I used to visit Singleton’s in the mid 90’s when I was stationed on the spru-can, USS O’Bannon home ported in an emerging Navy port on the mouth of the St. Johns River.
Commissioned in the late 70’s, these Spruances were supposed to last another decade, but with the cost of the Global War on Terror skyrocketing, soon became targets of ship fitters and bean counters.
Instead of moth balling, they were scuttled. The O’Bannon became the target of the Arleigh Burke cruiser, USS Bainbridge who lobbed SM-2 missiles and fired 5 inch guns at her until she became an underwater fish haven. Impressive firepower, but why not just spuds – after all the original USS O’Bannon once won a WW II battle by lobbing bins of potatoes.
Now all the Spruances are long gone, but the Captain seafood platters at Singleton’s is still served fresh – swimming in the Jacksonville waterways earlier this morning.
You drive here off A1A or dock your boat or ferry. The place looks evocatively similar to the same old fishing shack I frequented 25 years ago The rough lumber and plywood is just as worn and threadbare as the days of Davy Jones. There’s still frayed fishing nets decorated with conch shells and the same trophy sailfish dancing on the wall.
That’s perfectly fine – you didn’t come to Singleton’s to be wined and dined. You came to wind down on the river deck enjoying the view of seagulls sweeping over the water and the bright, red Mayport sun retiring over the wind-swept ocean.