Preserving San Diego's Naval Heritage


NAVSTA's 80th

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32nd Street Naval Station celebrated their 80th Anniversary 22 February 2002. The publication reproduced below was published for this special occasion. It has been reformatted for the web.

     When you consider the significant history of San Diego's historic landmarks, it's easy to dismiss the few miles of tidelands south of San Diego that is Naval Station San Diego today. After all, Naval Air Station North Island claims its fame as the birthplace of Naval aviation. The Submarine Base at Point Loma is the arrival point for Juan Cabrillo, the explorer who discovered San Diego, the birthplace of the State of California.

     Naval Station had no such history; just a few miles of marshland. But time has a way of endowing even the most humble with greatness.

     It was a partly cloudy dawn, February 23, 1922. With a stroke of a pen, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. signed General Order 78 and U.S. Destroyer Base San Diego was created. The year before, Commander H. N. Jenson, the commanding officer of USS Prairie, a destroyer tender, was ordered to the area and directed to prepare the site for receipt of World War I destroyers scheduled for decommissioning. Since Commander Jenson, 37 commanding officers have served at the helm of Naval Station. Perhaps the most notable was the fifth. He served from 1931 to 1933 and went on to command Pacific Fleet Forces during World War 11. Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz went on to become one of our great Naval heroes of the War in the Pacific.

     In 1933, then Captain Nimitz contemplated recommending closure of the base. Having further thoughts on the subject and thinking future needs of the Navy, he decided not to forward his recommendation. This has to rank near the top among the many momentous decisions this great leader made during his unprecedented Naval career.

         When the base was commissioned, it consisted of 77 acres. Over the years we have expand­ed to more than 1,400 acres and l4 piers that provide 12 miles of berthing for more than 50 ships. The total plant value now exceeds $1.2 billion. Our roadways stretch out to 25 miles. More than 30,000 people call Naval Station their home or report to work here each day.

     Today we are the principle homeport for the U.S. Pacific Fleet. More than two thirds of the Navy's Pacific Fleet call San Diego home and most of those ships moor right here at the Naval Station. We were once the retirement home for aged "tin can" destroyers. Now we are a West Coast Navy mega port, essentially providing the life-energy for our most modern amphibious ships, guided missile cruisers and destroyers. But all of it would amount to little more than cold iron if it weren't for the Sailors who occupy and drive our ships. And if we provide life-energy, it is the Sailors who provide the life-blood for these modern, sea-going, warfare platforms. And it is these Sailors to whom we dedicate our mission: to ensure they receive the best support we can provide so that they can perform the kinds of mission miracles we see in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Somalia and dozens of other high-intensity locations throughout the globe.

     And, finally our community: We have been an important part of San Diego since a city council deeded us the land which became the Naval Station 80 years ago. Our neighbors have been our greatest local supporters. And, so, we can look back on the last 80 years - and the history which brought us to this point - and marvel at the ships which called Naval Station San Diego home. But it is our community, and the Sailors here who are members of that community, to whom we share our greatest thanks for this special occasion: the 80th birthday of Naval Station San Diego.
   L. R. Hering, Sr.
Captain, United States Navy

36th Commanding Officer, Naval Station San Diego
23 February 2002



 COMMANDER H. N. JENSON ..............23 FEB 22 - 02 JAN 23
CAPTAIN H. L. BRINSER ..............03 JAN 23 - 17 JUN 25
CAPTAIN J. G. CHURCH ..............18 JUN 25 - 11 JUN 28
CAPTAIN R. MORRIS. ............. 12 JUN 28 - 02 FEB 31
CAPTAIN C. W. NIMITZ ..............17 JUN 31 - 30 SEPT 33
CAPTAIN M. M. FRUCHT ..............01 NOV 33 - 12 JAN 37
COMMODORE BYRON MCCANDLESS ..............12 JAN 37 - 06 OCT 43
COMMODORE JAMES E. BOAK ..............08 SEPT 45 - 23 APR 47
CAPTAIN JOHN P. WOMBLE ..............23 APR 47 - 20 JAN 48
CAPTAIN THOMAS T. BEATTIE ..............20 JAN 48 - 25 JUL 49
CAPTAIN WILLIAM B. MCHUGH ..............31 AUG 49 - 30 JUN 51
CAPTAIN WILLIAM P. BURFORD .............. 30 JUN 51 - 30 JUN 53
CAPTAIN A. M. HURST .............. 30 JUN 53 - 30 JUN 54
CAPTAIN MARTIN J. WEST .............. 30 JUN 54 - 29 JUN 56
CAPTAIN GEORGE W. WILCOX .............. 29 JUN 56 - 28 JUN 57
CAPTAIN DANIEL J. WAGNER .............. 28 JUN 57 - 24 MAR 58
CAPTAIN BERNHART A. FUETSCH .............. 24 MAR 58 - 28 JUN 60
CAPTAIN M. FERRARA .............. 28 JUN 60 - 12 OCT 60
CAPTAIN JAMES M. CLEMENT .............. 12 OCT 60 - 22 JUN 62
CAPTAIN ALBERT G. PELLING .............. 22 JUN 62 - 20 JUN 64
CAPTAIN GEORGE H. WHITING .............. 30 JUN 64 - 24 JUN 66
CAPTAIN ALBERT R. OLSEN .............. 24 JUN 66 - 28 JUN 68
CAPTAIN ALLEN P. COOK, JR .............. 28 JUN 68 - 25 JUN 70
CAPTAIN RALPH DI CORI .............. 25 JUN 70 - 09 FEB 72
CAPTAIN WILLIAM T. MAWHINEY .............. 09 FEB 72 - 23 JAN 75
CAPTAIN WILLIAM T. MARIN .............. 23 JAN 75 - 31 MAR 78
CAPTAIN JIMMY PAPPAS .............. 31 MAR 78 - 06 AUG 80
CAPTAIN GEORGE W. HORSLEY, JR .............. 06 AUG 80 - 03 SEPT 82
CAPTAIN CLARENCE T. VAUGHT .............. 03 SEPT 82 - 26 JULY 85
CAPTAIN CHARLES D. EWING .............. 26 JUL 85 - 09 OCT 87
CAPTAIN DONALD F. BERKEBILE .............. 09 OCT 87 - 20 MAR 89
CAPTAIN JAMES G. PROUT III .............. 20 OCT 89 - 21 MAR 91
CAPTAIN SAMUEL K. ANDERSON .............. 28 MAR 91 - 26 FEB 93
CAPTAIN MARTIN K. COLLINS .............. 26 FEB 93 - 16 FEB 96
CAPTAIN VINSON E. SMITH .............. 16 FEB 96 - 07 MAY 99


   The property where Naval Station San Diego is now located was deeded to the U. S. government by the city of San Diego on Sept. 3, 1919, to build a docking and fleet repair base. The property consisted of 21 water acres and 77.2 land acres, with the former being mostly tidelands and marsh flats.    On Feb. 15, 1921, the U.S. Navy acquired the land, buildings and some machinery. Later that year, on June 10, USS Prairie, commanded by CDR H. N. Jenson, was ordered to the area to take over and prepare the site for receipt of destroyers which would soon be decommissioned. A marine railway was also begun, and on Feb. 23, 1922, U. S. Destroyer Base San Diego was created, by General Order 78.    During World War 11, the Destroyer Base was renamed to reflect an expanding and changing role, to U.S. Naval Repair Base San Diego. During the war, more than 43,000 Sailors - officer and enlisted - trained for repair duties and more than 5,000 ships were sent to the Station for con­version, overhaul and repair, includ­ing the repair of battle damage.    After World War 11, the name of the Repair Base was changed for the last time, to Naval Station San Diego. The mission was expanded to support ships of the Pacific Fleet.      A major restructuring of the Navy's geographical regions took place in 1998 to reduce shore infrastructure and focus more on the Navy's opera­tional units. Naval Station San Diego now falls under the administration and management of Commander, Navy Region Southwest.


 “SERVING THE FLEET” it’s our business

     Naval Station is homeport for approx­imately 52 ships and home base to 52 separate commands, each having specific and specialized fleet support purposes. It is the workplace for approximately 30,000 military and civilian personnel. Three thousand men and women are housed in modern, attractive bachelor quarters.      Major shore commands include Fleet Training Center; Naval Dental Center; Naval Legal Service Office; Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activity; Navy Public Works Center; Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair; Navy College; Fleet Industrial Supply Center; and Naval Criminal Investigative Service; Afloat Training Group Pacific; Fleet Technical Support Center Pacific.      The commanding officer, whose role is akin to that of a mayor of a medi­um-size city, has several departments and commands reporting to him. Collectively, about 2,500 military and civilian personnel accomplish the multifaceted support mission. Together, they provide a wide range of both direct and indirect fleet support; waterfront operations, security, supply, Navy Exchange, Commissary, bachelor quar­ters, food services, public affairs, administration, tran­sient personnel administra­tion, fiscal management, equal opportunity, civil engi­neering, family services, recreation on the Station and in various military family housing areas, medical and dental care, religious servic­es, transportation, utilities, legal support, counseling and assistance, facility maintenance, fire protection, educational services and child care for more than 2,800 dependent children daily.      Fleet support has always been the mission of the Naval Station, and that mission affects the more than 60 ships homeported in the San Diego area.      These include aircraft carriers at Naval Station North Island across the bay, and submarines at the Sub Base in the Point Loma area. Ship support functions include such services as providing tugs and pilots. Pier space is also provided for homeported ships, for all Pacific Fleet ships undergoing refresher training, or shakedown, for four Military Sealift Command ships, and for all foreign Navy ships visiting San Diego. More than 7,000 ship movements are performed annually.      Special Project funds, for mainte­nance and repair, average $10 million a year. New construction projects in the last three years totaled approxi­mately $38 million.      The Navy's largest installation is also committed to preserving and protect­ing the environment, and several inno­vative programs support that commit­ment. Recycling is a way of life, with more than 18 tons of material diverted from landfills every week. Add to that creative solutions to recycling prob­lems, such as creating 2 X 4 beams out of recycled plastic bags and "sharing" resources through hazardous materials reuse program, and it's easy to under­stand why other military installations look to Naval Station San Diego for ideas for their recycling programs. Self-help at Naval Station is second to none - and the proof of that is evident in the Station's status of having won the Navy-wide Bronze Hammer Award for excellence. Naval Station personnel, assisted by crew members from tenant commands and ships homeported at the Station, saved tax­payers more than $12.5 million on approximately 50 self help projects. Many other projects included small items such as the construction of a gazebo at the Station chapel. Serving the Fleet is our business


U.S. Statistics
President: Warren G. Harding
Vice President: Calvin Coolidge
Population: 110,049,000


British Egyptologists George Carnarvon and Howard Carter unearth King Tutankhamen's tomb in the Valley of the Kings, the only tomb that remained unlooted through the centuries. Insulin, which regulates the use of sugar, is isolated and used for the treatment of diabetes by Frederick Banting and Herbert Best. Herbert McLean Evans discovers the substance that promotes human growth, a hormone from the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland.



Reacting to problems posed by the Radio Act of 1912, the Commerce Department allows powerful stations to use the 400m wavelength as long as they only broadcast live music. James Joyce's Ulysses published. The U.S. Post Office destroys 500 copies of the novel. • Reader's Digest debuts
• Pulitzer Prizes: Fiction: Alice Adams, Booth Tarkington Drama: Anna Christie, Eugene O'Neill
• Nobel Prize for Literature: Jacinto Benavente (Spain)
• Miss America: Mary Campbell (OH)


World Series
   NY Giants d. NY Yankees (4-0-1)
• Stanley Cup
   Toronto St. Pats d. Vancouver (PCHA) (3-2)
• Wimbledon
   Women: Suzanne Lenglen d. M. Mallory (6-2 6-0)
   Men: Gerald Patterson d. R. Lycett (6-3 6-4 6-2)
• Kentucky Derby Champion Morvich
• NCAA Football Champions
   Princeton (CFRA) (8-0-0)
   California (NCF) (9-0-0) &
   Cornell (HF) (8-0-0)


Federal spending $3.29 billion
Consumer Price Index:   16.8 
Unemployment:    6.7%
Cost of a first-class stamp:      $0.02


Total acreage:  
     Land acres  1,029.45 acres
     Water acres    326 acres
     Mission Gorge Recreational Facilities    448.16 acres
Number of piers       14
Amount of berthing    12 miles
Number of ships homeported at Naval Station     52
Number of tenant commands at Naval Station   52
Population            34,000-38,000
Military afloat and ashore 28,000-30,000
Civilian            6,000-8,000
Value of land and building   $1.2 billion
Amount of roads  25 miles
Number of meals served in galley annually 638,750
Annual number of tug-assisted moves 7,000-12,000
Economic impact of Naval Station on San Diego (military construction and repair contracts)  $140 million





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