Chapter II
Financing the War Construction

On the afternoon of April 9, 1940, a committee hearing was under way in the Senate wing of the Capitol. The business at hand was the Navy's appropriation for the coming fiscal year. Two weeks earlier the estimates of needs for fiscal 1941, which had already been the subject of study by the appropriations committees of both houses of Congress, had been supplemented by a request for approval of an additional $14,428,000 for shipbuilding facilities at various navy yards, and Rear Admiral Ben Moreell, Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, had been asked to explain to the Senate Appropriations Committee why the additional work was necessary.

On the morning of that same April 9, the German Army moved into Denmark and occupied key cities in Norway. The years that were to come would be shaped far more by those events than by the actions being given consideration that afternoon in the Senate committee room. Indeed, many sessions of that same committee in the months ahead would be devoted to national defense moves activated by the train of events set in motion that morning on the other side of the Atlantic. But as the Admiral presented his material to the Senators across the committee table and as they pressed their questions regarding the need for the new facilities proposed, there was no indication that there would soon be under way a naval base expansion program of such magnitude that amounts like those under inquiry would seem relatively unimportant.

The $14,428,000 program which was under discussion was proposed on top of an $18,000,000 program of naval shore establishment development already approved by the House of Representatives; authorization to obligate more than $32,000,000 of expenditures for new work on one year was not to be considered lightly. It is true that in 1939 the Congress had authorized the unprecedented figure of $89,478,000 as the cost of new facilities to be undertaken during the fiscal 1940, but $63,000,000 of that amount had been for the construction of naval air stations recommended by the Hepburn Board, and it was to be assumed that that aspect of national defense was under control; The war in Europe, which had begun in such dramatic fashion in September of 1939, had apparently burned itself out within its first month. Since the collapse of Poland there had been so little contact between the contending armies that it hardly seemed like a war.

Moreover, for years the development of naval bases had taken only an insignificant proportion of the nation's annual budget. During the middle 1930's, annual expenditures had run between $10,000,000 and $20,000,000, and much of that had been provided by allocation from the various emergency agencies which were operating construction-for-employment programs rather than by appropriation by Congress directly for naval purposes. In fact, there was one year,1935, in which the Congress made no appropriation for naval public works, and such work as could be done was financed out of the ends of appropriations made in earlier years and by allocation from the funds provided in the 1935 Emergency Relief Appropriation Act.

The extent to which the development of the shore establishment could be carried forward during that period of near-stagnation is given clear indication in the annual reports of the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks. During the 1933 fiscal year "for the direct use of the fleet, dredged areas were maintained and somewhat extended. Some additional fleet landings and moorings were provided and piers and quay walls improved . . . a new type floating dry dock for the fleet is now under construction by contract. . . . At Cavite a steel fuel oil tank was installed to replace storage formerly provided by the old tanker, the 'U.S.S. Sara Thompson.'"

The next year, "some improvements were provided for submarine bases. . . . At Pensacola,


General View of Mare Island Navy Yard
General View of Mare Island Navy Yard

work is nearing completion on the development of the land plane field to the extent of available funds."

In 1935, the floating drydock to which reference had been made two years before, was towed to its base in San Diego and put in operation. "At the Norfolk Navy Yard the destroyer ways were rebuilt . . . improvements to the fuel oil storage facilities at Pearl Harbor were made and additional improvements were being planned."

In 1936, new weight-handling equipment was installed in several navy yards, and the San Diego floating drydock was towed to Mare Island for general overhauling. "Excellent progress was made on the new buildings involved in the permanent development of the Navy Air Station, Pensacola, Florida."

The Hepburn Board Report

In the spring of 1938, Congress authorized an increase of 20 percent in the under-age tonnage of the fleet and established a naval air strength of 3,000 planes.1 As such an increase would logically call for an expansion of servicing facilities, the authorization act also directed the Secretary of the Navy to appoint a board of officers to investigate and report upon the nation's need for "additional submarine, destroyer, mine and naval air bases on the coasts of the United States, its territories, and possessions." Acting Secretary Edison thereupon appointed the board, naming as Senior Member, Rear Admiral A.J. Hepburn.

The board studied the reports of former boards which had investigated related subjects, consulted freely with officers in the Department and in the fleet, and visited many of the localities under consideration. It concluded that the need for additional shore-based facilities for aircraft far overshadowed that for destroyers, submarines, or mines, and was a need which did not arise solely by reason of the increase in strength just authorized. In fact, the board stated in its report: "Existing shore establishments have failed to keep pace with the requirements of the number of planes authorized by the Act of 1936."

In more general terms, a similar view had been


expressed by Admiral William D. Leahy,. the Chief of Naval Operations, who, on May 9, 1938, told the House Committee on Naval Affairs:

The importance of maintaining our shore stations in number, location and equipment, adequate to support the fleet in a constant state of readiness of war, and for the service of the fleet should war come, cannot be overemphasized. Developments ashore have not kept pace with the increase in the forces afloat and in the air, and, as a consequence we have now reached the point where the efficiency of the striking forces afloat and in the air will soon be seriously impaired by the absence of shore facilities needed for the servicing of these forces.

The board concluded its studies and submitted its report to the Secretary of the Navy on December 1, 1938, making recommendations for air-base development at the following locations:2

On the assumption that existing facilities at Philadelphia would remain available, no additional destroyer bases were recommended by the board, but it urged that the existing destroyer base at San Diego be strengthened. Likewise, the board saw no need for additional mine bases, provided certain deficiencies in the existing establishments at Yorktown, Hawthorne, Mare Island, and Oahu were corrected.

As to submarine bases, the board concluded that a sound policy would call for the use of tenders as the primary support for submarines in all areas where the tender could be afforded reasonable protection and that fully equipped submarine bases should be limited to those localities in which submarines would be required to operate continuously in either peace or war. Accordingly, submarine base development was recommended at the following locations:

In the light of later events the concluding paragraph of the board's findings is of special significance and is deserving of full quotation:

There are certain projects, however, which the Board has no hesitation in selecting because of their immediate strategic importance as being necessary of accomplishment at the earliest practicable date and without regard to the expansion contemplated by the act of May 17, 1938. These items are: Kaneohe Bay, Midway Island [sic], Wake Island, Guam, Johnston Island, and Palmyra Island in the mid-Pacific area; Kodiak and Sitka in the Alaskan area; and San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the Atlantic area. In addition, the immediate increase of training facilities at Pensacola Fla., is mandatory.

A few days after Christmas 1938, Secretary Swanson submitted the report of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as the naval expansion act had directed.

The report was followed in a week or so by an administration-sponsored bill to give legislative authority for putting into effect the board's recommendations regarding air stations. In order to stay within a $65,000,000 total, set by fiscal considerations, the legislation proposed included twelve of the fifteen developments recommended in the board's Category A, omitting the Chesapeake Bay, Coco Solo, and Seattle improvements. Moreover, the proposal for Guam was limited to harbor improvements at Apra to permit seaplane landings. Promptly, the board's recommendations became the subject of extended discussion in the Naval Affairs Committee, with special emphases on the proposals made for Guam.

Legislation authorizing the program was passed by the Congress and approved by the President on


Hangars at Alameda Naval Air Station
Hangars at Alameda Naval Air Station

April 25, 1939.3 As authorized, it differed from that recommended in several respects: First, the development of Guam was omitted entirely. Second, an air station at Tongue Point, Ore., was included, a development which had not been recommended by the Hepburn Board. Similarly, the Congressional authorization included the acquisition of land for the Quonset Point, R.I., air base, a development which the board recommended as within its second-priority category. The program as authorized included naval air stations at the following locations:

Kaneohe               $5,800,000
Midway Island       5,350,000
Wake Island       2,000,000
Johnston Island       1,150,000
Palmyra Island       1,100,000
Kodiak, Alaska       8,750,000
Sitka, Alaska       2,900,000
San Juan, P.R.       9,300,000
Pensacola, Fla.       5,850,000
Pearl Harbor, T.H.       2,800,000
Tongue Point, Ore.       1,500,000
Norfolk, Va.4       500,000
Quonset Point, R.I.4       1,000,000
Southeast base (Jacksonville)         17,000,000
Total       $65,000,000

Naval Appropriation Act 1940. -- While Congress had been giving consideration to these air-base developments, the regular naval appropriation bill for 1940 had been introduced and hearings before the Appropriations Committee of the House were well along toward completion. The day after authorization was given for the air-base program, therefore, a supplemental estimate to cover the first year's construction cost was hurried to the committee, and hearings on the item were immediately undertaken.

Due to the lateness of the submission of this supplemental estimate the House committee was reluctant to provide funds for the bases on the Pacific islands of Midway, Wake, Johnston, and Palmyra, because they had not had "sufficient time to give the details and other considerations proper scrutiny or study." Accordingly, the expenditure items for those bases were disallowed, although the committee stated in its report of May 4, 1939: "Their omission is entirely without prejudice. The


Deficiency Subcommittee will have opportunity to give them careful study.

The appropriation bill came to a vote in the House within a few days. The House reinstated the Midway, Johnston, and Palmyra items when it passed the bill. Provision for the development of Wake, however, a $2,000,000 item, still failed to receive approval. The bill in its House form, as to naval air stations, was passed by the Senate on May 17, and was approved by the President on May 25, 1939.

During this period, while the Hepburn Board was studying its problem and while the Congress was considering its recommendations and appropriating funds to allow a start on a $63,000,000 program of naval air station construction, ominous events were taking place in Europe. The major Old World powers, except Russia, had conferred at Munich regarding the German claims on Czechoslovakia, the Sudentenland had been abandoned and the German occupation of Prague had quickly followed, and the German claims on the Polish Corridor were being loudly pressed by Adolf Hitler. Only four months of uneasy peace were left to the western powers. Soon to come were the non-aggression treaty between Russia and Germany, and the actual outbreak of war on the continent.

On September 1, 1939, German troops crossed the Polish border, and the next day [??? the British and French declarations came on the 3rd, following the expiration of their 48-hour ultimatum delivered to Germany on the 1st] England and France declared war on Germany.

The Neutrality Patrol

On September 5, President Roosevelt proclaimed the neutrality of the United States, thereby invoking the provisions of the neutrality "law"5 and establishing a "neutrality patrol" of Atlantic coastal waters, extending south from the Grand Banks to and including the Caribbean. On September 8, the President declared the existence of a "state of limited emergency" and by Executive Order [8244] authorized an increase in the enlisted strength of the Navy to 145,000 men and of the Marine Corps to 25,000 men.

Warsaw capitulated to the German army on September 27, and the war settled down to a state of relative inactivity for the winter.

Patrolling coastal waters in the interest of protecting American neutrality placed a new burden upon United States naval forces. To meet it, a number of old destroyers, mine layers, and auxiliary craft which had been placed in reserve were recommissioned, and the procurement of more than 500 additional aircraft was undertaken. This increase in the strength of the naval forces in commission, together with the enlargement of naval and Marine Corps personnel, made immediate demands on the supporting shore establishments, particularly those on the East Coast, and occasioned a request to the Congress, when the Emergency Supplemental Appropriation Bill for 1940 was submitted in November, for $7,500,000 for the construction of temporary naval aviation facilities and hospitals, dispensaries, and barracks.

That bill, as passed by Congress and approved by the President on February 12, 1940, authorized $7,000,000 of new projects, none of which was of major magnitude.

Naval Appropriation Act 1941. -- The regular naval appropriation bill for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1941, had already been under consideration for more than a month by the House committee on appropriations. It proposed contract authorizations for $34,088,500 of new projects, which represented a modest increase in the rate of carrying forward the Department's long-term program of shore-station development. Included in the bill was the development of Wake Island as a naval air station at a cost of $2,000,000, the proposal which had failed to receive sanction in the 1940 bill. Also it was proposed that Apra Harbor in Guam be improved by constructing a breakwater across the harbor entrance, removing coral heads in the outer harbor, and dredging the inner lagoon. Other significant items were the acquisitions of two existing privately owned drydocks at Hunters Point, Calif., deemed necessary because of inadequate facilities on the Pacific Coast for docking capital ships; the extension to its authorized limit of the development of the new Alameda Naval Air Station; and improvements at Pearl Harbor. The House appropriations committee reported the bill out on February 13, reduced to a total of $20,977,000 by the elimination of the Wake Island air station, the development of the submarine base at New London to provide for the maintenance of over-age destroyers to be held in reserve commission, and a number of other items of improvements to existing shore establishments.

When the House took action on the bill, it again disapproved the Guam improvement, further reducing the authorizations to $17,977,000.

The bill had not yet been reported out by the


Senate committee when, on April 9, 1940, Admiral Moreell again appeared before it to explain a supplemental request for $14,428,000 to undertake the expansion of navy yard facilities to handle the authorized shipbuilding program. It was while the committee and the Admiral were discussing these items that the events referred to in the opening paragraph of this chapter took place in Europe and ushered in the real World War II.

The Senate committee reported on the bill three days later and gave its approval to the additional shipbuilding facilities just submitted. The report also recommended approval of the proposed extension of the New London submarine base and several other important items which had been omitted by the House. The Senate accepted its committee's recommendations, and the bill thereupon went to conference.

The National Defense Program

Events in Europe were proceeding at a breathtaking pace. On May 10, 1940, Germany followed up its success in Scandinavia by invading Belgium and Holland. Within a few days German divisions were past the Maginot line. On May 29, British troops began the evacuation of Dunkirk. On June 10, Italy declared war on France. On June 18, France capitulated, and on June 2 agreed to German armistice terms.

On May 16, 1940, the President had appeared before a joint session of Congress to deliver a special message on European developments and to call for a large Emergency National Defense Program. The budget estimate which followed proposed, among other defense items, a speeding up of the program of fleet construction, a large expansion in the naval air training program, an emergency fund for the President, and $57,262,363 for new naval public works project.

On May 21, the Senate subcommittee recalled the appropriation bill from conference and resumed hearings on the new items in the emergency program. Next day, it reported the bill out with a recommendation that the new items be passed as submitted. The Senate promptly gave approval in accordance with that recommendation. On May 27, the House committee held a rehearing of the bill, in view of the extensive Senate amendments, and on May 31, the conference committee reported its recommendations. By June 11, the bill, with provision for naval public works virtually as had been recommended by the Senate subcommittee, had been passed by Congress and signed by the President.

The bill as passed comprised two titles. Title I provided for $35,478,000 of new projects considered of normal shore-station development character. Title II approved outlays for the undertaking of $57,262,362 of new "emergency defense" projects, including $45,000,000 for naval aviation training facilities in Florida and Texas (authorized in a bill which was signed by the President four days later6), $400,000 for temporary housing of the Marine Corps. The total of new public works projects contained in the bill, therefore, amounted to $92,740,362, an amount which was soon to be augmented by an allocation of $50,000,000 from the President's Emergency Fund for the development of the British bases.

The addition of Title II to the 1941 appropriation bill signalized the opening of the "national defense program" period. The European war had been going on for nine months; the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was a year and a half in the future.

Fist Supplemental National Defense Appropriations Act, 1941. -- On May 31, 1940, before the augmented appropriation bill had quite completed its legislative course, the president presented another message to the Congress on the needs of national defense, his second message within half a month. In it he referred to "the almost incredible events of the past two weeks in the European conflict" and stated: "No individual, no group, can clearly foretell the future. As long as a possibility exists that not one continent or two continents but all continents may become involved in a worldwide war, reasonable precaution demands that American defense be made more certain."

The message was followed by the submission of budget estimates to provide authority to the Army and the Navy to obligate expenditures totalling $1,281,000,000, in addition to authorizations and appropriations already provided. The naval public works items, which comprised the largest program so far proposed for the development of shore establishments, were primarily to accomplish two important purposes. First, they were to provide the additional shipbuilding and fleet facilities necessary to meet the speed-up in fleet construction and the 11 percent increase in naval tonnage called


Six LST's in Terminal Island Dry Dock No. 1
Six LST's in Terminal Island Dry Dock No. 1

for in authorizing legislation then before the Congress.7 Second, they were to carry out the Hepburn Board's recommendations on naval air station development in accordance with the provisions of another bill also under Congressional consideration.8 In addition, the bill proposed expansion of naval training facilities to provide for an increase in naval personnel to 170,000 men, and ammunition and fuel storage facilities. The total naval base program proposed aggregated $202,100,000.

The appropriations committee of the House took exception to only one item in this list, the naval air station at Canton Island.

As passed, this First Supplemental Appropriation Act for 1941 provided authorization to the Bureau of Yards and Docks to undertake a program aggregating $202,654,000 including provision for a floating drydock which had been turned down two weeks before in the regular appropriation bill, the Wake Island air station, and all the other air bases recommended eighteen months earlier by the Hepburn Board, with the exception of Guam and Rose Island, which had failed to receive legislative authorization, and Canton Island.

The Navy's war program of naval base construction is generally assumed to have begun on July 1, 1940, when the funds voted by Congress in the two appropriation acts just described became available for expenditure. it is proper, however, to include within the scope of the war program several large items for which appropriations had been made in earlier actions, notably the $63,000,000 for Hepburn Board air bases voted in the 1940 appropriation act, $10,118,000 for the air station at Alameda, and $6,500,000 for the fleet supply base at Oakland. When the 1941 fiscal year opened on July 1, 1940,


Quarters at NAS Sitka, March 1941
Quarters at NAS Sitka, March 1941

the Bureau's total of "active accounts," or construction projects under way, was $176,752,579, of which $79,618,000 were for the war program items. By V-J Day, the Bureau's program was destined to expand to the almost incredible figure of $9,250,000,000, twenty-seven times as large as the entire naval base program during World War I.

The development of the war in Europe, and the consequent shifts in the equilibrium of world power, was now proceeding faster than the normal pace of Congressional processes. While the supplemental appropriation bill was being debated, France succumbed to German power. On July 10, 1940, the President addressed another dramatic message to the Congress, calling for the necessary legislation and funds to equip an armed force of 1,200,000, to provide reserve stocks of Army material for another 800,000, to procure 15,000 additional planes for the Army and 4,000 for the Navy, and "to build up the Navy to meet any possible combination of hostile naval forces."

A Two-Ocean Navy

In response to the situation, Congress promptly authorized a 70-percent increase in tonnage of combatant vessels to provide what was termed a "two-ocean" Navy and raised to 15,000 the authorized level of naval aircraft. The naval expansion act.9 was approved by the President on July 19, and three days later, the House appropriation committee opened hearings on the Navy's request for funds to put the enlarged program into effect.

Second Supplemental National Defense Appropriation


Act of 1941. -- The total appropriation asked of the Congress for the armed services in this Second Supplemental Appropriation Bill for 1941 was $4,970,151,957, of which the Navy's request represented something over a billion dollars. Naval public works items proposed totalled $75,000,000, "to provide the service facilities to construct, repair, service and supply the ships" that had been authorized, as Secretary Knox stated to the House appropriations committee.

Time was at the nation's heels, and the committee worked fast. In little more than a week it reported the bill out, recommending approval of the entire budget estimate, except for a $7,000,000 naval public works item, a graving drydock proposed for construction in New York harbor. By August 14, 1940, the bill had passed the House and was under consideration by the Senate appropriations committee. On August 19, that committee recommended that the Senate pass the appropriation, adding certain items, totalling $19,825,000, which had been requested after the House had taken action. The bill was passed by Congress and approved by the President on September 9, providing $87,825,000 for the following purposes:

Shipbuilding and repair facilities           $9,989,000
Fleet facilities           12,224,000
Aviation facilities           14,734,500
Storage (including liquid fuel) facilities           10,900,000
Marine Corps facilities           7,695,000
Ordnance facilities           13,695,000
Personnel facilities           12,839,000
Medicine and surgery facilities           3,455,000
Shore radio facilities           1,533,500
Naval Research Laboratory           250,000
Miscellaneous structures                   510,000
Total           $87,825,000

There were to be three more supplemental appropriations to round out the financing of the nation's defense program for the 1941 fiscal year.

The Third Supplemental estimate, of minor magnitude as far as it concerned naval public works, was submitted to Congress directly after the passage of the Selective Service Act in mid-September of 1940. Altogether the submissions totalled more than a billion and a half dollars, but the Navy's entire request was only a little more than $60,000,000. Three naval base items were provided for in the appropriation as passed: a large supply depot at Bayonne; and graving drydock large enough to accommodate a 45,000-ton battleship, also to be located at Bayonne; and the completion of the Corpus Christi air training station to its authorized development.

The drydock provided for was the item that had been disallowed in the preceding appropriation bill. It had been proposed on that occasion as a project to be undertaken in partnership with the Port of New York Authority, and some of the features of that partnership had led to Congressional disapproval. The plans for the undertaking had thereupon been modified so as to permit its construction, at some additional expense, purely as a Navy dock, and in that form the project was passed.

The Third Supplemental Appropriations Act for 1941, which was the last action of the 76th Congress in financing the defense program, was approved by the President on October 8, 1940. It provided expenditure authorization of $18,000,000, as follows:

Graving drydock, New York Harbor             $10,000,000
Naval Supply Depot, Bayonne             5,000,000
Corpus Christi Air Station                3,000,000

Naval Bases in the Atlantic

By the summer of 1940, the British Empire stood alone in resisting the military strength of the Axis powers except for such help as could be given by the benevolently neutral United States. Britain's most pressing naval need was for small craft for convoy duty on the North Atlantic shipping lanes. America's great concern was the defense of the Western Hemisphere.

In early September 1940, the President announced the preliminary terms of an agreement with Britain where the United States would exchange fifty of its recently recommissioned overage destroyers for the right to construct naval bases on certain British islands in the Atlantic. The bases would be constructed under the terms of 99-year leases of crown lands in Newfoundland, Bahamas, Bermuda, Jamaica, Antigua, St. Lucia, Trinidad, and British Guiana. Although the final terms of the agreement were not concluded until the following March, an understanding was quickly reached which permitted immediate surveys and an early start of construction at all these points. To finance the initial undertaking, allocations were made from the $50,000,000 of emergency funds the President had made available to the Navy for public works purposes in July 1940. By January 1941,


construction was under way on the first project, at Argentia, Newfoundland.

Fourth Supplemental National Defense Appropriation Act of 1941. -- Supplemental funds for carrying forward the base construction work at Argentia, at Bermuda, and at Trinidad were requested in the Department's estimates submitted in connection with the Fourth Supplemental Appropriation Bill for 1941, presented to the new Congress early In February 1941. Indeed, much of the public works program proposed in that bill was for naval base development at offshore points. In addition to the British island bases, there were requests for appropriations to permit the construction of a major fleet operating base at Vieques, P.R., improvements to the harbor facilities and power plant at Guam, construction of submarine bases as recommended by the Hepburn Board at Balboa and Coco Solo, C.Z., Charlotte Amalie, V.I., Kodiak, Midway, Pearl Harbor, and New London; and expansions to the naval air stations at Kaneohe Bay, Miami, Kodiak, Midway, San Juan, Seattle, Sitka, Dutch Harbor, and Wake. Extension of certain continental facilities was also proposed, including further expansion of Corpus Christi and Alameda air stations and the carrying forward of the development of the Bayonne Supply Depot. Altogether, the proposed program represented an expenditure of $186,115,000.

In addition to the items presented as part of the public works program of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, $10,000,000 was requested for a "Naval Emergency Fund" to permit the construction of a number of section bases, designed to support the smaller craft engaged in local defense activities.

These appropriation requests and the recommendations for the legislation necessary to authorize the program were presented to Congress at virtually the same time, and the appropriations committee and the naval affairs committee of the House held their hearings concurrently. By February 26, the authorizing legislation had been passed by the House, and its appropriations committee reported out the supplemental requests with a favorable recommendation.

The appropriation bill was passed by the House without delay and went to the Senate for concurrence. Within a week of the House approval, the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs reported favorably on the authorizing legislation. Their colleagues on the appropriations committee thereupon recommended approval of the appropriation items as passed by the House. The Senate acted promptly on its committee's recommendation, and the bill became a law with the President's signature on March 17.10 The naval base developments thereby provided for were as follows:

Shipbuilding and repair facilities               $      3,590,000
Fleet facilities               68,313,000
Aviation facilities               57,609,000
Storage facilities (including fuel storage)               20,600,000
Marine Corps facilities               3,500,000
Ordnance facilities               8,170,000
Personnel facilities               7,716,500
Medicine and surgery facilities               9,335,000
Shore radio facilities               730,000
Naval Research Laboratory               309,000
Miscellaneous structures                     9,290,000
Total               $189,162,500

Fifth Supplemental National Defense Appropriation Act of 1941. -- Financing of new projects to be undertaken during fiscal year 1941 was rounded out by the Fifth Supplemental Appropriation Act for 1941, approved by the President on April 5, 1941. That act provided for only two naval public work items, $2,500,000 for a naval ammunition depot at San Diego, and $14,575,000 for a new Marine Corps training station at New River, N.C. The new training facility was called for by the expansion of the combat units of the Marine Corps to include two divisions and seven defense battalions. Ammunition storage had become necessary in the San Diego area in view of the expansion of the naval operating establishment in that vicinity.

The enactment of this appropriation brought to $612,356,862 the total of funds made available by the Congress directly to the Bureau of Yards and Docks for new public works projects to be undertaken during fiscal year 1941. Six different appropriations had been involved:

Naval Appropriation Act, 1941               $   97,640,362
First Supplemental Appropriation Act, 1941               202,654,000
Second Supplemental Appropriation Act, 1941               87,825,000
Third Supplemental Appropriation Act, 1941               18,000,000
Fourth Supplemental Appropriation Act, 1941               189,162,500
Fifth Supplemental Appropriation Act, 1941                  17,075,000
Total               $612,356,862

Funds from Other Sources

Financing of the naval base program, however, was not limited to funds appropriated by Congress directly to the Bureau. Reference has already been


Double Hangars at Whitney Field, Pensacola
Double Hangars at Whitney Field, Pensacola

made in this chapter to two instances of financing in a somewhat indirect manner. First, there was the allocation of $50,000,000 to the Bureau in July 1940, from the President's Emergency Fund (increased to $52,400,000 before the end of the fiscal year in order to permit an immediate start on the British island bases). Second, there was the $10,000,000 Naval Emergency Fund provided in the Fourth Supplemental Appropriation Act, clearly destined to be expended on construction for which the Bureau would be responsible.

The President further extended the Bureau's financing in October 1940, when he allocated to it, again from his emergency fund, another $51,000,000, this time for the purpose of building housing for civilian workmen in areas that had become severely overcrowded as a consequence of the Navy's enlarged shore program. In March 1941, the Navy's Bureau of Ships turned over $95,000,000 of its ship construction money to the Bureau of Yards and Docks to finance the construction of additional shipbuilding facilities. In that same month, the Bureau received an allotment of $98,000,000 from the Defense Aid Fund, provided for in the newly enacted Lend-Lease Law, to build advance bases and several floating drydocks.

The total of funds made available to the Bureau from these and other outside sources during the 1941 fiscal year totalled $423,000,000, which, when added to the sum appropriated to the Bureau directly, brought to more than a billion dollars the total amount authorized for obligations during the first year of the national defense program.

At the end of that first year, gratifying progress had been made on the naval base program, although a staggering amount of work still lay ahead.

Construction was well under way at all the British island bases except the one on Great Exuma Island in the Bahamas (the site for that station was not determined until June 1941). The naval air station at Dutch Harbor had been commissioned and was in operation. The Corpus Christi air training station had been commissioned on March 12, 1941, nine months after the contract had been awarded. The Quonset Point air station was in operation. Altogether, fourteen new naval air stations had been commissioned during the year. Secretary Knox was able to report to the President, "Naval air stations have been completed or advanced to such a stage as to permit operations at 11 continental and 13 island and overseas bases."

Fifteen graving drydocks were under construction, nine of which had been begun during the year. Shipbuilding ways had been completed at a number of navy yards, and all the Navy's industrial yards had been expanded to meet the needs of the shipbuilding program. Two hundred cranes, ranging in capacity from 5 to 175 tons, had been installed.


Shipfittter's Shop, Pearl Harbor Navy Yard
Shipfitter's Shop, Pearl Harbor Navy Yard

Thirty section bases had been authorized during the year; 28 were under construction, and sufficient progress had been made on 17 to permit operation.

A new supply pier and transit shed were now available at the Norfolk Operating Base, and construction of the Oakland and Bayonne supply depots was well under way. The extensive underground fuel storage project in Hawaii had made rapid progress. Twenty-one net depots were nearing completion. Extensive troop housing facilities had been completed at naval training stations, providing facilities for more than 11,000 men.

The War Moves East

The early summer of 1941 witnessed the beginning of a new phase of the European war. England had withstood the German onslaught from the air, and the scene of the principal war activity had shifted to the East. On April 6, Germany struck against Yugoslavia and Greece, rescuing the Italian army which had been unsuccessful in its effort at conquest, and followed up its defeat of those two countries by driving the British from Crete. By the first of June, Germany's domination of the Balkan peninsula was complete. On June 21, she turned her forces against Russia.

Naval Appropriation Act 1942. -- The regular Naval Appropriation bill for the 1942 fiscal year had been presented to the new Congress shortly after it had convened in January 1941. It was the subject of committee study while the fourth and the fifth supplementals for 1941 were being enacted. Hearings before the House appropriations


committee were started on February 3, 1941, and the naval base items came up for discussion on February 21, five days before the deficiency subcommittee reported on the Fourth Supplemental appropriation bill.

All public works items proposed in the 1942 bill were for the extension and improvement of existing stations; no new locations were presented. Altogether, the projects involved an expenditure of $144,007,194, about half of which was for the further extension of naval air stations. In regard to these stations, Admiral Moreell explained to the committee that the development plan the Department was then carrying out was designed to service a naval air strength of 10,000 planes, and was an extension of the Hepburn Board air station plan which had been based upon a 3,000-plane strength. The procurement program under the newly authorized air strength of 15,000 called for delivery of 8,000 planes by July 1, 1942. By that date, the Admiral promised, the air base construction program would have progress to the point that "we should be able to take care of 7,680 planes, which is almost the full amount that will be available."

The House appropriations committee, in its report on March 13, limited its endorsement to a list of projects totalling $131,952,188. The committee was particularly concerned over the character of the construction that was taking place and asserted strongly that the buildings required by an emergency defense program should be of temporary construction.

The committee's advice on public works items was followed by the House when it passed the bill, but the Senate committee, to which the bill was then forwarded, recommended reinstatement of several of the items that had been disallowed by the House. As finally enacted and approved by the President on May 6, 1941, the approved items totalled $132,273,194, for the following purposes:

Shipbuilding and repair facilities               $  11,550,000
Fleet facilities               5,210,500
Aviation facilities               74,868,694
Storage, including liquid fuel storage               15,592,500
Marine Corps facilities               2,912,000
Ordnance facilities               8,919,000
Naval personnel               4,515,500
Medicine and surgery facilities               1,270,000
Naval Research Laboratory               575,000
Miscellaneous                    6,855,000
Total               $132,273,194

The $11,550,000 received by the Bureau of Yards and Docks in this 1942 Appropriation Act for shipbuilding and repair facilities was, with one minor exception, the last appropriation made by Congress directly to the Bureau for that purpose. In connection with the naval expansion program, Congress had authorized the provision of shipbuilding ways, shipbuilding docks, and essential equipment and facilities at either private shipyards or naval establishments. Accordingly, early in 1941, an understanding was reached by the Bureau of Yards and Docks, the Bureau of Ships, and the Bureau of the Budget, that, thereafter, appropriations for shipbuilding and repair facilities would be considered as included in the appropriations made to the Navy for "Increase and Replacement of Naval Vessels." Those facilities from that time on were financed by allocations by the Bureau of Ships to the Bureau of Yards and Docks, rather than by direct appropriation to the latter Bureau. This arrangement had the advantage of speed and flexibility over the normal process of direct appropriation to the bureau responsible for public works, and, furthermore, centered in the Bureau of Ships the control over the distribution of the great naval shipbuilding load among private and government yards. The exception referred to was an item in the Second Supplemental Appropriation Act for 1942, appropriated to the Bureau of Yards and Docks under circumstances which will be described (p. 40).

Second Deficiency Appropriation Act of 1941. -- A few months after Congress had completed its consideration of the 1942 appropriation, it was presented with the Second Deficiency Appropriation Bill for 1941. Despite its designation, the bill consisted largely of supplemental appropriation items for the new fiscal year 1942, to the extent of more than 90 percent of the proposed expenditure. All the naval public works items in the bill were for new projects, aggregating an estimated $49,265,000.

More than half of that amount was represented by new aviation facilities. The largest single item was for a new Marine Corps aviation operating base to be located on the Neuse River, in North Carolina, estimated to cost $14,990,000, and to be associated with the projected Marine Corps training area, 35 miles away, at New River. The new base was called for by the enlargement program for Marine Corps aviation then under way as part of the expansion of naval aviation in general. Of the 4,000 additional planes authorized for the Navy


Multi-quonset Warehouse, Guam
Multi-quonset Warehouse, Guam

by the 1940 Naval Expansion Act, 950 had been allotted to the Marine Corps.

The authorized naval expansion program also provided for the construction of 48 non-rigid airships, for purposes of coastal patrol. Two new naval air stations on the East Coast were proposed -- one at Elizabeth City, N.C.; the other at South Weymouth, Mass. -- to provide base facilities for these lighter-than-air craft. Also, to improve as well as to safeguard airship operations, it was proposed that there be established a number of auxiliary stations at various locations along the coast, to permit refueling and minor servicing. The total cost proposed for these lighter-than-air facilities was $15,750,000.

In addition to these new aviation facilities, the proposals submitted to Congress included the expansion of existing naval and Marine Corps training stations to provide for the increase in the naval enlistment program, and the improvement or extension of several existing storage facilities.

The House appropriations committee held its hearing on these items on June 6, 1941. Three weeks later the committee submitted its report on the bill, in which it recommended approval of all of the naval public works items that had been submitted. In addition to the items proposed as appropriations to the Bureau of Yards and Docks, the committee also recommended another $5,000,000 item for the Naval Emergency Fund for carrying forward the program of section base development, the inauguration of which had been provided for in the Fourth Supplemental Appropriation Act of 1941.

The House and Senate followed the lead of the House appropriations committee, and the President approved the Second Deficiency Appropriation Act for 1941 on July 3, 1941.11 The naval public works items were for the following purposes:

Aviation facilities               $29,990,000
Storage facilities, including liquid fuel               5,200,000
Marine Corps facilities               4,000,000
Ordnance facilities               3,775,000
Naval personnel facilities               5,500,000
Medicine and surgery facilities                     800,000
Total               $49,265,000

The Greenslade Board Report

The decision made in the summer of 1940 to build a two-ocean Navy naturally implied that commensurate supporting facilities would have to be constructed on shore. Recognizing this implication, Admiral Moreell, immediately after the passage of the naval authorization act, had recommended


to the Secretary of the Navy and to the Chief of Naval Operations that a special board be convened to make a study of the shore establishments with a view to recommending a plan for its development parallel to the growth of the forces afloat and in the air. Acting upon that recommendation, Secretary Knox appointed such a board under the chairmanship of Rear Admiral John W. Greenslade. The board, which convened in September 1940, made a comprehensive study of the shore establishment development program in all its categories in all the various operating areas. Its report was submitted to the Secretary in January of 1941, and was approved by him on May 14, 1941. Thereupon, the board's recommendations became the basic guide for the development of the entire shore establishment.

The Greenslade plan was expressed in terms of functional capacities in designated areas rather than in terms of specific structures. For example, the plan called for ship repair facilities in the Puget Sound area adequate to care for 20 percent of the total repair load of the fleet, and other areas and sub-areas on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts were assigned their proportionate shares of the total repair load. Similarly, the expanded fleet requirements for docking facilities, for protected anchorages, for aviation base facilities, for supply depots and other classes of shore-based services were established for the various subdivisions of the North Atlantic, Middle Atlantic, South Atlantic, Gulf, Caribbean, North Pacific, East Pacific, Central American, and Mid-Pacific areas.

In view of the great magnitude of the entire plan, it was clear that it could not all be done at once and that priority of construction of its various elements, therefore, should be determined by current strategic necessities. Accordingly, the various operating stations were directed to study their own needs for development in line with the Greenslade plan and the operating tasks that had been assigned to them. Recommendations from the field, modified by the Shore Station Development Board, curtailed by the departmental budget officer, and further screened by the Bureau of the Budget, formed the basis of the appropriation requests made to the Congress in the summer of 1941.

Moreover, operating experiences at some of the newly commissioned air stations disclosed needs for facilities beyond what had originally ben provided, particularly in connection with the great aviation training program which had been instituted. Modifications in the employment of the fleet, brought about by the rapidly changing circumstances surrounding the war in Europe, also made many new demands on shore stations. The House Committee on Appropriations described the situation aptly in the report on the First Supplemental National Defense Appropriation Act for 1942, when it stated:

"Defense preparation is a dynamic activity. There are new situations, new possibilities, new potential employments constantly arising, which call for new programs or the enlargement of programs under way."

First Supplemental National defense Appropriation Act of 1942. -- The bill the committee was reporting upon that summer of 1941 had been introduced into Congress when the new fiscal year (1942) was less than a month old. For all defense purposes, something more than seven billion dollars was requested. The Navy's request totalled $1,625,000,000, of which public works projects represented $300,000,000, the estimated cost of more than 1,200 individual items. Again, Congressional appropriation procedures had caught up with authorizations, for the public works projects proposed for financing were at the same time receiving consideration by the Naval Affairs Committee with a view to their legislative approval.

Aviation facilities requested in the bill came to a total of more than $80,000,000. Two wholly new aviation bases were proposed, and there were numerous items, large and small, for the expansion or improvement of existing stations to provide support for the authorized naval air strength of 15,000 planes. A new air base at Barbers Point, Oahu, T.H., was the largest single aviation item in the bill ($18,605,000) and was designed to provide the necessary landing field facilities for the plane complements of two aircraft carriers. Running a close second in appropriation requirement to the new station was the further development of the air station, then under construction in Newfoundland, for which $13,017,000 was asked. Of that amount, $10,000,000 was needed to complete projects the construction of which had already been begun with emergency funds allotted by the President. A similar situation prevailed at the new station being built at Bermuda, where the completion of the projects already under way required an estimated $3,000,000. Another new base was proposed


for Whidbey Island, Wash., at an estimated cost of $3,7980,000, to serve as an adjunct to the existing station at Seattle. Building up the Corpus Christi air training station to permit it to take 300 new students each month was the occasion for a request of $8,522,500. In addition to these noteworthy items, expansions and improvements were proposed at many other air bases.

New fleet operating facilities proposed in the bill represented a total expenditure of some $60,000,000. Included in these proposals were projects to provide protected anchorages at Roosevelt Roads, P.R., intended to become the main fleet operating base in the Atlantic, at Bermuda, and at Trinidad. Also proposed were some extensive enlargements of the Navy's storage facilities, including the completion of the Bayonne supply depot and of the fuel storage facilities at Pearl Harbor.

With the exception of a few items which were not recommended for authorization approval by the House Naval Affair Committee, the appropriation bill received Congressional approval in accordance with the proposals made. The bill became law with the President's signature of August 25, 1941.12 The projects thereby given financial approval were the following purposes:

Fleet facilities               $  61,124,000
Aviation facilities               83,830,000
Storage facilities, including liquid fuel               53,621,000
Marine Corps facilities               2,110,000
Ordnance facilities               35,173,000
Naval personnel facilities               16,852,000
Medicine and surgery facilities               12,780,500
Shore radio facilities               3,406,000
Naval Research Laboratory               590,000
Miscellaneous structures and facilities               10,542,000
Internal security facilities                  14,500,000
Total               $294,528,500

Second Supplemental National Defense Appropriation Act of 1942. -- A second supplemental emergency defense appropriation bill was presented to the Congress early in the fall of 1941, largely designed to provide further financing to Lend-Lease activities. Although the appropriations proposed came to a large total -- more than six billion dollars -- the Navy's requests were a minor amount, and at first there were no public works projects proposed at all. However, after the bill had already received the attention and approval of the House of Representatives, it became necessary to propose that two construction projects be included. Both were in the nature of highway improvements and were for the purpose of relieving serious traffic congestion in the neighborhood of industrial establishments engaged on Navy shipbuilding contracts. The localities involved were Oakland, Calif., and Terminal Island, San Pedro, Calif.; the cost of the two projects was estimated at $400,000,000. The items were introduced into the bill by the Senate, and ready concurrence was given by the House. The President signed the measure on October 28, 1941. These two highway improvements were the projects previously referred to (p.37) as the only items to be classed as having a shipbuilding purpose to be approved for appropriation directly to the Bureau of Yards and Docks after the regular 1942 Naval Appropriation Act.

The Country at War

The strained relations that had prevailed between the United States and Japan for several years came to a critical stage in the fall of 1941. General Tojo was appointed premier on October 18, and he immediately formed a cabinet hostile to the United States. On November 17, the President and Secretary of State Hull received the special Japanese envoys, Saburo Kurusu and Admiral Nomura, for conferences on the Far Eastern situation.

Third Supplemental National Defense Appropriation Act of 1942. -- The Third Supplemental National Defense Appropriation bill was at that time being presented to the Congress. Again, although the total appropriation proposed in the bill was large -- about eight billion dollars -- War Department items predominated and no naval public works items were proposed. The bill was passed by the House and was thereupon laid before the Senate.

The Senate appropriations committee opened its hearings on December 6. By that time the President had approved the submission of several Navy public works items, and they were accordingly presented to the committee for inclusion in the bill. For "emergency construction" it was proposed that $50,000,000 be appropriated to the Bureau of Yards and Docks, unearmarked as to projects. As Admiral Moreell explained,"With the development of the emergency, the bureau of Yards and Docks is called upon practically every day to meet some sudden demand of greater or lesser magnitude, the


Naval Air Station, Kodiak, September 1941
Naval Air Station, Kodiak, September 1941

need for which has never been foreseen. In the usual method of requesting appropriations covering specific projects at naval establishments, it is not possible to divert funds from these specifically appropriated projects to these projects which the commanders-in-chief of the fleet and field activities consider urgent during the present emergency."

In addition, three specific projects were proposed. A new major supply depot to be located at Mechanicsburg, Pa., was requested to satisfy the need for storage facilities on the East Coast. Its construction cost was estimated at $15,000,000. To provide air base facilities at New York adequate to maintain and operate an inshore patrol squadron and a carrier group, as called for by the 15,000-plane program, the purchase and development of Floyd Bennett Field, on Long Island, was proposed, at a cost of $18,750,000. For the housing ashore of the crews of naval vessels undergoing overhaul, repair, and fitting out at the Boston Navy Yard, $1,665,000 was requested.

The appropriations committee adjourned for the day that December Saturday afternoon with no hint of what the next twenty-four hours would bring forth.

Japanese bombs fell on Pearl Harbor the next morning. On Monday, Congress declared war.

Hearings on the appropriation bill were resumed by the Senate committee on Tuesday, December 9, 1941. Admiral Moreell appeared again and urged that the $50,000,000 lump-sum item for emergency construction which he had discussed with them on Saturday be increased to $300,000,000.

"Since Sunday night," he declared. "I have been receiving telephone messages from all over the country requesting


Low-cost Housing, Marine Corps Base, San Diego
Low-cost Housing, Marine Corps Base, San Diego

the allocation of funds, which I am able to meet only in very, very small part."

The Senate committee reported favorably on the bill, including the public works proposals, on December 11. Congressional passage followed promptly, and the President's signature was affixed on December 17, 1941, to an act appropriating $335,415,000 for naval public works.13 The $300,000,000 lump-sum item for emergency construction was itself larger than the public works provision in any appropriation bill up to that time. This was the beginning of a new period of war financing that would alter in many fundamental respects the methods and relationships that had previously controlled the appropriation of funds.

Change in Budgeting Procedures

In the normal course of government appropriation procedure, departmental budgets must be prepared many months before they receive the consideration of Congressional committees. Typically, departmental requests for funds to be made available in the annual appropriation bill are compiled as much as a year before the start of the fiscal year in which the money is to be expended. In a large department, like the Navy Department, requests for funds which originate in "the field" are submitted to the department during the summer, and the departmental budget proposals are prepared for submission to the Bureau of the Budget in the early fall. During the late months of the year, the Bureau of the Budget, under the guidance of the President, makes up the government's total budget proposal, comprising the various departmental appropriation bills, which is submitted to the Congress shortly after the new session opens at the beginning of the new year. Committee hearings and legislative action follows during the spring and early summer, and the funds approved by the appropriation acts passed are available for expenditure on July 1, the start of the government's fiscal year. Furthermore in the appropriation


bill, each project is listed in detail and the funds available for any item are limited to the amount specifically appropriated for that purpose.

The demands of war on the scale which was required called for the expenditure of tremendous sums for purposes which in many cases could not be foreseen and in amounts that would vary as the various contingencies of the war developed. To meet this need, it was inevitable that Congress should delegate almost complete financial control to the various war agencies and that new and more flexible procedures would be developed in obtaining the necessary legislation. The $300,000,000 lump sum granted to naval public works in December 1941 was the first step in this direction. The allocation of the fund was left to the Secretary of the Navy, with the proviso that he should later give Congress a detailed report, by projects of the way the money was spent.

Except during the first few months of our participation in the war, all requests for appropriations for public works contained a tentative schedule indicating the various projects for which funds were needed and an allocation for each. These justifications were reviewed by the Congressional committees on an "off the record" basis, and almost without exception the requests were approved by Congress. Because of the nature of war operations, it was emphasized that it might be necessary to change the scope of existing plans or to initiate entirely new projects, and each appropriation act authorized the allocation of funds wherever needed, upon approval by the Secretary of the Navy.

Budgeting The War Program

Under peacetime procedures the Bureau of the Budget had functioned as the coordinating agency to prune and otherwise adjust the requests of the various government branches and agencies to fit into the general national budget. With the nation committed to total war and Congress willing to authorize whatever expenditures were required, the budgeting problem became one of ascertaining what was possible of achievement within the scope of the whole war mobilization program. Under these conditions, the real budgeting of the Navy's public works program was determined by the priorities that could be obtained for materials and equipment, and this was handled through the War Production Board. In the later stages of the war, the Bureau of the Budget took a more active role and reduced requests for funds by eliminating projects which it did not consider as essential to the prosecution of the war. Such action, however, was limited to construction within the continental limits of the United States, and all requests for advance base purposes were approved without revision.

The national defense program that had been initiated in 1939 had led to a considerable expansion of Navy facilities prior to December 7, 1941, but this was far from adequate to meet the problem of actual war. Immediately, Congress authorized tremendous increases both in personnel and in the number of ships and aircraft. This necessitated, in turn, an enormous construction program to provide training and housing facilities for personnel and new or enlarged shore bases and facilities for the fleet and aircraft. Moreover, the fact that we were expected to carry on the war largely in areas at great distances from our shores required the establishment of bases near the actual scene of combat operations.

Naval Appropriation Act of 1943. -- The 1943 naval appropriation bill with which the Congress was confronted in January 1942 was one which had been prepared under circumstances that already had become wholly obsolete. For example, the request as originally submitted included public works items on Wake Island and at Cavite, which had subsequently fallen into enemy hands. Furthermore, the relative urgencies of the various projects in the proposed program were quite different from what they had been a few months earlier. Even aside from the items like those for Wake and Cavite, and those whose urgency had declined since the Pearl Harbor attack, it was obvious that under conditions of war it would be impossible to schedule with assurance any of the items in the bill.

With this in mind, request was made for $78,705,021, to complete projects which had previously been authorized, and an additional sum of $450,000,000 to be available as a lump sum for "temporary and emergency construction," subject to approval by the Secretary of the Navy for each project. It was also proposed that the funds be made available immediately instead of at the beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1, 1942. The bill was reported out of committee on January 26, and was immediately passed by the House of Representatives.


On January 29, the Senate Committee on Appropriations began its hearings, and the following day the public works item came up for consideration.

Meanwhile, the war picture was developing with startling rapidity. Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt, in conference at the White House during the latter part of December 1941 and the first part of January 1942, had plotted the basic strategy. Faced with war on both sides of the world, it was decided to concentrate on one area at a time. The major effort was to be directed against the Axis in Europe while a defensive action would be fought against Japan. But the Japanese were sweeping into the Philippines, Malaya, and Indonesia far more rapidly than had been anticipated, and there was a real question whether they could be stopped short of Australia. If an effective defense line was to be maintained, immediate action was necessary to establish a chain of bases between Hawaii and Australia to protect the supply line and to permit the ferrying of aircraft. Under this pressure of events, the program for the establishment of advance bases and for the organization of construction battalions (the Seabees) to build them, was being expanded rapidly.

The 1943 appropriation bill, as originally presented, and as passed by the House, had included $40,000,000 for building advance bases, but the Chief of Naval Operations was already calling for materials and facilities requiring many times that amount. Admiral Moreell, therefore, asked that, in addition to the $450,000,000 just approved by the House for new construction, the Secretary of the Navy be given contract authorization for a further $500,000,000. With this authorization it was proposed to build two large advance base depots, one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, where supplies and equipment could be collected and be available for immediate shipment to any point where it was necessary to construct new advance bases.

The request was incorporated in the bill and, after passage by the Senate, was accepted by the House. Naval Appropriation Act, 1943, signed by the President on February 7, 1942, made available for immediate use and for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1943, a cash appropriation of $528,705,021 and contract authority for $500,000,000. It was obvious that this sum would not begin to meet the needs for this period, but that, as plans matured and specific needs developed, more money would be requested and would be forthcoming.

The Fourth and Fifth Supplemental National Defense Appropriation Acts, 1942 (approved January 30, 1942 and March 5, 1942, respectively) contained no provisions for naval public works.

Sixth Supplemental National Defense Appropriation Act of 1942. -- The Sixth Supplemental National Defense Appropriation Act, 1942, when originally submitted to Congress early in March 1942, also contained no item for naval public works, and in that form was passed by the House. Meanwhile, however, a comprehensive schedule of public works was being organized by the Bureau of Yards and Docks. The program included the establishment of three new large personnel training centers -- at Bainbridge, Md.; Farragut, Idaho; and Sampson, N.Y. -- as well as expansion at existing stations, primarily at Great Lakes. It also included the building of naval supply depots at Clearfield, Utah; Barstow, Calif.; and Spokane, Wash., to meet the requirements of the Pacific war; and at Scotia, N.Y., and Cheatham Annex, Va., in the East. Extensive expansion was proposed for the newly established depots at Bayonne, N.J., and Mechanicsburg, Pa., and for the older depots. The ordnance requirements called for the creation of gigantic mid-continent ammunition depots at Hastings, Nebr., and McAlester, Okla., and the further expansion of the depots at Crane, Ind., and Hawthorne, Nev. The development of Port Chicago, Calif., as an ammunition shipping depot also was included. The aviation program called for developing a large number of new training and operating fields throughout the country and for the expansion of existing facilities. By the end of March, this vast undertaking had been outlined and had received the approval of President Roosevelt.

On April 1, 1942, when the subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations held hearings on the Navy Department's proposals, it had before it communications from the President and the Bureau of the Budget requesting $800,000,000 for the Navy's public works program.14 Testifying before this committee, Admiral Moreell stated that the money was necessary for "a program for miscellaneous public works which is designed to parallel . . . the increase in personnel for both the Navy and Marine Corps to 1,000,000 and 200,000 respectively,


Administration and Supply Building, New York Navy Yard
Administration and Supply Building, New York Navy Yard

(which automatically entails an increase in the training facilities and in the housing facilities and the hospital facilities."15 He further testified that this program contemplated very little expenditure outside the United States.

The amendment was inserted in the bill by the Senate and was accepted by the House, and with the President's signature, became effective on April 28, 1942. This brought to a total of $2,164,120,021 the amount appropriated for public works between December 7, 1941 and the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 1942. Of this, of course, $1,028,705,021 represented the appropriation for the fiscal year that was to begin on July 1, 1942, but, as it had been available for expenditure since February 7, 1942, when the act was approved, expenditures were already being made before the new fiscal year had actually begun.

In addition to the funds appropriated by Congress for public works, the Bureau of Yards and Docks had received during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1942, a total of $560,500,000 from other bureaus and other funds. The largest items from these sources were $317,168,000 for shipbuilding and repair facilities; $82,845,000 for Lend-Lease services under defense aid; $47,184,000 for the Naval Working Fund; $32,526,000 for ordnance facilities; $25,650,000 for the development of section bases; and other lesser amounts which were primarily for the purchase or installation of collateral equipment in facilities constructed under the regular public works appropriation.


Enlisted Men's Barracks, Quonset Point (R.I.) Naval Air Station
Enlisted Men's Barracks, Quonset Point (R.I.) Naval Air Station

By the summer of 1942, the initial phase of the war in the Pacific had ended. The Japanese drive to the south had been halted for a time by the Battle of the Coral Sea (May 8), and the attempt to invade the Hawaiians had been turned back at the Battle of Midway (June 3-5). In June, the Japanese had established themselves on Attu and Kiska in the western Aleutians, a move that was to require the diversion of considerable effort to neutralize and, ultimately, to expel them. In the Pacific, the use of aircraft and the rapid development and exploitation of new airfields had contributed greatly to the Japanese success, and our major successes had also been almost exclusively the result of air operations. On the Atlantic front, there was a great demand for additional aircraft and small craft for anti-submarine patrol. And in both areas there was an ever-expanding need for operating bases for both aircraft and surface vessels.

Contract Authorization Act, August 6, 1942. -- To meet these growing demands, a new program for public works was drawn up for submission to Congress. Added impetus was given to this program when Congress, on July 9, authorized16 an increase in total ship tonnage of 1,900,000. Such an increase would obviously require corresponding expansion of the shore establishment. On July 20, Admiral Moreell sent a proposed draft of a public works authorization bill in the amount of $749,000,000 to the Hon. Carl Vinson, chairman of the House Committee on Naval Affairs, with a letter which stated:

"The directives which are being issued from day to day by the Commander in Chief and the Chief of Naval Operations to construct public works and advance bases outside the continental limits of the United States are such as to necessitate the Department's having the authority to enter into contracts on short notice for the construction of miscellaneous works."17

The committee reported the bill out on the following day, and it was adopted by the House. While in committee, additional items, comprising $224,494,000 for aircraft facilities and $1,140,000 for personnel and training facilities, were added, bringing the total to $974,634,000. The Senate acted with equal promptness, and the Contract Authorization Act, 1942 was signed by the President on August 6, 1942.

New Air Bases

The largest item in the act was $499,494,000 for aviation facilities which provided for the expansion of existing stations and the established of seven new operating stations in various parts of the United States, two in the Caribbean, and an unspecified number in Alaska and Hawaii. Existing training facilities were to be expanded, and two added in the Midwest. A new glider base was to be built at a site yet to be selected, and four new continental lighter-than-air stations were scheduled for construction. All existing lighter-than-air stations were to be expanded and five new stations were authorized outside the United States. The bill also allotted $315,000,000 for advance bases.


Inert Storage Area, Hawthorne (Nevada) Naval Ammunition Depot
Inert Storage Area, Hawthorne (Nevada) Naval Ammunition Depot

In an effort to speed the legislative process, this act contained language which gave the Secretary of the Navy specific authority to make contracts for necessary construction and material. The normal legislative procedure was for an authorization act to be passed by Congress after having been subject to consideration by the naval affairs committees of both houses. Such an act would merely authorize a program and permit the submission of a request for an appropriation to finance the projects thus authorized. This request would have to pass through the appropriations committees of both houses, be adopted by Congress, and approved by the President before any expenditures could be made or obligated. In the case of the August 6 contract authorization act, permission was obtained from the chairmen of the appropriation committees to bypass their committees and combine both steps into one so that work could begin at once upon approval of the act. However, this was an exceptional case, and the procedure was not generally repeated.

On August 7, 1942, the day after President Roosevelt signed this authorization, Marines landed at Tulagi and on Guadalcanal to seize a base and airfield that the Japanese were building there. This was planned as a "limited liability" offensive, but it developed into some of the heaviest and most spectacular naval fighting of the war, before Guadalcanal was finally secured, six months later. In New Guinea, the Japanese were repulsed, and the threat to Australia was relieved. In November, the invasion of North Africa placed heavy demands upon the Navy in organizing and protecting the vast number of supply ships and transports involved. When Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt met at Casablanca, January 14 to 24, 1943. they were able to announce that the period of defensive action was over and the United Nations were prepared to undertake the offensive which must end in the "unconditional surrender" of the Axis nations.

Supplemental Naval Appropriation Act of 1943. -- A new Congress convened January 3, 1943 and immediately plunged into the problems of prosecuting the war. The first law adopted was an authorization for a $210,000,000 program for floating drydocks and ship repair facilities.18 These were to be constructed by the Bureau of Yards and Docks for the Bureau of Ships. It was also evident that the war mobilization program was progressing at a rate faster than had been envisaged a year earlier, and the proposed goals for the end of the fiscal year had been increased accordingly. Thus, the proposed peak of personnel to be attained by


Hunters Point (Calif.) Drydocks
Hunters Point (Calif.) Drydocks

June 30, 1943 had been increased from 131,442 officers and 1,000,000 enlisted personnel to 158,763 officers and 1,450,000 enlisted persons.19 This indicated a corresponding increase in ship commissionings and plane deliveries. Shore facilities were rapidly being completed and placed in operation. The speed-up required that funds be made available at a date earlier than had been planned. A supplemental appropriation act was therefore prepared and submitted to Congress early in February. The total requested by the Navy at this time was $4,000,000,000, if which $800,000,000 was to be or public works, to liquidate obligations that had been incurred under previous contract authorizations. There was also a request for contract authorizations of $250,000,000, to be applied on the 1944 program for new public works amounting to $1,500,000,000 that was being considered concurrently by the Naval Affairs Committee.

In the Supplemental Naval Appropriation Act, 1943, as approved on March 31, the amount for public works had been reduced slightly, to $798,300,000, to be used for liquidating part of the $1,474,634,000 contract authorizations that had been granted in the Naval Appropriation Act, 1943, ($500,000,000) and the Contract Authorization Act of August 6, 1942 ($974,634,000). There was also new contract authority for $239,740,400 to start work on the $1,256,607,000 public works program that had been authorized for the 1944 fiscal year.20 It was understood that this authorization was needed primarily for the advance base construction.

Closer Scrutiny of Requests

In considering the Supplemental Naval Appropriation Act, 1943, the House subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee had inquired more closely into the uses to which the funds were to be put than had been the case a year previously. Members of the committee expressed the opinion that the shore establishment was being expanded beyond its actual need and that the purchase of large tracts of land was involving the Navy too heavily in real estate that would have to be disposed of after the war. In its report to the House, however, the Appropriations Committee stated as its attitude:

. . . that while the requests for funds of the defense


arms should be thoroughly scrutinized and watched for items of doubtful or no value to the war effort, the war is in no sense over, and the probabilities are that naval warfare and naval utilization facing us will far exceed any thus far experienced. There can be no relaxation of preparation or in the determination to do everything that our naval and military leadership advise us is necessary if we wish a decisive victory and an unconditional surrender at the earliest possible moment by our enemies.21

TABLE I. -- Appropriations and released authorizations of funds as of September 30, 1945
Active account July 1, 1940 $     176,752,579
Total appropriations available July 1, 1940 through September 30, 1945     8,458,575,222
      Total $  8,635,327,801
Funds appropriated from other bureaus and agencies 1,854,143,966
      Total funds available $10,489,471,767
Total authorizations released as of September 30, 1945 9,249,673,243
Reported value of work done as of September 30, 1945 8,123,028,922

A further indication that Congress was modifying its attitude toward granting complete "blank check" control is to be found in the action of the House Naval Affairs Committee on the public works authorization for the 1944 fiscal year. A public works program for $1,400,000,000 had been submitted on February 4, 1943. The committee deleted $223,313,000 from the bill, with the explanation that "the committee understands that the Navy Department has no program outlined, or in view, which would require the sum sought under this heading, but that it was intended to have this amount available, to meet unforeseen contingencies. It was the consensus of the committee that since the wording of the bill provides flexibility to permit the shifting of the funds provided therein from one category of projects to another, the Navy Department would have ample time to come before the committee and present its needs for such additional amount if the occasion therefore should arise."22 The committee authorized a program of $1,256,607,000, and this was approved without change.

TABLEII. -- Distribution of funds allotted as of September 30, 1945
  Authorized Reported value
of work done
Continental United States $    4,884,765,389 $4,429,479,542
Non-continental 995,035, 329 931,868,297
Floating drydock program 439,797,073 409,890,832
Advance bases 2,810,371,726 2,254,720,940
Prior accounts 97,134,579 97,069,311
Not distributed 22,569,147 ..........

      Total $  9,249,673,243 $8,123,028,922

Funds appropriated but not allocated 1,239,798,524  
      Total appropriated $10,489,471,767  

It is interesting to note that the Bureau overspent its appropriation in the latter part of March 1943. However, the authorization act which had been approved on March 26 gave additional authority to the Secretary of the Navy to shift funds among the various bureaus.23 With this authority, it was possible to make an allotment of funds to tide over the emergency until the supplemental appropriation, then pending, was approved. That extensive contract authority had been obtained in the early days of the war in order to get things moving, and the program had developed faster than could have been foreseen.

In addition to more than $2,000,000,000 in cash


or contract authority that had been appropriated to the Bureau of Yards and Docks for public works for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1943, the Bureau had received $539,865,000 from other bureaus and other agencies of the government for public works. As during the previous year, the largest item (373,355,000) had been for shipbuilding and repair facilities, of which a large part went to the floating-drydock program. Work for government agencies other than the Navy Department was reflected in $54,720,000 paid to the Naval Working Fund. New ordnance facilities called for $42,772,000; Lend-Lease for $21,950,000 under Defense Aid grants; and the balance, in smaller amounts, among the other bureaus or agencies.

Naval Appropriation Act of 1944. -- In the regular appropriation bill for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1944, which came under consideration immediately after the adoption of the supplemental appropriation, the Navy Department asked for $29,485,795,000 for all its activities. The public works portion of this was $1,870,000,000. During the 1943 fiscal year, contract authorization to the extent of $1,714,374,000 had been granted and only $798,300,000 of this had been liquidated by cash appropriations. The balance of this contract authority, $916,074,000, was to be liquidated by the current bill, and the budget for new public works called for $953,925,600. Of this latter sum, $674,768,780 was designated for advance bases and the remainder was to be used for the expansion of shore facilities within the continental limits of the United States. The only major new item called for was $20,000,000 for an ammunition depot and shipping point at Earle, N.J., which had been planned in order to remove this dangerous activity from the crowded port of New York.

The budget requests reflected the view held at the time that the major part of the Navy's shore establishment expansion to meet the requirements of the war had been accomplished and that there would be a marked reduction in such expenditures in the future. In his testimony before the subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Admiral Moreell stated that, whereas during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1943, the Bureau expected to have spent approximately $1,398,000,000 within the continental limits of the United States, during the coming year about $300,000,000 would be spent for this purpose.24

After making minor reductions, totaling $14,682,595, Congress passed the appropriation bill, and it was approved on June 25, 1943. The Naval Appropriation Act, 1944, provided $1,855,317,405 for public works. Of this, $916,074,400 was for liquidating all outstanding contract authorizations and $939,243,005 was for new public works. Of this last amount, $674,768,780 was earmarked for advance base purposes and $264,474,255 was to be spent within the continental limits of the United States. The act also contained an appropriation of $160,000,000 for the floating drydock program. These funds were handled by the Bureau of Ships, but the actual construction was performed by the Bureau of Yards and Docks with money transferred to it for that purpose by the Bureau of Ships.

During 1943, our military power had expanded to the point where it became possible to wage offensive war in both oceans. The increasingly effective anti-submarine campaign began to swing the Battle of the Atlantic in our favor. In Europe, large-scale amphibious operations had made possible invasions of Sicily in June and the mainland of Italy in September. Meanwhile, men and equipment were accumulating steadily in Britain in preparation for the forthcoming Normandy invasion. In the Pacific, our forces had been built up and the groundwork laid for future offensives. In May, Attu had been retaken. November saw the bloody fighting at Tarawa and Makin, which gained us control of the Gilbert Islands. In the South Pacific, the drive up the Solomons had resulted in the capture or neutralization of Japanese positions there, while in New Guinea, American and Australian forces had pushed along the north coast as far as the Huon Peninsula in preparation for the leap-frogging amphibious war that was about to open.

When President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill met with Generalissimo Chiang in Cairo and Marshall Stalin in Teheran at the end of the year, there was no cause to doubt the outcome of the war, and the main question was how long it would take.

Further Expansion

Meanwhile, it was found that the public works appropriation in the 1944 Appropriation Act was insufficient to meet the needs of the ever-expanding fleet. As Admiral Horne, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, was to testify the following spring, at


Timber LTA Hangar, Weeksville, N.C.
Timber LTA Hangar, Weeksville, N.C.

the time the appropriation for the 1945 fiscal year was under consideration, ". . . it was thought that the peak in continental construction had passed and that a consequent tapering off was approaching. At that time, a large proportion of our operating forces, ships and planes were still under construction or in the blueprint stage. Our estimates were consequently based somewhat upon theoretical minimum requirements for predicted completion dates. As production in all classes of ships and planes speeded up, our shore construction lagged and we found our estimates were much too low."25 Also, fleet expansion was making possible the speeding up of the schedule for operations in the Pacific, and this, in turn, required a corresponding advance in the program of developing facilities on the West Coast.

Thus, the fiscal year was less than four months old, although it was actually eight months since the program for the year had been drafted for submission to Congress, when it became necessary to request further authorization for public works. At a meeting of bureau chiefs, held in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations, a list of vital projects was prepared. This program was submitted to the Bureau of the Budget on October 19, and on November 26, the bill, asking authorization for $225,000,000 in new public works, was introduced into Congress and sent to the House Naval Affairs Committee. During the hearings, requests for an additional $10,000,000 were made, and these sums were included in the bill when reported out by the committee on December 3 and passed by the House on December 10. While under consideration by the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs, further


Housing Area at Kaneohe
Housing Area at Kaneohe

requests were made for $46,000,000 which was duly added to the bill. Of this addition, $25,000,000 was for aviation facilities and $20,000,000 was to be used to repay other bureaus for money which had been diverted from them and had already been spent on ordnance facilities. The Senate also cut out $10,000,000 that had been approved by the House. With these changes, the bill was reported out on December 17, but was not acted upon until January 11, 1944.

Because of the Senate's amendments, it went into conference the following day, where agreement was reached by restoring the amount deleted by the Senate, plus the Senate's additions.

Contract Authorization Act, January 28, 1944. -- As finally passed on January 19 and approved on January 28, 1944, the Contract Authorization Act.,26 authorized public works to the extent of @281,060,000. The largest items were $92,260,000 for personnel housing and training facilities, $92,000,000 for ordnance facilities -- mostly increased storage and shipping facilities -- and $50,000,000 for aviation facilities. Most of the projects listed in the justification for this program were on the West Coast and reflected increased operations in that area. The original intention had been to request funds to carry out these projects in a supplementary appropriation act that was being prepared by the Bureau of the Budget for presentation to Congress in january 1944. However, due to various delays, it became evident that such a course would not make funds available before March and, since the need was pressing, the expedient employed in the Contract Authorization of August 6, 1942 was repeated and an inserted clause gave the Secretary of the Navy authority to make contracts to the extent of the authorization. The law also contained a clause, such as had been in the authorization act, passed March 26, 1943, which required the Secretary of the Navy to give prior notification to the Senate and the House naval affairs committees whenever any acquisition of additional land was involved in a project.27


This act brought to $1,220,302,905, the total amount appropriated in cash or contract authority for new public works during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1944. Of this, $674,768,780 was for advance bases and $545,534,125 for construction in the United States. This was a sharp decrease from the 1943 figures. An even greater reduction is found in the amounts obtained from other bureaus and agencies. Where the 1943 figure had been $539,865,000, funds from these sources in the 1944 fiscal year totaled $124,956,000.

When the hearings on the naval appropriation bill for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1945, were opened on February 29, 1944, the Navy's drive in the central Pacific was in full swing. The Marshalls had been brought under control by the capture of Kwajalein on February 5 and Eniwetok on February 17. After supporting the initial attacks with a devastating bombardment, a powerful task force had swept west, subjected Truk to heavy air attack and bombardment by surface vessels on February 17 and 18, and had continued on into enemy waters to launch air attacks on Guam, Saipan, and Tinian on February 22. This series of blows was a demonstration that we had built up an overwhelming striking force and were prepared to open a major offensive in the Pacific.

Budget for 1945

The budget proposals for the Navy in the new fiscal year involved a cash appropriation of $29,000,000,000, with additional contractual authority

TABLE III. -- Authorized appropriations for "Public Works, Bureau of Yards and Docks," between July 1940 and September 30, 1945
Date Act Total
1 July 1940 As per active accounts 1$176,752,579
11 June 1940 Naval Appro. Act 1941 97,640,362
26 June 1940 First Suppl. Nat. Defense Appro. Act 1941 202,654,000
9 Sept. 1940 Second Suppl. Nat. Defense Appro. Act 1941 87,825,000
8 Oct. 1940 Third Suppl. Nat.l Defense Appro. Act 1941 18,000,000
17 Mar. 1941 Fourth Suppl. Nat. Defense Appro. Act 1941 189,162,500
5 Apr. 1941 Fifth Suppl. Nat. Defense Appro. Act 1941 17,075,000
6 May 1941 Naval Appro. Act 1942 132,273,194
3 July 1941 Second Deficiency Appro. Act 1941 49,265,000
25 Aug. 1941 First Suppl. Nat. Defense Appro. Act 1942 294,528,500
28 Oct. 1941 Second Suppl. Nat. defense Appro. Act 1942 400,000
17 Dec. 1941 Third Suppl. Nat. Defense Appro. Act 1942 2334,554,000
7 Feb. 1942 Naval Appro. Act 1943 975,722,566
28 Apr.1942 Sixth Suppl. Nat. Defense Appro. Act 1942 2799,250,000
6 Aug. 1942 Contract Authorization Act 974,634,000
22 Sept. 1942 War Contributions 63,113
31 Mar. 1943 Suppl. Naval Appro. Act 1943 239,740,400
24 Apr. 1943 War Contributions 1,811
26 June 1943 Naval Appro. Act 1944 939,243,005
11 Sept. 1943 War Contributions 47,653
22 Sept. 1943 War Contributions 24,208
28 Jan. 1944 Contract Authorization Act 281,000,000
22 June 1944 Naval Appro. Act 1945 31,436,991,400
31 Oct. 1944 War Contributions 97
25 Apr. 1945 First Deficiency Appro. Act 1945 114,300,000
29 May 1945 Naval Appro. Act 1946 1,274,008,413
Total   $8,635,327,801

1 Total authorized, as per active accounts,1 July 1940:  
    Classified under Navy War Program as  
  Storage Facilities 6,500,000  
  Aviation Facilities $73,118,000  
  $  79,618,000
  Not classified under Navy War Programs   97,134,590
  (Prior Accounts) 176,752,579
  Expended prior to 1 July 1940 $  74,497,594
  Obligated as of 1 July 1940 59,328,947
  Unobligated as of 1 July 1940   42,926,038
  Total $176,752,579
2 Reduced by $750,000 because of Treasury Warrant No. 34, transferring the total amount of $1,500,000 from Public Works, Bureau of Yards and Docks to the Department of Justice for Terminal Island prison.
3 Reduced by $37,940,000 because of Treasury Warrant, transferring this amount from Public Works, Bureau of Yards and Docks, to the National Housing Agency.


Storehouse and Office Building, Bayonne Naval Supply Depot
Storehouse and Office Building, Bayonne Naval Supply Depot
One-story building in foreground is cafeteria.
Covered bridges (right) connect the seven-story warehouse with dockside transit sheds.

of $4,300,000,000. In presenting its program of public works to the Bureau of the Budget, the Bureau of Yards and Docks had asked for $625,000,000 for new construction within the continental limits of the United States and $1,000,000,000 for advance bases. The Bureau of the Budget had reduced the amount to be spent within the continental United States to $500,000,000 for inclusion in the appropriation bill but had authorized the Bureau to present the total program for enactment in an authorization bill.28 The House and Senate naval affairs committees reported favorably on this program, and the 1945 Authorization Act, as passed by Congress and approved by the President on April 4, 1944, authorized $625,373,024 for projects within continental United States and $1,019,000,000 for advance base projects.30 This authorization did not provide any money, but merely granted authority to request the necessary appropriation in the 1945 bill.

The House subcommittee on naval appropriations, however, questioned the authorized program. It approved an appropriation of $281,060,000 to liquidate the contract authorization granted the previous January 28 and raised no objection to granting further contract authorization for $1,000,000,000 for advance bases, but it expressed doubt as to the need for such an extensive program of additional public works in continental United States, especially in view of the testimony given the previous year. Members of the committee questioned whether the Navy was utilizing efficiently all existing facilities before planning new construction, and reiterated more insistently than heretofore the opinion that the Navy was using the war emergency to expand its shore establishment beyond actual current needs. In an effort to arrive at the methods by which projects were screened and to place responsibility for decisions as to what projects should be carried out, the committee invited Admiral King and Admiral Horne to return -- they had previously appeared to open the hearings -- and also called on Secretary of the Navy Forrestal, to explain the policies and procedures for planning new public works and to justify the current request. It then proceeded to a line-by-line examination of the projects covered by the justification, calling on the representative of the bureau responsible for each request to explain and, in many cases, to defend the project.

In spite of its expressed doubts, the committee did not wish to override the judgment of the naval leaders who had the responsibility for carrying out the military operations, and the bill was reported


out on April 12, 1944, with a reduction of $25,000,000 in the public works item. Of this reduction, $11,395,000 represented a project for permanent buildings at the Naval Academy and the remainder was to be compensated for by utilizing facilities, mostly aviation, that were being abandoned by the Army. This left a total of $474,931,400 for new public works in continental United States.

The House appropriations committee inserted in the bill a clause stipulating that no new construction should be undertaken unless an investigation had shown that there was no other facility, especially facilities released by the Army, that could be utilized. This clause, however, was ruled out by the Speaker on a point of order, raised by Representative Vinson, chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, that it was a legislative matter and did not properly belong in an appropriation bill. The bill initially passed the House on April 14 and the Senate on April 24. While in the Senate, amendments had been added, reinserting the clause that had been ruled out in the House and, also, one relating to the resale to the original owners of land in Oklahoma which, after acquisition by the Navy, was found to contain oil. These amendments led to protracted disagreement in conference, and it was not until June 22, 1944 that the act was approved without them.

Naval Appropriation Act of 1945. -- As finally approved, the Naval Appropriation Act, 1945, made a cash appropriation of $281,060,000 to cover the contract authorization contained in the Contract Authorization Act of January 28, 1944, and additional contract authorization for public works of $1,474,931,400,30 of which $1,000,000,000 was to be devoted exclusively to advance base construction material and equipment.31 In granting only contract authorization for the new fiscal year, Congress was apparently considering the possibility of an early and sudden termination of the war and, in order to maintain a closer control over expenditures, preferred to grant a broad authority to enter into any necessary contracts for public works but to require a return to Congress during the fiscal year or at the beginning of the new fiscal year, to obtain the cash appropriations needed to liquidate the contracts made under the authorization. thus, it was reasoned, an end of hostilities would not find the Navy with large sums of unexpended cash for public works, and a return to peacetime procedures of Congressional scrutiny would be facilitated.

While Congress was deliberating the financing of the war for the year to come, the major offensives for which the country had been gathering its resources were about to begin. D-Day on the beaches of Normandy was June 6, 1944, and by September 15, most of France had been liberated. In the Pacific, the Navy, after its devastating sweep against Truk and the Marianas, had steamed south to join in the seizure of Hollandia on New Guinea in April. Then on June 15 came the invasion of Saipan in the Marianas, followed by the liberation of Guam, a move which gave us air bases within Superfortress range of Tokyo. The fleet then moved south again to cover the landings at Morotai and Palau in September and the beginning of the liberation of the Philippines at Leyte on October 16.

The beginning of 1945 found the Russians at Warsaw and Budapest preparing for further blows; on the Western Front, the Nazi's desperate effort in the Ardennes had been turned back and American-British-French forces were organizing for the drive into and across the Rhineland, which opened on February 23, 1945, and continued almost without interruption until the final surrender of Germany on May 8. In the Pacific, the liberation of the Philippines was progressing with the landing on Luzon, January 9, and the securing of Manila on February 25.In order to safeguard the aerial path of the Superfortresses between the marianas and Japan, the Marines seized Iwo Jima in a bloody battle that began February 9. It was, however, the general belief that although the defeat of Germany was imminent, Japan would require a lengthy and bitterly fought campaign.

The First Supplemental Appropriation Act, 1945, approved December 22, 1944, contained no new program for public works but merely appropriated $300,000,000 to apply against the $1,474,931,400 of contract authority that had been granted in the 1945 appropriation act.32 Of this sum, $250,000,000 was a new appropriation and $50,000,000 was transferred from the Naval Reserve Fund.

First Deficiency Appropriation Act of 1945. -- In the fall of 1944, while preparation of the 1946 budget was being initiated, a program of construction that could not be covered by the 1945 appropriation,


but which would be needed before the end of the fiscal year, was drawn up and presented to the Budget Bureau for approval. The Public Works Authorization Act of April 4, 1944 had authorized $169,000,000 that had not been included in the regular 1945 appropriation act, and this sum was now being requested for the current year. The Bureau of the Budget reduced this program to $136,800,000 before it was presented to Congress in February 1945 as part of the First Deficiency Appropriation Bill for 1945. The largest item was $92,000,000 for ordnance facilities that would need to be expanded because of the extensive use of new types of ordnance, especially rockets. There was a request for $25,000,000 for personnel facilities and housing, part of which was to be used for providing temporary housing for families of servicemen who had returned on leave from overseas and were awaiting reassignment to sea duty. Looking forward to the end of hostilities in Europe, there was a request for an initial $20,000,000 toward a $127,000,000 program to provide berthing facilities for naval vessels that would be laid up after the war.

The House subcommittee on appropriations expressed the feeling that it did not wish to authorize any project that would not show tangible results within six months or a year.33 and with that in mind questioned each project in detail. The proposal for berthing facilities was eliminated as not being of immediate necessity. Also eliminated was a $2,500,000 item for establishing a permanent school for the study of logistics at Harvard University. As reported out of committee and passed by the House and, without change, by the Senate, and signed by President Truman on April 25, 1945, the First Deficiency Appropriation Bill for 1945 provided contract authorization for $114,300,000 in new public works.34

For the fiscal year ending June 30, 1945, Congress had granted contract authority for $1,589,231,400, of which $1,000,000,000 was designated as being for advance base construction and $589,231,400 for new public works within the continental limits of the United States. There had been appropriated $300,000,000 toward liquidating this contract authority, leaving a balance of $1,289,231,400 still to be covered at the end of the year. During this fiscal year, the Bureau of Yards and Docks had received from other bureaus and agencies a total of $146,792,936, which represented a slight increase over the previous year.

Return to Itemized Budget

When the estimates for the public works program for continental United States during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1946 were prepared, the Bureau of the Budget required that these should be in the form that had prevailed in peacetime. The "blank check" method was to be abandoned, and each project was to be listed with limits of cost, definite location, and specific characteristics. A list of such projects for a total of $514,539,500 for public works within continental United States and a blanket request for $986,000,000 for advance base construction were submitted. The Bureau of the Budget pruned a number of projects and reduced the amount of public works within the United States to $346,871,000 for specific projects, with a lump sum of $55,141,624 for contingencies, a total of $402,012,624, but retained the full amount requested for advance bases. It was in this form that the bill was presented to Congress.

Before the subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations began its hearings on the public works section of the new naval appropriation bill on March 21, 1945, a naval authorization act had been considered by the naval affairs committees of the two houses, had been passed by Congress,35 and approved on March 1, 1945. This authorization act approved the full $514,539,500 program for public works in continental United States.

The subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations spent several days questioning the representatives of the various bureaus on the various items appearing in the proposed bill. While the hearings were in progress, the Allied armies in Europe had crossed the Rhine and were sweeping across Germany. It was obvious that the war in Europe would be over before the beginning of the new fiscal year. Members of the committee were critical of a number of projects for improving facilities in various navy yards and bases on the East Coast and in the interior and expressed the desire to postpone action until after the war on all items that were not directly necessary for carrying on war activities. The committee also indicated that it believed that more could be done toward utilizing facilities that were being abandoned by the


Entrance to Charleston (S.C.) Naval Hospital
Entrance to Charleston (S.C.) Naval Hospital

Army, instead of building new ones. In this connection, Admiral Moreell testified that between January 1 and December 31, 1944, facilities valued at $250,000,000 had been transferred from the Army to the Navy. These transfers had made possible a reduction in the requests for new public works, and, where possible, in the future, such facilities would be used.36 The results of these hearings can best be indicated by the committee statement to the House in reporting out the bill:

"The committee devoted several days to inquiring into each one of the projects. Some have much merit -- very obvious merit. Many, the committee is convinced, would not contribute one iota to the prosecution of the war. Many others definitely fall into a desirable rather than an essential category. However, reasonably to satisfy itself as to the need or lack of need of each of the 803 projects, much more time would need to be given to reaching a determination, requiring visits to some areas, than the committee could spare. It is therefore, recommending a lump-sum appropriation, permitting a total outlay of $288,008,413, which is $134,004,211 less than the estimates.

"It is not intended, and the committee wishes to stress the fact, that any part of the reduction should be applied to projects in the estimates pertaining to (1) repairs and overhaul facilities for ships, including battle-damage repairs, (2) berthing facilities for inactive ships, (3) projects under the Medical Department, (4) projects under the Marine


Corps, (5) projects essential to the production, maintenance, distribution, and storage of ordnance materials, and 6) essential storage projects.37

The item for berthing inactive ships that had been eliminated from the First Deficiency Appropriation Bill for 1945 was retained in the appropriation for the new fiscal year, and the Senate was to insert a proviso that $1,500,000 should be spent for a field house at the Naval Academy. This was an item that had been eliminated from the 1945 appropriation bill a year earlier. There were no further changes in the act as it passed Congress and was approved on May 29, three weeks after V-E Day, by President Truman.

Naval Appropriation Act of 1946. -- The Naval Appropriation Act, 1946, contained a cash appropriation of $1,589,231,400 and new contract authority for $974,008,413. Of the cash, $1,289,231,400 was to be used for liquidating the contract authority that had been granted during the 1945 fiscal year. This left a total of $1,274,008,413 in new cash and contract authority for the 1946 fiscal year. Of this amount, $986,000,000 was earmarked for advance base construction and the remainder, $288,008,413, was to apply as a lump sum for new public works within the continental limits of the United States.38

Five weeks after the beginning of the new fiscal year, the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan, and a week later, August 14, President Truman was able to announce that Japan had accepted the surrender terms that had been formulated at Potsdam in July. The official signing of the surrender documents on September 2, 1945, brought an end to hostilities and opened a period of readjustment from a wartime to a peacetime basis.

Table IV. -- Funds received from other bureaus and agencies

Appropriations:               Authorizations Released
      Secretary's Office   $     61,982,044
      Bureau of Naval Personnel   10,421,582
      Bureau of Ships   993,555,851
      Bureau of Ordnance   133,200,196
      Bureau of Supplies and Accounts   226,010,047
      Bureau of Medicine and Surgery   9,431,589
      Bureau of Aeronautics   54,912,437
      Marine Corps   16,217,940
      President's Emergency Fund   105,496,948
      Defense Aid Fund   213,782,211
      Coast Guard   61,005
      Civil Aeronautics Authority   3,066,230
      National Housing Agency        25,005,886
      Total1   $1,854,143,966

1. This does not include $465,238,270 for civil works nor $20,319,524 for machinery over which the Bureau of Yards and Docks had cognizance of the work, but the funds remained under the control of the originating bureaus.

Procedures After V-J Day

Shortly after V-J Day, the bulk of the construction contract terminations were sent out under the procedure set up by the Joint Terminations Regulations of April 20, 1945, and amendments thereto. Many other contracts were reduced in amount by change order. Considering the time lag between accomplishment of work and payment therefore, the rate of cash withdrawal responded quickly. September and October showed a definite falling off from the $120,000,000 per month average for fiscal year 1945, and net cash withdrawals in the following five months averaged only $25,000,000, due in part to large credits from the Naval Working Fund and other sources.

The First Supplemental Appropriation Rescission Act was initiated immediately after V-J Day and rescinded contract authority by $1,248,510,540. Cash was cut by $400,000,000. Although the act was not signed until February 18, 1946, the anticipated rescissions were effected several months earlier by impounding by the Bureau of the Budget.

Long before the First Rescission became actual law, consideration of the Second Supplemental Surplus Appropriation Rescission Act, 1945, was undertaken. Contract authority was cut by only $5,000,000, but cash was further reduced by $190,000,000, leaving the Bureau with $310,497,873 contract authorization not covered by cash.

The Third Rescission Bill did not affect public


Appropriations -- Public Works, Bureau of Yards and Docks
Appropriations -- Public Works, Bureau of Yards and Docks

works, but the same effect was accomplished by Congress in the wording of the 1947 Appropriation Act, wherein unobligated appropriations for public works, outside continental United States, lapsed on June 30, 1946. The unobligated balance on June 30, 1946 was determined to be $105,426,579, leaving the Bureau with $205,071,294 contract authorization not covered by cash. Contract authority was eliminated from the 1947 appropriation act.

Maintenance, Bureau of Yards and Docks

The foregoing outlines the various Congressional appropriations for naval shore construction and for construction and operation of advance bases during the war period under appropriation "Public Works, Bureau of Yards and Docks." A secondary, but nevertheless major, responsibility of the Bureau concerned the maintenance, repair, and operation of the naval shore establishment assigned as an appropriation responsibility of "Maintenance, Bureau of Yards and Docks." This responsibility was of major importance in order to protect the government's investment in the shore plant of the Navy, and to maintain this plant at maximum efficiency to support our forces afloat.

Classification Appropriations
"Public Works,
From other sources


Combined totals


Combined totals

Report value
of work done

Shipbuilding and repair facilities $   165,136,074 $1,035,540,687 $1,200,676,761 $1,097,778,755
Fleet facilities 262,896,550 6,110,422 247,796,791 225,966,784
Aeronautical facilities 1,643,091,611 56,832,472 1,661,253,832 1,601,383,121
Ordnance facilities 738,989,058 133,913,193 869,344,481 774,469,784
Storage facilities 539,419,948 4,167,816 536,987,227 486,782,403
Structures for naval personnel 590,638,646 17,723,853 608,212,499 556,507,038
Marine Corps facilities 183,384,382 12,875,095 196,259,477 183,423,863
Radio facilities 33,899,258 5,470,165 38,633,063 34,924,081
Hospital facilities 202,820,667 9,421,915 211,094,382 182,801,868
Section and frontier bases 10,623,932 35,538,272 46,162,204 45,170,792
British bases 173,289,733 59,730,165 133,019,898 131,428,159
Advance bases 2,637,880,879 172,490,847 2,810,371,726 2,254,720,940
Defense housing 2,734,200 84,232,386 86,966,586 83,774,481
Naval working fund   208,192,600 208,192,600 139,290,894
Structures not otherwise classified 264,310,346 11,904,078 274,997,990 227,536,648
Not distributed 22,569,147   22,569,147  
Sub-total 7,297,394,698 1,854,143,966 9,152,538,664 8,025,959,611
Prior accounts 97,134,579   97,134,579 97,069,311
Total 7,395,529,277 1,854,143,966 9,249,673,243 8,123,028,922
1. Total of funds so used.

The maintenance appropriation, amounting to $8,230,000 for the fiscal year 1939, increased progressively with the expansion in magnitude of the naval shore establishment during the war period, reaching a maximum yearly appropriation for the fiscal year 1945 of $152,700,000. During this interval the plant investment of the naval shore establishment, maintained with this appropriation, increased from $400,000,000 in 1939 to approximately $3,000,000,000 in 1945.

The primary responsibilities of the Bureau as an obligation under its Maintenance appropriation concerned the maintenance, repair, and operation of the public works and public utilities of the naval shore establishment. It was also charged with the major expenses of the maintenance and outfitting of multitudinous offices under District Commandants and the maintenance, repair, and operation of the majority of motor transportation facilities and equipment under naval jurisdiction.

Many new and added responsibilities were also included. One problem, new and unique to the Navy, concerned the maintenance and operation of approximately 30,000 low-cost defense housing units for the housing of civilian and service personnel and their dependents contiguous to naval shore activities.

"Maintenance, Bureau of Yards and Docks," was


given a First Rescission cut of $5,000,000 from the $150,000,000 in the 1946 Appropriation and all unobligated balances under the 1944 and 1945 appropriations in the amounts of $2,431,496 and $3,139,211, respectively, were taken back; in the Second Rescission, further cuts were made of $1,500,000 and $4,000,000 and $100,000 for 1944, 1945, and 1946, respectively. These reductions did not too seriously affect the maintenance program beyond curtailing and rescinding balances from project orders issued for special projects under the 1944 and 1945 appropriations.

Sewage Disposal Plant, Farragut, Idaho
Sewage Disposal Plant, Farragut, Idaho


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1. Pub. No. 528, 75th Cong.

2. House Document No. 65, 76th Cong., 1st Session.

3. Pub. No. 43, 76th Cong.

4. For land acquisition only.

5. A Joint Resolution, May 1, 1937.

6. Pub. No. 535, 76th Cong.

7. Pub. No. 629, 76th Cong.

8. Pub. No. 635, 7th Cong.

9. Pub. No. 757, 76th Cong.

10. Pub. No. 13, 77th Cong. The authorization legislation was approved on March 23, 1941. Pub. No. 22, 77th Cong.

11. The authorizing legislation was approved July 14, 1941, Pub. No. 174, 77th Cong.

12. The authorizing legislation was approved August 21; Pub. No. 241, 77th Cong.

13. Laster reduced by $750,000 because of Treasury Warrant No. 34, transferring the total amount of $1,500,000 from Public Works, Bureau of Yards and Docks to Department of Justice for Terminal Island prison.

14. Later reduced by $750,000 because of Treasury Warrant No. 34, transferring the total amount of $1,500,000 from Public Works, Bureau of Yards and Docks to Department of Justice for Terminal Island prison.

15. Hearings before Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate, on H.R. 6868, 77th Cong., 2nd Session, p. 65.

16. Public Law No. 666, 77th Cong., 2nd Session.

17. Report No. 2368, H.R., 77th Cong., 2nd Session, p. 4.

18. Public Law No. 1, 78th Cong., 1st Session.

19. Report No. 202, 78th Cong., 1st Sess, p. 2, February 19 1943.

20. Public Law No. 19, 78th Cong., 1st Session.

21. Report No. 202, 78th Cong., 1st Session, p. 3.

22. House Report No. 134, 78th Cong., 1st Session, p. 2.

23. Public Law No. 19, 78th Cong., 1st Session.

24. Hearings before Subcommittee of Senate Committee on Appropriations on the Naval Appropriation Bill, 1944, 78th Cong., 1st Session, p. 54.

25. Hearings before House Subcommittee on Appropriations on 1945 Naval Appropriation Act, 78th Cong., 2nd Session, p. 26.

26. Public Law No., 224, 78th Cong., 2nd Session.

27. Public Law No. 19, 78th Cong., 1st Session.

28. Admiral Moreell's testimony, Hearings, Senate Appropriation Committee on 1945 Naval Appropriation Bill, 78th Cong., 2nd Session, p. 58.

29. Public Law No. 289, 78th Cong., 2nd Session.

30. Later reduced by $37,940,000 by Treasury Warrant transferring this amount from Public Works, Bureau of Yards and Docks to the National Housing Agency.

31. National Appropriation Act, 1945. Public Law No. 347, 78th Cong., 2nd Session.

32. Public Law No. 529, 78th Cong., 2nd Sess.

33. Hearings, Committee on Appropriations, H.R. First Deficiency Appropriation Bill, 1945, 79th Cong. 1st Session, p. 76.

34. Public Law No.40, 79th Cong., 1st Session.

35. Public Law No.13, 79th Cong., 1st Session.

36. Hearings, H.R. Committee on Appropriation, Navy Department Appropriation Bill for 1946, 79th Cong., 1st Session, p. 246ff.

37. H.R. Report No. 424, 79th Cong., 1st Session, p. 10.

38. Public Law No. 62, 79th Cong., 1st Session.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation