Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Hunters Point Naval Shipyard
(San Francisco Naval Shipyard, Treasure Island Naval Station Hunters Point Annex)
Hunters Point Naval Shipyard 1943 (National Archives and Records Administration)
Hunters Point Naval Shipyard
by GlobalSecurity.org
San Francisco Naval Shipyard at Hunters Point, San Francisco, was located on 638 acres of waterfront. As of the mid-1950s it employed 8,500 civilians. The Navy’s Radiation Defense Laboratory and Pacific Reserve Fleet units were also located there. Established as commercial shipyard in 1870, it was acquired by the Navy 11 days before Pearl Harbor. Subsequently known as Hunters Point Naval Shipyard (HPNSY), after ceasing active operations in 1974, the Navy leased most of the shipyard to a commercial ship repair company that operated until 1986.

Treasure Island Naval Station Hunters Point Annex (NSTI Hunters Point) is in the southeast portion of San Francisco County, California. It is a deactivated Navy shipyard that was selected and approved for closure and disposition by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission in 1991. Operational base closure was 1 April 1994. Closure of Hunters Point has left behind San Francisco's worst toxic waste dump and a legacy of nuclear and chemical pollution that residents fear may have a long-term effect on health in their low-income neighborhoods.

Naval operations at HPA began in 1941 near the start of WWII. The Navy increased ship building operations to quicken production of liberty ships during WWII. From 1941 to 1974, the principal facility activities were ship building; naval ships and submarines were also modified, maintained, and repaired. In addition to repair activities, the facility was used for base housing, naval ordnance training exercises, radiological defense research, and research on exposure to radioactive fallout.

In 1946, a group, designated as the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory (NRDL), was detailed to arrange for the decontamination and disposition of several ships that had returned from nuclear weapons tests at the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. NRDL's mission was the study of nuclear weapons effects and the development of counter measures. NRDL was operational from 1946 until 1969. Several of the buildings were used for radioactive laboratory operations, cyclotron operations, animal research studies, material storage, and/or processing by NRDL.

HPA remained active until 1974, when it was placed on industrial reserve. The majority of HPA was leased to Triple A Machine Shop, Inc. from 1976 to 1986 during which time the base was used for ship repair. During this period, Triple A sub-leased HPA buildings to many small businesses. Allegations of improper waste disposal practices by Triple A were reported and in 1986, twenty on-site areas were investigated by the San Francisco District Attorney. The company had been accused by the city and county of dumping hazardous waste in various areas on site.

Portions of NSTI Hunters Point have been leased to private parties. Because of the presence of hazardous materials resulting from past shipyard operations and the operations of a commercial machine shop that had leased NSTI Hunters Point from 1976 to 1986, the EPA placed the installation on the NPL in 1989. Site types include landfills and land disposal areas. The Navy Radiological Defense Laboratory (NRDL) used multiple buildings at Hunters Point Annex. The Atomic Energy Commission determined the buildings were clean although the State of California requested additional sampling. Low level radiation was found outside some of the NRDL buildings and continues to be investigated.

Hunters Point is on a long promontory in the southeastern portion of San Francisco, extending eastward into San Francisco Bay. The facility is bounded on the north and east by the bay, and on the south and west by the Bayview/Hunters Point district of San Francisco. Between 70 and 80 percent of NSTI Hunters Point is relatively flat lowlands constructed by placing fill materials along the bay margin. The remaining land is on a moderately to steeply sloping ridge. Most of the lowlands are covered by asphalt paving and structures. The open areas are either sparsely vegetated or bare soil.

In 1985 discussions between the Navy and San Francisco led to selection of HPNSY as a homeport for the USS Missouri battlegroup. In 1986, HPA was taken over by the Navy to be developed as an annex to Naval Station Treasure Island. Civilian tenants, who by this time numbered over 900, were told they would have to leave. This group organized as the Businesses of Hunters Point, and efforts by the Navy to dislodge them were blocked. In 1988 the Missouri homeport concept was canceled.

The USS Missouri was assigned to San Francisco until the Base Closure Commission recommended the mothballing of Hunters Point. The Commission's report recommended that the USS Missouri go to Pearl Harbor and directed the redistribution of the entire battle group to existing ports in Hawaii and California. The Commission recommended that the proposed strategic homeport program construction for Hunters Point not be executed. Instead comparable construction would be accomplished at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Long Beach and San Diego, California. The Commission recommended relocating the battleship and two cruisers from Hunters Point to Pearl Harbor, one cruiser, two destroyers and two frigates to San Diego, California, and one cruiser to Long Beach. The battleship Missouri never got to Hunters Point -- it had been based in Long Beach, sitting next to one of its sister Iowa-class ships, the USS New Jersey, which had been there off and on since the Vietnam war.

The fiscal year 1991 House Armed Services Committee defense authorization report required the Secretary of the Navy to enter into a lease with the City of San Francisco for not less than 260 acres of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. This lease constituted exactly half of this land and would be for a period not less than 30 years. This action permited the City of San Francisco to execute a development plan for Hunters Point to bring employment to the area. Hunters Point is bordered by the most depressed area of the city. Development on Hunters Point could bring jobs and prosperity to this community. The committee's intent was to turn this defunct shipyard land over to the city for the purpose of economic benefit to the region.

The shipyard had no mission due to the recommendation of cancellation of strategic home port status by the 1988 Commission on Base Realignment and Closure, its subsequent deactivation. The area is also highly polluted.

The intent is to sell the land, parcel by parcel, as various parcels are remediated. The concerns of the local community are primarily economic reuse of the facility, and increasing the economic potential of the community. The community has experienced 20 to 30% unemployment since the base was placed in industrial reserve in 1974. The Navy is making local small and disadvantaged businesses aware of subcontracting opportunities, encouraging mentor and protégé arrangements under large business contracts.

The Armed Services plan provided the city of San Francisco with the opportunity to take this valuable piece of land and turn it into an economic asset, effectively addressing the problems of a depressed area. Both Mare Island Naval Shipyard and local private ship repair contractors had the ability to use the nuclear carrier-capable drydock at Hunters Point. But this arrangement did not work simply because the drydock was unusable. Furthermore, Mare Island Naval Shipyard did not retain the skills necessary to perform large-scale, complex surface ship repair.

On October 5, 1994, the US Navy was sued by a coalition of environmentalist, sports fishing, and public interest groups who alleged that toxic discharges from Hunters Point Naval Shipyard are contaminating San Francisco Bay. The lawsuit filed against the Navy with the US District Court in San Francisco charges the Navy with 19,000 violations of the Clean Water Act. The violations are based on the Navy's own self-monitoring reports to the EPA and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.

According to Michael Herz of the San Francisco BayKeeper, the suit claims that toxic discharges of polycholorinated biphenyls (PCBs), acids, bases, organic solvents, paints, waste oils, and vinyl chlorides wash into the bay daily through broken tidal gates and leaking storm drains at the shipyard. Herz said that these chemicals are not only toxic to fish, but a health hazard to thousands of low-income people who consume contaminated seafood from the bay.

Copied with permission from globalsecurity.org
The Battleship USS Maryland in drydock at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. 23 Novenber 1928 (Naval Historical and Heritage Command)
US Army Corps of Enigineers History
The United States of America (USA) acquired fee title to 964.91 acres by Declaration of Taking (D/T), transfer, and purchase, between 1940 and 1966. The USA also acquired approximately 1.84 easement acres between 1959 and 1988. The site totaled 966.75 acres. An additional 17.07 acres were acquired and disposed of for an off-base site known as Islais Creek. This report does not contain any information on the off-base site. Islais Creek is addressed under FUDS No. J09CA1099.
The Navy operated Hunters Point as a shipyard or ship repair facility from 1940 until 1975 and in May 1976, leased approximately 773 acres to Triple A Machine Shop for eleven years. Triple A operated the ship repair facility and subleased numerous buildings to other private commercial and light industrial firms. Operation of the facility by the Navy and Triple A generated a wide variety of solid and liquid wastes over many decades. These wastes were disposed of in an on-base industrial landfill. Triple A vacated the facility on 15 June 1987 and the Navy began proceedings to retake possession of the 966.75 acre site. The site is currently an inactive facility.
The Department of the Navy issued a notice of surplus on 03 September 1976 for 49.00 acres located on the western portion of Hunters Point. In 1976, the General Services Administration (GSA) reported 49.00 acres excess. The excess property was improved with 27 buildings, 13 of which comprise the area known as Inchon Village, a public housing area. The remaining buildings were used for storage, animal research and transient housing. The excess area also contained sidewalks, electrical, gas, and potable water distribution systems, a street lighting system, and a storm and sanitary sewer. A Southern Pacific railroad right-of-way runs through the excess area. Any transfer of property was subject to certain easement reservations for continued operation of the basic shipyard. Of the 49.00 acres excessed, the GSA quitclaimed, on 14 October 1977, 2.89 acres, improved with Building No. 54, to the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) for park and recreational use and the Hunters Point Boys Club facility. On 09 October 1980, the GSA quitclaimed 17.10 acres to the Redevelopment Agency of the City and County of San Francisco for development of a family housing project predominately owner occupied by individuals or families of low to moderate income. By letter dated 23 January 1980, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) responded to the Department of the Navy, Naval Sea System Command in Washington D.C. concerning surveys and decontamination of the facility formerly known as the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory in Buildings 364 (outside of the inventory property), 815 and 816. According to the General Development Map of Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, dated 05 February 1970, Building 815 was located on the 17.10 acres deeded to the Redevelopment Agency of the City and County of San Francisco. The NRC files were reviewed. Surveys and decontamination of those facilities were found to have met NRC guidelines for release to unrestricted use with no plans for additional on-site inspections or other actions regarding the matter. This letter was signed by Fuel Facility and Materials Safety Branch. On 07 April 1978, the GSA assigned by deed 3.83 acres of land improved with two building (Nos. 830 and 831) to UC for educational purposes.
On 14 July 1981, the GSA quitclaimed 2.33 acres of land improved with one building (no. 820) to Theodore and Bernice Lowpensky. On 12 December 1984, the GSA quitclaimed 4.23 acres to Crisp Building, Inc. According to the Hunters Point Real Estate Summary Map, updated 04 October 1990, the remaining 18.62 acres (of the 49.00 total acres) were withdrawn from excess from the GSA by the Navy (date unknown) for future military housing construction. The disposal acreage totaled 30.38 acres, currently leaving Hunters Point 936.37 acres.
MOST RECENT SITE HISTORY: The 30.38 acre site is currently comprised of public housing projects, small scale private industry, vacant land, and an animal research laboratory. There are four existing DOD-built structures in the southern portion of the site, all are currently occupied. The structures include building numbers 815, 820, 830, and 831 (Figure 2). Building number 815 is a seven-story concrete structure built in 1955 and located in the southeastern portion of the site. The DOD used the structure for a radiological defense laboratory from 1955 to 1979. The structure is currently occupied by File Safe (leased from Mr. Theodore Lowpenski since 1984) a microfiche document storage company. Building number 820 is a two-story concrete structure built in 1963 and located in the southwestern portion of the site. The DOD used the structure for equipment storage from 1963 to 1981.
Source: Sacramento District, US Army Corps of Engineers
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Updated 8 February 2016