improved drainage around the complexes eased the problem.

Although no workers died while working at Larson, the frequency of lost-time accidents doubled that of the national average. In hindsight, the rush to get the project completed caused workers and supervisors to forsake prudent measures. With the assumption of the project by CEBMCO, a full-time safety engineer took charge and the accident rate began to decline. Toward the end of the project, it had dropped well below that of comparable CEBMCO projects.

On September 28, 1962, SAC placed the 568th Strategic Missile Squadron on operational status in time for the Cuban missile crisis. The Titan Is remained on alert for just over 2 years. In May 1964 Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara directed that the phase-out of the Atlas and Titan I missiles be accelerated, and in January 1965 the missiles of the 568th squadron were taken off operational alert. The squadron was deactivated 2 months later on March 25th.

Look here for more general information about Larson Air Force Base.