Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Sharpe Facility, Defense Distribution Center San Joaquin
(Stockton General Depot, Sharpe General Depot, Sharpe Army Depot, Sharpe Army Airfield)
For histories of Lathrop based logistical facilities that operated from 1942 until their consolidation and establishment of Stockton General Depot in 1946, go to:
Lathrop Holding and Reconsignment Point/Lathrop Transportation Corps Depot
Lathrop Engineer Depot/War Aid Depot, Lathrop/Lathrop Army Service Forces Depot
Lathrop Prisoner of War Branch Camp
GlobalSecurity.org History (2011)
The San Joaquin Depot is made up of distribution facilities at three separate locations -- Tracy, Sharpe [Lathrop] and Stockton's Rough & Ready Island. The depot receives, stores and ships supplies to military customers located mainly in the western U.S. and the Pacific Theater of operations, and in some cases worldwide. The San Joaquin Depot is one of two Primary Distribution Sites that belong to a 22-depot Defense Distribution Center headquartered in New Cumberland, PA. Overall management is provided by the Defense Logistics Agency.
Sharpe Facility is approximately 65 miles south of Sacramento with easy access from Interstate 5 (I-5) and Highway 99. From I-5, take the Roth Road exit. Go east on Roth Road to the main gate of Sharpe Facility. From Highway 99, take the French Camp exit. Go west on French Camp Road, turn left on Airport, then right on Roth Road and proceed to Sharpe.
The San Joaquin Depot maintains a Consolidation and Containerization Point that operates much like a cross-docking, freight forwarding business. Items from other depots, independent vendors and other government agencies are shipped to a warehouse at the Lathrop facility where they are consolidated into vans or on special air pallets for shipment to the customer overseas. On a monthly average 490 sea-going vans and 360 air pallets will be shipped from the Consolidation and Containerization Point. The efficient cube utilization of this operation nets millions of dollars in transportation savings for taxpayers.
There has been a recent surge in inventory at the San Joaquin Depot. As a result of the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure proceedings, stock from depots in Ogden, Utah; McClellan AFB, California; and Kelly AFB, Texas, approximately 728,500 items were relocated to the San Joaquin Depot.
In 1942, Sharpe was officially dedicated as the Lathrop Holding and Reconsignment Point. What was once a Central California sheep ranch was transformed into a major military supply installation capable of loading 6,000 rail cars per month with supplies and equipment at its wartime peak. Often up to 450 rail cars were loaded or unloaded within 24 hours.
Following World War II, the depot underwent administrative and supply mission changes and assumed a new name in 1948. In honor of Major General Henry G. Sharpe, Quartermaster General of the Army from 1905 to 1918, the depot was named Sharpe General Depot.
The lull after World War II was jolted by fighting in Korea. Sharpe's level of activity rebounded to its earlier high as manpower, shipments, and missions doubled during this 3-year effort. Supply operations were gradually curtailed when the Korean War ended and by 1959, significant changes affecting Sharpe's future role were taking place. The Department of Defense instituted the "Single Manager Concept." This put the depot into the business of providing medical supplies and subsistence items on a larger scale. The Sharpe site became Sharpe Army Depot in 1962 when the depot was assigned to the Army Supply and Maintenance Command.
In 1965, the nation called upon Sharpe during the Southeast Asia conflict. Hundreds of Army aircraft, both fixed-wing and helicopters were arriving at Sharpe to get ready for shipment overseas. Twenty-four hour operations began and Sharpe became the major pipeline for supplies moving westward to Southeast Asia.
The Sharpe facility served as Headquarters of Defense Distribution Region West (DDRW). As of October 1997, with the disestablishment of DDRW, DDJC became one of 22 Defense Distribution Center (DDC) depots. It is located in Central California's San Joaquin Valley, approximately 65 miles south of Sacramento, providing easy access to Interstate 5 to the west and California Highway 99 to the east. It is approximately 13 miles northeast of the Tracy facility, Defense Distribution Depot San Joaquin's other facility. Several major airports are within 75 miles from Sharpe: Oakland International and San Francisco International to the west and Sacramento Metropolitan Airport to the North.
In March 1999 the Defense Distribution Center announced it would reconfigure operations at Defense Distribution Depot San Joaquin, Calif., which comprises distribution facilities at the Sharpe site in Lathrop and the site in Tracy. The reconfiguration called for an internal shift in workload from Sharpe to Tracy beginning October 1999 targeted for completion by September 2000. Tracy will focus on the receipt, storage, and distribution of fast-moving, high-demand items; Sharpe will store slow-moving, low-demand bulk items. Approximately 700 of Sharpe's 800 employees will transfer to Tracy, located 15 miles southwest of the Sharpe facility. Roughly 100 employees will remain at Sharpe. The reconfiguration will eventually reduce personnel requirements at DDJC, but few involuntary separations are expected. However, any adversely affected employees will be eligible for buyouts and early retirement offers. Individuals not accepting or not eligible for such offers may register in a Department of Defense job-placement program. The initiative is the result of a business-case analysis revealing that the reconfiguration would boost DDJC productivity by 30 percent. As a result, more than 90 percent of DDJC's daily requisitions will be processed at Tracy, which is 15 miles closer to the Bay Area seaports.
Stockton Record Article: Changes, But Not Closure, for Sharpe Army Depot (26 March 2014)
By Joe Goldeen
LATHROP - Change is coming again to Sharpe Army Depot, the large slice of central San Joaquin County that is known mostly for supplying military outposts throughout the Pacific region with everything imaginable going back to the early days of World War II.
Activity at the 724-acre facility off Roth Road on Lathrop's eastern edge has ebbed and flowed over the years, just as America's wars have ramped up and scaled back. It's also served other government agencies. But put to rest the rumor that the entire base is closing down.
The largest single employer at the depot today is the West Coast Distribution Center of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service.
"It is remaining open. It supports all the Army and Air Force exchanges in the western U.S. and Pacific region," exchange spokesman Judd Anstey said Tuesday. The 850,000-square-foot distribution center employs 348 workers, and no change is anticipated, he said.
The Defense Logistics Agency that operates DLA Distribution San Joaquin terminated its lease effective in September 2013 to continue operations at the Army-owned depot, having chosen to consolidate all its regional operations at its larger depot on Chrisman Road east of Tracy, according to spokeswoman Annette Silva.
For the past decade or more, the Defense Logistics Agency was transferring workload and employees - approximately 700 of Sharpe's 800 workers at its most recent peak - to the Tracy depot, according to the website GlobalSecurity.org (see above).
The U.S. General Services Administration that also operates at Sharpe recently issued a timeline for closing its Western Distribution Center there. In a statement, it cited "the drawdown of U.S. military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and the federal budget climate" affecting the agency's supply business. In the future, it will use a combination of commercial vendor partners and the Defense Logistics Agency to fill supply orders.
The final shipments to GSA customers will leave Sharpe on May 1. The final day for that distribution center will be Sept. 30, according to its statement.
Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal was aware that the depot is scaling back, but he did not know specific details Tuesday.
"There are people from the city who are working at Sharpe Depot, and those jobs will be moved to Tracy. That's what I heard, and I hope that is the case," Dhaliwal said.
Lathrop City Manager Steve Salvatore said the city has had an initial meeting with representatives from the General Services Administration about the future of Sharpe.
"If businesses continue out there, we are all for it. Obviously, the base has been important for the region. It's too early to tell what our options are," Salvatore said. "We are in the information-gathering stage."
One anticipated future use of the depot has been a partnership with the National Guard and the San Joaquin County Office of Education - spearheaded by Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton - to place a ChalleNGe Youth Academy at Sharpe Depot.
Eggman has authored legislation - AB1518 - along with co-authors Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, and state Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, that would provide $1.5 million toward operation of the academy, a military-themed boot camp/residential school for 16- to 18-year-old high school dropouts or those on the brink. The federal government would provide a $3 million match, should the legislation pass.
The National Guard operates 34 ChalleNGe programs nationwide, including two California sites - the Grizzly Academy in San Luis Obispo and the Sunburst Youth Academy in Los Alamitos.
Contact reporter Joe Goldeen at (209) 546-8278 or jgoldeen@recordnet.com. Follow him at recordnet.com/goldeenblog and on Twitter @JoeGoldeen.
Other Online Histories
Lathrop Holding and Reconsignment Point/Lathrop Transportation Corps Depot
Lathrop Engineer Depot/War Aid Depot, Lathrop/Lathrop Army Service Forces Depot
Lathrop Prisoner of War Branch Camp
Stockton Field Annex
Historic American Engineering Record
Images from the Library of Congress
Abandoned and Little Known Airfields: Sharpe Army Airfield
Alameda Annex
Rio Vista Storage Activity/Annex
Stockton Storage Activity
Historical Status Cards, US Army Center of Military History
Lathrop Army Service Forces Depot, Stockton General Depot, Sharpe General Depot and Sharpe Army Depot

Engineer Section, Sharpe General Depot
Medical Section, Sharpe General Depot
Quartermaster Section, Sharpe General Depot
Quartermaster Sub-Section (Oakland), Sharpe General Depot


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Updated 8 February 2016