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San Francisco’s Nuclear Missile Battery
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On Saturday, after months of trying, we finally visited the SF-88L which is one of the only remaining Nike Missile Batteries in the United States. I say finally because it’s only open the first Saturday of each month and we’d kept finding ourselves double booked for almost a year! SF-88L is one of 280 such sites around the country that housed missiles designed to protect the US from airborne attacks during the cold war. What I didn’t realise was that these are nuclear missiles, five times more powerful than the bomb used at Hiroshima! The theory was that destroying nuclear missiles inbound to the US would save the country, even if millions would die from the radiation caused by these missiles! It’s estimated that 400,000 people would die in the Bay Area alone if one missile was fired! SF-88L is located just over Golden Gate Bridge and is one of approximately 20 sites that protected the Bay Area. The residents might have felt safe because of this but, they didn’t know it existed. Secondly, the aim was to protect all the military bases in the area -- not the residents! image Despite the fact that the base closed in 1974 it is still in remarkable condition, including working radar domes, plenty of complete Nike-Hercules missiles (sans warhead!) and an operational bunker accessed by the missile lift.
Photo_20091003_528250 at Nike Site SF-88L Photo_20091003_538160 at Nike Site SF-88L Photo_20091003_537530 at Nike Site SF-88L Photo_20091003_550280 at Nike Site SF-88L
Down to the Bunker Launch position The Missile Lift Lift Control Station
Reality really sinks in when you see the map of San Francisco and the launch keys!
Photo_20091003_555230 at Nike Site SF-88L Photo_20091003_513090 at Nike Site SF-88L US Army Restricted Area at Nike Site SF-88L
San Francisco Launch Keys Restricted Access!
It was also fascinating to see the computers they relied on to run the entire site. My Suunto watch has a more accurate Altimeter!
Photo_20091003_557200 at Nike Site SF-88LPhoto_20091003_558590 at Nike Site SF-88LPhoto_20091003_555470 at Nike Site SF-88LPhoto_20091003_521170 at Nike Site SF-88LPhoto_20091003_521460 at Nike Site SF-88L
Lots of ominous looking switches, including a big red fire button!

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