Chapter XII
The Supply Depots

Part I -- Naval Supply Depots

Satisfying simultaneously the logistic demands of a Pacific and an Atlantic war, each larger than any previous war, was the stupendous task performed by the Navy's supply system from 1941 to 1945. The major shore units of this system were the supply depots, and it was by rapid construction at old and new supply depots that the Bureau of Yards and Docks contributed most notably to the fulfillment of the Navy's supply assignment.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor there were only two continental supply depots in commission -- one at Norfolk, Va.; the other at San Diego, Calif. Two more large depots -- at Oakland, Calif., and Bayonne, M.J. -- were under construction, and Oakland was so nearly complete that it was quietly commissioned a week later.

By August 1945, there were twelve continental supply spots, and other separate supply activities in the United States, such as fuel depots, landing craft equipment depots, and aviation supply annexes, numbered more than fifty. Most of these had been built during the war. The amount spent by the Bureau of Yards and Docks on all storage activities was more than 500 million dollars. This amount included storage facilities at navy yards, training stations, and the like, as well as at separate supply activities.

The supply depots, which are treated in this chapter, have for their function the procuring, storing, and forwarding of material to the supply departments of individual installations, to other large depots, to advance bases, or direct to ships of the fleet.

World War II focused attention on logistics to a greater extent than any previous war. Part of this was due to the increased intricacy of modern ships and planes and weapons; part of it was due to higher standards of living and greater knowledge of men's needs; and part of its was due simply to the great quantities of every item needed to service the enormous number of men, ships, and bases which made up the 1945 Navy.

To have all these thousands and thousands of things ready for use at the right time, in the right place, and in the right quantity, presented tremendous problems, not only in procurement and transportation but in storage as well.

Storage was either open or covered. Open storage was used for materials not easily affected by the weather or for materials which were to be stored for a short time. It was provided temporarily by clearing and leveling the ground or more permanently by paving the areas. Some paved areas were served by overhead cranes. Covered storage construction included erection of all manner of buildings, from the simplest open-sided shed to the most complicated temperature and humidity controlled warehouses or refrigerated storehouses. Supply depot construction also included the requisite servicing of storage units, such as roads, walks, sewerage, and water supply.

During the five momentous years from 1940 to 1945, NSD Norfolk, the oldest of the existing supply depots, was expanded to its maximum physical limitations within the naval operating base. An annex was developed at the former Army Base Terminal, situated about 2 miles south of the depot, and when this was outgrown, a second development, known as Cheatham Annex, was begun near Yorktown, Va.

NSD San Diego, likewise, outgrew its physical limitations and an annex was constructed adjacent to the near-by naval repair base. In addition, an aviation supply annex was erected at Coronado, across the bay.

NSD Oakland and NSD Bayonne were begun


Naval Supply Depot, Norfolk
Naval Supply Depot, Norfolk
The three piers and the U-shaped 6-story storehouse and office building (left center)
were built under the wartime expansion program.

before the war, as annexes to relieve the pressure for storage space at the Mare Island and the New York navy yards. They were developed primarily to service the fleet, and as such were provided with rail and water transportation facilities. Each was constructed on undeveloped land projecting into a great bay and close to a fleet anchorage.

After the war began, a new type of station, the great inland supply depot, was developed. Each depot was located at a point where its stored goods could be loaded for fast shipment to more than one naval base area, a fact which gave the supply depot system a flexibility which could not have been achieved if all depots had been located at base areas.

Four of these great storage centers, two for each coast, were developed: At Mechanicsburg, Pa., and Scotia, N.Y., to serve Atlantic ports and bases in the European theater of operations; at Clearfield, Utah, and Spokane, Wash., to serve Pacific ports and bases, including those in the Alaskan theater. A fifth, at Barstow, Calif., became a Marine Corps depot of supplies after its initial development.

Other depots were established during the war at Seattle, Wash., San Pedro, Calif., New Orleans, and Newport, R.I. For the first three, the Navy took over existing pier facilities and modified them to supply depot requirements. Neither San Pedro nor New Orleans approached a size comparable to the first four coastal depots and the four inland depots. At Seattle, the initial development on two piers was extended to include 40 acres of improved and unimproved adjacent land.

At Newport, the supply department of the naval


training station was expanded to become a supply depot. Its purpose was to service the naval installations in the Narragansett Bay area and such Allied ships as made Newport a port of call.

Finally, in 1944, a great supply depot, administratively an annex of NSD Oakland, was begun at Stockton, Calif. This new depot was the first supply depot to be built entirely according to standard designs developed during the war to meet all requirements of modern materials handling. It was built on an island, called Rough and Ready, adjacent to a city with excellent transportation facilities, which included a deep-water channel to the sea.

World War I marked the establishment of fleet supply bases, one at New York (Brooklyn, later disestablished) and one at Norfolk, the ports which bore the brunt of the Navy's operations. These supply bases were the answer to the storage problem which arose when the Navy was designated to operate troop transports to France and the resulting amounts of supplies could not be accommodated in the navy yards.

In World War I, for the first time, buildings designed specifically to meet supply storage needs were erected, not only at the two depots, but at various navy yards as well. In all, about 30 large permanent buildings and more than 100 temporary and minor structures were erected, providing 15,000,000 square feet of storage area, at a cost of $30,000,000.

In World War II, the sum of $38,345,122 was authorized for the construction of a single supply depot, Clearfield, and Clearfield stood fifth, financially, among the supply depot projects. In further contrast, the 15,000,000 square feet built in World War I was far outstripped by the 130,000,000 square feet built in World War II. Clearfield, second in amount of storage space provided, had 8,600,000 square feet.

World War II brought three outstanding changes to the supply picture: (1) establishment of great inland depots, fully planned and developed as supply centers, situated far enough inland to be safe from naval bombardment; (2) development of palletizing and the use of the fork-lift truck for quick and orderly storage of goods; (3) standardization of storage buildings in order that the best possible use by made of space thus concentrated.

At Rough and Ready Island Annex, all storehouses were built according to designs standardized for the most economical use of space needs presented by the palletization and fork-lift truck programs of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts. Buildings to meet this need had been constructed at the other depots, but the growth of the depots had been contemporaneous with the growth of the standardization, so that no other depot met the requirements in every building.

The pallet, as standardized by the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, consisted of wooden, double-bottomed platforms, four feet square. These pallets, loaded with packaged material to a height of approximately four feet, formed a cube, which, secured by wire, could be easily and quickly moved by a fork-lift truck and cargo soling from depot to ship to fighting lines without disassembling. The standard pallets were exchanged between installations, those sent overseas being chalked off as expendable.

In order to make the most economical use of warehouse space, the Bureau of Yards and Docks designed storehouses approximately 200 by 600 feet, with a capacity of 300 carloads of palletized material. These standardized warehouses were first used at Mechanicsburg and then at Clearfield, but it was at Stockton that they were first used throughout the station.

1940 Construction

A study of shore establishment requirements, completed by the Bureau of Yards and Docks, January 1, 1939, showed a need for the expenditure of $22,569,500 to meet normal requirements at major supply activities, and of $27,000,000 to meet the enlarged requirements of the 20 percent fleet expansion.

Part of the money was needed for expansion of the two supply depots then in commission, Norfolk and San Diego, but most significant to the supply program were the items which called for the development of a long-needed depot in the San Francisco Bay area. A site for this new depot had been acquired at Oakland in 1936. In the summer of 1939, the Congress appropriated $6,500,000 for fleet supply facilities at the Oakland site.1

Oakland work began in January 1940, with the award of contract for dredging an entrance channel and turning basin, and filling tidal lands to create building sites. The first building, a six-story general storehouse, was begun in June.


General Storehouses (Timber Frame, Sheathed with Corrugated Cement Asbestos), Oakland, Calif.
General Storehouses (Timber Frame, Sheathed with Corrugated Cement Asbestos), Oakland, Calif.

When Title II of the Naval Appropriation Act, 1941 (passed June 11, 1940) formally initiated the National Defense program, the Navy had in service at its two active supply depots, three Navy-owned piers and eleven storehouses. Two of the piers and ten of the storehouses were at Norfolk. At San Diego, a second pier was being leased from the city and a seven-story wing to the older six-story supply depot building had just been completed.

The principal new development in the supply depot picture during the National Defense period was NSD Bayonne. The Navy Department had urged that a major supply depot similar to NSD Oakland be provided in the New York area, for service to naval activities along the northeastern portion of the Atlantic Coast. Such a depot would also provide logistic support for naval forces operating in the North Atlantic area, and would benefit the support of the new Caribbean bases in case an emergency overtaxed supply facilities in the Norfolk area.

After a survey had been made of sites in the New York harbor area, including World War I supply depot in Brooklyn and the navy yard, the Commandant of the Third Naval District, in 1940, recommended that the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts approve the Bayonne Port Terminal as the site for a naval supply depot.

The Bayonne Port Terminal was a 513-acre rectangular piece of made land projecting into upper New York Bay. It had been filled in by the city for the development of deep-water shipping facilities. A steel-frame waterside transit shed was the only improvement.

An appropriation for NSD Bayonne was approved in October 1940, and field work at the Port Terminal began the next March.2

Meanwhile, work was getting under way at the existing depots. The first contract, signed in September 1940, provided a new supply pier and shed, dredging, and a breakwater at Norfolk. Field work on the project started the next month, at about the same time as another contract was let for a medical supply storehouse and a reserve materials storehouse, also at Norfolk.

At Oakland, two steel-frame reserve materials storehouses were being constructed under a lump-sum contract let in October 1940. Each was to be 120 feet by 600 feet. Shortly thereafter, another


Interior of a Heavy-materials Warehouse, Spokane
Interior of a Heavy-materials Warehouse, Spokane
Shows fork-lift truck piling palletized units.

contract, covering construction of a cold-storage building of reinforced concrete at Oakland, was signed; then, also in October, a third lump-sum contract was added. This provided for an administration building, cafeteria, and heating plant.

At the same time, plans to open up new storage areas at San Diego were being realized. A contract, which included erection of eight storehouses at the Destroyer Base Annex of NSD San Diego, was signed. It had been obvious for some time that adequate expansion at San Diego could not be provided within the depot area. Accordingly, a site at National City, adjacent to the destroyer base had been selected. The eight 120-by-480-foot storehouses were to be of steel frame construction with sheet-metal walls and roof.

In November, NSD Oakland broadened its function with the signing of a contract to include aviation supply facilities. The contract called for the construction of a five-story reinforced concrete building, 120 feet by 600 feet in plan, and a one-story and mezzanine steel-frame building (Type B), 200 feet by 600 feet, for the storage of aviation material. Type B requirements called for a high center bay equipped with a travelling crane, for the movement of heavy and bulky materials, and mezzanine floors in the side wings.

One other contract for major construction at a supply depot was awarded that November of 1940. It called for the construction of a permanent pier at NSD San Diego. The annual revision report of the local Shore Station Development Board, dated December 12, 1938, had stressed the urgent need for early provision of a modern pier and transit shed to relieve the congested handling and storage facilities on the waterfront at NSD San Diego.

In 1939, the city of San Diego had voted to extend the Navy's water rights to permit the widening and extending of the existing Navy pier. The Navy pier was small, and the Broadway municipal pier, then being used by the supply depot, had been loaned by the city. If this loan were revoked, conditions


would be nothing short of chaotic, as the Navy was then using the pier to capacity. Furthermore, there were no other facilities which could be leased.

Field work for the new pier construction started December 3, 1940, and the project was completed April 15, 1942, at a time when the Navy could have used even more pier facilities than had been anticipated when construction began.

On the last day of November 1940, another lump-sum contract called for a one-story transit shed and other buildings at Oakland. This work also was completed before the United States entered the war.

1941 Construction

The year 1941 saw the supply depot program expanded, both in the size of existing stations and in the planning for additional ones, including an inland station.

On January 6, 1941, the board to survey and report on the adequacy and future development of the naval shore establishment, more familiarly known as the Greenslade Board, reported to the Secretary of the Navy.

It recommended, among other things, that five continental supply depots be equipped to sustain various percentages of the fleet. These depots, suitably located, were to serve (1) the North Atlantic, New York-New England area, 40 percent of the fleet; (2) the Middle Atlantic, Delaware River-Chesapeake Bay-Charleston, S.C., area, 60 percent of the fleet; (3) North Pacific, Puget Sound and Alaska area, 40 percent of the fleet; (4) East Pacific, San Francisco area, 60 percent of the fleet; and (5) San Pedro-San diego area, 15 percent of the fleet.

The report pointed out that the trends of modern warfare included increased dependence on supply, and recommended that the basic continental logistic facilities be developed to support the 1946 fleet, bearing in mind that, as far as possible, fleet supply facilities should be separated, physically and administratively, from industrial supply activities.

Hitherto, the whole supply concept had developed with the supply activities considered as an adjunct to a navy yard or a repair base. The naval supply depots at Norfolk, San Diego, Oakland, and Bayonne were all the outgrowth of this concept, and the development of supply facilities which ultimately resulted in the establishment of supply depots at Seattle, San Pedro, New Orleans, and Newport followed the same pattern.

All through that memorable year of 1941, the plans for an inland supply depot slowly grew, but it was not until December 17, after the war had actually begun, that NSD Mechanicsburg was authorized.

Meantime, on February 28, 1941, the contract covering the construction of railroads, roads, and utilities required to service the initial program of storage, loading, and coking facilities at NSD Oakland was signed. Field work began the following month. On March 6, further expansion at Oakland was ordered, to provide storage facilities for reserve materials.

The day after the President signed the Lend-Lease Bill on March 10, the Secretary of the Navy approved lease of the eastern half of Pier 41 (now Pier 91) at Smith's Cove, Seattle, and the facility which ultimately became NSD Seattle was thereby initiated.

That same March, the contract under which construction was begun at NSD Bayonne was signed. It called for one six-story reinforced-concrete warehouse, 200 feet by 500 feet, with a partial seventh story to house offices, and a heating plant, distributing system, paving, and railroad trackage.

In May, the focus of supply construction was on Norfolk, where the NSD found its space within the base no longer sufficient to meet its needs. In addition to its regular function of supplying the fleet and the various naval installations within its regional jurisdiction, Norfolk became, with the passage of the Lend-Lease act, a supply center for Allied shipping.

British trawlers were among the first vessels to use this service. Most of them, built as coal-burning fishing boats, were used for submarine patrol off the East Coast, at a time when enemy submarines were sinking many merchant ships in the Atlantic. NSD Norfolk supplied provisions and other stores as required. The same facilities were used by French, Dutch, Canadian, Russian, Greek, Norwegian, Colombian, and other vessels.

Additional space to relieve the pressure on NSD Norfolk was created by establishing South Annex, utilizing land and facilities which had been part of the former Army Base Terminal, fronting on the Elizabeth River, 11/2 miles south of the NOB main gate. In 1941, the facilities, which were then part of the Maritime Commission supply depot, consisted of four warehouses and a pier with a two-story warehouse, all of them built for the Army in 1917. On May 2, 1941, a contract was made for the


Wharf and Transit Sheds Equipped for Use with Burton Tackle, Bayonne Naval Supply Depot
Wharf and Transit Sheds Equipped for Use with Burton Tackle, Bayonne Naval Supply Depot

construction of an additional storehouse and a chain storage slab. On the 22nd of May and additional pier for NSD Norfolk was contracted for, together with adequate dredging.

The next day, a supplemental agreement was added to the bayonne contract, calling for additional warehouses, transit sheds, and other facilities. Two weeks later, a first supplemental agreement was signed for additional storehouses at NSD Norfolk.

On May 25, a change order, providing for the remodeling of piers 2 and 3 and an additional aviation storehouse at NSD Oakland, marked the close of the first fiscal year of the war construction program. This was followed in July by a new contract for further expansion at NSD Oakland, including another pier with transit shed, five dry provisions storehouses, a brick and concrete storehouse, an ordnance storehouse, a medical supply storehouse, additional transit shed on the marginal wharf, and miscellaneous accessory structures.

On June 27, 1941, the Chief of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts wrote to the Secretary of the Navy, recommending the establishment of a naval supply depot located inland in close proximity to, and with extensive rail connection with, the large naval ports on the northeastern coast of the United States, and with adequate transportation to the Middle and South Atlantic ports of Norfolk and Charleston. Such an inland depot would have, he pointed out, numerous advantages: (1) more security from hostile attack than one located on the coast, (2) protection from sabotage and fire hazards, (3) flexibility, which was a primary advantage. He called attention to the great burden being placed on the Charleston and the Narragansett Bay areas, where available facilities were entirely inadequate, and declared that the establishment of an inland naval depot would permit the assembling of a large reservoir of dry provisions, general stores, clothing, and small stores. It could also provide storage for certain aeronautical


Seven-story Warehouse, Begun in 1944, at San Diego
Seven-story Warehouse, Begun in 1944, at San Diego

material. This would mean that coast stations could be relieved of the excessive burden of slow-moving storage and would enable them to function efficiently as distributing centers.

On July 23, the Chief of Naval Operations recommended the project to the Shore Station Development Board for consideration and recommendation. The next day, the board forwarded it to the Secretary of the Navy via CNO, recommending the project, at an estimated cost of $15,000,000. Two days later, CNO forwarded it to the Secretary of the Navy, recommending it. The same day (26 July 1941) the Secretary approved the project and instructed the Bureau of Yards and Docks to take action to obtain funds. A site-selection board, in September 1941, recommended an area adjacent to Mechanicsburg, Pa., as best suited to meet the needs. In addition to meeting the requirements previously stated, the site would satisfy railroad preference for a location near which the Army was already established, so that in the event of emergency demand the problem of Army and Navy distribution could be planned and handled as a joint problem. It was far enough east so that the principal navy yards could be reached expeditiously, with a minimum back haul on material from eastern points of origin. It was far enough west so that deliveries to eastern ports could be made without serious interference with normal coastwise traffic. One of the largest railroad yards in the world, the Enola yards, was situated approximately 7 miles from the site, thus affording an ample supply of cars and a short direct routing to shipping points, saving much time in preparation for and the actual shipping of supplies. An excellent network of highways was available and adjacent to the site, as consideration secondary to rail facilities. Other utilities and water supply were reasonably close and in ample quantities.

Meanwhile, in July 1941, two additional expansions in the West Coast storage program had been begun. A lump-sum contract was signed July 21 for the extension of the large storehouse at NSD San Diego, and the following day a change order to the contract which had begun the development of NSD Oakland practically doubled its scope. August


changes in contracts in operation at NSD Norfolk called for the replacement of Pier 3 and for additional storage space construction at South Annex.

On August 15, all of Pier 41 at Seattle was leased with an option to purchase, and designated a naval supply pier.

In August 1941, also, field work began at Naval Training Station, Newport, R.I., on additional supply facilities which in June of the following year became NSD Newport.

Throughout the spring and early summer of 1941 a considerable portion of the Atlantic Fleet, including six battleships, eight cruisers, thirty destroyers, two submarines, two destroyer tenders, and two supply ships, based in the Newport area. The supply department of the NTS, without adequate storage space or other facilities for properly handling the increased load, was designated to supply service. Faced with this unsatisfactory arrangement and with the certainty of the continued expansion of the fleet and the shore stations within the area, the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts sought approval for a centralized separate supply facility.

A site on government-owned property in Coddington Cove, adjacent to the Coddington Point Annex to the NTS, was designated, and a contract then in operation at the training station was given a change order on August 25, to clear and grade the site and construct an access road from Coddington Point to the new supply station. A third existing contract was enlarged on September 8 to include the first increment of a pier, together with corollary dredging. Actual construction was begun September 3, 1941, when another existing contract was awarded a supplemental agreement calling for the erection of five temporary storehouses, together with accessories and fencing. A second supplemental agreement was signed October 22, calling for such supplementary services as railroad spurs, heating plant, steam and electrical distribution systems, sewage disposal and storm drainage, fresh-water, telephone, and fire alarm systems, roads and walks.

Meantime, another facility which would become a naval supply depot in December 1942 was shaping at San Pedro, Calif., across the channel from Terminal Island. Most of its was developed on existing Pier 1, which was 2,500 feet long and 575 feet wide, lying between the main channel to Los Angeles outer harbor and the east channel. The pier, together with approximately nine acres of unimproved land adjacent to it and alongside the main channel, had been occupied in World War I by the Navy as a submarine base and a naval reserve training station. Both activities were decommissioned by 1922. During the peacetime years, the Navy maintained a small amount of supply activity on part of the pier.

In 1940, and again in 1941, Navy leased additional space on the pier in an effort to relieve the situation at San Diego. By September 1941, the transshipment of Navy cargo destined for Pacific bases and the Canal Zone had assumed considerable proportions.

As a sample of the way the picture changed between that September of 1941 and the end of 1942, a change order signed September 16, 1941 may be cited. It allowed $20,000 for the purpose of paving an open lumber storage area at NSD Oakland with crushed rock. A subsequent change order, dated December 7, 1942, increased the paving project to such an extent that the cost was increased by more than $200,000.

The only other large additions to the storage program begun before December 7 were two changes to an existing contract at NSD Norfolk, whereby additional storehouses, administration building, barracks, railroad tracks, roads, and services were added at South Annex. The first of these changes was signed October 31; the second, November 22.

When the war began, the House committee on naval appropriations was considering the Navy's request for the Mechanicsburg supply depot. The Third Supplemental National Defense Appropriation Act 1942 was passed December 17, 1941. It included $15,000,000 for the Mechanicsburg depot. Nine days later, the Navy contracted for the construction, and field work was under way before 1941 ended. The contract provided for fifteen general storehouses, five heavy materials storehouses, an administration building, quarters, railroads, roads, and all the other services needed to make the depot an independent unit.

The other supply depots also received consideration in those hectic days of the last three weeks of 1941. On December 12, the Bureau of Yards and Docks was advised that Navy would acquire title at Smith's Cove, Seattle, to include Piers 40 and 41; on the 19th, the Secretary of the Navy designated that activity as NSD Seattle effective January 1, 1942; on the 30th, an allotment of $6,500,000 was made


for the acquisition of the piers and adjacent land, and a further allotment of $5,500,000 was made for construction costs there.

Also on December 12, a change order added to the scope of the pier and docking facilities at the Newport Coddington Cove project. Three days later, the second increment for the pier and transit shed was added.

On December 19, a six-story reinforced-concrete storehouse, 200 feet by 600 feet, with 12 loading platforms, was authorized for construction at Bayonne, and an additional temporary storehouse, 100 feet by 500 feet, was authorized for the South Annex to NSD Norfolk.

On the last day of 1941, two days after work began on the first construction at NSD Mechanicsburg, the Chief of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts addressed the Shore Station Development Board, asking for immediate and more than 100-percent expansion there. Fifteen general storehouses were in the initial project; now the need was set at an additional 20 general storehouses and three heavy materials storehouses.

In forwarding the request to the Secretary of the Navy, the Board pointed out that the needs which had developed since the inception of the original project justified the request. On January 7, 1942, the Secretary forwarded the request to the bureau of Yards and Docks, approving the expansion and requesting the Chief of the Bureau to obtain necessary authorization and funds at the earliest practicable date.

It was not until April 23, however, that the requested expansion was begun. By that time, it had been modified from 20 general storehouses and 3 heavy materials storehouses to 17 general storehouses, 6 heavy materials storehouses, and an aviation materials storehouse, each of the 24 buildings to be 200 feet by 600 feet.

1942 Construction

On January 1, 1942, the Chief of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts again addressed the Secretary of the Navy, via the Chief of Naval Operations, on the subject of inland supply depots, this time for the Pacific Coast. He pointed out that practically all the reasons which had impelled the establishment of NSD Mechanicsburg held with equal force for a similar establishment for the support of the West Coast. Two plans were suggested: (1) construction of a single depot to support the three principal centers of the naval shore establishment -- Puget Sound, the San Francisco Bay area, and the San Diego-San Pedro area; (2) construction of three depots, each in support of one of these areas.

The project was under consideration by the Shore Station Development Board until February 5, when it was forwarded to the Secretary, recommending approval of the project and stating that the Ogden area should be considered as one possible site. The board also pointed out that the chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee had objected to the construction of large storage facilities at a single location, preferring that establishment be made at separate, widely dispersed locations.

The Secretary endorsed the project February 7, 1942, and directed the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks to take appropriate action toward obtaining funds for that purpose, and to designate an officer to act as member of a board to select at least three sites for inland depots, the senior member and recorder of the board to be designated by the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts. The report of the board, which was presented March 31, 1942, resulted in the establishment of NSD Clearfield, NSD Spokane, and the establishment at Barstow which became a Marine Corps Depot of Supplies. Each of these locations was at the junction of two or more railroads; hence, it was strategically placed for shipping to and from more than one port.

Thus, the beginning of the new year saw an improved supply situation. In addition to NSD Norfolk and NSD San Diego, two others, NSD Oakland and NSD Seattle, had been commissioned; one, NSD Bayonne, was well under way; construction at the first inland depot, NSD Mechanicsburg, had been begun; supply facilities were being developed at Newport and San Pedro; and the projects which became NSD Clearfield and NSD Spokane had been initiated.

In February, a change in one of the Oakland contracts added another dry provisions storehouse, a chain storage slab, and crane equipment.

Other February commitments dealt with Norfolk, Newport, and Bayonne. Work at the South Annex of NSD Norfolk was stepped up on February 10 by an order for six additional storehouses, at an estimated cost of more than $6,500,000. A week later, a change in a Newport contract stipulated construction of a temporary storehouse, 100


General Storehouses, Clearfield, Utah
General Storehouses, Clearfield, Utah

by 500 feet, of cinder-block, with wood roof trusses and concrete floor.

By the middle of March, additional expansion had been begun at Seattle and Oakland, At Seattle, repairs to piers 41 and 42 and temporary Marine barracks were ordered. At Oakland the third and fourth increments were added to various facilities, including roads, railroads, water, gas, and sewerage systems, and preliminary work was begun on a marginal wharf.

Attention in April found its first focus at NSD Bayonne, where a contract change called for seven additional storehouses and another transit shed, and added 600 feet to the north bulkhead.

An expansion of the NSD Norfolk program was initiated in April by a change in the operating contract, which provided for the construction of a six-story U-shaped, reinforced-concrete storehouse, 320 by 1,040 feet.

On April 23, the enlargement of NSD Mechanicsburg, which had been requested the previous December, was begun. Four days later, the South Annex of NSD Norfolk was accorded additional rail and pier facilities.

A supplemental agreement to an existing contract, executed May 2, added to Oakland projects a six-story general storehouse, a five-story medical supply storehouse, two dry provisions storehouses, a paint and oil storehouse, a supply pier and transit shed, 300 feet of marginal wharf, and various other buildings, at an estimated cost of $10,762,000.

Replacement of Pier 2 at NSD Norfolk was started May 7, together with construction thereon of a transit shed, railroad tracks, and all utilities.

Meanwhile, the plans for western inland depots were bearing fruit. Congress approved the Sixth Supplemental National Defense Appropriation Act 1942 on April 28, 1942, and from the funds thus provided, the Secretary of the Navy allocated money to begin construction at the three depots. Field work was begun first at Spokane, on May 16, 1942; at Clearfield, on June 22; and at Barstow, September 30.

The original contract for Spokane contained 30 projects, including 10 general storehouses and 3 heavy materials storehouses of the one-story mill type, with temporary administration building, cafeteria, service buildings, quarters, power and water distribution systems, storm and sanitary sewers, grading, railroad tracks, and accessory construction, at an approximate cost of $8,665,000.

On May 23, 1942, a change order called for erection


Heavy Materials Storehouse, Mechanicsburg, Pa.
Heavy Materials Storehouse, Mechanicsburg, Pa.
Above the steel sash, cement-asbestos sheathing was used on a wood frame.
The central section housed a bridge craneway and a railroad track.

of masonry firewalls at 200-foot intervals in buildings at the South Annex of NSD Norfolk. Two days later the Seattle project was augmented to include the design and construction of two 2-story wood-frame storehouses, 118 by 500 feet, on Pier 41, complete with elevators and mechanical services. Less than two weeks later, June 5, 1942, an additional change authorized construction of a 4-story reinforced-concrete cold-storage building, 108 by 220 feet, to be built ashore.

On the 15th of June 1942, minor conversion work began on the state-owned cotton warehouses at New Orleans. A month later, the facilities were commissioned NSD New Orleans.

As the shipbuilding program on the Great Lakes and in the Mississippi Valley moved into full swing, the facilities for supplying such vessels, which had been the function of the New Orleans Naval Station since its reactivation in 1939, had become increasingly inadequate. With the actual outbreak of war, it became obvious that space outside the naval station was needed for the establishment of a supply depot, not only for the purpose of outfitting new vessels and re-outfitting vessels repaired in that area, but also to act as a supply center for the Gulf section of the frontier and for the 15th Naval District. Conditions looked bad for the Allies that spring of 1942, as both the Germans and the Japs continued their advances; it was conceivable that movement of supplies to the menaced Canal Zone might be confined to the Caribbean and the Gulf.

Accordingly, the acquisition of terminal facilities at the mouth of the Mississippi was approved April 27, 1942 by the Army and Navy Munitions Board. Four days later, Navy leased from the Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans a part of the Public Cotton Warehouse Area, property of the state of Louisiana, but within the city limits of New Orleans. The 76-acre site was bordered on the south side by the Mississippi and on the north by the Public Belt Railroad, both offering excellent transportation facilities. Covered storage occupied 33 of the site's 76 acres; open storage, 31. The existing wharf facilities were adaptable for loading ocean freighters.

Only minor modifications were needed to enable NSD New Orleans to be commissioned. These


Interior of a General Storehouse, Scotia, N.Y.
Interior of a General Storehouse, Scotia, N.Y.
Photograph, taken January 16, 1946, shows steel framing in the roofs in contrast to war-constructed timber framing.

changes were made part of a contract already in operation in the area, and called for the erection of a temporary office building, a cafeteria, together with roads, walks, services, and adequate security fencing.

Meanwhile, plans had been put under way for a second eastern inland supply depot. On March 27, the Chief of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts wrote to the Secretary of the Navy on the subject of the establishment of an additional inland naval supply depot to serve the Atlantic Coast. Although Mechanicsburg was not yet commissioned, it was already obvious that rail facilities would soon become overtaxed if the new station remained the only inland depot serving the eastern seaboard. Establishment of an additional depot, similar to Mechanicsburg, but situated farther north, was needed to relieve pressure on the New England ports. It was estimated that the new depot should provide 2,400,000 square feet of covered storage and 500,000 square feet of open storage. Land for an additional 1,200,000 square feet of storage space should be available.

The project as forwarded by the Shore Station Development Board on April 3 recommended that the new depot provide approximately 4,500,000 square feet of storage space, at an estimated cost of $30,000,000. On April 7, the Secretary of the Navy approved the project and ordered a special board to be convened for the purpose of recommending one or more alternate sites. In its report, dated May 26, 1942, and approved by the Secretary on June 4, the board designated the area of Schenectady, N.Y., as best fitting the needs. As a


Administration Building, Spokane Naval Supply Depot
Administration Building, Spokane Naval Supply Depot

dividing line between the area serviced by NSD Mechanicsburg and the new depot, the board decided upon the natural barrier of the Hudson River.

The site eventually chosen comprised 350 acres in the Mohawk River valley, just outside the town of Scotia, 3 miles from Schenectady. It was connected to an extensive network of major highways, in an area serviced by the Boston and Maine railroad and the main line of the New York Central system with its New England connections via the Boston and Albany.

The Scotia development, begun June 13, originally comprised 31 projects including 14 general storehouses, 6 heavy materials storehouses, administration building, cafeteria. Marine barracks, quarters, and all the appurtenances, including railroad tracks, sanitary and storm sewers, electric and water distribution systems, and all services and security measures necessary to make the depot self-sufficient. The estimated cost was $13,200,000.

Clearfield, the second western depot, also was started in June. Like Scotia, construction was grouped under 31 projects. The estimated cost was $29,900,000. The contract called for 30 general storehouses, 13 heavy materials storehouses, and 5 aviation materials storehouses, with auxiliary services in the same proportion.

By June 27, work on the expanded supply station at Newport had been completed sufficiently for it to begin functioning under its new commission as NSD Newport. Three days later, NSD Bayonne was commissioned.

Thus, by the end of the second fiscal year in the five-year war construction program, all twelve of the supply depots were built or building, and four had been placed in commission since Pearl Harbor, which, with the two then in operation, gave half the projected total of depots. On the East Coast, there were Norfolk, Bayonne, and Newport; on the West, San Diego, Oakland, and Seattle. The Gulf Coast depot, New Orleans, was commissioned two weeks later, July 16, 1942.

No new moves in the naval supply depot program were made in July, except at San Pedro, where an additional municipal warehouse was leased from the Los Angeles Harbor Commission. This was a six-story, concrete storehouse, adjacent to transit sheds 57, 58, 59, providing 450,000 square feet of storage space. However, the building was full of bale cotton, and it was not until six months later that it was ready for Navy occupancy. By that time, the importance of San Pedro as a supply base had been recognized by the establishment of NSD San Pedro (December 15, 1942).

Construction at the supply depots continued at a


steady pace. In addition to the development of the great inland bases at Clearfield, Spokane, and Scotia, expansions of existing contracts were authorized at Norfolk, Oakland, Bayonne, Newport, Mechanicsburg, and Seattle. These expansions followed immediately on the heels of the Contract Authorization Act, which, enacted August 6, 1942, allowed $24,000,000 for storage facilities as part of the program to enable the shore facilities to keep pace with the growth of the Navy in ships and aircraft. (Congress had recently increased the authorized strength of the navy afloat by 1,900,000 tons and its number of useful airplanes to 27,500.)

At Norfolk, increased need for supply storage space beyond the physical limits of the NSD and South Annex resulted in the acquisition by the Navy, in July 1942, of the Penniman estate, situated on the York River a short distance above the Yorktown Mine Depot, some 30 miles from the parent base and north of Hampton Roads. At this 2,500-acre site, construction of Cheatham Annex of NSD Norfolk began August 27, 1942 with the erection of a supply pier. The pier consisted of an approach, 2,850 feet long by 28 feet wide, with an L-head at the extreme outboard end, 1,215 feet long by 42 feet wide, parallel to the river channel.

Early in September, work began on the construction at Cheatham of 10 storehouses, an administration building, and all the appurtenant buildings and services needed to make the annex a secure and independent naval installation. The warehouses were of temporary construction, without heat or sprinklers, 120 feet by 828 feet, one-story, affording approximately 1,000,000 square feet of covered storage space.

Cheatham Annex was planed as a wholesale and reserve warehousing activity for NSD Norfolk. It offered decentralized storage with quick availability by rail and water. It immediately proved its worth by permitting movements to NSD Norfolk via barges and ships, relieving congestion of rail traffic in the already overcrowded Norfolk area.

It was intended that this annex to NSD Norfolk would also help solve the problem for storage space to service the southeastern area of the country. A separate supply depot for that area had been proposed because of the great expansion of naval activities there, but after considerable study, it was decided that Fleet supply reserve stores intended for the proposed southeastern stations could be diverted in part to Norfolk and in part to NSD Mechanicsburg and NSD New Orleans. The construction of additional storehouses of appropriate design at the naval air stations at Jacksonville and Miami helped to provide permanent distribution points in support of the several operational training bases.

The other outstanding change in the Norfolk setup in August 1942 was also concerned with transportation problems. The railroad classification yard at the South Annex was increased from a 200-car to a 320-car capacity.

At Oakland, a second heating plant and cafeteria were begun August 3, 1942. At Bayonne, construction began three days later on a reinforced-concrete cold storage building, one temporary unheated storehouse, and the first increment of a railroad classification yard designed ultimately to provide storage for 1,200 cars, the first increment calling for space for 450 cars. In addition, the contract called for the placement of hydraulic fill between Road J and the shore of the mainland north of the causeway, an area which was ultimately utilized for additional storage development.

At Mechanicsburg the contract was increased, August 8, 1942, to include eight additional general storehouses and four aviation materials storehouses.

The existing contract at NSD Seattle also was materially increased. On August 11, construction was begun on four general storehouses and one heavy materials storehouse and the draining and filling for additional land area, together with railroad tracks, roads, and fire and security protection.

At NSD Newport on September 7, four temporary wood-frame storehouses, 60 by 500 feet, a paint and oil storehouse, 75 by 100 feet, a lumber shed, 60 by 175 feet, together with servicing, including roads, sewers, railroad tracks, were added to the contract.

In September, additions were authorized for three of the inland depots. At Mechanicsburg, a cable storehouse, 332 by 600 feet, was added; at Spokane, two general storehouses and a heavy materials storehouse, each 200 by 500 feet, with auxiliary services; at Clearfield, ten general storehouses, 200 by 600 feet, and open storage.

The commissioning of NSD Mechanicsburg on October 1, and of NSD San Pedro on December 15, 1942, brought the number of operating supply depots within continental United States to nine, with three more nearing completion. NSD Spokane


was commissioned January 1, 1943; NSD Scotia, March 30, 1943; and NSD Clearfield, April 10, 1943.

1943 Construction

No further change in the overall supply depot picture within the country took place during 1943, although existing depots continued to expand. On the East Coast, additional areas were filled at NSD Bayonne and additional housing and barracks were provided at Cheatham Annex. At the latter station, also, a mock pier, 32 by 50 feet, with a deck level 12 feet above water level, was constructed and fitted with fog nozzle, to provide facilities for testing methods of fighting fires at fueling piers.

On the West Coast, six storehouses were added to NSD Spokane and three, together with open storage, to NSD San Pedro. Activity at NSD Oakland included construction of a coffee storage building, 200 by 200 feet, nine storehouses affording an additional 1,200,000 square feet of storage space, two transit sheds, 180 by 1,008 feet, on Pier 2, and one on the south marginal wharf, together with additional open storage area with servicing railroad tracks and roads.

1944 Construction

In the 1945 appropriation act, as approved April 14, 1944, funds allocated for storage facilities included provision for the establishment of offshore material reception centers in the New York area, at the Cheatham Annex of NSD Norfolk, at NSD New Orleans, and in the Los Angeles and Oakland areas. It also provided for substantial expansion at the various depots.

At NSD Scotia, the program called for four heavy materials storehouses and three general storehouses, each 600 by 200 feet, with extensions to office buildings, cafeterias, barracks, roads, and other utilities. NSD Mechanicsburg was accorded ten additional general storehouses, with accompanying expansion of utilities. Additional railroad car handling facilities were awarded Norfolk. Funds for the acquiring of a site for a permanent supply depot were earmarked for San Pedro. NSD Oakland received funds for six temporary one-story storehouses with a total area of 700,000 square feet. NSD Clearfield's portion was allotted to the construction of 10 one-story temporary storehouses, totaling 1,200,000 square feet of storage area, and extensions to various station facilities. At NSD Seattle, three two-story temporary storehouses, each providing 140,000 square feet of storage space, and extensions to existing facilities, were authorized. At NSD Spokane, 20 storehouses, or 2,400,000 square feet of storage space, a point and oil storehouse, 200 feet square, a second heating plant and steam distribution system, and extensions to various other facilities were included. Not all the facilities authorized on the 1945 act were constructed by V-J Day, and projects were curtailed after that date.

In the spring of 1944, when the ability to service the European theater of operations became somewhat stabilized and increasing emphasis was being placed on supplies for the Pacific, the congestion of West Coast loading facilities made it obvious that some remedy must be found for storing and loading supplies. The answer was the construction at Stockton of a supply annex to NSD Oakland. The total work-load of the two establishments was to include 80 percent of the Fleet supply for the West Coast. The additional logistic load demanded under the plans for the prosecution of the Pacific war would far exceed Oakland's capacity, and little help could be expected from West Coast ports south of San Francisco, although the Seattle-Tacoma-Portland area might be of some assistance. Moreover, congestion at the various areas made it necessary to find facilities for loading elsewhere than in the ports themselves. The practical solution to the problem, therefore, seemed to be in the construction of an annex outside the San Francisco Bay area.

Rough and Ready Island (named in honor of Zachary Taylor) offered an almost ideal site. It was on a deep-water channel which afforded 32 feet of water at mean low tide all the way to the Golden Gate, a distance of approximately 70 miles. It had good rail and highway connections.

The site offered 7,800 feet of water frontage available for marginal wharf construction, which would afford 13 berths, sufficient space to provide for the needs of the sub-depot, and also provide berthing space for a minimum of five ships requiring voyage repairs.

The original plan called for the purchase and development of 824 acres, but by the end of the first year, 1,419 acres were included in the station, and the remainder of the island -- some 79 acres -- was to be turned over to the Navy as soon as two oil companies, already established there, were able to develop facilities elsewhere.


Cold-storage Plant, Oakland Naval Supply Depot
Cold-storage Plant, Oakland Naval Supply Depot

In forwarding the original request for the annex, the Commandant of the 12th Naval District added to his endorsement the recommendation that sufficient property be acquired to provide not only for the supply depot, but also for a freight-car classification yard, in-transit reclassification storage, a material redistribution center, and voyage repair facilities. The Chief of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, in forwarding the request, asked for an increase in the number of storehouses from 20 to 36, in order to devote 16 of them to aviation supply storage urgently needed on the West Coast. By June 30, 1945, the authorized number of storehouses was 38.

Preliminary site survey and soil investigation was authorized June 9, 1944. On July 26, 1944, the Secretary of the Navy approved the ultimate development of the island in four increments, to a total expenditure of $28,490,000. At that time, it was estimated that 17 months would be required to complete the project. By June 30, 1945, the authorized amount for the completion of Stockton had risen to $33,696,000. Field work on the construction of the station began August 25, 1944, with the building of a construction camp, railroad tracks, and 500,000 square feet of open storage. Construction of 28 storehouses, 22 of steel frame and 6 of wood frame, began October 21,1944. Other contracts added two heavy materials storehouses, seven transit sheds, and eight more general storehouses.

The 1945 appropriation act also carried authorization for the purchase and development of a permanent supply depot to take the place of the leased facilities at NSD San Pedro. The leased property at that time consisted of portions of a municipal pier, a concrete multi-storied storehouse on the pier, and several one-story temporary storehouses on the pier, and nearby land. It was considered probable that Navy would for many years need fleet supply facilities in the 11th Naval District of greater scope than could be furnished by NSD San Diego. Accordingly, it was decided to acquire a section of waterfront property in the San Pedro area for gradual development, rather than build additional structures on leased land.

After Congressional approval had been received, a survey of sites resulted in the choice of an area


Temporary Storehouse for Naval Supply Depot, Erected at Ash Street and Pacific Highway, San Diego
Temporary Storehouse for Naval Supply Depot, Erected at Ash Street and Pacific Highway, San Diego

extending from 22nd Street, San Pedro, on the north, and the existing fuel-oil docks at berths 37 to 40 on the east, to a point as far south as the breakwater at Cabrillo Beach, approximately 160 acres of tideland belonging to the Los Angeles Harbor Department, and approximately 22 acres of the Fort MacArthur military reservation. Negotiations for the acquisition of this property were still under way when the Japanese surrendered.

Situation on V-J Day

When the cease-fire order was given August 15, 1945, continental storage facilities presented a very different picture from that of December 7, 1941. Twelve supply depots, two of them (Norfolk and Oakland) with annexes large enough to form independent depots, were functioning in continental United States, serving not only continental stations, but also other supply depots at advance bases in the Atlantic and the Pacific areas. An entirely new concept, that of the inland depot, had been developed, and four such depots had been constructed. Warehouse design had been standardized to the point that one station (NSDA Stockton) was being constructed entirely along those lines.

Gross covered storage space in operation as of August 31, 1945, amounted to 144,207,169 square feet, of which 49,880,057 square feet, or 35 percent, was in naval supply depots, which, with the 25 percent constructed in navy yards, made up 60 percent of the total. Air stations with 12 percent and ordnance stations with 10 percent accounted for another 22 percent.

Covered storage space at the two supply depots at the start of the war program amounted to 2,114,033 square feet, NSD Norfolk having 1,943,789 and NSD San Diego, 171,144 square feet. On V-J Day, NSD Norfolk, including Cheatham Annex, had 7,196,305 square feet gross storage space, and San Diego, 1,739,447 square feet. The record for the other supply depots was as follows:

      Square feet
Bayonne       3,802,000
Clearfield       8,602,000
Mechanicsburg       7,818,000
Newport       318,793
New Orleans       1,513,384
Oakland (incl. Stockton)       9,966,992
San Pedro       1,050,730
Scotia       2,880,000
Seattle       2,031,911
Spokane       2,960,495

Of this total of 49,880,057 square feet in operation, the Bureau of Yards and Docks construction program accounted for 46,738,000. It had constructed the entire station except at New Orleans, San Pedro, and Seattle, where existing installations had been utilized in part of the station. The total storage space at West Coast supply depots, distributed in six stations, amounted to 26,351,575 square feet, as against 22,015,098 square feet for


Marine Barracks, Clearfield
Marine Barracks, Clearfield
Like other naval establishments, supply depots were guarded by Marine detachments.

the East Coast, distributed in five stations. Considering the Gulf station as part of the East Coast figure, the total amounted to 23,528,482 square feet at six stations.

Under construction on July 31, 1945, were 3,992,664 square feet of covered area and 2,702,500 square feet of open storage, all except 10,000 square feet of it hard surfaced. Approved for construction or lease were an additional 2,693,811square feet of covered storage and 1,003,000 square feet of open storage. Additional projects submitted, for which approval was pending, provided for 1,318,302 square feet of covered storage, 1,500,000 square feet of open storage, and 1,795,579 square feet of hard surfaced open storage.

Supply depots at Clearfield, Oakland, Seattle, San Pedro, and Bayonne were also using 1,873,150 square feet of commercial warehouse on V-J Day, Oakland being the chief user, pending completion of the Stockton annex.

A year earlier, in September 1944, only a small amount of commercial warehouse space was being used by scattered naval activities, each of which had to find, inspect, and make service contracts with individual warehouse authorities. To avoid duplication of organization and competition between the Army and the Navy, an agreement was reached enabling the Navy to use the Army public warehouse plan, and thereby gain access to approximately a thousand commercial warehouses located throughout the country. Navy's use of commercial warehouses for all stations increased from 300,000 square feet in September 1944 to 2,241,748 square feet as of July 31, 1945, the equivalent of 32 storage buildings, 200 by 600 feet.

Construction Problems at the New Depots

Of the twelve naval supply depots in commission on V-J Day, six of the largest had been built entirely within the years 1940 through 1945, at sites where no previous supply activity had existed. Two supply annexes, each large enough to be considered independent depots, also were built at new sites during the period.

These eight stations were Mechanicsburg, Scotia, Clearfield, Spokane, Bayonne, Oakland, Oakland's Stockton Annex, and Norfolk's Cheatham Annex.

The first four were inland depots, a type which had not been used before World War II. The principal operating elements of these inland depots were the storehouses -- general, heavy materials, and special -- the railroad classification yards, the railroad distribution system, and the street system.

The second four stations were coastal depots. The coastal depots had the same operational features as the inland depots, plus wharfage for ship-loading.

Because the functions of the eight depots were similar, except for the basic difference between inland and waterside stations, the facilities provided were similar. However, each station had a different set of construction problems, attributable


to the ease or the difficulty of building on the site acquired, and of obtaining labor, materials, and equipment.

The Inland Depots

Mechanicsburg. -- Situated in the gently rolling Cumberland Valley, in south-central Pennsylvania, the 850-acre site for the Mechanicsburg depot had rail access to the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Reading Company systems. Considerable difficulty was encountered in utilities excavation and foundation construction because of the many limestone outcrops. More than half of the excavation involved rock removal. The subsoil elsewhere was a heavy clay, which provided good support for foundations. In wet weather during the construction period, mud hampered work, and afterward the topsoil dried slowly. For later depot operations, this condition was remedied by the construction of a drainage system.

Construction labor was plentiful from December 1941 until July 1942, but from August 1942 through June 1943, obtaining and holding men became an increasingly difficult task. For this reason and because timber procurement was slowed, construction of the principal increment of the depot, scheduled for completion in February 1943, was not finished until June.

Two alternations in design enabled a satisfactory flow of materials during the early part of the job. A central heating system had been included in the original scope of the work, but it soon became evident that procurement of equipment for the system would be slow, so a change was made to provide individual heating systems in the buildings, as materials for these systems were more readily obtainable. The original design also called for steel trusses and columns in the craneway sections of the heavy materials storehouses. Structural steel became a critical material shortly after construction began, so timber trusses, glued laminated crane-rail girders, and built-up wood columns were used.

Timber frames for the storehouses were prefabricated on the West Coast and shipped to the job at a rate sufficient to supply the construction of three storehouses a week. Toward the end of the main construction contract, deliveries slowed to about half speed because of the increasingly critical nature of the lumber supply. The storehouses were 200 by 600 feet in plan. Under the original contract they were built with concrete floors at ground level and with concrete foundations extended into curtain walls, which rose 4 feet above the floor to the sills of continuous steel sash. In later construction, brick was substituted for the reinforced concrete above the floor level, and floors were raised to car-door height. Construction initiated after early 1944 used windowless concrete-block walls. Pre-cast concrete roof slabs replaced 2-inch wood roofers. Three fire walls divided each general storehouse into four sections. In the heavy materials storehouses, walls were of corrugated cement asbestos.

As finally constructed, Mechanicsburg had 56 general storehouses, 9 heavy materials storehouses, 5 aircraft materials storehouses, one cable storage building, and one diesel storehouse. Almost 50 miles of railroad track served the area.

Scotia. -- Scotia Naval Supply Depot was built on a triangular 337-acre site, 3 miles northwest of Schenectady, N.Y. The terrain was rolling, pitted throughout by sharp depressions, and partially wooded, with natural drainage to the Mohawk River, nearby to the southwest. The Boston and Maine Railroad provided service direct to the site, and the main line of the New York Central was half a mile distant.

Preparation of the ground for construction required earth cuts of as much as 12 feet. Several gullies were filled to a depth of 25 feet. Under the original contract, 14 general storehouses and 6 heavy materials storehouses were built. Subsequent work added 9 general storehouses. The general storehouses were 200 by 600 feet in plan, and, except for the last five, they were built with concrete spread footings, concrete-block walls, prefabricated timber framing, cast-in-place gypsum roofs, and 5-inch plain concrete floors at car-door height. The last five, ordered in 1945 when steel was no longer restricted, had steel framing. Otherwise, they were similar to the older storehouses. As at Mechanicsburg, transverse fire walls divided each building into four sections. Natural lighting in most buildings was provided by transverse monitors, eight to a building.

The same type of construction was used in the heavy materials storehouses, except that a 70-foot-wide longitudinal center section, in which railroad cars operated, rose 20 feet higher than the main roof, to furnish a clear way to two 10-ton traveling bridge cranes. As at Mechanicsburg, the craneway section was framed with timber trusses and laminated


Supply School, NSD Bayonne
Supply School, NSD Bayonne
Storekeepers, pay clerks, and supply officers were trained here.

wood girder supports for crane rails. There were no transverse fire walls in the heavy materials storehouses. Separate heating systems were installed in five of the general storehouses. Railroad trackage, including the classification yard, amounted to 12 miles in the original contract. Additional storehouse construction required some extension of trackage.

Two construction features were notable: (1) where gullies had been filled to furnish building sites, footings were poured on the compacted fill; (2) reinforcing mesh was omitted from the floor slabs, which were poured on compacted fill. Each feature worked reasonably well during the period of war use; only a small amount of settlement cracking was observed in the floors and in the concrete-block walls.

Weather was the only factor which delayed work, which began in June 1942. A relatively early winter caused most outside work on the original contract to be suspended in late November. Ice storms frequently prevented full labor complements from reporting for the inside work. It was estimated that a month's time was lost to the schedule, which had been based on normal northern New York weather history.

Clearfield. -- At the foot of the mountains of northern Utah, in Salt Lake's fertile sloping plain, Clearfield Naval Supply Depot was constructed, its 841-acre site bounded on the northeast by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railway, and on the north by a spur of the Union Pacific. The main line of the Union Pacific from the east emerges onto the Salt Lake plain at Ogden, 10 miles north of the depot, and turns south to Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. That railroad also runs north to join the Oregon Short Line for connection to the Pacific Northwest. A second line from the east is the Southern Pacific, which connects Clearfield with the San Francisco Bay area.

The depot area had at one time been a swamp, but many years before Navy acquisition, it had been drained and used for truck farming.

During the war period, 48 general storehouses, 13 heavy materials storehouses, and 56 aviation materials storehouses, and more than 40 miles of railroad were built.

All storehouses were 200 by 600 feet in plan. The 58 storehouses built under the original contract had concrete foundations, wood-frame wall and roof construction, gypsum plank roof sheathing, and asbestos-shingle outside wall covering. The general storehouses were built with filled floors at car-door height; the heavy materials storehouses had ground-level floors.

Under a contract performed in 1944 and 1945, eight general storehouses of concrete block, similar to the later ones at Mechanicsburg, were built. Storehouse heating was by a central plant system.

Design for the heavy materials and aviation materials storehouse craneways differed from that


at Mechanicsburg and Scotia in the use of reinforced concrete for columns and girders, instead of wood construction. The building frames were timber.

Labor procurement was the most difficult construction problem at Clearfield. Men were recruited from such distant places as Texas and Illinois. Lumber procurement became difficult toward the end of the job. Structural lumber was fabricated on the site, as was about 40 percent of the millwork.

Spokane. -- A nearly level treeless site, 11 miles east of Spokane, somewhat less than a square mile in area, was selected for the Northwest's inland supply depot. It was situated between the Northern Pacific and the Spokane International railroad lines, which gave it connections not only to the northern transcontinental routes in the United States, but also the trans-Canadian lines.

During the war, 18 general storehouses and 5 heavy materials storehouses were built. The early storehouses were similar to the brick curtain-wall storehouses at Mechanicsburg, differing mainly by their use of wood sash instead of steel for natural lighting. Later general storehouses were of the windowless concrete-block construction.

A feature of roof construction was the use of 3-inch poured-in-place lightweight aggregate slabs. The lightweight concrete was formed on strips of material composed of light woven-wire mesh, laced to a double thickness of heavy paper. The strips were delivered in rolls and laid at right angles to the joists. In freezing weather, gypsum plank was substituted.

Plans originally called for individual heating in storehouses. As built, heat was provided for some of the storehouses from a central plant. The remainder of the storehouses, including those for heavy materials, were unheated.

The site presented no unusual construction problems, and the weather was good for the most part. Labor of fair quality was plentiful. Some delay was caused early in the job by slow deliveries of reinforcing steel. Later, final completion was delayed by slow delivery of the boilers for the central heating plant.

The Coastal Depots

Norfolk and its annexes. -- The Norfolk depot was the oldest and by far the largest naval supply activity when World War II construction began. It was expanded by the addition of three significant projects, one a six-story reinforced-concrete building with 1,800,000 square feet of floor area. Two 1,370-foot wooden supply piers were razed and replaced by permanent structures, and a third concrete pier, 1,375 feet long and 250 feet wide, was built.

It quickly became apparent that the expedient of constructing multi-story buildings on the restricted grounds of the supply depot itself would not meet the storage space requirements of an accelerated naval program, so the Navy acquired a pier, four storehouses, and a triangular piece of land at the Norfolk Army Base. On the annex land the Navy added 14 storehouses of sizes varied to utilize the property fully.

Yet another extension of storage facilities in the Norfolk area was necessary. Adaptable existing facilities could no longer be found, so another annex of the main station was built on the right bank of the York, River, above Yorktown.

The site comprised more than 2,500 acres, most of it woodland, with a few scattered dwellings. During World War I, it was part of the property on which a shell-loading plant operated. Facilities constructed included an L-head pier, almost 3,000 feet long, 16 storehouses, a large transit shed, and a refrigerator storehouse. The pier was built with a 2,850-foot approach and a 1,215-foot wharf along the deep-water channel of the 2-mile-wide river. In the construction of the pier, a concrete deck was placed on concrete-capped and timber-braced pile bents. Rail and truck traffic used the pier, which could berth four freighters on its two sides. Downstream a short distance, a fuel pier was built for the nearby fuel annex.

The first ten storehouses at Cheatham Annex were one-story cinder-block and timber-frame structures, 835 feet by 120 feet, with concrete ground-level floors. The second group, six storehouses, doubled the station's general storage capacity, by virtue of the buildings' 200-foot width on the 835-foot length. Steel-frame construction was used. The transit shed was of bolted-steel construction, 1,500 feet long by 240 feet wide. The cold storage building, originally built 677 feet by 200 feet, was later extended to 877 feet in length. It had concrete foundations, brick and cinder-block walls, wood frame, and concrete floors at car-door height.

Piling for the pier structure was unusual. A 30-ton


General View of NSD Clearfield, Utah
General View of NSD Clearfield, Utah

load was to be imposed upon the piles, which, it was found, had to be driven to a depth of 97 feet to reach positive resistance. To provide a pile of the stiffness required for the indicated depth and design loading, it was necessary to build up a composite member of adequate length and thickness. The pile was fabricated of square timbers, four in the square cross-section of the completed member, with staggered butt joints, bolted throughout. Protection to a point 10 feet below the mud line was furnished, in that portion of the pile, by the use of creosoted timbers, covered with fabric, and sheathed with one-inch creosoted planking.

The primary problem in construction was obtaining and holding labor. This was attributable to the site's relative isolation and to the fact that there was plenty of work to be done at the nearest population centers, Norfolk, Newport News, and other Hampton Roads communities. It was especially difficult to get pier builders.

Bayonne. -- Construction at the Bayonne site was divided between the naval supply depot and the naval drydock, which was an administrative adjunct to the New York Navy Yard. By the end of the war, the supply depot had 26 major buildings, most of them permanent, on about two-thirds of the site's 170-odd acres of usable hydraulic fill. One of the buildings, a two-story steel-frame waterside transit shed, had been on the property when it was acquired from the city of Bayonne. The Navy built 4 transit sheds, 20 storehouses, including two for heavy materials, and one cold storage warehouse. One of the storehouses was seven stories high; another, six; and the others, as well as the transit


General View of NSD Bayonne, N.J.
General View of NSD Bayonne, N.J.
Within the barrel-arch structures, ceilings were smoothly curved surfaces;
the supporting girders being formed entirely on the outside.

sheds and the cold-storage warehouse, were one-story. All permanent construction was on concrete piles. Almost 5,000 feet of waterfront mooring facilities for the deep-water vessels was constructed.

An outstanding feature of the Bayonne project was the concrete barrel-arch design used for eight of the 200-by-600-foot storehouses. The buildings were separated into two end units, each 60 feet long, and six intermediate units, each 80 feet long. Each unit extended the full 200-foot width of the building. Five continuous 33/4-inch-shell 40-foot barrel arches, each of which was rigidly connected to a gutter beam, spanned each unit. Sat on the outside walls, the arches abutted against lintel beams between outside columns. Each barrel arch was supported by two rigid frame girders which carried roof loads to columns spaced in regular bays 40-foot square. One of the girders in each end section was built into the end wall. The girders were formed on the outside of the roof so that a smooth inside surface was left when arch forms were removed.

Structural loads were supported by concrete piles, and floor slabs were laid directly on the ground, which had been deposited hydraulically in 1938-1939. The floors settled in varying amounts, giving a pronounced humping effect near the structural supports.

Oakland and its Stockton Annex. -- Like Bayonne, the Oakland site was a level waterside area.


Barrel-arch-roof Storehouses, NSD Bayonne
Barrel-arch-roof Storehouses, NSD Bayonne
Reinforced concrete rigid frames carried part of the thin-shell roof loads to the columns.

More than half of the station was tidal flat on which the Navy placed hydraulic fill before beginning construction operations. As at Bayonne, all major structures, temporary or permanent, were pile-supported.

The depot was laid out compactly in a gridwork of paved streets, serving blocks of buildings of the standard 600-foot length. In the northern part, where natural ground was available for the early construction, the block width was 120 feet. Later, after filling was completed, blocks were made 200 feet wide to accommodate the 600-by-200-foot standard storehouse. Thirteen buildings of the full 120-by-600-foot size were built, ranging in height from one to six stories. In the remainder of the depot, 26 one-story general and heavy-materials storehouses of the full 600-by-200-foot size were built. Nine major buildings of modified size were built under Yards and Docks contracts, as were two large covered piers and two marginal wharves.

When the Oakland construction began, war had not yet commenced for the United States, and the building program was based upon construction standards for a permanent establishment. That those standards were high was evidenced by the concrete-pile foundations, the reinforced-concrete and steel super-structures, liberal use of metal for sash, door coverings, etc. In early 1942, wartime temporary construction directives changed the character of the construction from a permanent fire-resistive type to the temporary type which used wood-pile foundations, wood-framed structures, finished with a minimum of metals.

Outside influences also changed construction plans. Changes in the construction program of the adjacent Alameda Naval Air Station, for example, made it inadvisable to construct a five-story medical supply storehouse near the southern boundary of the supply depot, where it might project into the line of flight of planes using the air station. As a result, the building, which had been begun as a five-story building, was changed into a one-story dry provisions storehouse, and the medical supply building was erected on a site half a mile north of its originally designated site, just outside the main station area. For a similar reason, it was deemed inadvisable to build a chimney from the building originally designated as the heating plant, and that became a standby power plant.

Although the procurement of labor in the highly competitive Bay defense area was difficult the steady rate of construction at the supply depot over


a period of three years tended to keep the rate of labor turnover low, and work was not unduly retarded by an insufficient supply of skilled and unskilled help.

Building on new fill was the most important problem to be overcome in the construction at Oakland. The fill material had low percolation and drainage characteristics; hence, it dried slowly. Equipment bogged frequently and deteriorated rapidly. The condition was somewhat relieved in late construction areas by blanketing hydraulic fill with more stable material borrowed from nearby hills. This was especially helpful at building sites where the stabilizing blanket had some time to settle.


By the end of 1943, the Navy had expanded Oakland almost to its limit. In 1944, as the pattern and the size of the navy's coming Pacific war became clear, need for a large annex to Oakland arose. Rough and Ready Island, on the San Joaquin River near Stockton, was the site chosen.

The 1,500-acre island was flat, and foundation experience on nearby structures indicated new buildings could be erected without pile support. Moreover, the presence of sandy soil assured easy earth moving. Thee highway bridges connected the island with the main land, and the Port of Stockton belt-line railroad, which served the site, connected with three large railroads, the Southern Pacific, the Western Pacific, and the Santa Fe.

By the time work began, structural steel was easier to obtain than lumber was, so the bulk of Stockton construction was steel.

Seven steel-and wood-frame transit sheds, 150 feet by 600 feet or 150 feet by 680 feet, were built along the riverfront levee, together with 6,300 feet of marginal wharf. Original plans called for nine transit sheds and a 6,000-foot marginal wharf, but unfavorable soil conditions encountered during construction made the reduction necessary. Two structures, originally intended as transit sheds, were erected as storehouses on locations near the center of the island.

Thirty standard-size steel-frame general storehouses, six wood-frame general storehouses, and two steel-frame heavy materials storehouses completed the wartime development of major buildings at Stockton. Forty-four miles of railroads and 32 miles of roads and streets were built.

The principal construction problem was labor procurement, a problem with which little trouble originally had been anticipated. It was necessary to build a labor camp at the site, despite the fact that a city of 50,000 was just across the river.

Part II -- Marine Corps Depots of Supply

The beginning of the national defense period found the Marine Corps with only two supply depots, each of which was comparatively small.

At Philadelphia, seven buildings, on property leased from the Pennsylvania Railroad since 1904, comprised the main depot; three buildings, accommodating some 200,000 square feet of storage, had been constructed along the Delaware River front during World War I. All West Coast storage was at San Francisco in one large building constructed in 1923. Little expansion could take place at these depots.

At the main Philadelphia site on Broad Street an additional warehouse and a factory building were constructed in 1942 on the last vacant spot. These buildings, with a warehouse constructed in 1940, added nearly 90,000 square feet of storage space. As an immediate remedy, the Marine Corps, in June 1942, acquired half an acre of property contiguous to the main line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, where construction was begun on a six-story brick and concrete warehouse and manufacturing building to provide 116,906 square feet of additional storage space.

Previous arrangements had made available part of the grounds at the Naval Home in Philadelphia. The plot was undeveloped except for one small three-story building which was convertible for storage use. By September 1942, when this new unit was commissioned, two large brick and concrete warehouses had been converted; one, of five stories; the other, of seven. These buildings also adjoined the main line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

A similarly congested situation presented itself at San Francisco, where the Marine Corps Depot of Supply was confined by surrounding industrial facilities. Expansion had to be accomplished by


the acquisition of new sites. One of these, situated 4 miles from the center of San Francisco, on Islais Creek, was to be used for motor transport, engineer, ordnance, utility, and signal supplies. Here, 80 acres of land were leased, and in December 1942, construction was begun on a timber-frame storehouse, 200 by 560 feet, and surfacing for 1,750,000 square feet of open storage. Work was completed by June of the following year, and in August 1944 construction was begun on two additional warehouses. Continued pressure for space made the acquisition of still more property necessary, and in March 1945, a sub-depot at Belair was established, with facilities for 211,096 square feet of storage.

Barstow, in the California desert country beyond the mountains east of Los Angeles, was suggested in March 1942 as one of the three new sites for naval supply depots. Before work could be started on the buildings, extensive diking had to be done to divert flash-flood drainage to the east and west of the building site. In May 1942, a letter of intent was issued to the contractor to begin work on five general storehouses and two heavy materials storehouses, all of temporary wood-frame construction. In September, a change order to the contract provided for a sixth general storehouse and a third heavy materials storehouse. In April 1944, four general storehouses were added.

Originally, this base had been planned to provide a third western inland depot for naval supplies, but developments in the Pacific made additional Marine Corps storage facilities necessary. Upon completion of the project, therefore, the station was transferred to the cognizance of the Marine Corps. It provided 1,000,000 square feet of covered storage.

Part III -- Medical Supply Depots

The period of national defense found the Medical Corps with only one depot for the storage and distribution of extra-continental medical supplies. Supplies for continental hospitals were stored at the hospitals, as a matter of both convenience and practicability, because in the that manner the hospitals were able to stock supplies peculiar to their missions, directly from commercial suppliers.

Since 1917, when an eight-story concrete and brick storehouse had been constructed near the navy yard in Brooklyn, little more than a thousand square feet of storage space had been added to the Navy's medical supply storage capacity. Early in 1941, an extension to the old Brooklyn building and a three-story garage building across the street were undertaken to assure adequate storage for supplies to the recently increased fleet and growing overseas bases. In March, field work was begun on the project which was to double the size of the depot. Of reinforced concrete on spread footings, the addition was designed so that the floors were at the same elevation as those in the original part.

A change order issued in December 1941, provided for a second eighty-story storehouse of permanent construction, to be built across the street and connected with the main building by a covered bridge.

To accumulate a small reserve of medical supplies on the West Coast, two temporary storehouses were built at the Oakland hospital, one in 1942 and one of nearly doubled dimensions during the following year. These, however, provided only 26,000 square feet of storage, a fraction of the amount which would obviously be required, so in October 1943, the contractor at the Oakland Supply Depot was notified to start work on a five-story medical supply building at the depot. The 517,500 square feet of storage provided became Medical Supply Depot, Oakland.

In January 1943, a supplemental agreement to the Brooklyn contract advised the contractor to begin major repairs to a 1,000-foot two-story permanent pier and facilities taken over in 1942 with the acquisition of 15 acres of waterfront land in Edgewater, M.J. It also provided for five new storehouses of temporary cinder-block and timber construction on concrete spread footings, to increase the East Coast storage by 230,680 square feet. Two of the buildings were divided by cinder-block fire walls, 12 inches thick. Ventilation in all was achieved by the use of wood sash windows in the walls and in longitudinal monitors. Work included dredging at the pier side, reconstruction of the fender system, complete rehabilitation of sewer,


water, and electric systems, a new heating system, rehabilitation of two old industrial buildings, and construction of a street and railroad system.

By August 1945 storage facilities for medical supplies had increased to 1,269,980 square feet of covered storage and 22,000 square feet of open.

Part IV -- Fuel Storage

With the vast increase in the number of ships and airplanes of the fleet and the increased geographical scope of operations, an immense program of fuel storage facilities took shape. To the World War II fleet, fuel meant liquid petroleum products; the day of the coal-burning naval vessel had passed.

The fuels used were gasoline, diesel oil, and huge quantities of heavy fuel oil. The gasoline was further classified into various types for specific uses. Although these liquid fuels required less time and mechanical equipment in handling and storage than did coal, these processes were much more hazardous.

For twenty years after World War I, there was virtually no expansion of the Navy's fuel storage capacity. Then war broke out in Europe. The resulting series of progressive increases in the authorized strength of the Navy, called for compensating increases in shore servicing facilities.

The Secretary of the Navy in November of 1939 established the Fuel Storage Board, made up of eight officers from the navy and the Marine Corps, to set the pattern for fuel-storage construction during the entire expansion program. In its first report on protection of fuel storage, the board set the general policy that was to continue throughout the war. It was concluded that camouflage alone was not sufficient protection for large fuel storage against enemy attack, as the location of these stores could usually be ascertained from their relationship to objects that could not be camouflaged, such as fuel piers. It was felt, however, that small storage could be sufficiently concealed by camouflage. It was also felt that sufficient protection from air attack could not be obtained by the use of antiaircraft batteries, without unduly high costs in both equipment and manpower. The usual above-ground tank farms were extremely vulnerable to air attack, because bomb hits among the tanks might rupture the tank shells and destroy the berms.

The Bureau of Yards and Docks, investigated the possibilities of placing fuel in underground storage. Tanks were to be of reinforced concrete and placed below the surface of the ground with at least 2 feet of earth covering. This construction would render the tanks practically immune from damage from bomb splinters, and in case a tank was damaged, oil would not flow. Duplicate piping and pumping equipment also was to be provided. The cost of this type of storage was estimated to be about 50 percent more than that of above-ground construction. The board recommended that in the future all reserve storage of fuel be placed underground, at least to the point of concealment, and that small storage should be placed underground if it constituted a hazard to important naval facilities. Also, all aviation gasoline storage should be placed underground.

This report was promptly approved by the Secretary of the Navy, and the Bureau of Yards and Docks began developing standard plans for the construction details. The pre-stressed reinforced-concrete tank was developed for Navy fuel storage. The usual reinforced-concrete construction produced a tendency for the concrete to develop hairline cracks and incipient leaks in a tank. In the new design, a concrete cylinder was compressed by steel tension rods placed around the circumference and tightened by means of turnbuckles. This construction saved about half the amount of steel used in steel plate construction, and the steel used was of a less critical type.

Reserve storage of aviation gasoline was provided at certain naval fuel depots, as the result of a recommendation made by the advisory commission to the Council on National Defense, after its organization on May 30, 1940.

At that time, the capacity of the petroleum industry to produce high-octane aviation gasoline was being rapidly expanded; it already exceeded peacetime requirements. Of course, it was far short of the peak capacity later attained. Commercial storage for the excess was not available. It was, therefore, considered strategically advisable for the armed forces to construct and fill reserve storage tanks to the extent of 7,500,000 barrels (315,000,000


Windowless, Concrete-block, General Storehouses, NSD Mechanicsburg
Windowless, Concrete-block, General Storehouses, NSD Mechanicsburg

gallons), sufficient for about 100 days of operation in the event of war. This task was divided between the Army and the Navy, with the responsibility for the storage of 17,850,000 gallons reposed in the Navy. An appropriation of $2,500,000, to initiate the Navy's share of this program, was included in the Second Supplemental National Defense Appropriation Act, 1941, approved September 9, 1940.

The Fuel Storage Board, on June 11, 1941, made a report which scheduled a proposed program of fuel tank construction at specified shore stations both within the continental United States and at outlying bases. This report, based on the concept that the function of the Navy would be limited to hemisphere defense, recommended doubling the existing fuel storage capacity. The report was approved by the Chief of Naval Operations and the Secretary of the Navy. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, further consideration was given to requirements. On February 9, 1942, a major revision in the board's recommendations was made, increasing the amount of recommended total storage capacity by 50 percent. Other revisions and additions to the program were made from time to time as the war progressed.

In June 1941, the total storage capacity for fuel oil within the United States was 3,500,000 barrels and for diesel oil slightly less than 200,000 barrels. Practically all of this storage was above ground, in steel tanks or concrete reservoirs. The war expansion program added almost 9,000,000 barrels to the fuel oil storage capacity and somewhat more than 1,500,000 barrels to the capacity for diesel oil. The prestressed reinforced-concrete construction was used almost exclusively for this program, and most of the existing steel tanks were splinter-proofed by the addition of brick or concrete walls, built around the shells of the tanks. Some of the original storage was dismantled or diverted to other uses.

As of July 1940, the Navy had 6,250,000 gallons of aviation gasoline storage. During the war, this figure was increased 25 times, to approximately 160,000,000 gallons.

A typical naval fuel depot was located on the water front, although topographic conditions or security requirements dictated building some, or all, of the storage tanks a mile or more inland. For convenience, a fuel depot usually was placed near an operating base, navy yard, or other major facility. In addition to storage tanks, which were normally provided in considerable numbers, to distribute the risk of loss, the depot had a system of pumps and piping capable of receiving or dispensing fuel at a rapid rate. In colder climates, provision was made for heating the oil. A fire-protection system was provided. Access facilities, such as a pier, a siding, and highway connection, were essential. It was customary to provide at least two means of receiving and dispensing fuel, so that in case of damage to one, the depot could continue


to function. Individual structures included tanks, boiler houses, electric transmission lines, transformers, pump houses, water supply and distribution facilities, roads, railway siding, piers, and moorings.

The program of wholesale expansion was begun in July 1940, when a contract was made to install storage facilities for 1,262,000 barrels of fuel oil and diesel oil at the Middle and Orchard Point Fuel Depot, serving the Puget Sound area. Standard pre-stressed reinforced-concrete tanks of various sizes were installed; new piping and pumping equipment was added, because existing storage facilities were only about one-fifth the contemplated capacity. In all, eight boilers were installed, both for heating and for steam power for the pumping apparatus. Major repairs to the two fueling piers were made, and a number of permanent and temporary buildings were erected. The actual construction on this project was begun in October 1940.

In December 1940, work began on repairs and strengthening of the fuel pier at Yorktown Fuel Depot, in the Norfolk area. In June 1941, a change order to the same contract called for a reinforced-concrete pier, to be built adjacent to the existing fuel pier, and two finger piers.

In June 1941, a change order to an existing contract in the area of Newport, R.I., was made, to construct one 55,000-barrel underground tank at Melville, 6 miles north at Newport. In July, storage facilities for 100,000 barrels of aviation gasoline were provided at Richmond, Calif.

In November 1941, an addition to the contract at Craney island, serving the Norfolk area, called for five steel above-ground tanks, of 225,000-gallon capacity, to be used for gasoline. At about the same time, a new contract was signed for the Newport area, including the construction of prestressed reinforced-concrete underground tanks for fuel oil at Melville. This addition increased the existing facilities by 660,000 barrels. The two existing fueling piers were practically rebuilt, and a locomotive crane was provided for one of the piers. The old above-ground tanks were splinter-proofed by the addition of brick walls adjacent to the shells.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor the tempo of the fuel storage program was stepped up rapidly. On the 30th of December 1941, a letter of intent was issued to begin the construction of two fueling annexes, on at Orient Heights serving the Boston area, and the other at Long Island in Casco Bay, serving the Portland (Maine) area. At Boston, underground reinforced-concrete tanks were installed for the storage of 378,000 barrels of fuel oil and 54,000 barrels of diesel oil. A wooden fueling pier, located about 2 miles from the fuel annex, was constructed, as was a pipeline connecting the two. The tanks at Orient Heights were of modified design, internally braced by the addition of both radial and circumferential walls which absorbed those stresses which were imposed upon the empty tanks by soil of low bearing value. These installations were in use by August 19, 1942. At Long Island in Casco Bay, three large underground concrete tanks were installed for 300,000 gallons of gasoline.

January 26, 1942 brought a change order in the contract at Yorktown. Six 27,000-barrel, underground, steel tanks for the storage of aviation gasoline were built. Aviation gasoline was to be stored in an unethylized state. An ethylizing plant was provided, together with the necessary piping and distribution system. This project was put in use on the 15th of May 1942.

On February 3, 1942, a similar project was initiated at Melville. However, only two of the 27,000-barrel steel tanks were installed underground.

The next day (February 4, 1942), a change order was issued providing three similar tanks at the Middle and Orchard Point depot, and again an ethyl-blending plant was provided.

On February 14, 1942, a fueling pier at Craney Island was authorized. This structure was to be of reinforced concrete, 1,200 feet long, with two approaches. On the 23rd of March 1942, a letter of intent was sent to a contractor, to initiate the construction of nine 27,000-barrel, concrete, underground tanks for the storage of fuel. Four 13,500-barrel tanks of similar construction were installed to provide storage for 54,000 barrels of diesel oil. Two similar tanks were installed for additional water supply for fire protection. Eleven steel above-ground tanks that had been erected at Craney Island many years before were protected against possible bomb splinters, by the addition of reinforced-concrete walls placed around the tank shells. The new tanks, together with pumping equipment and piping, were in use by the end of the year.

About the same time, a change order in the contract at Key West called for the addition of four underground concrete tanks of 27,000-barrel capacity


Aviation Storehouse, NSD Oakland
Aviation Storehouse, NSD Oakland

each, and for three small tanks for diesel oil.

On April 9, 1942, the contract at Boston was supplemented by the addition of seven more concrete, underground tanks. Three of these were the standard design for 37,500 barrels, for fuel oil; three were of 27,500-barrel capacity for diesel oil. One of the diesel tanks was built with the interior construction necessary on unstable soil. Its capacity was 25,000 barrels. These tanks were put in use by August 1942.

Later in the month of April, six concrete tanks of 50,000-barrel capacity were begun on a newly acquired 660-acre inland area of the Craney Island annex of Norfolk. These tanks were placed partially underground and covered with earth.

Two new tank farms in the Melville, R.I., area and additional work at the fuel depot were the subject of a letter of intent issued May 20, 1942. The areas chosen were about 2 miles south of the original installations, on Narragansett Bay. In the first of these, five 27,000-barrel, underground, concrete tanks were provided for diesel oil and twelve 60,000-barrel tanks were provided for fuel oil. At the other site, about a mile farther down the bay, eleven 60,000-barrel concrete tanks were installed underground for fuel-oil storage. Both areas were provided with piping and pumping apparatus, and a boiler house was located near the shore end of the fueling pier, which was built between the two areas. The pier was a T-shaped, timber structure, with an approach partly built of shale fill. The two farms were ready for use by about September 1, 1943.

On May 27, 1942, a letter of intent proceeded a contract for a large fueling annex to be located at San Pedro, Calif. The project included twenty 50,000-barrel, underground, prestressed, reinforced-concrete tanks and all the necessary appurtenances. The oil-heating equipment was of a direct-fired type, used in the oil industry, rather than of the steam-coil type usually used in naval installations. Adjacent to the fueling annex was a commercial tank farm. Under this contract, eight 80,000-barrel steel tanks were splinter-proofed at the commercial installation. A pipeline connected the tank farm to a fueling wharf at the waterside.

On the same day, another letter of intent called for extensive fueling facilities to be constructed to serve the San Francisco area at Point Molate. Twenty 50,000-barrel, underground, concrete tanks provided a million-barrel storage capacity. A T-shaped fueling pier was constructed of creosoted wood piles, with an asphaltic concrete covered deck. Marine barracks were erected, and a hotel in the area was remodeled for the use of civilian personnel. The whole fueling annex was complete and in use by January 20, 1943.

On June 8,1 942, another change was made in the plans at Craney Island. Seven more 50,000-barrel reinforced-concrete tanks were installed on


General Storehouse and Administration Building (Right), NSD Oakland
General Storehouse and Administration Building (Right), NSD Oakland

the mainland portion of the tank farm. These tanks were completely underground, and their added capacity required additional fueling facilities on the pier. The new tanks were ready to receive oil in March 1943.

At the same time, a supplemental agreement to a Norfolk-area contract ordered the construction of a sizable tank farm at Cheatham Annex, near the fuel depot at Yorktown. Fifteen tanks, of 50,000-barrel capacity each, were installed underground for the storage of fuel oil. Three more of these tanks were provided for diesel oil. A timber T-shaped fueling pier was constructed into the York River, with an approach 2,625 feet long and a head 910 feet long.

The fuel wharf at the San Pedro Fuel Annex was provided June 18, 1942, when a change order to one of the contracts in the area was issued. The wharf was fitted with both oil lines and water lines, coming from a source farther up the channel.

About one week later, bids were approved and a contract was signed for the construction of twelve underground concrete tanks at the fuel annex on Long Island in Casco Bay. Four of these tanks were 27,000-barrel diesel-oil tanks, and the eight others were of the 60,000-barrel design used for the storage of fuel oil. A steam coil heating system, for raising the temperature of the fuel oil 10 degrees in 24 hours, was installed. These storage facilities were ready for use by the end of June 1943.

On August 4, 1942, three 27,000-barrel, underground, steel tanks were authorized for the storage of diesel oil at Melville. These tanks were immediately installed and were ready to receive oil by the 15th of September.

Due to the tremendous submarine-action loss of tankers in 1942, the necessity for frequent tank-car shipment of oil to Craney Island became increasingly important. In March 1943, a contract was made that included the construction of a highly effective system for the rapid unloading of tank cars. Two concrete trough catch basins, each 800 feet long, were built between the rails of a siding. Openings in the top permitted the oil to be drained directly from the tank cars into the catch basins. From sumps, located at 200-foot intervals in the troughs, the oil was pumped to the tank farm for storage. With this system, it was possible to empty a trainload of tank cars at a rate of one and a half to two minutes per car.

Later, a similar arrangement was built at the fuel annex at San Pedro, to accommodate large quantities of fuel oil which were being received by rail from the nearby oil-producing country.

With this work, the Navy's continental war fuel storage system was substantially completed.


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1. Third Deficiency Appropriation Act, 1939, passed August 9, 1939.

2. Third Supplemental National Defense Act, 1941, passed Oct. 8, 1940.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation