Historic California Posts, Camps Stations and Airfields
Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow
(Naval Supply Depot, Marine Corps Depot of Supplies, Marine Barracks)
Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow
by GlobalSecurity.org
The Marine Corps Logistics Base is located 134 miles east of Los Angeles and 152 miles southwest of Las Vegas in the San Bernardino County High Desert. The City of Barstow has a population of over 22,000. Major Commands include: Base Support Division (BSD) Facilities & Services Div (FSD) Human Resource Division (HRD) Resources Mgmt Division (RMD) Fleet Support Division (FSDiv) MC Multi-Commodity Maintenance Center (MC)3 Special Staff Offices (SSO) Morale, Welfare, Recreation (MWR) Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)
The mission of the Logistics Base is to procure, maintain, repair and rebuild, store, and distribute supplies and equipment as assigned; to conduct such schools and training as may be directed; and to perform such tasks and functions as may be directed by the Commandant of the Marine Corps or the Commander, MCLB-Albany, GA. These services are generally provided to Marine Corps forces west of the Mississippi River and to the Far East. The counter- part to MCLB-Barstow is located in Albany and supplies nstallations east of the Mississippi.
The highly technical nature of the work done there requires a stable work force that can be best achieved by career civilians. At the same time, Marines posted to the fleet from Barstow carry with them an intimate acquaintance with the most advanced technical knowledge in their respective fields, this increasing the capabilities of the field commander. Some 500 Marines and sailors work side-by-side with approximately 2,000 civilian employees, in many instances performing identical work. While the Divisions are directed by a Marine Officer, the Human Resources Division, the Morale, Welfare & Recreation Division, Resources Management Division, and many branch and sections are headed by civilian employees.
Active duty military are approximately 500 (Navy & Marines); Family members living here are approximately 1,000; Retirees living in a 30 mile radius number approximately 8,000; Civilian employees number around 2,500; Army Personnel living on base are around 230 personnel and their families.
The Marine Corps Logistics Base, presently the 2nd largest employer in the Barstow area, was established at its present location on December 28, 1942, when the United States Navy turned it over to the Marine Corps. It had originally been planned as a naval supply depot, but the Chief of Naval Operations directed that the facility be transferred to the Marine Corps as a storage site for supplies and equipment needed for the Fleet Marine Forces in the Pacific theater during World War II. It was then known as the Marine Corps Depot of Supplies and was under the military command of the Commanding General, Marine Corps Depot of Supplies in San Francisco, CA. The first local commander was Major David F. Ross. The land was purchased from several individuals, including the family of Walter Ross, whose tomb is located on the base in the Nebo area and is given perpetual care by the Marine Corps. By the end of WWII in 1945, the depot had outgrown it original facilities. In October of 1946, a 2,000-acre holding and re-consignment point belonging to the Army was annexed by the depot. Located 3 miles west of the town of Yermo, this became the Yermo-Annex.
In 1954 the Commanding General, Marine Corps Depot of Supplies, moved his flag from San Francisco to Barstow. Since that time, the Logistics Base has grown in stature, strength and size. On November 1, 1978, the base was re-designated to its present title to emphasize its broad support mission. The base is divided into 2 areas, Nebo and the Yermo Annex. The base headquarters as well as administrative, storage, shopping, recreational and housing facilities are located at Nebo. Nebo is a Biblical word, and at one time, on the site where the base headquarters is now located, Mormon settlers organized the Nebo Sheep Company. Then the railroad came and when a name was needed for the railhead, Nebo was chosen. Thus, when the base was activated in 1942, its railhead name was Nebo, which has been translated to mean "Little Shepherd." History tells us that at least 3 Indian tribes lived in and around the Barstow-Yermo area. The word Yermo, according to longtime residents of the town of Yermo, is an Indian word meaning "Desert Flower." (MC)3 repair facility is located at the Yermo Annex as well as the base stables, Obregon Park, and the bulk of Fleet Support Division's outdoor storage.
Originally established in 1961 as the Repair Division, Marine Corps Supply Center, Barstow, California, the Depot Maintenance Activity (DMA) was charted as an industrial-funded DMA in July 1968 and in October 1976. The DMA was included in the implementation of the DoD uniform cost accounting procedures using stabilized rates. The base itself was renamed MCLB Barstow on 1 November 1978.
The MCLB is located within 150 miles of the two major waterways, Port of Los Angeles and San Diego, which are the primary storage and distribution facilities for Marine Corps forces west of the Mississippi and to forces that are part of the Pacific Fleet.
Located at a railroad hub, MCLB Barstow is ideally situated to accomplish its mission of supporting U.S. Marine Corps units along the west coast and in the Pacific. Barstow functions as the western division point for Santa Fe's Transcontinental mainline and is also served by the Union Pacific's mainline to Los Angeles. The $55 million rail classification center in Barstow is the largest rail reclassification operation in the world. Barstow is located at the crossroads of the national interstate highway system -- the intersection of Interstate routes 15 and 40 -- and the California State highway system as well.
MCLB Barstow itself possesses the largest Department of Defense railhead in the world. The outstanding rail and highway transportation network available to MCLB Barstow means that it is located within one day's travel time by road or rail of virtually all of the Marine Corps units which it serves.
Barstow is served by three major highways - Interstates 15 and 40, both of which pass by the Base, and State Highway 58. Barstow also intersects 2 of America's busiest cross-country railroads, the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe and the Union Pacific, all of which make possible the receiving and rapid shipment to vital supplies and equipment to any part of the United States.
In addition, emergency shipments can be airlifted from the Daggett Airport, located 14 miles east of MCLB-Nebo area and 7 miles east of MCLB-Yermo Annex. Daggett has 6,000 feet of runway, allowing large aircraft to land there. The base employs a combined military-civilian work force.
The desert site has excellent outdoor storage conditions (made possible by the absence of rainfall and low humidity) which limits mold, rust and mildew to the equipment. The outdoor cost of storage is minimal compared to the cost of erecting warehouses to store large items like tanks, cranes and other heavy equipment.
Between MCLB Barstow and the other MCLB (MCLB Albany, Ga), only Barstow has a climate that allows outdoor storage of all types of supplies for nearly indefinite periods of time. The absence of a requirement to construct sheltered storage facilities at MCLB Barstow translates into significant cost savings over MCLB Albany. MCLB Barstow is not subject to flooding as has occurred at MCLB Albany, Ga. When, in late spring 1994, the Chattahoochee river flooded its banks following a massive rainfall rendering it a federal disaster site. Precisely because of the ideal climactic conditions at MCLB Barstow, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), (which in 1992 took over much of the material storage function at MCLB Barstow from the Marine Corps), is considering further enhancing and expanding the materiel storage function of the Barstow facility.
MCLB Barstow is a state-of-the-art facility which is well-suited for repairing and maintaining the "smart" weapons currently under development for future use by the Marine Corps and other services. This capability was recently recognized by the Department of Defense when it selected MCLB Barstow as one of only seven repair depots in the entire U.S. to pioneer a new, high-tech process called Flexible Computer Integrated Manufacturing (FCIM), which will allow the inexpensive manufacture of parts to order for delivery in less than thirty days.
The Barstow installation is solvent, while many of the repair depots of the other services have recently operated in the red. In head-to-head competition with the private sector for Defense Department contracts, MCLB Barstow has "won" two of the three competitive bidding processes in which it was allowed to participate.
In testimony before the U.S. House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, a contingent of Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps generals agreed that MCLB Barstow is essential to support Navy/Marine Corps operations in the Pacific and must be kept open. MCLB Barstow has not been recommended for closure by the Department of Defense in any of the previous four BRAC rounds. Instead, the Pentagon recommended that the Barstow facility receive personnel from other bases slated for closure or downsizing.
Any further consideration in subsequent closure processes, to consolidation of repair and maintenance functions, must recognize the superiority of the Barstow facility in terms of climate and cost effectiveness in relation to other potential facilities. Savings from base closure would likely be minimal. If one lesson can be drawn from experience to date with the base closure process, it is that the expenses associated with base closure and clean-up invariably escalate beyond the initial estimates.
The Marine Corps Logistics Bases (MCLB) at Albany, Georgia, and Barstow, California, comprise a two-base supply and depot maintenance complex that provides worldwide expeditionary logistics support to the Fleet Marine Force (FMF) and other forces and agencies. The repair facilities operate as multi-commodity maintenance centers. The maintenance center (MC) is an integral part of the Marine Corps Logistics Base, and works closely with the other organizations in carrying out the mission of the base, which is to provide logistics support to Marine Forces that will maintain continuous readiness and sustainment necessary to meet operational requirements.
The Marine Corps Maintenance Centers (MCs) do not specialize in the support of a specific commodity. They are capable of supporting Marine Corps ground combat and combat support equipment. Personnel are cross-trained to apply common skills to work on a variety of equipment in different commodities. This affords the Marine Corps MCs the flexibility to rapidly realign their work force to meet the changing requirements of the FMF. It should be noted that while the MCs' capacity for each major commodity is highly flexible, their total capacity is relatively constant.
USMC Depot of Supplies, Marine Barracks at Depot of Supplies (2005)
by Justin Ruhge

While Marines were fighting World War II on Guadalcanal, the Marine Corps established a Marine Corps Depot of Supplies at Barstow to provide storage and warehouse facilities for equipment from the San Francisco Depot of Supplies. Begun in June 1942 as a Navy Supply Depot, it was given to the Marine Corps that December. The Marine Corps activated the Depot on January 4, 1943. The climate and available transportation made Barstow a desirable site for a supply center. The hot, dry climate enabled the Marine Corps to store many items outside, thus saving on storage costs. Three major highways and two railroads pass through Barstow.
The 5,387 acres of the base are divided into three areas. Nebo 1, 268 acres has a biblical name, allegedly given to it by early Mormon settlers. Yermo 1, 680 acres, is claimed by old-timers to be an Indian name meaning "desert flower". 2,438 acres is used for the rifle and pistol range.

Early in 1946 repair equipment was installed at Barstow, and on July 15, the Depot was renamed the Marine Corps Storage and Repair Depot. During the early days of the Korean War, in July 1950, the Barstow technicians and mechanics worked around the clock to equip the First Marine Division at Camp Pendleton for the Inchon-Seoul Campaign. During the crisis some 200 pieces of mobile equipment left the repair facilities each day. That achievement gave the Depot the nickname of "Little Detroit".
The Barstow Depot, because of its size and equipment, soon began to pass the San Francisco installation in importance. In 1953-1954 the Marine Corps began to phase out the San Francisco Depot and concentrate its major supply operations at Barstow. Upon completion of the transfer of responsibility, the Marine Corps redesignated the Depot as the Marine Corps Supply Center on July 1, 1954.
The Center then had responsibility for logistics for all Marine Corps activities west of the Mississippi River, throughout the Pacific Ocean area, and in the Far East. It is larger than the senior Marine Corps Logistics Base at Albany, Georgia, and stocks more than 140,000 line items of equipment.
The center received the Meritorious Unit Citation for its work during the war in Southeast Asia from April 1, 1965 to December 1970. Over 70 percent of the supplies shipped to Marines in Vietnam and the Third Force Service regiment on Okinawa were provided by the Center. It functioned efficiently during the buildup, combat, and withdrawal phase of Marine Corps participation in that war.
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Updated 8 February 2016