Chapter I
Planning the Public Works Program

Doors of a Timber LTA Hangar, South Weymouth, Mass.
Doors of a Timber LTA Hangar, South Weymouth, Mass.

When the average citizen thinks of the Navy, his first thought is of ships and airplanes -- and, more especially, of war ships and war planes. The tremendous industrial and administrative plant of the Navy which supports those ships and planes is rarely seen in its true perspective. But a modern navy would soon be unable to put to sea were it not for the activities of its shore facilities, and the effective cruising range of the fleet is in large measure determined by the efficiency and location of its bases of operations.

Behind the fleet and vitally necessary for its continued operation is a great variety of shore establishments. Ships are built or repaired and are given periodic overhauls in the navy yards. Training stations, receiving stations, and other personnel facilities provide for the training and housing of naval personnel when it is not actually at sea. Supply depots located at strategic points and in connection with other facilities provide the procurement, storage, and distribution of all kinds of supplies, food, and clothing. Guns, ammunition, and other types of ordnance material are manufactured, stored, and distributed by gun factories, ammunition plants, and depots. Naval air training stations and air stations train flight personnel and serve as operating and maintenance bases for the air arm. The sick, injured, and wounded are cared for in hospitals and dispensaries. Numerous radio stations provide the communications that link the operating units together.

The operating bases of the fleet bring together all or most of these various functions in one location, where anchorage or mooring facilities make possible the gathering of numbers of ships. It is in such bases that the fleet makes its home and from which it operates. There it can refuel and revictual and make necessary repairs and overhaul. Air bases perform a similar function for aircraft. As such, the location and capacities of fleet and air bases are as important to the strategy of the Navy as are the number and type of ships. Furthermore, the balance between shore facilities and the fleet must be maintained if the fleet is to have the support necessary to enable it to carry out its missions.

During World War II the Navy Department was organized in general along functional lines, with the various bureaus having jurisdiction over various Activities and with the office of the Chief of Naval Operations directing the employment of the forces afloat and coordinating the work of the various bureaus as they contributed to that end. The place of the Bureau of Yards and Docks within this framework was defined by Admiral Ben Moreell (CEC) USN, its wartime Chief, as follows:

Primarily the function of the Bureau of Yards and Docks in the Naval Organization is to design and construct all public works and public utilities of the shore establishment, and to maintain and repair the larger part of such works. There are a number of corollaries to such duties, such, for example, as surveys for new stations; investigations for foundation conditions; development of new types of structures peculiarly adapted to the naval service; researches on materials; and, most important, analysis of the capacities of existing naval establishments and the requirements for additions to those establishments.

I would like to emphasize that the officers of the Civil Engineer Corps, who administer the work of the Bureau of Yards and Docks and its field activities, are not strategists; we are not tacticians; were are engineers, planners, estimators, constructors and analysts of shore facilities.1.

In carrying out these duties, it devolved upon the Bureau of Yards and Docks, during the period of naval expansion in the late 1930's and during our actual participation in the war, to construct naval public works worth more than $9,000,000,000 both within the continental limits of the United States and at advance bases. This history is the story of how that money was spent and of the organization that carried out this enormous task. The outstanding record of the Bureau in the expansion of the Navy's shore establishment was an indispensable contribution to building the Navy into the greatest sea power in the world; the remarkable achievements


Warehouses, Guam
Warehouses, Guam

of the Seabees in building and developing advance bases to support the operations of our fleets were a basic factor in bringing the war, especially against Japan, to an early and successful conclusion. Part II of this history discusses the details of construction at the continental shore establishment; Part III tells the story of advance base development by the Seabees.

As an introduction to the story of the expansion of the Navy's shore establishment during the war period it is important to review the methods by which that establishment was planned as well as to review the story of the actual construction of projects. It is also of value to outline the steps that were taken prior to our actual entry into the war to prepare for that eventuality. A navy cannot be created or radically expanded on short notice. Except under the most emergent conditions, several years are required

Seaplane Hangars, Alameda, Calif.
Seaplane Hangars, Alameda, Calif.


for the planning and construction of war ships and aircraft, and the actual construction must often be preceded by the construction of manufacturing facilities. In this process, the direct responsibility for determining the program of public works for World War II lay with the various bureaus and with the Chief of Naval Operations. The Bureau of Yards and Docks performed the actual construction of shore facilities. However, in its role of analyst and technical advisor, the Bureau could, and did, exert considerable influence upon plans for public works.

In peace time, the planning of public works had been seriously restricted by budgetary limitations, with a constant backlog of projects carried over from year to year. Each year, the Chief of Naval Operations drew up an estimate of the situation, which outlined the general plan of operation for the coming year. On the basis of this estimate each bureau prepared plans for its activities. Within these plans, public works originated in two ways: either the officers in charge of the Navy's various facilities in the field submitted plans for new projects in their facility, or the chiefs of bureau, cognizant of those activities, planned projects and then directed the officer in the field to make on-the-ground studies and proposals. In either case the project was routed through the commandant of the naval district where it was located. In each naval district, there was a local Shore Station Development Board, composed of the commandant of the district and representatives from each naval activity in the district. The local boards correlated the various projects within the needs of the district itself and submitted the approved projects to the Chief of Naval Operations.

From the various bureaus, the projects went to the Bureau of Yards and Docks, which prepared cost estimates and analyzed the projects from a technical viewpoint as to adequacy and relation to other facilities. The next step was a consideration by the Shore Station Development Board of all the projects that had been submitted. The Board then set up a master priority list, giving each project a position relative to its overall importance. A large number of projects, inevitably, were carried over from one year to the next, but new ones were constantly added and the order changed to meet changing needs. On the basis of budgetary estimates, projects were selected from this list by hearings before the Navy's budget officer. The projects then had to be passed on by the Bureau of the Budget and the naval affairs committees of both the House and the Senate before they were authorized. Having achieved this status, the projects became eligible for consideration in the budget for the coming year, and each was given fresh consideration for a position on the master priority list. Again it was considered by the Navy's budget officer, the Secretary of the Navy, the Bureau of the Budget, and the committees on appropriation of the House and the Senate before funds were appropriated. At the least, this process required eighteen months, and it was necessary in every major project.

The Shore Station Development Board was established in 1916, with the dual purpose of coordinating the public works programs of the various bureaus and of making general long-range plans to guide the development of the shore establishment. With expenditures for public works held to a minimum, there was a tendency to consider only those needs which were urgent and immediate, and it seemed useless to anticipate anything further, as the prospect of obtaining the necessary approval and funds seemed remote. In 1934, upon passage of the Vinson-Trammell Act to build the fleet up to the limits prescribed by the Washington and London treaties, the Board was reconstituted to consist of a member from each of the bureaus and from the Office of Naval Operations. In view of the newly authorized increase in strength, a set of general priorities was established for future building. The West Coast, Canal Zone, The Hawaiian Islands, the Philippine Islands, and Guam were given an "A" classification: New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and the Chesapeake areas were given "B" ratings; under "C" came Key West, Guantanamo, Pensacola, and Charleston: "D" was applied to Great Lakes, Alaska, and Samoa. These classifications were never followed completely, but they furnished a guide and pattern for the work of the Board.

The first major expansion of the Navy after the First World War was authorized two months after Hitler overran Austria, by the Vinson Bill of May 17, 1938, which provided for an increase of 20 percent in ships and an increase of the Navy's aircraft strength to 3,000 planes. Because of testimony presented at the hearings on the bill, that the existing naval air facilities would not accommodate this increase, a section was added to the bill directing


the Secretary of the Navy to appoint a board, consisting of not less than five officers, "to investigate and report upon the need for purposes of national defense, for the establishment of additional submarine, destroyer, mine and naval air bases on the coasts of the United States, its territories and possessions."2 The report of the board was to be given to the Speaker of the House of Representatives during the first session of the following Congress.

The Hepburn Board. -- On June 7, 1938, acting Secretary of the Navy Charles Edison appointed a board consisting of Rear Admiral Arthur J. Hepburn, Commandant of the Twelfth Naval District, as senior member, and Rear Admiral Edward J. Marquart, Captain James S. Woods, Captain Arthur L. Bristol, Jr., Captain Ralph Whitman, C.E.C., as members, with Lieutenant Commander William E. Hilbert as recorder.

The board, which became known as the Hepburn Board, made an exhaustive survey of the strategic needs in connection with the naval defense of the United States and of existing facilities for meeting those needs. In an outstanding report submitted to Congress on December 27, 1938, the board recommended the establishment of new air bases and the expansion of existing bases to provide three major air bases on each coast, one in the Canal Zone, and one in Hawaii; with outlying operating bases in the West Indies, Alaska, and our Pacific island possessions. The board also recommended that the naval air training station at Pensacola be greatly enlarged and that possibly an additional air training station be established at Corpus Christi, Texas; new submarine bases be established in Alaska and the mid-Pacific area, and several existing stations be improved or retained. Some additional facilities were suggested for the existing destroyer bases at Philadelphia and San Diego. No new mine bases were considered necessary, but certain deficiencies were noted in existing bases. A general priority schedule was set up, based on the necessity for providing facilities when the ships and aircraft authorized by the Vinson bill would be completed. In addition, there was a list of projects, considered to be of immediate strategic importance, which should be undertaken at the earliest practicable date. These items were: (1) improvement of air facilities at Kaneohe Bay. Hawaii; (2) submarine and air bases at Wake Island, Midway Island, and Guam; (3) air facilities at Johnston Island and Palmyra Island; (4) air and submarine bases at Kodiak and Sitka; (5) and submarine facilities at San Juan, Puerto Rico.3

In making its studies and formulating its report, the Hepburn Board drew upon the great mass of plans and projects that had been developed by the various bureaus of the Navy as being desirable. As Admiral Hepburn testified at the Congressional hearings on his report, "I would say that every item that the board has suggested has been considered in the past some time by one department or another or by the Joint Board involved, and they have been put down as projects to be attained when they can get the money."4 The board performed an invaluable service in taking all these proposals and, within the framework of definite strategic necessities and available facilities, formulating a comprehensive and coordinated plan for development, especially in the field of aircraft.

Although the estimated cost of the programs set up by the Hepburn Board report was $326,216,000, the first request for authorization from Congress to initiate the program was for $65,000,000 to cover a three-year program. However, events were mounting rapidly, and by the time this program was well under way it had been overshadowed by the need for even greater and more expensive developments. In the general defense program that was to begin a year later, practically all the board's recommendations, except those relating to Guam, were carried out and contributed materially to our position when war actually developed.

Yards and Docks "Bible". -- The Vinson-Trammell treaty-strength bill of 1934 and the Vinson 20 percent increase bill of 1938 had provided merely for increases in ships and aircraft, and, aside from a few minor items for replacement of tools and equipment, there was no corresponding increase in our shore facilities. It had been repeatedly called to the attention of Congress that the shore establishment was lagging behind the fleet and especially with the projected increases, there was real danger that the efficiency of the forces afloat would be impaired by the lack of necessary shore facilities. Although additional funds were being voted for new ships, little was being granted for expansion of the shore facilities which would carry


Power House, Pearl Harbor
Power House, Pearl Harbor

on the ship building and maintain the ships when they were built.

On October 31,1938, Admiral Moreell addressed a memorandum to all project managers and heads of divisions within the Bureau of Yards and Docks, requesting each one to initiate a study within his field and prepare a tabulation of (a) facilities required to bring the establishment up-to-date to meet current needs, and (b) additional facilities necessary to meet the requirements of the ultimate "Vinson Navy." This study, completed on January 1, 1939, became known to the officers in the Bureau as the "BuDocks Bible." It listed additional projects to the extent of $191,095,100 as necessary to meet current needs and a further $138,970,700 to meet the needs of the increases called for in the Vinson Act, for a total of $330,065,000.

The Hepburn Board had recommended the establishment of more than $225,000,000 worth of new bases and about $100,000,000 for expanding the existing air, destroyer, and submarine bases, and mine depots. In these fields, the "Yards and Docks Bible" stipulated approximately $32,000,000. On the other hand, about $145,000,000, or 40 percent of the Yards and Docks program represented needed expansion of the shipbuilding facilities of the industrial navy yards. The Yards and Docks Bible reflected the type of planning that is primarily concerned with the correlation of requests and recommendations originating from the field and from within the various bureaus, always with the problem of a limited budget in mind. With the Hepburn Board report, however, strategic considerations held first place, and it was not bound by the same budgetary limitations.

Shore Station Development Board Reorganization. -- In Europe, the war had broken out, and it was obvious that further expansion was in order for the Navy and, whether or not we became involved, there would be a great increase in naval activity. Looking ahead to these problems, Admiral Moreell, on September 28, 1939, addressed a memorandum


Seaplane Hangars, Corpus Christi, Texas
Seaplane Hangars, Corpus Christi, Texas

to the Secretary of the Navy, setting forth the problem and pointing out that the existing system of planning developments according to the master priority list was not adequate to met the current expansion program. The memorandum proposed:

In order to obtain more expert and thorough consideration of development plans and to expedite procedure so that the plans will always be up-to-date and in conformity with the war plans and the current needs of the Navy, a new organization and procedure for the Shore Station Development Board is herein proposed. The basic function of the Development Board is to establish a program which will meet the strategic needs of the Navy, which provides for facilities adequate to accomplish the purpose intended, and which is entirely practicable from the engineering viewpoint. These three main requirements can be designated as (a) strategic, (b) utilitarian, and (c) engineering. To assure the fulfillment of these objectives, the Development Board would consist of three members, a representative of Operations, a representative of the Shore Establishments Division, and a representative of the Bureau of Yards and Docks. These three would compose the permanent full-time Board. When the development program for works coming under the cognizance of a specific Bureau or office is being considered (such, for example, as the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery), a representative of that Bureau would be designated as a "temporary" member of the Board, for that purpose only. Thus the Board would have the advantage of specialist knowledge on the matters under consideration.

By this procedure, there will be prepared a series of development programs for the various types of activities, each program standing on its own merit and representing the best thought as to the desirable future development of that particular activity. These individual programs would not be blended into one priority list as, by so doing, we bring into competition with each other projects which are so unlike as to preclude any basis of competition. For example, how can one compare the value to the Navy of improving the lighting facilities for study purposes at the Naval Academy with a project for a pipe and copper shop


at the Navy Yard, Pearl Harbor? That is what is being done under present procedure.

The primary purpose of a development plan and a master priority list is to serve as a basis for preparing the Public Works budgets and the authorization bills. I propose that we establish separate development plans for each of the various activities and that the items that are to be included in a Public Works Authorization Bill or in the Public Works budget be selected from those lists by a Board consisting of the Chief of Naval Operations, the Director of the Shore Establishments Division, the Budget Officer of the Navy Department, and the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, or their representatives. By this means, the Public Works Budget and the Authorization Bills can be prepared so as to carry forward the development of all shore activities, each in proper relation to the others.

By the proposed procedure we will be able to present an up-to-the-minute program for the development of any particular branch of the Navy and for the Navy as a whole and we will have a freedom of action not now obtained with a master priority list. If, after the Public Works budget has been submitted to the Bureau of the Budget, it becomes necessary to effect reductions, a reconsideration of the most effective distribution of available funds, would be in order. This is much to be preferred over the present system of arbitrarily eliminating items from the bottom of the priority list.

These recommendations met with the approval of acting Secretary of the Navy Charles Edison, and on December 4, 1939, an order was issued, reorganizing the Shore Station Development Board and redefining its functions. Under the new plan, the board was to consist of four permanent members; the Director, Naval Districts Division, Office of Naval Operations, as senior member, and one officer from the Shore Establishments Division, one from the War Plans Division of the Office of Naval Operations, and one from the Bureau of Yards and Docks. The secretary of the board was to be an officer detailed from the Naval Districts Division. In addition, when the program for any particular class of development was being considered, a representative of the sponsoring bureau or office would participate as a temporary member of the board. The permanent and temporary members of the board were to be designated by name by each of the bureaus and offices in order to achieve a continuity of membership.

The purpose of the board was defined thus:

The primary objective of the Shore Station Development Board shall be to plan for maintaining our shore stations in number, location, and equipment, adequate to support the fleet in a constant state of readiness for war, and for the service of the fleet should war come. It is essential, therefore, that the shore development shall be synchronized with the plans for the utilization of those forces in time of war or national emergency. As a corollary, the development of each "class" of activity should be in balance with that of all other classes, in order that the funds available for shore construction shall be expanded to the greatest advantage of the fleet.5

There were also to be certain changes in procedure. Eleven classes of facilities were established, each with a corresponding sponsoring bureau or office. Each sponsor bureau or office was to prepare a tentative program for the class it sponsored, based on projects recommended by local development boards, current needs, and prospective needs, to parallel the prospective growth of the forces given to facilities which would be of vital importance in the early days of an emergency and could not be improvised quickly. From these tentative programs, the board would prepare a series of comprehensive programs, by classes. Instead of a master priority list, the various programs would be consolidated into a master shore station development program. From this master program a board consisting of the Chief of Naval Operations, the Director of the Shore Establishment Division, the Senior Member of the Shore Station Development Board, the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, and the Director, War Plans Division, Office of Naval Operations, would select projects for inclusion in the public works budget or authorization bills.

Under this set-up, the principal responsibility for planning the public works program was divided among the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, in charge of the shore establishment; the Office of Naval Operations, which was responsible for the general operation of the fleet; and the Bureau of Yards and Docks, which was responsible for the actual construction of the shore establishment. The interests of the various bureaus were protected by their participation as temporary members and by the fact that they originated the tentative programs from which the master program was formulated.

Bureau War Plans. -- In addition to the efforts on the part of the Bureau of Yards and Docks to develop and participate in some agency charged with the general overall planing for the development of the shore establishment, the Bureau was looking ahead within its own organization to develop plans for meeting the varied technical problems with which it would be faced in case of war. This was


especially true in the field of advance base construction. In the summer of 1939, studies were begun to develop mobile and standardized equipment that could be prepared in advance and moved rapidly to create a base. Much of the equipment which was contemplated by these plans was not currently available in the commercial market, and it was necessary for the Bureau to work out basic designs and specifications. Example of this work were the floating drydocks, pontoons, portable housing, portable power plants, stills for producing fresh water from sea water, and other equipment which made possible the rapid advance of our forces into the western Pacific. In cooperation with the other bureaus, also, the Bureau of Yards and Docks was developing plans for standardized structures such as barracks, warehouses, aircraft hangars, and ammunition magazines, which were to be of great value in facilitating the rapid expansion of the shore establishment.

The European war that had begun in September 1939 had flared into violent activity in the spring of 1940 with the invasion of Norway and Denmark, and the, in rapid succession, by the invasion of the Low Countries and the fall of France on June 22. The response of Congress had been immediate. An 11-percent increase in the Navy had been authorized on June 14, and immediately thereafter a bill was enacted creating a "two-ocean" Navy -- involving a further increase of 70 percent in the forces afloat and bringing the aircraft program to 15,000 planes. At the same time, the regular Naval Appropriation Act for 1941, approved June 11, 1940, and the First Supplemental National Defense Appropriation Act for 1941, approved June 26, 1940, provided $97,640,362 and $202,654,000, respectively, for public works to expand the shore establishment. These steps constituted the beginning of the war program.

The public works budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1941 had been put together during the summer of 1939 and was based on the current master priority list. However, before it was presented to Congress, a number of projects based on the more immediate needs arising from the expansion program had been added. Since the regular budget had been prepared so long previously, supplementary appropriations were immediately prepared to get the defense program moving with the necessary rapidity. In preparing the First and Second Supplemental National Defense Appropriations, which were passed by Congress in rapid succession on June 26 and September 9, the Navy drew largely upon the master shore station development program for projects to be included; although it was also necessary to go beyond the list, especially in the field of aviation facilities, to meet newly arising demands. In large part, however, the expansion was based on plans for improvement and enlargement that had been developed by local stations during peace time and were not directly integrated into a general plan for expanding the Navy to meet the emergent conditions.

The Greenslade Board. -- On August 9, 1940, Admiral Moreell, Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, and Admiral C.W. Fisher, Director, Shore Establishments Division of the Office of Naval Operations, addressed a joint letter to the Secretary of the Navy in which they pointed out that the recent 81-percent increase in ships and 500 percent in planes must be paralleled by corresponding increases in the shore establishment; an exhaustive study should be initiated to plan for this expansion in the light of lessons learned from the European war, such as necessity for dispersion of facilities, protection against bombing, etc. It was recommended that a special board be created to give full time to such a study, as the existing Shore Station Development Board was not organized to perform such a task.

The recommendation was accepted by the Secretary of the Navy, and on September 11, 1940, a Board to Survey and Report on the Adequacy and Future Development of the Naval Shore Establishment, consisting of seven officers, with Rear Admiral John W. Greenslade as senior member, was formed "to make a comprehensive study of the shore establishment (naval and commercial) necessary to support the Fleet in peace and war." Commander Kendal B. Bragg (CEC), who represented the Bureau of Yards and Docks on the board, was also the Bureau's representative on the Shore Station Development Board. The Greenslade Board was directed to recommend a program for each class of shore facilities and, so far as practicable, for commercial facilities as well. With the strategic requirements of the fleet in mind, the board was instructed to make recommendations for additional facilities in new locations and as to the expansion, limitation, contraction, abandonment, or conversion of existing shore facilities. The board's report was to include, "in general terms,


Naval Air Station, Kaneohe, T.H.
Naval Air Station, Kaneohe, T.H.

the fundamental characteristics, the size or capacity, and such other descriptive master as will enable the Shore Station Development Board and other Departmental agencies concerned to prepare such plans and estimates as may be needed to effectuate the Board's recommendations." Attention was called to conditions that had changed since the Hepburn Board's report, among which were the acquisition of areas from Great Britain for use by the United States as naval bases, the international situation, the great increase in the authorized strength of the Navy and its air force, and the trends and developments in warfare.

The Greenslade Board requested plans from the various bureaus and offices of the Navy Department and considered this material from the standpoint of the naval requirements upon the completion of the 81-percent increase in 1946 and the strategic defense of the Western Hemisphere and of our position relative to the western Pacific. While it was engaged in this larger task, the board was given the specific task of recommending sites and facilities for the bases that had been acquired in British possessions as a result of the joint agreement of September 8, 1940. This special report was submitted on November 15, 1940 proposed facilities that would cost a total of $315,000.000.

In its report, which was submitted to the Secretary of the Navy on January 6, 1941, the board presented in general terms the basic requirements of the shore establishment needed to support the expanded fleet contemplated for 1946. The capacity and fundamental characteristics of various activities were indicated, but the detailed plans were left to the permanent bureaus and offices. The outline for this expansion called for two main home bases on the East Coast in the New York-Boston area and the Delaware-Chesapeake-Charleston area -- capable of supporting operations of a major portion of the Fleet; a main operating base capable of supporting a large portion of the Fleet in the Puerto Rico-Virgin Islands area, with a supporting base at Guantanamo, Cuba, and a subsidiary operating base at Trinidad, B.W.I.; with a


Dry Dock No. 7, Bayonne Annex to the New York Navy Yard
Dry Dock No. 7, Bayonne Annex to the New York Navy Yard

chain of outlying air and light forces bases in Newfoundland, Bermuda, Mayaguana in the Bahamas, Antigua, St. Lucia, and British Guiana. In the Pacific, the board recommended main bases in the Puget Sound area, San Francisco are, Hawaiian Islands, and the Philippines; a main training area at San Pedro-San Diego; a subsidiary operating base in the Canal Zone; and outlying air, submarine, and light forces bases at Unalaska, Kodiak, and Sitka, in Alaska; Samoa, Johnston, and Palmyra islands; and a subsidiary operating base at Guam. Also recommended was a chain of section bases for patrol craft on both coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico. The important differences in strategic plan between this report and the report of the Hepburn Board were that the Greenslade Board proposed a more definite extension of our Pacific frontier to the Philippines and urged that arrangements be made for the use of the British base at Singapore by our forces; in the Atlantic the acquisition of a base in Trinidad extended southward the range of the fleet operation and was of great importance in the enlarged concept of hemisphere defense. It should be noted that at the time, there was a real possibility that the Axis powers would seize French North Africa and establish themselves at Dakar.

As to the navy yards, it was proposed that each coast should have repair capacity sufficient to maintain sixty percent of the 1946 Fleet in peacetime on a single-shift basis. By operating two or three shifts, these facilities could be used to meet any sudden expansion of load. On the East Coast, naval repair capacity was considered adequate, and no further expansion was advocated except to create better-balanced facilities and, where required, to accomplish the heavy shipbuilding tasks that had been assigned. The West Coast was found to have capacity, both existing and projected, barely adequate to met this requirement. However, since it would be imprudent to concentrate any more activities in limited areas, no further development of Mare


Island and Puget Sound navy yards, other than to balance existing facilities, was recommended. Instead, further developments were to be made at Pearl Harbor and in the San Pedro-San Diego area. In order to make repair facilities available in case of war, not more than twenty percent of the navy yard capacity was to be used for new shipbuilding. To make this possible, definite encouragement of commercial shipbuilding facilities, especially on the West Coast, was recommended. There were no specific recommendations as to the size or location of other facilities except that all non-industrial facilities be separated geographically from industrial facilities and that they be distributed as far as feasible in different parts of the country.

In commenting on the current expansion, the board gave its general approval, recognizing that the urgency of the need outweighed other considerations. It should be noted that the board was thinking in terms of the operation and maintenance of the projected 1946 fleet and was trying to integrate the facilities, such as shipbuilding, currently being used in the abnormally large construction program, with the more permanent situation that would exist after the program was complete. It was definitely not a plan for emergency wartime expansion, although, as it outlined a plan for the permanent organization of the shore establishment, it could be used as a valuable guide in the planning of the wartime program.

The report of the Greenslade Board was distributed among the various bureaus and officers of the Navy Department for study and comment. On the basis of these comments the Office of Naval Operations made some adjustments to bring the program up to date on the newly determined 15,000-plane program and on certain modifications with regard to the bases obtained from Britain. It was then approved by the Secretary of the Navy on May 14, 1941, and issued to the Department with the recommendation that it be used as a general guide by all naval shore facilities planning agencies.

Battleship in a 10-section Advance Base Sectional Dock
Battleship in a 10-section Advance Base Sectional Dock


Enlisted Men's Barracks, Jacksonville
Enlisted Men's Barracks, Jacksonville

National Defense Projects. -- Most of the major projects in the 1940-41 expansion program that required new locations were started during 1940; the 1941 program consisted largely of expansion of existing facilities and completion of projects already initiated. In this period, the regular appropriation act went through the normal channels and, therefore, reflected the needs as they had been foreseen and planned at least a year previously. World events, however, were not constrained to such a schedule, and to keep abreast of the times it was necessary to accelerate the speed of expansion. Thus, from July 1, 1940, up to our entry into the war, a total of $175,000,000 was provided for public works by regular budgetary methods and about $915,000,000 was appropriated by emergency procedures. Of this latter figure, between one-third and one-half represented projects taken from the master shore-station development program and were essentially permanent additions to the shore establishment. The remainder were projects that were developed to meet the needs of the current expansion and were of a temporary character. While these were all passed upon by the Shore Station Development Board and were subject to further screening by the Navy's Budget Officer and the Bureau of the Budget, they were not an integral part of a general plan, but were developed and presented by the various bureaus as their activities were expanded to meet the general increase.

The year and a half prior to Pearl Harbor had been a period of rapid transition from a peacetime to a war economy, and the Navy's public works program had to fit itself into the general picture. Upon passage of the Selective Service Act in 1940, the Army had had to build tremendous new facilities for training purposes. Orders for armament required industrial expansion and the creation of new industrial communities, with attendant housing and other facilities. This burden on the construction industry was accelerated after the passage of the Lend-Lease Act in March 1941. In planning


the Navy's public works program, the problem of competition for scarce facilities became increasingly important. In general, it became the duty of the Bureau of Yards and Docks to adjust the construction programs of the various bureaus to the amount and geographical distribution of materials and construction capacity. One of the major considerations in the scope of the program during this period was the anticipated availability of facilities for carrying the program through to completion within required time limits. Because of this planning, the actual involvement of this country in the war found the Navy's public works program well up to schedule and prepared for further and more extensive developments.

Prior to December 1941, the planning of public works by the Navy had as its goal the building of a shore establishment to meet the needs of the two-ocean Navy that had been authorized by Congress. This planning found its expression in the recommendations of the Hepburn Board and the Greenslade Board. In addition, there were two types of emergency projects. One included the provision of facilities that were necessary in order to carry out the expansion itself, such as increased shipbuilding and aircraft construction facilities, training facilities for the large number of new recruits, etc., that would not be needed once the program was complete and only replacements were necessary. The other type included facilities required by the war situation, and was represented by the additional section bases that were necessary to support the neutrality patrol, repair facilities for foreign shipping under Lend-Lease, etc. In planing the facilities for these emergency purposes, each bureau, each section of the Office of Naval Operations, each commandant of a naval district or sea frontier worked out the requirements for fulfilling the mission assigned to it by the Chief of Naval Operations.

Wartime Procedures

With the nation plunged into war by the attack on Pearl Harbor, a new type of situation developed. The time schedule for existing planned increases was speeded up to the limit, and at the same time the scope of the program was being doubled or tripled. The expansion of personnel facilities was an example. The enlisted strength of the Navy, which had been 125,000 on June 30, 1939, had been doubled by June 30, 1941, and a further increase to 369,000 was planned for June 30, 1942. Immediately after our entry into the war, however, this figure was increased to 1,000,000 and was to be raised steadily throughout the war. As many of the men involved in the previous increases were still in training, this further expansion called for a tremendous construction of personnel and training facilities. Having been given the task of procuring and training these men, it was the prime responsibility of the Bureau of Navigation (later the Bureau of Naval Personnel) to work out the facilities it would need to fulfill its mission and, in cooperation with the Bureau of Yards and Docks, decide such questions as whether to expand existing stations or to establish new ones, the type of specialized facilities necessary for trade schools, the location of new stations, etc.

Other bureaus would be involved to provide necessary services such as supply, medical dispensaries, etc. The Bureau of Yards and Docks was responsible for coordinating the needs of all participating bureaus in the general plan for the facility and for planning the necessary utilities -- central heat, sewage disposal, etc. Then, upon approval by the proper authorities, the Bureau of Yards and Docks had charge of constructing the facility. A similar process was followed for facilities created for each bureau, as described in the following chapters of this history.

During the first months of the war, as the operating force plan was being constantly revised upward, there was a vast scramble on the part of the Army, the Navy, and industry to obtain the facilities and materials that were necessary for each to cary out its program. It was found that unlimited money did not automatically create an adequate supply of vital materials or productive capacity. It is not the purpose of this chapter to show in detail the way this problem was solved, but it should be pointed out that the entire program of public works was subject to this limitation.

In the spring of 1942, because of the shrinking supply of many critical materials and the increasing difficulty in obtaining labor in the construction industry, the Bureau of Yards and Docks outlined a set of rules for new construction that was designed to conserve scarce materials and manpower. Much of this was later incorporated in a "Joint Directive on Wartime Construction," issued May 20, 1941 by the War Production Board, the Secretary of War, and the Secretary of the Navy. This


Shop Interior, Argentia Naval Operating Base
Shop Interior, Argentia Naval Operating Base

directive specified that buildings should be no more elaborate or extensive than was absolutely essential and that, insofar as possible, substitutes should be found for scarce materials. At the same time the Bureau issued a booklet entitled "A Message on Conservation," describing methods for utilizing substitutes and outlining efficient types of construction. Throughout the war, the Bureau carried on extensive research to develop effective substitutes and more efficient structures.

Shore Station Development Board suspended. -- It had been expected, at the time it was reorganized in 1939, that the Shore Station Development Board would act as a general planning agency for naval public works, and in case of war would direct the necessary expansion. Such a function, however, would have required a full-time board and could not properly be handled by a part-time group which met briefly once or twice a week, the members of which were already heavily burdened with their regular duties. For this reason the board was limited to the consideration of individual projects which had already been developed to the point where any extensive modification would cause damaging delay. In view of these circumstances, the Secretary of the Navy on June 10, 1942, suspended the functions of the Shore Station Development Board and all local district development boards,6 and on June 25, established a new procedure for the handling of new projects as follows:

(a) Projects originating in the field shall be forwarded by the interested activity direct to the cognizant Bureau.

(b) If approved, the cognizant Bureau shall forward the project to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, via the Bureau of Yards and Docks. Projects originating in the Bureaus will be similarly forwarded.

(c) The Bureau of Yards and Docks will obtain clearance from the Assistant Secretary's Office (Shore Establishment Division) and where applicable, preliminary clearance will be obtained from the Office of Defense Transportation, the Army and Navy Munitions Board (Ocean Shipping Section), the War Production Board (Plant Site Board and Facilities Committee) and other interested Governmental agencies. Where Bureaus other than the Bureau with primary cognizance are involved, clearance from these Bureaus will


also be obtained. Projects involving production facilities (public works and civil works) will be cleared through the Office of Procurement and Material.

(d) If approved by the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, the project will be forwarded for final approval to the Secretary of the Navy. Approval by the Secretary of the Navy will constitute authority for the expenditure of funds, or, if funds are not available, for submission to the Director of Budgets and Reports for authorization and appropriations.

For projects located at existing stations, the cognizant Bureau will obtain the comment and recommendation of the Commandant or Commanding Officer of the station. For other projects the cognizant Bureau will, if deemed necessary or desirable, obtain the views of the District Commandant. In any event, the District Commandant will be informed of the prospective development by carbon copy of the forwarding letter in order that he may have an opportunity to register his views.

Endorsement of a project by local authorities and/or Bureaus and Offices of the Navy Department will constitute a certification by the endorser that with respect to the features within his purview, the project complies with the Directive for War Time Construction.7

Changes in project authorization. -- This procedure, with minor changes to exempt minor projects, remained in force until May 5, 1944, when a new method was established. Under this system, the Bureau of Yards and Docks had responsibility for seeing that all projects conformed to wartime requirements as to technical and engineering details and location within existing stations; the Vice Chief of Naval Operations was responsible for judging the military and strategic necessity. In practice, except where there was a glaring and obvious departure from necessity, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations accepted the certification of the sponsoring bureau as evidence of compliance.

Although the Bureau of Yards and Docks was essentially a service agency and as such did not have the authority to perform a general overall planning function, it did, by virtue of its technical advice, exert considerable influence on the development of the shore establishment. When a project requiring a new location was under consideration, a site board, composed of representatives of the sponsor bureau and, frequently, of other bureaus having an interest in the project, and of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, would be appointed to make a survey to recommend suitable locations. As technical considerations such as available transportation, condition of the terrain, availability of manpower for both construction and operation, were of vital importance, the advice of the representative of the Bureau of Yards and Docks carried considerable weight. Likewise, when a project originated in the field, approval had to be obtained from the local public works officer or the district public works officer as to whether or not there was adequate room at the station for the new project, the local labor supply was adequate, and other factors were favorable. This was, however, often a veto power rather than a positive one and, of course, could not reach directly the bureau which might be assigning the task that made the project necessary. An example of the limit of this kind of influence is found in the fact that from the beginning of the program Admiral Moreell had consistently and repeatedly urged that facilities be dispersed and that, instead of constantly adding to existing stations, with the resultant congestion, the expansion be achieved by establishing new stations in new locations. In spite of this, however, the tendency to add to existing stations persisted, with the result that serious congestion occurred at several points, such as Newport, R.I., and the Norfolk area in Virginia.

Advance Base Planning. -- During the early part of 1942, the organization of the Seabees and the development of the advance base program began to achieve sizable proportions. The Seabees were organized and trained by the Bureau of Yards and Docks, but their operations in the field were controlled by the theater commander. Similarly, the commander in the field or the Chief of Naval Operations determined the location and size of advance bases. But the technical planning of equipment and the formulation of standard lists of components was carried on by the Bureau of Yards and Docks in consultation with the Chief of Naval Operations, and a large measure of the remarkable success of the advance bases was directly attributable to this planning and the development of new and novel types of equipment. Among the major construction projects of 1942 were the building of advance base depots at Davisville, R.I., and Port Hueneme, Calif.

During the latter part of 1942, increasing difficulties were developing in the whole war production program. The material situation was becoming steadily tighter, and the War Production Board was trying to obtain universal application of its production requirements plan for control of critical supplies. On November 4, 1942, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox issued a letter to all bureaus and offices of the Navy Department, calling for a


reduction in the public works program and a more careful screening of all new projects. This letter gave the basic requirements that were to be observed during the remainder of the war construction program. It stated:

  1. No facilities project may be initiated until the cognizant bureau has made affirmative findings that the project meets the following criteria:

    1. It has a direct and important effect on the conduct of the war.

    2. Construction or manufacture must be undertaken immediately to meet the "time requirement" schedule of the project concerned.

    3. There are no existing facilities which can be condemned, purchased, leased, rented, converted, or otherwise utilized which will serve the desired purpose even at some decrease in efficiency.

    4. All non-essential items and parts have been removed from the project so that not only the project itself but all of its component parts meet the requirements of essentiality for the conduct of the war.

    5. All collateral needs such as housing, community facilities (water, sewers, power, hospitals, schools, roads, etc.) storage for finished products, etc., have been evaluated in arriving at a decision as to the practicability of the project.

    6. In the case of public or civil works, it has been determined in consultation with the Bureau of Yards and Docks, that:

      1. Men, materials, equipment, and services needed to build the project will be available without interference with other more important operations.

      2. That the proposed construction is of the cheapest temporary character, with structural stability sufficient only to met the needs of the service which the structure is intended to fulfill during the period of its contemplated war use.

      3. That the proposed construction materials are those which will cause the least interference with the production of combat material and the most efficient current utilization of labor, transportation, power, and other services.

      4. That the proposed project conforms in all respects to the requirements of the Army and Navy Munitions Board directive, "List of Prohibited Items for Construction Work," dated 1 April 1942, and revisions thereof.

  2. Projects which are desirable for improving the efficiency of operations, morale, for the convenience of personnel, or for improving the appearance of the establishments shall be deferred for future consideration. Recreation and morale-building projects, except for extra-continental stations, shall be undertaken only when it has been positively determined that the failure to provide the needed facility will have a seriously detrimental effect on the health of the personnel and/or the efficiency of performance.

  3. The consideration of post-war needs shall have no weight in the determination of the extent or character of a project nor in the decision as to its present necessity.

On the basis of this letter, a general review of projects under consideration was made, and a considerable reduction was achieved. However, the problem was far from solved, and the constantly growing material shortage made it necessary for the Bureau of Yards and Docks to circularize all bureaus on January 4, 1943, requesting information as to which projects were most urgent and which could be delayed or reduced. On several subsequent occasions when the number of projects that had been checked and approved individually within the various bureaus and offices had piled up beyond the existing capabilities, the Bureau of Yards and Docks had to call on the sponsoring agencies to indicate a general priority status for their projects.

On December 22, 1942, a schedule for handling new projects was established. In preparing a project for submission, the Bureau of Yards and Docks would check to see that all requirements had been complied with but would not forward them individually. On the last of each month the Bureau would forward to the Secretary of the Navy, via the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, a list of all projects that were ready for approval. If, during the month, a project developed that required immediate action, it would be marked for special handling and sent through the same channels.

In order to assist the Vice Chief of Naval Operations in passing on the essentiality of new projects an assistant commandant for logistics, responsible directly to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, was appointed for each naval district. It was his duty to check on whether or not the new project fitted into the program of the district as a whole. This office continued many of the functions of the local shore station development boards but expanded their scope and centralized the authority. In a further effort to coordinate the work of the various bureaus at the Washington level, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, on February 12, 1943, ordered that thereafter the head of the planning division of each bureau should be ex-officio assistant to the Director of Logistic Plans Division of the Office of Naval Operations. Thus the line of authority from the Vice Chief of Naval Operations through the chiefs of bureaus was paralleled by a direct line between the lower echelons.

In the fall of 1943, several changes in the war program made additional demands on the shore establishment. The emphasis on amphibious warfare required the building of large numbers of landing ships and craft, with consequent expansion


Camp Hill 5000-man Unit at Farragut Naval Training Center
Camp Hill 5,000-Man Unit at Farragut Naval Training Center

of facilities for servicing them and for training the personnel to man them. Advances in many fields required expansion of technical training schools. New types of ordnance, especially the rocket, called for many new facilities of all types. Furthermore, the increasing scale of the war in the Pacific was requiring expansion of facilities on the West Coast.

When the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1943, had been formulated during the fall of 1942, it had been anticipated that within a year the peak of new construction would have been passed, and a drastic reduction in new public works was accordingly proposed. For the continental United States, about $300,000,000 was requested, and $265,000,000 had been appropriated by Congress. There was, in addition, a large amount of construction that had been started in 1941 and 1942 that would be completed during the year. in general, the calendar year of 1943 was a year in which few new major projects were planned and the main emphasis was placed upon the completion of projects already under way.

By the beginning of September 1943, however, it was obvious that the plans foreseen a year earlier for the fiscal year 1943 had been too modest and the funds already provided would not be sufficient. On September 7, 1943, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations called on all bureaus and offices of the Navy Department to submit lists of all construction that they contemplated within the continental limits of the United States between then and June 30, 1944. More than half a billion dollars worth of projects were submitted, and from these a program costing $225,000,000 was presented to Congress. After certain additions and deletions, Congress passed the Contract Authorization Act of January 28, 1944, authorizing $281,060,000 for construction. While this act was still under consideration in Congress, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations was working out with the various bureaus a time-priority schedule so as to determine which projects could be done under the existing appropriations, which would be included in the forthcoming act, and which would be the basis for the 1945 fiscal budget. The general priorities for this program were established in December 1943.

With the mass movement overseas of Army personnel, the Army was abandoning some of its training camps and air training stations, and other facilities were being declared surplus. On December


Seabee Quarters and Chapel, Rosneath, Scotland
Seabee Quarters and Chapel, Rosneath, Scotland

4, 1943, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations directed the Bureau of Yards and Docks to establish liaison with the appropriate Army agencies to obtain information about Army surplus installations and to disseminate this information to the various bureaus. On February 29, 1944, this policy was advanced another step by directing that all district commandants set up similar liaison with the Army within their districts, and that before any new construction was recommended, the availability of surplus Army facilities be investigated. If none was available, a statement to that effect should be included with the justification for the project. As a result, more than $250,000,000 worth of Army facilities were transferred to the Navy during 1944.

Congestion on the West Coast, which had been steadily increasing, became acute early in 1944. The manpower situation was especially critical because of the tremendous expansion of the aircraft and shipbuilding industries. On April 15, 1944, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations issued instructions that thereafter the Bureau of Yards and Docks give an estimate of the labor required for the initial construction and subsequent maintenance of West Coast projects and the sponsoring bureau or office provide an estimate of the civilian labor necessary for the operation of the facility. This information was to be used by the Secretary of the Navy in making a final decision on the project.

At the same time, Admiral Greenslade, senior member of the Greenslade Board in 1940, and later appointed Pacific Coordinator of Naval Logistics, was asked to make a survey of conditions. In a preliminary report in May and a final report on July 11,1944, Admiral Greenslade pointed out that the West Coast had reached a saturation point in terms of community facilities in the vicinity of San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, and that no further additions to the


labor supply could be absorbed. In fact, there was danger that any further immigration would result in an even greater exodus of workers dissatisfied with overcrowded housing and other community facilities. Pointing out that new construction for naval public works was being authorized at twice the rate of accomplishment. Admiral Greenslade recommended that, as far as possible, new facilities be located inland from the port areas and that, where possible, existing facilities be moved inland to permit necessary new construction in coastal areas. Admiral Greenslade pointed out that measures taken to relive the situation would required close coordination in planning at the Washington level by all military and industrial agencies; otherwise, any slack provided by one agency would be taken up by another, with no improvement in the general situation. His major recommendations were that new West Coast shipbuilding be cut back and the facilities used for ship-repair work; that, especially in the San Diego area, aircraft production be reduced and industrial facilities be utilized for overhaul purposes; that all Army, Navy, and Marine Corps basic training and recruitment facilities be moved inland; that greater loads of overseas shipping be handled through Pacific Northwest ports and in the Los Angeles-Long Beach areas, although the latter would require reallocation of manpower; that a supply depot be developed at Stockton, Calif., to relive the congestion at Oakland; and that, where possible, supplies from the East and Middle West be shipped to the Pacific via East Coast and Gulf ports. A number of these recommendations were put into effect, but it was not possible to eliminate entirely the construction of new public works on the West Coast.

When the regular naval appropriation bill for 1945 came before Congress in March 1944, the House committee on appropriations was critical of the extent of the Navy's public works program and expressed the opinion that existing facilities were not being utilized to the fullest degree. Shortly thereafter, on May 20,. 1944, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations ordered all bureaus to make a survey of all facilities to ascertain whether any could be reduced or eliminated. This survey resulted in only slight modifications, and on November 15, 1944, the Secretary of the Navy ordered a survey of all activities to see if any could be eliminated or consolidated. In carrying out this order, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations directed that each bureau should make a recommendation with respect to each facility, and, also, that the commandant of each naval district should make an independent survey and recommendation on each facility within his district. These reports were submitted by January 1, 1945, and after the two sets of recommendations had been collated and compared, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations on March 28, 1945, issued detailed instructions for the consolidation, reduction, or elimination of a large number of activities.

Home Base Development Council. -- Meanwhile, there had been a change in the procedures for processing public works projects. A Home Base Development Council was created within the Office of Naval Operations to pass on all new projects. Under new procedure established on May 5, 1944, projects were to be cleared through the Bureau of Yards and Docks to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations as soon as the necessary information was complete. The Home Base Development Council met two or three times a week and prepared a list of approved projects which it then forwarded to the Secretary of the Navy via the Vice Chief of Naval Operations. The basic responsibilities of the Bureau of Yards and Docks and the Vice Chief of Naval Operations were not changed, but it was possible to speed the processing of projects and eliminate the need for special handling.

The Hill Committee. -- During the period of war construction, the Bureau of the Budget had been maintaining only nominal supervision over military appropriations that had been presented to Congress. However, for many types of projects, money appropriated by Congress could be made available for construction only upon approval by the Bureau of the Budget. Thus, that bureau could holdup projects even after they had been approved by the Secretary of the Navy. Although this power was seldom exercised, the requirement for consideration by an additional agency caused delays in beginning construction. After prolonged negotiations between the Navy Department and the Bureau of the Budget, a plan was worked out whereby an independent civilian committee was established within the Secretary's office to review and screen all public works before they were presented to the Secretary for approval. The Bureau of the Budget agreed that, where projects had been screened in this manner, approval would be given


for release of funds with no further scrutiny. The Secretary's Committee on Public Works Projects was created on August 1, 1944, with Arthur M. Hill, special assistant to the Secretary of the Navy, as chairman, and two to four civilians as members. Admiral Thomas C. Hart served with the committee for a short time, but his other duties made it necessary for him to withdraw.

The Hill Committee, as it came to be known, made independent surveys and field inspections of all important projects and made recommendations to the Secretary, who gave the final approval or disapproval of the specific project. The committee continued to function until after V-J day; its functions were finally taken over by the Facilities Review Board which was created in October 1945. In his report to the Secretary of the Navy, Mr. Hill pointed out that at the time the committee was created a serious nation-wide situation existed, wherein each month the backlog of construction work under way was increasing while the amount of work actually accomplished was remaining constant or was decreasing, and no improvement in the labor or material situations could reasonably be anticipated.

"Consideration of new projects by the Bureau of Yards and Docks from a construction and engineering viewpoint," the report stated, "was as competent and thorough as could be reasonably expected. This Bureau does not, however, attempt to pass on the basic necessity for new construction, such function being considered the responsibility of the sponsoring Bureau." With each bureau acting independently to determine the essentiality of the projects it sponsored, "it was evident to the Committee that there was no effective coordinating control in the Navy of the large volume of requests for new construction which were being processed, and no adequate standards by which such new construction was judged and evaluated for wartime, or even post-war utility."8 The Hill Committee attempted to supply this deficiency.

When the time came to prepare the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1945, the Bureau of the Budget insisted that the public works program for continental United States be prepared in its pre-war form, with each project defined and expenditures limited to the project as listed. A concession to possible emergencies was made in a contingency fund, to be appropriated as a lump sum. Advance base construction also received a lump sum. The public works budget was prepared in much the same way as had been done before the war and consisted largely of projects designed to improve or extend existing facilities. The House Appropriations Committee looked askance at many of the projects, but did not wish to take responsibility for cutting any particular one. The result was a reduction in the total amount, with a continuation of the lump-sum method.

Post-War Planning

As early as the fall of 1943, consideration was being given to post-war planning. The original impetus for this was the desire to create a plan for governmental public works to serve as a cushion for the anticipated unemployment during the post-war reconversion and readjustment period. An executive order from President Roosevelt, dated October 4, 1943, called upon all governmental agencies to submit plans for post-war public works. The Vice Chief of Naval Operations, in turn, instructed all bureaus and offices to submit comments as to the projects to be included in a long-range post-war public works program. These comments were studied by the Bureau of Yards and Docks, and on January 15, 1944, the Bureau offered a general plan for the post-war development of the shore establishment. The plan envisaged the replacement of temporary by permanent facilities where necessary; the reorganization of existing stations on the basis of increased loads or, if this proved to be uneconomical, the replacement of them with new stations; and the development of certain advance bases on a permanent status, with adequate protection. The plan was drafted in general terms for a ten-year program at an estimated cost of $317,000,000 per year. It recommended that a special board be established to work out specific projects and plan the location of various facilities. The proposal was based on the premises that a considerable part of the expanded Navy would be retained after the war and that the government would embark on a program of large-scale public works in the post-war period.

A more specific type of planning was called for by a circular letter from the Secretary on January 4, 1944, instructing the Navy Department to assemble data on the Navy's plant, real estate, and other capital equipment. This was to be used as a basis for plans for post-war retention of property and


Maval Air Station, Kodiak
Naval Air Station, Kodiak

for organizing the disposal of unneeded real estate and facilities.

In May 1945, the Chief of Naval Operations directed that the various bureaus and offices of the Navy Department, and the United States Marine corps, prepare subsidiary demobilization plans for approval and integration into the overall Navy demobilization plan.

The problems confronting the Bureau of Yards and Docks were of such a nature as to require close coordination with other planning agencies in order to evolve a plan that would work smoothly. The Navy subsidiary demobilization plan as prepared by the Bureau of Yards and Docks outline orderly demobilization rates and recommended disposition of activities considered practicable for the transition from wartime to planned post-war status for all activities under its cognizance.

The plan also included provisions for moorings and other facilities in berthing sites for vessels awaiting disposal, and for termination of contracts for procurement and construction not required in the post-war period.

The preparation of demobilization plans was necessarily related to post-war plans in that the latter established the objectives, or final levels, to be reached in the process of reducing the naval establishments to a status adequate for the support of the fleet, including the laying up of its inactive reserve units. Under various directives of the Chief of Naval Operations, the Navy subsidiary post-war plans were prepared by cognizant planning agencies


Figure 1. -- Naval Shore Construction Program, July 1, 1940 to January 1, 1946
Figure 1. -- Naval Shore Construction Program, July 1, 1940 to January 1, 1946


Concrete-block Storehouses, Clearfield, Utah
Concrete-Block Storehouses, Clearfield, Utah

to determine peacetime requirements of personnel, material, construction, and services. This planning was largely concurrent with, and initiated in advance of, demobilization planning.

Among the subjects involved in the Bureau of Yards and Docks subsidiary post-war plan were: public works of the Navy (continental and overseas); maintenance, Bureau of Yards and Docks; facilities ashore, including low-cost rental housing; facilities for inactive vessels; research and development; personnel; budget; legislation.

Demobilization of substantial numbers of fleet units, which began immediately after V-J Day, necessitated studies, planing, designing, and preparation of contracts in coordination with other planning agencies, leading to the construction of facilities and services to accommodate vessels of the inactive reserve fleet.

Two other planning projects undertaken prior to the close of World War II which were closely related to the transition of the Bureau's effort from wartime to peacetime scope were the development of plans for permanent bases in outlying areas and a five-year program for public works construction, expansion, and improvement of continental shore facilities.


Warehouses and Railroad at Advance Base Depot, Gulfport, Miss.
Warehouses and Railroad at Advance Base Depot, Gulfport, Miss.


Table of Contents
Next Chapter (2)


1. Public Works Authorization Bill, H.R. Com. on Naval Affairs, 76 Cong., 1st Session -- 2 February 1939. Hearings, p. 290-291.

2. Public Law No. 528, 75th Congress, 3rd Session, Sec. 10.

3. Report of Hepburn Board, H.R. Document No. 65, 76th Congress, 1st Session.

4. Public Works Authorization Act. H.R. Committee on Naval Affairs Hearings, 76th Congress, 1st Session, 26 January 1939, p. 94.

5. Sec Nav letter to Director, Naval Districts Division, Office of Naval Operations, 4 December 1939.

6. Sec Nav ltr, June 10, 1942.

7. Sec Nav ltr, June 25, 1942.

8. Report of the Secretary's Committee on Public Works, November 26, 1945.

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