In order to accomplish organization of Naval Local Defense Forces, the Naval Districts were established. The commandant of each Naval district is the direct representative of the Navy Department, its bureaus, and its offices in all matters affecting district activity.1 Operational and military supervision of the several District Commandants is the responsibility of the Chief of Naval Operations: "All matters pertaining to the military operations in the Naval Districts shall be under the office of Naval Operations.2
Although a direct military command relationship exists between the Chief of Naval Operations and Commandant, Eighth Naval District, between the commandant and the various bureau chiefs that necessarily cannot exist. The commandant is the Bureau's representative, but not perforce always their agent. The second World War brought about an amazing expansion of Naval activity in this district. Because the Bureaus were trying efficiently and with speed to establish new activities which would handle the affairs of the enlarged Navy, they at times seemed to encroach upon the commandants authority over activities of this district and to bypass him in the establishing, and management of Naval activities. Accordingly, a somewhat amorphous command situation arose.
In the purely military realm of operations, security, and discipline the authority of the Commandant over all personnel and activities of this district was exactly defined and not open to question.
The military duty of the Commandant as commander of the Eighth Naval District defense forces was his primary duty. He was a task force commander under the Commander, Gulf Sea Frontier. The command relationship was simple. The Commandant, Eighth Naval District, was under the Commander, Gulf Sea Frontier; under the Commandant, Eighth Naval District, were the local defense forces of the Eighth Naval District and such active forces as were assigned by the Commander, Gulf Sea Frontier.
The vice chief of operations was in charge of all local defense forces. His authority was confirmed by General Order No. 174 of 2 June 1942:
Commanders of Sea Frontiers command
(a) Sea Frontier Forces
(b) Naval local defense forces
As commanders of Sea Frontier Forces, the commanders of Sea Frontiers are under the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, and Chief of Naval Operations, and in turn may have under them, as task force commanders of Sea Frontier forces, the commandants of component naval districts. As commanders of the naval local defense forces, the commanders of the Sea Frontiers are directly under the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, subject to the general supervision of the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations, and in turn shall have under them as task force commanders the commandants of component Naval districts. When commandants of Naval districts are assigned as Task force commanders by a Sea Frontier Commander, their duty as such shall be their primary duty.3
On 13 April 1943 the Tenth Fleet (anti-submarine) was organized under Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, who was also the Chief of Naval Operations. The Tenth Fleet was composed of all the Sea Frontier forces on the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts. While local defense forces thus came directly under the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, they also remained directly under the Vice Chief of Naval Operations.
This duality of command was changed by General Order 213 of 28 December 1944, which cancelled General Order 174. General Order 213 placed all forces of the sea frontiers, including the local defense forces, directly under the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet; the composition of the local defense forces under the Commandant, Eighth Naval District is treated in another chapter;4 here it is sufficient to note that the command relationship in the operational field - from local defense ships and section bases directly to the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet - was at all times well defined.
Furthermore, in the operational field but not directly concerned with the activities of the local defense forces afloat, the Commandant, Eighth Naval District, established administrative staff offices corresponding to like offices in the Navy Department under the Assistant Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations, The District Operations, Transportation, Intelligence, and Public Information Officers, and the District Port Director were all members of the Commandant's staff who administered departments granted a great deal of
decentralized authority. Unlike their colleagues on the Admiral's staff (such as the District Supply Officer) who were representatives of the bureau, they were administrators as well as advisors.
All communications throughout the district were under the District Communications Officer at the end of the war. He was responsible for the upkeep and proper use of all telephone and telegraph landlines, the radio equipment, and the office spaces of each communications office throughout the district. The communicators at the various stations were responsible to him, and not to the Communications Officer on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington. Guided by general lines of policy laid down in Washington he ran the district communication system, including ship-to-shore, as representative of the Commandant.
At the end of the war all vehicles in local transportation use in the Eighth Naval District were part of the Naval district car pool, administered by the District Transportation Officer. The disposal and use of these vehicles was decided by him, and the various transportation officers of district activities were responsible to him.
National Naval Intelligence was decentralized on a regional basis. District Intelligence Officers, responsible through the Commandant to the head of Naval Intelligence in Washington, organized the intelligence departments of each district. In the Eighth Naval District an efficient organization was established before the war. Numerous branch offices throughout the district, correlated and directed in their activities by the district officer, performed yeoman services. A detailed
survey of this office is included later in this history.5
In order to provide for the security of Naval secrets, public information releases had to be reviewed. A central authority was necessary to avoid possible differences of opinion over classification of publicity material. This central authority was established in Washington. For administrative purposes throughout the Nation the various commandants were in charge of the Public Information releases of all activities in the districts. The Director of Public Information, Eighth Naval District, supervised public information under the Commandant. All public information officers at all stations in the district were directly under him.
The various Port Directors, under the supervision of the Port Director, Naval Transportation Service, Eighth Naval District, perform operational functions. Overall supervision of this officer is accomplished by the Chief of the Office of Naval Transportation in Washington, through the Commandant, Eighth Naval District.
Besides the responsibility for defense and operational supervision, the Commandant was delegated the responsibility of military control over all personnel. He was designated by the Secretary of the Navy as authorized to convene General Courts-Martial and he established a General Court-Martial for the Eighth Naval District. All General Court offenses in this district except those occurring within the confines of the air activities were tried before this court.
The Shore Patrol of the district was under the jurisdiction of
the Commandant. He established a permanent Shore Patrol, consisting largely of ex-policemen, which provided the nucleus for the various shore patrols in the confines of the district. Over other military affairs the Commandant exercised full administrative authority; district security was his responsibility, defense against sabotage and inclement weather. He also designated the proper uniforms.
In contradistinction to this relationship was that of the staff officers representing the bureaus. Since it was neither feasible nor desirable for the Commandant to exercise other than coordination control over the various district activities, especially bureau activities such as Naval Ammunition Depot, Shumaker, or the Naval Air Training Command, Corpus Christi, those staff officers - District Ordnance Officer, District Dental Officer, District Supply Officer, etc. were advisors, both to the Commandant, and to the activities of the district.
The district shall be organized into units or groups . . . Each group or unit under the command of an officer responsible for all activities within the group or unit. The district commandant shall not personally supervise the details of work or administration of these commanders . . .
These groups, or commands, will be coordinated . . . Correspondence between groups shall not be routed through the Commandant.
The Commandant of a Naval District has in the general transactions of the service, authority and control over all Naval establishments ashore within the limits of his command, but is not to interfere with the management of those establishments where there are commanding officers.
Communications relating entirely to the technical work of any of the establishments shall be carried on direct with the bureau or station concerned.6
Although in some cases the authority of the commandant over the general transactions of the service seems to have been curtailed, this was true only in respect to highly technical activities, where valid reasons dictated such seeming curtailment. The Bureau of Ordnance, for example, is granted complete charge of upkeep and operation of the various ordnance establishments in the country.7 There were three: Naval Ammunition Depot, New Orleans, Naval Ammunition Depot, McAlester, and Naval Ordnance Plant, Shumaker, Arkansas, in this district. Over these activities the Commandant, Eighth Naval District, had no authority except military. The Commandant, Eighth Naval District, accordingly had little occasion for contact with the Bureau of Ordnance. The Industrial Manager, Eighth Naval District, a Representative of the Bureau of Ordnance and Ships, was, however, an ex-officio member of the staff of the Commandant, and furnished the Commandant with advice.
The Bureau of Ships was charged with responsibility for the design, construction, and repair of all ships of the Navy.8 Its work was of a highly technical nature, like that of the Bureau of Ordnance, and accordingly, there was little reason for the bureau to work through the Commandant. Instead it worked through the Industrial Manager, USN, Eighth Naval District. In the Eighth Naval District, where there is no dry yard, the functions of a yard are performed by the Industrial Manager.
Although in some minor ways the Industrial Manager is a staff officer of the Commandant, able to sign letters "by direction", he is
responsible for construction and repair work directly to the bureaus. In his capacity as member of the Commandant's staff, the Industrial Manager was a liaison agent between the Bureau of Ordnance and Bureau of Ships and the Commandant, Eighth Naval District. He furnished the Commandant with advice and information; but he served the bureaus as an active agent with managerial duties.
Prior to 25 March 1942 the District Material Officer, a full time staff officer of the Commandant, Eighth Naval District, had had cognizance over much repair and reconversion work. While this duty was abrogated by the Secretary of the Navy,9 the responsibility for the safety and security of the vessels undergoing repair remained vested in the Commandant, Eighth Naval District.
The Bureau of Yards and Docks, under the direction of the Secretary of the Navy, is charged with, and responsible for, the design, construction, alteration, and inspection of the public works and public utilities of the shore establishments of the Navy . . . their repair and administrative supervision of operations.10
The Bureau of Yards and Docks' representative in the Eighth Naval District was the Superintending Civil Engineer of Area IV, whose office was established 31 March 1942 by a Secretary of the Navy Circular Letter. Prior to this time the bureau had no supervising representative in this district. Area IV on V-J Day consisted of the Seventh and Eighth Naval Districts.11 Prior to 1 May 1945, however, it also contained part of the Sixth, and did not contain that part of Texas west of the 100th
meridian. The Superintending Civil Engineer was not under the Commandant. He rendered various services - fire prevention inspection of all Eighth Naval District establishments, and sanitary inspections - and the Commandant had military authority over him. But that was the limit of the relationship.
On the staff of the Commandant, Eighth Naval District, was a Public Works Officer assigned by the Bureau of Yards and Docks. He was an advisor to the Commandant and a representative of the bureau when appointed officer in charge of construction in New Orleans, Mobile, or it other spots in the district which have no public works officer. As officer in charge of construction of a project the District Public Works Officer was responsible only to the Superintending Civil Engineer and the Bureau, not to the Commandant, Eighth Naval District.
The chain of command in regard to construction went through the Commandant, Eighth Naval District. Activities (except air) requesting construction submitted their requests through him. After a request was forwarded, either favorably or unfavorably endorsed, all cognizance over the matter passed from the Commandant and the Bureau took charge.
The establishments of the Bureau of Aeronautics in the Eighth Naval District were for the most part free from the jurisdiction of the Commandant. Except for the Naval Air Stations at Pensacola and Corpus Christ; most air stations in this district were established after 1941. Most of these were training activities. For obvious reasons, training activities were specifically exempted from the Commands supervision by the directives establishing the various training
commands: SecNav letter OpC-Jc, Serial 104816, S018083 of 30 April 1942, which established the Air Operational Training Command; SecNav letter 0p40-A-LB, Serial 89340, 8062599 of 11 September 1942, which established the Air Functional Training Command; and VCNO letter Op12 (S)-aw, Serial 1472 of 23 March 1943, which established the Training Task Force Command. These letters were supplemented by SecNav letter GP13C-JC, Serial, 675134 of 9 April 1943. This further delineated the absence of the Commandant, Eighth Naval District's authority over the many air activities in his district. In respect to defense, however, the lighter than air patrols from Houma, Louisiana, and Hitchcock, Texas, and the heavier than air patrols from Pensacola were part of the Sea Frontier anti-submarine forces.
In order to clarify the command relationship, General Order 210 was issued 10 August 1944. This order established the following activities: "Naval Air Bases, Eighth Naval District," "Naval Air Training Bases, Pensacola, Florida," and "Naval Air Training Bases, Corpus Christi." The Naval Air Base command was an activity under the Commandant of this district. The training commands were directly under the authority of the Chief of the proper Naval Air Functional Training Command.12
The Naval Air Bases, Eighth Naval District Command included the following stations: Coast Guard Air Station, Biloxi, Mississippi; Marine Corps Air Station, Fort Worth, Texas; Naval Air Station (LTA), Houma, Louisiana; Naval Air Station (LTA), Hitchcock, Texas; Marine
Corps Auxiliary Air Facility, Rhome Field, Texas; Marine Corps Air Facility, Walnut Ridge, Arkansas; Naval Air Station, Dallas, Texas; Naval Auxiliary Air Facility, Meacham Field, Fort Worth; Naval Air Station, Memphis, Tennessee; Naval Air Station, New Orleans, Louisiana; Naval Air Station, Norman, Oklahoma; and Naval Auxiliary Air Facility, Durant, Oklahoma. The officer in command of the Naval Air Bases, Eighth Naval District, was an ex-officio member of the Commandant's staff. Over this activity the Commandant exercised coordination control as that was defined by the Farber Board.
A few minor administrative functions of the air training commands were handled by the Commandant, Eighth Naval District. Some of these functions were assigned by the Navy Department, and some were assumed at the request of Air Functional Training Command heads. After 1942 the Commandant, Eighth Naval District, handled all matters pertaining to Venereal Diseases in Naval Air Primary Training Command as requested. Also at the request of the commanders of the Functional Commands the far Bond Officer of this district assumed the additional duty of War Bond Officer for the training commands, and the District Postal Officer made quarterly inspections of training command postal facilities.
The District Dental Officer, Prison Administration Officer, and the Benefits and Insurance Officer received additional duty orders to the Air Functional Training Command.13 The Assistant Secretary of the Navy, furthermore, assigned to the Commandant, Eighth Naval District, jurisdiction over domestic transportation vehicles of the Functional
On 4 June 1945 the Secretary of the Navy assigned to the Commandant management and technical control over all communications of the district, and relieved the Naval Air Functional Training Command of ultimate authority over communications activities in their establishments. This letter, plus General Order 210, are the definitives regarding the command relationships of the Bureau of Aeronautics' establishments with the commandants of the naval districts.
The Bureau of Naval Personnel maintained excellent, well-defined relations with the Commandant, Eighth Naval District. The Bureau of Personnel is charged with the procurement, training, promotion, assigning, demobilization, etc., of Naval personnel. In order efficiently to do this it must decentralize its authority. It, accordingly, chose to work through the Commandant in district personnel matters. Navy Regulations delegate authority over the Naval Reserve on inactive status to the commandants of the various districts as representatives of the Bureau of Personnel. The Commandant, Eighth Naval District, furthermore, had charge of officer procurement from the time of reactivating the Eighth Naval District until 1942.
All Naval personnel in the Eighth Naval District who were assigned to no definite command were under the Commandant's Jurisdiction. The District Personnel Classification Officer, a representative of the Bureau of Personnel on the Commandant's staff, interviewed personnel returning from overseas to Headquarters Eighth Naval District for reassignment. On his recommendation the Commandant, Eighth Naval District
issued orders (as representative of the Bureau) granting accrued leave up to thirty days. He also recommended to the Bureau the future assignment of the interviewees, and over seventy percent of the time the Bureau followed these recommendations.
The advice and assistance of the Commandant, Eighth Naval District, concerning personnel training and assignment were solicited and generally followed by the Bureau. Moreover, whenever practical the Bureau of Personnel preferred to utilize the district organizations as its agents in the establishment and supervision of training activities and receiving ships. For example, on 28 February 1942, the Bureau of Navigation ordered the Commandant, Eighth Naval District, to set up an Armed Guard Center at New Orleans Naval Station.
The Bureau of Supplies and Accounts is responsible for the procurement, purchase, and custody of supplies and fuel for the Navy, the custody of funds, and the keeping of accounts including industrial and cost accounting. The Bureau representative in this district was the District Supply Officer who was both a functionary of the Bureau and a member of the District Staff. The District Supply Officer was an advisor to the Commandant, and his responsibility was coordination of activities not organizational.
The Naval Repair Base, New Orleans, was the largest non-aeronautic shore establishment in this district. The Commandant of the Naval Repair Base was under the Commandant, who exercised coordination control over that activity. He also assisted the various component commands in the establishment of training schools. The District Training Officer
provided material, such as training pamphlets and films for the use of receiving ship and Armed Guard Center training officers. He also was a helpful advisor.14
No friction, of course, existed between the Commandant and the Commander Naval Repair Base. In the case of the Industrial Command at its outset some clarification of command relationship was necessary. The Repair and Construction Department of the base was used by the Industrial Manager for his work, yet its personnel and facilities ware under the Commanding Officer, Naval Repair Base. The Commanding Officer of the Repair Base was further charged by the Commandant with the responsibility for the security of ships undergoing repair there. The overlapping of functions caused by this dual authority and its ultimate successful resolution are discussed in the chapter on the Industrial Manager.
Perplexity as to the Commandant's authority arose in connection with the shore activities over which he exercised coordination control or no control except military. It was recognized in this district that the Commandant's staff officers, except for the operational officers, such as Port Director, were advisors, not heads of administrative departments. And that they had no right to interfere with the internal management of activities was fully realized. The term coordination control, however, was not fully defined, and in the case of the air command, few knew quite exactly what activities fell under the Commandant's coordinative control. The latter difficulty was resolved by
General Order 210, and the former by the Farber Board Report as promulgated in SecNav ltr. Op-10jc, Serial 2217131, 4 June 1945. This report fully defined coordination control, and further specified that all activities in the district were under the Commandants' coordination control.
The Farber Board Report will end any subordinate misconception of authority. It will preclude the necessity for the Commandant, Eighth Naval District, to ask the Secretary of the Navy whether his medical officer should make inspection of Corpus Christi Air Base Hospital or not.15 Actually, in this district doubt over the extent of the Commandant's authority existed only among the junior officers in the case of the Air Commands and the Industrial Commands, and these doubts were cleared up promptly as they arose.
The Navy and the Army worked well together in this district. Planning of joint defense measures was undertaken by the Joint Planning Board, on which the Chief of Staff, the War Plans Officer, the Operations Officer, and three Army officers were members. Communications, embarkation of troops, intelligence, passive defense, and commercial storage allocations were subjects of this board's deliberations; its decisions and recommendations made jointly to the Army Commander and to the Commandant, Eighth Naval District, were accepted and employed. Another Joint Agency, the Joint Operations Center, is fully treated in the chapter on "Operational Organization." This agency was an important factor in the elimination of the German submarine menace.
1. Navy Regulations, Article 1481. 2. Navy Regulations, Article 1180. 3. General Order 174, 2 Jun, 1942. 4. Chapter V, "Operational Organization." 5. See Chapter VII, "District Intelligence Officer." 6. Navy Regulations, Article 1400. 7. Navy Regulations, Article 505. 8. Navy Regulations, Article 516. 9. SecNav ltr., Ser. 087323, dtd. 25 Mar, 1942. 10. Navy Regulations, Article 481. 11. SecNav CL., dtd. 12 Apr. 1945. 12. General Order 210. 13. See excellent article in Chapter XXXI by Lt. Comdr. Braswell. 14. See article on District Training Officer. 15. ComEight ltr. of 13 Jan. 1943.
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