La Jenelle, Silver Strand

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La Jenelle, Silver Strand

by | Apr 2, 2020

La Jenelle was a passenger ship that went aground in 1970 on Silver Strand at Port Hueneme, a sandy beach about 1 mile (1.6 km) long and 450 feet(140 m) wide, 3.3 miles (5.3 km) south of Oxnard and 33 miles (53 km) southeast of Santa Barbara, California. The coast at Silver Strand is a sandy bottom with a surf beach break that can create rip tides and an undertow.

Port Hueneme is a small beach city surrounded by the city of Oxnard and the Santa Barbara Channel. The name derives from the Spanish spelling of the Ventureño phrase wene me, meaning “Resting Place”. In 1939, the town’s name was officially changed to Port Hueneme for the harbor facilities and U.S. Naval Base Ventura County. The port is the only deep water harbor between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the only U.S. Navy controlled harbor between San Diego and Puget Sound. The harbor is a shipping and receiving point for imported automobiles, pineapples, and bananas. Agricultural products such as onions, strawberries, and flowers are exported.

La Jenelle was originally built in 1931 as the passenger liner SS Borinquen by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation in Quincy, Massachusetts. In 1941, the ship was requisitioned by the U.S. Army for the war effort as a transport and had a capacity for 1,289 troops and 404 medical patients. She was one of the Army transports during the Normandy invasion and continued military service after the war until 1949 when she was sold and renamed the Arosa Star. The Arosa Star served passenger routes in the Atlantic and later in the Caribbean as the Bahama Star. In 1964, the ship was sold to the Western Steamship Company and was renamed again as La Jenelle. The new owners brought her to Port Hueneme for conversion as a floating restaurant and casino. But by 1970, she was anchored outside the harbor to avoid expensive docking fees when a severe northwest gale caused the anchors to drag and the ship went aground on Silver Strand. Rather than salvage the wreckage, the U.S. Navy removed the superstructure and filled the hull with rocks to make a breakwater that today still protects the port entrance. Read more here and here. Explore more of Silver Strand here:

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