Preserving San Diego's Naval Heritage


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Background Information

A study was undertaken to assess the feasibility of establishing a naval museum in San Diego with a purposed primary site at the former Naval Training Center, and if other services about the history of NTC or the Navy in San Diego were needed. If so, what would be feasible.

The research included establishing an Internet web site, discussions with local community groups and individual citizens, attending and listening to various NTC and Peninsula Planning groups, looking at what kind of US Navy related museums were available on the west coast of the United States, the history of the city of San Diego and the US Navy, comparing youth oriented education and training programs that were already in place to replace the programs that were lost with the closing of Recruit Training Command and Service School Commands at Naval Training Center San Diego.

The need for a Navy museum, youth education and training programs and education about the US Navy in San Diego and San Diego’s support of the US Navy were evident throughout the research.

  • A majority of citizens surveyed of San Diego County found the concept endearing and didn't understand why a naval museum has not already been established in San Diego.

  • Various NTC and Peninsula planning groups discussed a Navy museum at some point in time in their recommendations for the reuse of Naval Training Center.

  • The study researched naval museums or archives on the west coast that documents the history of the Navy in San Diego and NTC, what other institutions were available of a similar nature and what kind of information is available on the west coast. The findings were:

Five specialized Navy museums on the west coast, The Undersea Warfare Museum in Keyport, Washington, The US Naval Museum of Armament & Technology in China Lake California, the SeeBee Museum in Port Hueneme, MCRD Museum at MCRD and the Leatherneck Marine Museum at MCAS in San Diego California, respectively. None of these directly relate to the Navy in San Diego or the NTC.

Navy ship museums on the west coast include SS 383 Pampanito, a submarine in San Francisco, CA; "U-427" "Scorpion” a Soviet Submarine Long Beach, CA; CVS 12 Hornet Aircraft Carrier Alameda, CA and the USS Midway approval to come to San Diego. To date none of these concentrate in any degree on the subject of the Navy in San Diego or the NTC.

Several smaller naval exhibits were found throughout the west coast such as:

§ A two room exhibit at the Vallejo Museum in Vallejo California

§ The current submarine exhibit at the San Diego Maritime Museum

§ A memorial in Old Town San Diego to the service members of the U.S. Navy Ship Cyane for claiming San Diego as part of the United States by raising the American flag over San Diego for the first time.

§ A memorial to the Sailors of the USS Bennington in Rosecrans National Cemetery

§ A couple of memorials just south of Navy Pier downtown San Diego dedicated to a WWII task force and aircraft carriers.

§ The Veterans Memorial Center exhibit located in the chapel of the old Balboa Park Hospital. The exhibit does include Navy items but in terms of inclusion of all veterans.

o The San Diego Historical Society does contain information about the history of the Navy in San Diego and NTC San Diego. This information is part of collections the historical society has gained through collections of individuals and businesses that documented the history of San Diego. Due to the nature of archive collections and standard collections management most of the information about the Navy in San Diego is not easy for the common person to locate within the SDHS collections.

o A couple of thesis papers have been done on Naval installations in San Diego.

· Research in the area of publications about the history of the Navy in San Diego or NTC found that complete local history of the US Navy and San Diego has not been made available through any published book and information is relatively hard to find. Two books about specific Navy commands have been published with a third book anticipated that might document the history of the Navy in San Diego;

o “Jackrabbits to Jets” covering the history of Naval aviation on North Island

o “Cradle of the Navy, The history of Naval Training Center San Diego 1923 - 1997, only 500 of these books were published and a copy of this book is extremely hard to locate.

o In May 2001 the Naval Institute should release a book written by one the former NTC Commanders will document the history of the Navy in San Diego.

o The largest amount of information can be found at the San Diego Historical Society with a couple of published articles that are relative to the Navy in San Diego and The Naval Historical Center and Navy Historical Foundation in Washington DC.

· Research also indicated that several facts about San Diego and the US Navy in San Diego are relatively unknown to a majority of the citizens of San Diego County.

o The US Navy claimed San Diego as United States property, if it had not been for the USS Cyane and Marines attached to this ship, San Diego might had ended up being part of Mexico instead of the United States.

o That there have been three ships named after the city of San Diego. (There are no memorials or tributes to any of three ships here in San Diego.) The second ship named for San Diego earned the second most awards ever honored to a US Navy ship of war. During this research a memorial for the 2nd USS San Diego was approved. This memorial will be located south of the Navy pier.

o That the US Naval Training Center was renamed from Naval Training Station in 1944 and that the training station was originally established in 1917.

o The effect the Navy has had on San Diego and the true significance the Navy has played in the development of San Diego.

· The Internet Web site has had over 39,000 visitors in the 15 months it has been up. The only means to know about this web site by the general public was through word of mouth or very specific searches of web sites on the Internet. To have 39,000 visitors demonstrates the need for available information about NTC and it’s history.

· Also noted were the possible duplication of efforts that could exist by establishing the aforementioned objectives. The Maritime Museum, Aerospace Museum, MCRD Museum and San Diego Historical Society are all well-established organizations. Additionally the USS Midway and Veterans Memorial Center have plans that we might encroach on. It will be necessary to work closely with each of these organizations giving San Diego citizens and tourist a rich and diverse historical presentation that all will be willing to visit many times.

These findings indicate a need and a desire on the part of the citizens to have an established museum in San Diego about the Navy operations in San Diego and the city’s support of the Navy in San Diego. The findings were summarized into objectives of what seems to be feasible considering the information obtained during this study.

Based on these findings the following objectives are set:

· Establish a charitable educational non-profit corporation.

· Establish general organizational objectives.

· Establish a vision for implementation.

· Develop a concept plan where professional diligence can verify the viability of a project based on the general objectives and vision.





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