Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Naval Base, San Diego
(Naval Destroyer Base, San Diego; Naval Repair Base, San Diego; Naval Station, San Diego; Naval Operating Base, San Diego)
Mothballed ships at Naval Station San Diego circa 1950
US Army Corps of Engineers History (2004)

From 1919 to 1953, the Navy acquired through condemnation, purchase, donation, and exchange a total of 907.035 acres (not including 110.32 acres addressed in the history of the Concrete Ship Constructors Shipyard) for this location. Included in the property acquisitions were 0.066, 4.15, 0.069, 0.86, and 0.93 acre parcels all located in the southeast portion of the Base, along the Base boundary.

The Navy built and established the Destroyer Base in 1922 for the purpose of maintaining the Fleet Destroyer Force, both active and decommissioned. In 1943, the base was redesignated
the U.S. Naval Repair Base. During WWII, the Base performed conversion, overhaul, maintenance and battle damage repair on various size ships. The Base was later redesignated
U.S. Naval Station San Diego.
Since 1922, countless military improvements have been constructed including 13 piers, one graving dock, numerous buildings, recreational facilities, and housing areas. A 0.066 acre parcel was occupied by a National City septic tank but no other military improvements or activities are known to have taken place. A 4.15 acre parcel was used by the army for unknown purposes during World War II. This parcel was later used for naval housing.
Past naval activities taking place on the 0.069, 0.93, and 0.86 acre parcels are unknown.

The Navy still retains most of the original acreage but a few parcels have been disposed. In 1961, 3.24 acres of the 4.15 acre parcel were quitclaimed to a private developer. Currently, the property is occupied by a small strip mall and the National City Transit Facility. The remaining 0.91 acres are now part of the Interstate 5 right-of-way and owned by the State of California. In 1960, the 0.93 acre parcel was quitclaimed to a partnership. The property is now occupied by a small storage yard and machine shop. In 1960, the 0.069 acre parcel was quitclaimed to an individual. It is now part of the parking lot that is owned by a machining and manufacturing company. The 0.86 acre parcel was donated to the State of California (date unknown)
and is currently part of State Highway 1.
The title to the 0.066 acre parcel was re-vested back in the name of National City in 1945. The property is now under the Naval Exchange Service Center building, but according to assessor records, still owned by National City. No military improvements remain on any of these parcels.
Naval Station San Diego (2005)
by Justin Ruhge
The Naval Station was located in the 1980s on San Diego Bay between San Diego and National City. Its history dates back to September 3, 1919 when the city deeded a total of 98 acres of marshland and tide flats to the government for the purpose of building a Docking and Fleet Repair Base. The Navy acquired the land, buildings and some machinery from the U.S. Shipping Board on February 15, 1921. A 2,500-ton Marine Railway was completed in early 1922 and on February 23, 1922 the Secretary of the Navy officially established the U.S. Naval Destroyer Base by General Order No. 78. On August 1, 1923, the Destroyer base was placed under the Commandant, Eleventh Naval District.

In 1929 six more acres of waterfront property were added and the main channel to the base was dredged to 17 feet. From 1935 to 1937 the base facilities were upgraded using Works Progress Administration (WPA) funds. Fleet Schools were established in 1938 to train repairmen and maintenance personnel to send out to the fleet. By 1943, the base was enlarged to over 900 acres with the addition of extensive new facilities. The Navy again changed the name - this time to Naval Repair Base, a component of the Naval Base. After World War II the name was changed to Naval Station in September 1946.
On January 1, 1965 the ship repair function aboard the Naval Station ended.
Service Schools were created in 1954. These were placed under the Service Schools Command at the Naval Training Center, San Diego and in July 1967 the Naval Station was placed under the Commander Service Force, U. S. Pacific Fleet.
In the late 1980s the Naval Station was the major logistics support base for Naval forces in the Pacific. There were fifty-three tenant activities aboard the station. 7,000 military and 5,200 civilians worked on the station. In addition there were about 36,000 officers and men attached to the some 100 ships that berthed at the piers. Further improvements occurred to accommodate the new President Reagan 600 ship Navy.
Naval Operating Base San Diego (2005)
by Justin Ruhge
In January 1920 the Navy established a Naval Operating Base in San Diego followed by the Eleventh Naval District a year later on January 25. The first Commandant and Base Commander, with a staff of seven officers, were headquartered in the administration building at the Naval Air Station on North Island. In May 1922, the headquarters was relocated to its present location in the then just-completed Naval Supply Depot complex at the foot of Broadway on Harbor Drive. With the outbreak of World War II, the district played an important role in coordinating the shipping of vast supplies to the war fronts in the Pacific Theater. The number and complexity of support commands and activities throughout the Eleventh Naval District grew accordingly to provide the increased administrative and logistics support to the fleet. One hundred and eighty-three functional groups operated under the management and control of the San Diego Naval Operating Base during World War II. After the lull following World War II, things got busy again during the Korean and then Vietnam conflicts.

On January 1, 1978 the Navy closed down the Twelfth Naval District and made the Eleventh Naval District responsible for all the states of California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. The district concept was changed to just Commander Naval Base, San Diego on October 1. 1980. In 1980, this command included over 400 Navy and Marine Corps shore commands with about 200,000 active duty personnel and about 100,000 retired persons in California alone. It also included over 60 % of all the real estate owned by the Navy.

Other Online Histories
Naval Base, San Diego
The Military Standard
Extracts, US Navy and Marine Corps Installations - Domestic (2005)
Naval Operating Base, San Diego
Naval Station, San Diego
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Updated 8 February 2016