The growing significance of air power in modern warfare, coupled with concern over Japanese aggression in China, caused the United States, in the late 1930's, to study closely the defensive and strategic position of Alaska. For many years our Alaskan position had been neglected; but a drastic change of policy was proposed by the Hepburn Board in December 1938, when it recommended the construction there of submarine, destroyer, and air bases. The board emphasized in its report that air bases in the Alaskan area would be essential in time of war and that the Aleutians themselves would be of great tactical importance. After surveying the various possibilities offered for development, the board urged the establishment of naval air bases at Sitka, Kodiak, and Dutch Harbor, and submarine bases, as well, at the last two points.
Bases in Alaska and the Aleutians
Naval base construction in Alaska, carrying out the recommendations of the Hepburn report, began in September 1939 under a CPFF contract, which called for the construction of naval air facilities at Sitka and Kodiak at an estimated cost of $13,000,000. In July 1940 the scope of the contract was enlarged to include the development of a naval air station and several Army facilities at Dutch Harbor. These bases were to be expanded by the construction of nearby outlying activities. The Sitka and Kodiak areas were each to include six such outlying bases, and Dutch Harbor, five. The estimated cost of these facilities was $160,000,000.
After the bombing of Dutch Harbor and the occupation of Kiska and Attu by the Japanese in June 1942, the contractor's forces were reinforced with Seabees, and by April 1, 1943, all construction in the Alaskan area had been taken over by naval construction battalions. Seabee strength grew from a single battalion to more than 20,000 men and 500 officers by January 1, 1944. At its maximum, there were in the Alaskan area 11 construction battalions, two equipment repair units, three additional battalions engaged wholly in maintenance, five maintenance units, and three camouflage units. It was in Alaska that the first naval construction regiment and the first naval construction brigade were formed, at Dutch Harbor in September 1942 and at Adak in May 1943, respectively.
In connection with our campaign to drive the Japanese from their footholds on Kiska and Attu and to develop facilities of our own in the Aleutians, nine new bases were built by the Seabees in the vicinity of Dutch Harbor and on the islands to westward. The principal new bases were Adak, built before our occupation of Amchitka, and Attu, which was developed after it had been wrested from the Japanese. Other bases were Kiska, after its occupation by our forces; Sand Bay, on Great Sitkin Island; Ogliuga; Amchitka; Shemya; Atka; and Tanaga.
Late in the war period a detachment of Seabees was sent to Point Barrow to investigate petroleum resources there.
The naval establishment at Sitka provided an intermediate base between northwestern United States and the island of Kodiak, although its location was, from the strategic point of view, not such that it could serve as a main base. However, the extremely severe weather which prevails throughout the entire area made it imperative that such an intermediate station be available and that facilities be sufficient to accommodate heavy overloads for considerable periods of time.
Sitka, formerly New Archangel, is located on the west coast of Baranof Island, on Sitka Sound, a landlocked harbor, about 100 miles south of Juneau. Temperature is not excessively low, but rainfall is heavy and fogs are prevalent.
Construction of a fleet air base at Sitka was one of the provisions of a CPFF contract, signed on August 29, 1939. Authorization was for thirty projects to cost approximately $3,000,000. The contract was later enlarged to cover 155 projects, and
in July 1942 the total cost of work in the Sitka area was estimated at $32,000,000.
Designated as a naval air station on September 12, 1939, Sitka was made a naval section base January 24, 1941, and again redesignated on July 20, 1942, as a naval operating base. The operating base was composed of the naval air station, radio station, naval section base, Marine barracks, and subordinate naval shore activities.
At the air station, seaplane facilities were centered around two 186-by-254-foot permanent hangars, with office and shop space of 14,000 square feet provided in lean-to structures. The aerological and control tower was erected on one of these hangars, and a concrete parking area was placed to form a 170-by-1500-foot landplane runway between the hangars and the seaplane ramps. Three concrete-surfaced seaplane ramps were built and arresting gear added to the land plane runway to compensate for its shortness in length.
Service facilities for large craft were confined to two Navy piers of permanent construction and an additional pier leased from private owners, which supplied power, steam, fresh water, and fuel. Small-craft piers, all temporary or semi-permanent structures, were built at three locations, and finger floats were constructed to provide fifteen slips for small craft. In addition, a 30-ton marine railway was revised and put into working order to supplement repair facilities located in various small structures.
Most of the storage space was provided at the air station and the section base, with small installations provided at the contractor's establishment.
Alaska and the Aleutians
Cold storage consisted of three freezer units with a total capacity of 26,000 cubic feet and five chill units with a total capacity of 18,460 cubic feet. Dry-storage space (32,040 square feet) was provided in three semi-permanent buildings and general-storage space in nine semi-permanent buildings (23,380 square feet). Construction and maintenance storage was in 13 buildings, including a wharf warehouse, a seaplane hangar, temporary sheds, and miscellaneous buildings, with a total space of 138,800 square feet.
Underground fuel-oil storage was in a 27,000-barrel concrete tank; aboveground storage, in a 55,000-barrel steel tank with a 12-foot berm for fire protection. Diesel oil was stored in six 710-barrel steel tanks underground and in two 13,332-barrel and one 595-barrel steel tanks protected by earthen berms. Aviation gasoline was stored underground in sixteen 25,000-gallon permanent tanks. Motor-gasoline storage consisted of four 5000-gallon and six 10,000-gallon underground steel tanks and one 25,000-gallon steel tank above ground. All types of ammunition were stored in 21 magazines of permanent construction. A torpedo overhaul shop was also constructed and two compressors installed.
Administration offices were located in eight buildings, three permanent structures, two semi-permanent, and the others temporary, with a total floor space of 22,105 square feet. Radio facilities included a transmitter building, a receiving station, and two direction-finder buildings.
Hospital facilities consisted of a permanent 15-bed dispensary and two other units of 17 and 16 beds, respectively.
Station maintenance buildings included a laundry, an incinerator, a garage, various shops, paint storage, and a concrete-mixing plant.
Personnel were housed at the air station in three permanent barracks which held a total of 766 men, and in temporary structures for 1444 men at the contractor's camp. Two permanent mess halls at the air station accommodated 400 men and included a bakery and a stewards' dormitory. The contractor's eleven temporary mess halls accommodated 1554 men. Recreational facilities included three permanent buildings with a total area of 22,000 square feet, which contained a gymnasium and a theater with a seating capacity of 800.
Electrical power at Sitka was supplied by four 3000-kw turbo-generator units and a small unit belonging to the contractor. An interconnection with the city of Sitka's power system was also installed. In July 1944 this connection was used in reverse, when, due to the poor condition of the Sitka generators and the lack of replacement parts, it was feared that some of the sawmills and canneries in the area would have to be shut down.
More than 13 miles of permanent or semi-permanent roadways were built. Sewage disposal was by outfall to the sea. Water was supplied by gravity flow from Cascade Creek and pumped from Indian River. Water storage consisted of two tanks with: 200,000- and 300,0000-gallon capacities, respectively.
Fort Ray, the Army garrison at Sitka, was constructed to accommodate 2988 men and 194 officers. Buildings for housing totaled 136; about half of them were semi-permanent, and the remainder, temporary. Eighteen mess halls and 12 recreation buildings were constructed. Storage facilities included 31,440 cubic feet of freezer space, 38,110 cubic feet of chill space, and 66,540 square feet of general storage. Administration offices were housed in 11 buildings with a total floor-area of 10,715 square feet. Utilities were provided by the Navy, with the exception of a small-capacity emergency power equipment. Hospital space, including infirmaries, totaled 127 beds in seven units. Semi-permanent structures made up five of these, and quonset huts the other two. Station maintenance equipment, including a laundry, paint and oil storage, and garage and repair shops, were located in 13 buildings, with a total floor-space of 66,705 square feet. Harbor defenses involved construction of gun emplacements and magazines.
The 22nd Construction Battalion reached Sitka on November 28,1942, and from then until May 1, 1943, when the contract was closed, there was a gradual conversion of operations from the contractor to the battalion. When the contract was closed, the 155 projects it had included were 65 percent complete, at a total expenditure of 25 million dollars.
The work was carried on by the 22nd Seabees until July 1943, when the battalion moved to Attu Island and the public works department of the station was taken over by CBMU 512. One company of the 45th Battalion was moved from Kodiak to Sitka on September 13, 1943, to complete the Army projects remaining under the original contract. From August 22, 1944, when CBMU 512 left for the United States, public works were carried on by station personnel.
Classified with Sitka in the construction story of
Building an Airfield in the Aleutians
Seabees lay pierced plank on a runway under flood lights
Alaska were the small bases located along the route from Seattle to Kodiak. These stations were built, for the most part, by the Seabees and were established to provide minor services to craft along the extended Alaskan route.
A naval auxiliary air facility, at Annette Island, 174 miles southeast of Sitka, was constructed by the contractors, the Seabees stationed at Sitka, and Army engineers.
Personnel housing, messing, and recreation facilities accommodated 86 enlisted men and 32 officers in quonset huts. Storage facilities included 1500 cubic feet of freezer space, with additional space for dry stores, general stores, and open storage. Fuel and diesel storage were each in one 750 gallon tank; aviation gasoline was stored in a 2000-gallon tank. One small magazine was built.
Aviation facilities constructed included a repair hangar for patrol bombers, a seaplane ramp, and revetment areas for landplanes. Administration offices were housed in two 16-by-40-foot buildings. The radio station, a 6-bed dispensary, and three buildings used as shops and storehouses, were also built.
Facilities supplied by the Army included the operation of two landplane strips as well as storage of necessary aviation gasoline and ammunition. The Army also maintained two 300-foot L-type piers, a 257,000-gallon diesel-oil reservoir, and a 100-bed hospital.
Port Armstrong, 50 miles southeast of Sitka, on Baranof Island, was established as a naval section base on July 24, 1941, and changed to a naval auxiliary air facility on March 17, 1943. Construction was started by the Sitka public works office, was later absorbed by the civilian contractor, and finally completed by Seabees.
The air facility was established at the site of an existing commercial oil-company station. Construction and renovation of existing facilities were authorized under the contract and completed, after its termination, by Seabees.
Completed facilities included housing for 50 officers and men, storage buildings, a small-craft pier, and a radio station.
Storage space included a 40-by-85-foot freezer unit, 11,525 square feet of general storage, and two small magazines.
Service facilities for ships included an existing 140-by-250-foot wharf and two new piers, 50-by-100-feet and 10-by-175-feet, respectively, all of them suitable only for smaller vessels. Administration facilities were housed in a single 228-by-40-foot building and those of the dispensary in an 18-by-27-foot structure.
With the general westward movement of activity, the need for the Port Armstrong section base decreased, and it was decommissioned in July 1943.
Port Althorp, 72 miles northwest of Sitka, on Chichagof Island, was established as a section base on July 9, 1941, but was changed to an auxiliary air facility on March 17, 1943. Construction was started by the Sitka base public works department, was later absorbed by civilian contract, and was finally completed by Seabees. Facilities included limited accommodations for seaplanes and small craft, a radio-transmitting station, and personnel" facilities for approximately 110 officers and men.
Storage facilities included two 4250-cubic-foot units for cold storage, a building for dry storage, and one for general stores. Fuel oil was stored in four tanks with a total capacity of 428 barrels; aviation gasoline, in three steel tanks which held 15,000 gallons; and motor gasoline in a 2000-gallon steel tank. Ordnance was stored in six small magazines.
Aviation installations were confined to a beach ramp capable of beaching five planes, and minor facilities for aircraft and engine repair.
Administration offices, communications, a fleet post office, and a 6-bed dispensary unit, completed the facilities. Power was supplied by diesel-electric units.
Yakutat, on a large, flat point of land which forms the southeast shore of Yakutat Bay on the northeast coast of the Gulf of Alaska, was established as a naval air facility on September 5, 1942, and on February 13, 1943, was redesignated a naval auxiliary air facility.
Construction at Yakutat began under the Sitka contract and was completed with the help of Seabees.
Personnel facilities included seven enlisted men's barracks for 84 men, and officers' quarters in three units for 20 men, with messing facilities in separate structures. Storage facilities included 83 cubic feet of cold storage, 345 square feet of dry storage, and 960 square feet of general storage. Fuel oil was stored in a 100-barrel wooden tank.
Yakutat was also an important Army staging field, with two runways and aviation-gasoline storage. Both these facilities were used by the Navy.
Seaplane facilities were set up to accommodate 12 scout observation planes and 4 patrol bombers. The seaplane ramp was of standard concrete construction. The lower portion, or connecting section, of the ramp was a submerged, 50-by-108-foot raft, of log and creosoted timber construction, with concrete counterweights. The completed ramp was 283 feet long and rested on rock-fill, with the outboard end 8 inches below mean low water. The warm-up apron, taxiways, and the parking area involved a total of 27,600 square yards of grading and surfacing. At the ramp, there was erected a nose hangar of wood-truss construction, with shop space on both sides of the hangar.
Administration facilities included offices in a single 36-by-100-foot temporary two-story structure. The dispensary was housed in a quonset hut, as were also the transmitter and radio receiving stations for the base. A 50-kw and a 30-kw diesel-electric generator supplied power for the various activities. Water was supplied from a nearby lake, with storage in a. 100-gallon tank. Sewage treatment was accomplished by a septic tank with drains to the sea.
The Yakutat NAAF operated as planned until June 1944, when the base was placed on a caretaker basis.
The naval section base at Cordova was established on July 24, 1941. Facilities there consisted of several magazines and a single gun emplacement; no other facilities were installed before construction ceased in February 1943. Jurisdiction of the base was turned over to the Coast Guard in October 1942. Construction work was performed under contract by Army engineers.
Ketchikan, on the Tongass Narrows, northwest of Annette Island, was established as a naval section base on July 8, 1941. Construction work was performed under the direction of the Coast Guard, and in October 1942 the base was transferred to them.
Personnel facilities constructed at the base included seven barracks of various sizes, to house 853 men; officers' quarters for 35, in three structures; and a mess hall in a single 30-by-120-foot building. Recreational facilities consisted of a 60-by-90-foot combination theater and gymnasium, a lounge, and a reading room. A chapel was also provided.
Storage facilities consisted of 12,850 cubic feet
of cold storage; 5150 cubic feet of chill storage, 9700 square feet of dry storage in four units, and 27,030 square feet of general storage in six units. Most of this storage was in standard quonset huts, supplemented by leased warehouses. Fuel-oil storage was in one 10,000-gallon and one 3000-gallon, permanent tanks. Aviation gasoline was stored in a 19,000-gallon tank rented from a commercial oil company; motor gasoline, in one 3000-gallon and one 1000-gallon tanks.
Station defense required the construction of three magazines of a permanent type and 26 gun emplacements. Aircraft facilities were limited to those for seaplanes and were centered around two semi-permanent hangars with six finger floats for docking.
A 45,150-square-foot permanent pier was constructed with 360 feet of berthing space available which could also accommodate longer ships and offered two fuel-oil lines and two diesel-oil lines. Fresh water was available at three stations on the pier. There were five compressed-air outlets. An 80-ton marine railway was installed in conjunction with a 36-by-120-foot machine shop.
Administration offices were located in seven buildings and occupied space totaling 20,826 square feet, of which 7350 square feet were leased in two buildings. Radio facilities were located in three groups, each consisting of two buildings, and each having its own transmitter and receiving station. The hospital was a semi-permanent structure with a capacity of 26 beds and connected isolation wards for 4 beds. Station maintenance included a laundry, a garage, paint storage, and shops in nine buildings with a total floor-space of 23,000 square feet. Water and power were purchased from the
municipal supply; sewage treatment was jn septic tanks with drains to a ravine.
A naval base was established on Kodiak Island, in accordance with Hepburn Board recommendations, to guard the approaches to the Gulf of Alaska and to constitute an intermediate point between Dutch Harbor and Sitka.
The group of islands, of which Kodiak is by far the largest, lies off the western shore of the Gulf of Alaska, at the base of the Alaskan Peninsula. The island of Kodiak, with an area of 3588 square miles, has a coastline of about 1500 miles, with numerous deep bays and channels. The terrain is mountainous, with many high peaks and numerous lakes and streams. The heavy rainfall is evenly distributed.
Major obstacles encountered in the construction of the station were stormy weather and bad ground. The climate, in general, is not severe, for the island of Kodiak lies in the path of the Japanese current, which gives it a mild and equable climate. However, during the long, dark, winter months, the weather is often very inclement. Kodiak Island is covered by a blanket of volcanic ash, deposited during the eruption of Mount Katmai in 1912, which varies in depth from 3 inches to 8 feet, and in some places 20-foot drifts were found. This blanket, deposited on muskeg and rock outcrop, provided a difficult and unpredictable base for every foundation and footing installation and presented a continuous, surface-water seepage problem.
Construction of additional facilities on the Kodiak Naval Reservation was authorized by an act of Congress, April 25, 1939. A general order, dated November 8, 1939, withdrew public land and water on "the eastern portion of Kodiak Island" for naval purposes. The first ground was broken on September 23, 1939.
Under the original and subsequent authorizations, naval projects of a total estimated value of $66,320,727 and Army projects of a total estimated value of $28,040,400 were placed under cost-plus-a-fixed-fee contract.
The original plans called for the construction of a naval operating base, to include a naval air station, a submarine base, a net depot, a dispensary, docks, ammunition and fuel storage facilities, provisioning, administration, and personnel facilities. The air station was to include facilities for both landplanes and seaplanes, to consist of ramps, runways, maintenance and repair shops, storehouses, and housing units. The submarine base was to provide repair service for small ships and boats with a floating drydock, shops, and additional housing.
The three paved runways at the air station were of concrete, each 150 feet wide and 6000, 5400, and 5000 feet long, respectively. A 175-foot graded strip on both sides of each runway gave a total clear width of 500 feet. All runways were equipped with a flush-contact lighting system. Hangar space was provided by one permanent 50-by-184-foot hangar and one temporary 112-by-163-foot hangar. A 75-by-5400-foot concrete taxiway extended from the 5000-foot runway to the hangar area.
Seaplane facilities were located on Womens Bay. Three concrete ramps, two of them 50-by-250-feet, and one 50-by-325-feet, were built. Hangar space was provided in two permanent 320-by-250-foot hangars. Aircraft repair facilities were provided in two shops attached to the seaplane hangars and a maintenance shop with a floor area of 200,000 square feet. A 121,500-square-yard parking area, of which 94,800 square yards were paved, was also built.
Docking facilities for large craft consisted of an 800-by-65-foot cargo pier, with four deep-water approaches and a depth of 30 feet at its outboard end; a 450-by-40-foot tender pier, with fresh-water, gasoline, and oil lines, berthing on two sides, and a minimum depth of 26 feet; and a 1400-by-30-foot marginal wharf, with a fresh-water line and a 30-ton stiff-leg derrick. Thirteen piers to accommodate small boats, tugs, patrol, and similar craft were located at various places throughout the base.
Service facilities for ships also included a permanent 175-ton marine railway, 348 feet long. Submarine services were also included. Permanent buildings were erected for shops, battery and torpedo overhaul, torpedo compression, and other work.
Cold-storage facilities, with a capacity of 111,350 cubic feet of freezer space in four buildings, and 37,240 cubic feet of cooler space in three buildings, as well as several portable refrigerators, were constructed. Dry storage was provided in three permanent and four semi-permanent buildings with a total area of 99,455 square feet. General stores required 40 semi-permanent buildings which varied in size from the 110-by-208-foot general warehouse to small transit sheds. The total available
area amounted to 203,550 square feet. The 29 construction-and-maintenance warehouses were almost entirely of temporary construction and had a total floor area of 192,450 square feet.
Fuel-storage facilities included four 27,000-barrel underground tanks for refueling ships, with eighteen 600-barrel, steel tanks underground and one 55,000-barrel, steel tank above ground. Diesel oil was stored in two 13,500-barrel, underground steel tanks and four 6666-gallon, splinter-proof, steel, surface tanks. Aviation gasoline was stored in sixty-four 25,000-gallon, steel, underground tanks and three 13,400-gallon tanks. Motor-gasoline storage was also installed at the air station in one 567,000-gallon, underground, steel tank and ten 42,000-gallon, steel, splinter-proof tanks. Lubricating oil was kept in drums and in a 1,000-gallon tank. Ordnance was stored in 39 magazines.
Administration facilities, including offices, radio station, hospital and instruction space, were built. Offices, including those of the air station, submarine base, and the civilian contractor, were established in five buildings with a total area of 65,000 square feet. Radio facilities included a 32-by-82-foot transmitter building, a 16-by-72-foot receiving station, and three small direction-finder buildings.
Medical facilities included a 100-bed hospital for the contractor in a semi-permanent building, a 63-bed dispensary in a permanent building at the air
Naval Operating Base at Adak
Part of th PT base facilities
station, and an Army ward-type 33-bed hospital in a temporary structure.
Instruction facilities for gunnery were provided in five temporary buildings and eight firing-range shelters at the anti-aircraft training center.
A total of 28 buildings, which included a laundry, a fire station, garages, and various shops, were erected for station maintenance.
Utilities required a 4750-kw steam generator and four 50-kw diesel-electric units. Gravel-surfaced roads, 14 to 18 feet wide, totaling 166 miles, were constructed throughout the base.
Water was obtained from two main sources, from Bushkin [sic] Lake and from filter galleries along Sargent Creek and Russian River. Storage tanks at the air station included four 187,500-gallon tanks for naval use and four 175,000-gallon tanks for Army use. In the Bells Flat area a 200,000-gallon tank served the Navy, and a similar one was used by the Army. About 17,000 feet of sewers, up to 48 inches in diameter, were installed.
Housing facilities were constructed for 7,769 enlisted men in 321 buildings, with all buildings of semi-permanent or temporary construction, excepting seven permanent 44-by-181-foot barracks to house 1050 men at the air station. Housing for 401 officers was also provided, with messing and recreational facilities for all personnel.
Construction of Fort Greeley, [sic] the Army garrison at Kodiak, was accomplished largely by contractors but was completed by Seabees. Personnel installations included housing, messing, and recreational facilities for 10,829 men and 682 officers. This involved construction of 665 semi-permanent and temporary housing units, 89 mess halls and galley units, two theaters, two libraries, two post-exchanges, and two chapels.
Storage facilities provided 79,910 cubic feet of freezer space, 61,820 cubic feet of chill space, and 88 units for general storage with a total floor area of 229,610 square feet. Fuel-oil storage was in two 10,000-gallon tanks of semi-permanent construction. Aviation gasoline was stored in eight 25,000-gallon underground tanks. Motor gasoline storage was also underground, in fifteen 5000-gallon tanks of permanent construction. Ordnance was stored in 38 semi-permanent magazines.
Aviation facilities for Fort Greeley [sic] were at the naval air station and included three semi-permanent hangars, which provided 30,000 square feet of area, and 20 plane revetments. Repair shops were located in six temporary buildings, with a total floor area of 6560 square feet. An auxiliary strip, constructed by laying steel matting on a sand base, was located at Cape Chiniak, 15 miles to the southeast.
Offices were located in 19 buildings of semi-permanent and temporary construction. Medical installations included a 16-ward, dispersed hospital to accommodate 343 men, and an infirmary of 12 units.
The garrison maintenance force was established in 44 semi-permanent and temporary buildings. These included a laundry, garages, a sawmill, and various shops, with a total floor-space of 224,950 square feet. Power was furnished by nine diesel units, with a total rated output of 1565 kw.
The roadway system comprised 130 miles of gravel-surfaced highways, all 20 feet wide. Sewage disposal was accomplished by outfall to the sea, with pumping necessary in only two small areas. Water was supplied from the naval-base sources and stored in three 200,000-gallon and four 60,000-gallon, semi-permanent, wood tanks.
Harbor defense construction involved gun emplacements and platforms, with necessary magazines and control posts.
In June 1945, the submarine base was decommissioned and the net defense facilities on Woody Island were disestablished.
The contractor's maximum construction strength was 3508 men, reached in December 1942. An average of 880 men remained from October 1, 1939, to April 30, 1943, when all remaining construction, with the exception of dredging, was taken over by the 4th Construction Regiment, composed of the 38th, 41st, 43rd, and 45th Battalions. At that time, it was estimated that 72 percent of the authorized work had been completed.
After the 4th Construction Regiment was disbanded on September 25, 1943, the remaining Army construction was assigned to the 41st and 43rd Battalions for completion and the remaining naval construction was taken over by the station public works department, composed of the 79th Battalion and station personnel.
On September 23, 1944, half of the 26th Battalion arrived to relieve the 79th, which departed on October 4. On August 6, 1943, the 8th Special Battalion reached Kodiak to take over cargo operations; however, half of the unit departed at once for Attu. On February 23,1944, the unit was again split, to permit sending a detachment to Dutch Harbor. The 12th and 23rd Battalions served at
Kodiak from the fall of 1942 to the spring of 1943.
The base at Kodiak was never developed beyond the original plan. This was due mainly to the fact that many projects originally planned for Kodiak were moved farther west or were reduced as the scene of action shifted. A conservative estimate of materials and equipment from cancelled Kodiak projects which were then moved out along the Aleutian chain has been set at $10,000,000.
Installations at NOB Kodiak were started, and a large portion completed, under the civilian contract. Seabees took over unfinished projects and improved some finished ones. They also installed gun emplacements for harbor defense and performed most of the work involved in the construction of magazines and storehouses.
After their arrival, the Seabees carried on all station maintenance at Kodiak, as well as their construction duties. In addition to this, they were active in salvaging ships gone aground or wrecked during storms in the vicinity. Three of the salvage jobs in which they participated were those concerned with the SS John Peter Gains, the Army vessel FB-33, and the Army Transport Service vessel Elna. The salvage crews also undertook the job of landing supplies on islands surrounded by very dangerous water.
One of the most important jobs accomplished by the Seabees was the establishment, for the Army, of the outlying coastal defense positions which protected the main base on Kodiak Island. These outlying stations included Chernabura, Sand Point, Woody Island, Cold Bay, King Cove, Chirikof, Chiniak, Entrance Point, Cape Greville, Sanak, and Afognak. A part of the work on these bases was done by the contractors and a small portion by Army engineers, but most of the work was executed by Seabees. The installations consisted mainly of air and sea defenses, with accompanying facilities required for operating personnel.
At Chernabura, the southernmost island in the Shumagin group, 475 miles southwest of Kodiak, a radio and radar beacon was erected as an aid to navigation for surface ships and aircraft.
Chernabura was commissioned in May 1943 and operated in its designed capacity until it was decommissioned June 6, 1945.
Sand Point, on Popof Island, also in the Shumagin group, was first commissioned as a section base in the early part of 1942, but on April 1, 1943, it was changed to a naval auxiliary air facility. A radio range station, commissioned September 22, 1943, was also established, as an aid to air navigation and a weather-observation center. This station was decommissioned on April 28, 1945.
The completed air facility included accommodations for 410 officers and men; storage facilities for general supplies, liquid fuels, and ordnance; seaplane parking areas and repair shops; service facilities for large and small surface craft; and a radio transmitter. All buildings were of temporary construction with the exception of those leased from a local cannery.
On Woody Island, 6 miles northeast of Kodiak, were located a magnetic loop and harbor protection equipment, a net depot, and a radio range station.
In October 1942, a heavy indicator-net for surface and underwater vessels was installed between Woody Island and Kodiak Island. In November 1943, anti-torpedo nets were substituted for the heavier nets. In December 1942, magnetic loop stations were located at the entrance of the channel leading to Kodiak and at St. Paul's Harbor. A naval radio compass station, set up on Woody Island during World War I, was still in operation.
Living facilities for 200 officers and men were provided; all personnel and equipment operation was closely allied with NOB Kodiak.
Cold Bay, near the end of the Alaskan Peninsula, 432 air miles from Kodiak, was commissioned July 14, 1942 as a naval airfield and was changed to a naval auxiliary air facility on April 1, 1943.
The landing strips at Cold Bay comprised two 150-by-5000-foot asphalt-surfaced runways and a gravel-surfaced, satellite field, 150-by-5000 feet. All strips were Army-operated. Aviation gasoline was stored in twenty-eight 25,000-gallon tanks and distributed by tank trucks.
Personnel facilities were constructed to accommodate 500 officers and men, in quonset-type buildings which were also used for offices, communications, and refrigerator and general storage. A net depot, with necessary warehouses and storage area, was constructed at Cold Bay, together with an Army T-type 66-by-810-foot wharf.
At King Cove, considered a part of Cold Bay, repair facilities for small craft were constructed, including a 150-ton marine railway and an adjacent machine shop. Diesel-oil storage was in tanks totaling 65,000-gallon capacity.
The Army garrison at nearby Fort Randall, numbering 298 officers and 4648 men, required the construction
Members of the 86th Battalion at Adak
Dredging surfacing material from Finger Bay for finish material on roads
of necessary quarters and other living facilities.
NAAF Cold Bay was decommissioned November 7, 1944, and at that time a few necessary services were turned over to the Army.
Seabee personnel involved at Cold Bay consisted of a detachment from the 8th Battalion, which was assigned the initial construction, and one company of the 23rd, which moved to Cold Bay in May 1943 to complete the work. Maintenance was then taken over by a detachment of CBMU 510, which was later relieved by a detachment of the 79th Battalion.
Chirikof Island, southwest of Kodiak Island, maintained a radio range, a radio and radar beacon, and a weather-observation station. Commissioned in December 1942, its installations included six temporary structures to house personnel and radio equipment.
Cape Greville, on Kodiak Island, was commissioned in April 1943, as a radio and radar beacon station and was turned over to the Coast Guard in October 1944.
Construction at the station involved several temporary structures for personnel and radio equipment.
Entrance Point, also on Kodiak Island, was established in the early part of 1942 as an antiaircraft
training center. Buildings were constructed for housing and feeding 100 men and 12 officers and for conducting training exercises. The center was decommissioned in December 1943.
Facilities at Sanak and Caton Island, collectively known as Sanak, 50 miles south of Cold Bay, included a radio range, a radio and radar beacon, and a weather-observation station. It was commissioned in January 1943.
Afognak, on Afognak Island, just north of Kodiak Island, was established in March 1942 as an administration point. The installation included a radio station. The entire area was turned into a recreation center in June 1944, and all personnel stationed at Kodiak were allowed a two- or three- day excursion trip there, based on a rotation program. Excellent hunting and fishing were to be had in the area.
Seward, a section base, on the southern portion of Kenai Peninsula, was placed in commission July 31, 1942. Construction was performed by Army engineers. On April 1, 1943, it became a naval auxiliary air facility. Personnel facilities consisted of four semi-permanent buildings; general storage was in a single 22-by-50-foot building; and aviation gasoline was stored in a 25,000-gallon steel tank. A seaplane hangar was built and a ramp installed. Two piers were provided; one 25-by-165-feet, the other, 15-by-100-feet. Administration offices were housed in a single building.
The Army operated Seward and maintained Fort Ramone there with a defense garrison. Naval activities at Seward were discontinued July 29, 1943, and facilities turned over to the Coast Guard who supervised shipping operations and maintained a port captain's office.
Dutch Harbor Sector
The purpose of the naval installations at Dutch Harbor was to provide a naval operating base farther west in the Aleutian chain than Kodiak. Air facilities, a submarine base, and numerous minor activities were included.
Dutch Harbor is on Amaknak Island in Unalaska Bay, a bay in the island of Unalaska, the largest and most important island of the eastern Aleutians. Unalaska, 67 miles long and 23 miles wide, is largely mountainous. Unalaska Bay provides one of the best anchorages in the Aleutians, with depths sufficient to accommodate the largest vessels, hut the prevalence of had weather causes operating conditions there to be even more difficult than at most other Alaskan stations.
Army and Navy construction work at Dutch Harbor began in 1940, as an extension to the cost-plus-a-fixed-fee contract originally awarded for work at Sitka and Kodiak. In July 1942, the estimated total probable cost for this project was $44,000,000, of which $20,500,844 was for Army work, including harbor-defense installations, housing for troops, and the facilities and utilities necessary to serve them.
The construction work was carried on entirely by the contractor until the bombing of Dutch Harbor in June 1942, after which the construction effort was reinforced by Seabees. The 4th Construction Battalion, the first to be ordered to Alaska, arrived at Dutch Harbor on July 5, 1942, improperly clothed and without suitable tools or equipment. On July 14, it was reinforced by the 8th Battalion; on August 26, by the 13th Battalion; and on October 18, by the 21st Battalion.
By the middle of December, all of the contractor's personnel had left Dutch Harbor, with the exception of several members of the supervisory force who remained to assist in the inventory work and the settlement of the contract.
The contractor had completed nine of the original 28 projects, the value of which reached $4,484,428. Work had also been started, but not completed, on an additional 10 projects. This work, as well as all new construction, was taken over by the Seabees.
The air station at NOB Dutch Harbor included a 300-by-4385-foot, gravel-surfaced, emergency runway and concrete parking area, a concrete seaplane ramp and its facilities, for patrol bombers, and scout planes. Hangar space was provided in a permanent blast-pen-type hangar, 115 feet by 310 feet, and a semi-permanent kodiak-type hangar. Other buildings included a permanent 12-by-122-foot repair shop and parachute loft, a 30-by-50-foot semi-permanent photographer's laboratory, and an air-operations building. Installed as a part of the air-station equipment was a catapult with a launching platform and arresting gear. Storage facilities included tanks for 1,069,000 gallons of aviation gasoline and complete facilities for storage and handling of small ammunition, bombs, and torpedoes.
The submarine base possessed facilities equivalent to a submarine tender, including hull, machine, electrical, optical, and radio shops. In addition,
Building a Road at Adak
32nd Seabees working on road to the hospital area
a large torpedo shop and storehouse and three magazines to store types of ammunition other than torpedoes were provided. Diesel oil was stored in seven tanks; three were underground, and the others were of the oil-dock type.
Repair facilities for ships and small craft provided half the equivalent of a destroyer tender. The boat shop was equipped to construct small boats; its slip was capable of taking 50-foot landing barges or boats for repairs or major overhaul. A small marine railway, put into operation during November 1943, was capable of taking craft up to 50 tons. The 250-ton marine railway, operated by a maintenance unit, was capable of handling yard mine-sweepers. The machine shop, carpenter shop, welding shop, blacksmith shop, and electrical shop were capable of making repairs on small craft and providing maintenance and minor repairs on large ships. The public works machine shop and plumbing shop were also available for heavy ship-repair work.
Facilities for provisioning units of the Fleet included dry-storage capacity of 314,610 cubic feet, in six warehouses, and cold-storage space for 1,037 tons. Fuel oil was stored in 13 tanks with total capacity of 173,000 barrels, of which 135,000 were in underground concrete tanks. Motor gasoline was stored in six tanks with a total capacity of 595,000 gallons.
Docking facilities, provided by various docks and piers, included the 500-by-50-foot Dutch Harbor pier, the 575-by-58-foot Advance Base Depot
pier, the 900-by-60-foot Ballyhoo Pier, the 550-by-50-foot fuel pier, the 240-by-60-foot YP pier, the 1845-by-30-foot submarine base pier, and a marine-railway pier, which measured 600 by 40 feet. In addition, several small-boat and finger floats were constructed.
Utilities required four diesel and three steam plants for electric power, and turbine exhaust was used for steam-heating the air-station buildings. Water supply was obtained through a gravity supply flow from a dam on Unalaska Creek, with 12-inch mains to Amaknak Island, and a gravity supply from a dam on Pyramid Creek, with 16-inch mains to the Amaknak Island distribution system. Water was stored at Dutch Harbor in three storage tanks, which also served the submarine base. Roads and highways in the area totaled 84 miles; all were gravel-surfaced and 20 feet wide.
Administration facilities included 17 office buildings of various types. Radio facilities, which included 20 transmitters and receivers, were located in 15 buildings at various sections of the base. .
Housing, messing, and recreation were provided for 174 officers and 1265 men of the base personnel, and for 107 officers and 4179 men of the construction battalions. A dispensary, with units at the air station, submarine base, and outlying points, provided a maximum capacity of 200 beds.
Construction of the Army garrison post at Fort Mears, Dutch Harbor, was completed by Seabees. Personnel requirements included the construction of housing and messing facilities for 9500 enlisted men and 500 officers, with recreational, post exchange, and religious facilities. Storage facilities numbered 68,780 cubic feet of freezer storage, 44,910 cubic feet of chill space, and 331,215 cubic feet of general storage space. The 270-bed hospital was designed and constructed to care for both Army and Navy personnel. A dispensary was also set up, with a capacity of 308 officers and men.
Ammunition was stored in 91 magazines of permanent or semi-permanent concrete or steel construction. Administration facilities were established in 53 semi-permanent or temporary buildings, with a total floor-area of 25,675 square feet.
Diesel-electric generators were installed at three stations. Their total capacity was 1155 kw, made up from a 600-kw, a 300-kw, and a 255-kw unit; additional power was obtained through a connection by a submarine line to the air station's power circuit. The water-supply source was Unalaska Creek. Sewage disposal, as in the case of the naval base, was through 16-inch outfalls to the harbor.
Harbor-defense construction was confined primarily to reinforced-concrete gun platforms and emplacements, with adjacent magazines and command posts. For station maintenance operations and the staff, 27 semi-permanent buildings, with a total floor area of 86,670 square feet, were constructed. These buildings ranged in purpose and use from a laundry to garages and repair shops. Aviation requirements for Fort Mears were served by the naval air station.
The story of Seabee assignments and growth at Dutch Harbor began at the point where the contractors and their personnel were relieved. With four battalions at Dutch Harbor, the need for a military organization beyond the battalion was evident. On September 20, 1942, the Western Alaska Construction Regiment was approved, and on November 25, its headquarters company arrived at Dutch Harbor. On December 19, 1942, its designation was changed to the First Construction Regiment, which included the 4th, 8th, 13th, and 21st Battalions.
During the month of January 1943, the 42nd Battalion arrived from the United States to stage for a month before moving to Adak. The 32nd, which had arrived in December, had been assigned to Adak, but it was considered unwise to unload the 32nd directly into Adak at that time, and consequently it was diverted to Dutch Harbor. From Dutch Harbor, such personnel and equipment as could be accommodated and used were filtered into Adak and Atka. The 51st and 52nd Battalions arrived at Dutch Harbor, but only the 51st remained, the 52nd being gradually moved into the Adak sector. In April, the 5th Special Battalion arrived to take over stevedoring duties previously performed by detachments from various battalions. The 85th Battalion and CBMU's 508 and 510 arrived on May 30, 1943.
The 7th Special Battalion arrived in June 1943 to relieve the 5th Special Battalion, which left for Adak in July. Other departures were the 52nd Battalion for Adak during April and May 1943, and the 4th in June; the 8th and 13th in August for the United States; the 21st for the United States in December 1943; and the 51st for the United States in March 1944. The First Regiment was disbanded on September 1, 1943.
The major portion of construction work at Dutch Harbor and its satellite bases was completed by
Hospital Area at Adak
Main building, surgery and ward (foreground); similar building (left) is the mess hall; other buildings are x-ray and personnel huts
November 1943, and minor construction was then carried on by maintenance units and detachments from other battalions, in conjunction with Army forces. Also present was a group from the 8th Special Battalion which handled stevedoring until May 1945; on July 15, 1945, the CBMU 635 arrived. It was still on duty there on V-J Day.
Naval facilities, in the meantime, had been reduced and, in some cases, revised. The air station had been reduced to the status of an air facility by June 1945; the submarine base was decommissioned on May 22, 1945. A fueling point for Russian ships had been established to replace the station at Akutan, Other facilities remained largely in their designed status.
An interesting sidelight on Seabee activity was the raising of the SS Northwestern at Dutch Harbor. This ship, which had been used as a barracks for civilian employees, was bombed during the June 1942 raid on Dutch Harbor, by the Japanese, who mistook it for a transport. It was decided that the hulk, which lay on the beach, would yield valuable scrap. Accordingly, the Seabees put her into seaworthy condition and secured her for tow to Seattle, where she yielded 2,700 tons of scrap steel.
Unalga Island, about 16 miles northeast of Dutch Harbor, is flat and low in comparison with adjacent islands. Although it possesses a partly sheltered ship anchorage, in most places the coast is fringed with submerged rocks.
The only installation constructed on Unalga
Island was a radio beacon and range station, manned and operated by the. Navy. An attempt was made to construct an airfield in one of the level areas, but the project was soon abandoned. The island and its personnel were under the direct control of NOB Dutch Harbor.
Hog Island, of the Fox group, is in Unalaska Bay, about 2 miles west of Dutch Harbor. Here the Navy installed a radio range station, and the Army set up housing and messing facilities for a garrison of 250 men, with the necessary storehouses and utilities. A 178-by-18-foot wharf was, constructed to facilitate the landing of supplies and men. The island was under the control of NOB Dutch Harbor.
Otter Point, on Umnak Island at Umnak Pass, the narrow body of water separating Umnak and Unalaska islands, was selected as the site of a naval air facility.
Construction was carried out entirely by Seabees and the Army. The development of the facility at Otter Point was approved by the Secretary of the Navy on September 18, 1942, and Commanding General Alaska Defense Command assigned the required land on September 25, 1942. The work was done by a detachment of the 8th Construction Battalion.
Housing and messing facilities for 119 officers and 359 men were constructed, as well as recreational and ship's service buildings. Storage facilities consisted of 6975 square feet for general stores and a 150-cubic-foot freezer. Buildings for aircraft included a kodiak-type hangar, 160 by 90 feet, a squadron warehouse, and a terminal for air transport service. Administration offices were housed in five buildings with a total floor space of 3850 square feet. Radio facilities included a transmitting station, a direction-finder station, and a radar station, all with separate power houses and with housing and messing provisions for personnel. The hospital, located in one small building, contained eight beds.
The maintenance force of the station was installed in seven buildings. Electric power was provided by three diesel-electric generators. All other utilities were furnished by the Army at Fort Glenn, which also provided landing strips and revetments, aviation gasoline and fuels of other types, provisions, and repair facilities for aircraft.
An additional activity connected with the Otter Point project was the net-defense station at Chernofski Harbor, across Umnak Pass, on Unalaska Island. Housing, storage, and the few necessary operations buildings were constructed to accommodate a staff of 30 officers and men. In April 1945 the facility was disestablished, and the Allied harbor entrance control post was transferred to Army jurisdiction.
At Otter Point, similar developments took place. Naval facilities were reduced to include only a radio-beacon station and a radio station. All other activities were either disestablished or turned over to the Army by June 1945.
In the summer of 1942, the operation of Russian ships between Siberia and our West Coast ports required a base in the Aleutians to be used as a midway fueling, provisioning, and repair station. Akutan, a small island 35 miles east of Dutch Harbor, was selected and negotiations were under-taken to lease the station of a whaling company. By October 1942, an agreement had been reached and work completed to render a 250-foot docking facility usable for Russian ships. A detachment of Seabees, numbering about 40 men from the 13th Battalion on Dutch Harbor, was assigned to perform the necessary construction.
Transformation of the whaling station into a naval fueling station was soon accomplished, as buildings and tanks needed only to be altered in order to meet the Navy's needs. Housing and messing were provided for 80 men and 12 officers. This included 24,160 square feet of storage space for general stores, 288 cubic feet of freezer space, and 930 cubic feet of chill space. Six vats, converted to oil tanks, totaled a 32,000-barrel capacity. Diesel oil and aviation gasoline were stored in smaller tanks and drums. Coal for the Russian coal-burning ships was stored in a 5000-ton, pier storage area. Existing utilities were supplemented, and roads improved. Three mooring buoys were installed for seaplane use, as the harbor furnished a fairly well-protected landing area. The Akutan station was ready to pump oil or to receive an emergency seaplane landing by November 7, 1942.
By June 1945, the need for a fueling point of this type had been practically eliminated. As a result, the Akutan base was reduced to the status of a minor seaplane facility and Coast Guard radio-beacon station.
Naval installations at Adak were planned to provide support for the fleet through an operating
base consisting of an air station, a radio station, a net depot, a PT-boat base, Marine barracks, and other small activities.
Adak, a weather-beaten, uninhabited island in the Andreanof group, 400 miles west of Dutch Harbor, is 30 miles long and has a maximum width of 20 miles. Terrain is rugged and mountainous, with many small lakes and streams. Numerous small bays indent the coast line. The treeless ground is covered with tundra.
Although the climate is not excessively intemperate, the island is subject to frequent storms of rain, snow, and sleet and to high-velocity winds, which result in extremely poor flying conditions. Annual rainfall averages 40 inches, with 100 additional inches of snowfall. The summer months are subject to continuous fogs and rain, with high-velocity winds prevailing during August. The winter months occasionally contain fair days, but are always subject to sudden snow and sleet storms. The two best weather months are September and October.
During the latter part of August 1942, Adak and nearby Atka were occupied by the Army, and it was then considered advisable to start immediately the construction of minimum naval activities to permit the Fleet Air Wing to operate patrol searches from these advanced bases.
Construction work for the various activities which constituted the naval operating base was accomplished by the Seabees. This work included personnel facilities; storage for construction materials, general supplies, fuels, and ordnance; seaplane and landplane landing areas; hangars and repair shops; facilities for small and large craft, including drydocks, a marine railway, and repair shops; a radio station; and construction and maintenance shops.
At the air station, two runways, 5277 by 200 feet and 7145 by 200 feet, respectively, were constructed. Both were surfaced with pierced planking. Hangar space was in five kodiak-type hangars and one smaller building, all of semi-permanent design. One building contained a parachute loft. In conjunction with the runways, 6O-foot taxiways which totaled 14,000 feet in length were built, with a parking area of 1,500,900 square feet. Both were surfaced with pierced planking. A semi-permanent, two-story control building and tower was erected. Three temporary buildings furnished 10,150 square feet for photographic laboratories. Repair facilities for aircraft were provided in four buildings with a total area of 24,700 square feet.
Available to the Navy were the two strips operated by the Army at Sweeper Cove. Hangar space and minor repair shops for naval use were installed there by Seabees.
Seaplane facilities were established at Andrew Lagoon, a fresh-water body near the air station. Three hangars were built, providing 17,000 - square feet of space for patrol bombers and 2900 square feet for observation planes. Parking area consisted of 24,000 square feet of pierced-plank surface and a 50-by-70-foot ramp of the same material. Fueling service for all naval planes was by tank trucks from Army supplies. When Andrew Lagoon was frozen, operations were transferred to the salt waters of nearby Clam Lagoon.
Service facilities for ships were located in Sweeper Cove, and those for small craft were divided between the PT base and the section base. Five piers for small craft, ranging in size from 25-by-50-feet to 40-by-300-feet and all of temporary construction, and 108 concrete anchorages, weighing from 2 to 5 tons, were constructed and placed. Two temporary dry docks were assembled from pontoons and furnished capacities of 100 and 400 tons, respectively. Nine temporary structures, with a total area of 42,125 square feet, were erected to serve as shops. Large-craft facilities included three pile-and-timber piers at the section base. The two operating-base piers measured 75 by 392 feet and 55 by 600 feet; the Navy Pier was 55 by 600 feet.
Fresh-water outlets, a rigging loft, and an optical shop were installed at the section base.
Cold-storage space in five units, totaling 77,000 cubic feet, was provided at the air station, section base, and PT base. Dry-storage space in six ware-houses totaled 27,100 square feet, of which 15,800 square feet were in a single building. General-stores space was provided in 41 buildings which gave a total floor space of 234,000 square feet. Construction and maintenance storage was in 17 buildings with a total of 27,325 square feet; medical supplies were in 10 quonset huts, with a total floor area of 5050 square feet. All fuel stores were under Army control, and no extra construction for them was required. Ordnance storage was in 27 buildings, only one of which was permanent. Torpedo over-haul and compressor shops at the PT base were in three quonset huts.
Administration offices for the various other activities
Hedron Area Under Construction, Adak
were housed in 76 buildings, 68 of which were quonsets with a total of 104,800 square feet of floor space. Communication facilities were established in four quonset-type buildings, as were also the various branch post offices. The main fleet post office at the section base was a semi-permanent 70-by-100-foot structure.
Radio facilities were located in two quonset huts, and radar equipment occupied a third. The hospital, with all its attendant features, was also established in quonset huts.
Housing facilities included 1049 tents to house 1234 men and 421 quonsets for 7379 men. Seven buildings and 212 quonsets accommodated 1000 officers. Mess requirements were met with 16 mess-halls, and 10 wardrooms.
Recreational facilities included five theaters with an average capacity of 400 men, a 172-by-320-foot recreation center at the air station, and a 40-by-100-foot gymnasium at the section base. Commissary and ship's service stores were established in seven buildings, five of which were quonsets, with a total area of 8050 square feet.
Station maintenance, which included a telephone exchange, garages, a laundry, and various shops, was carried on in 18 buildings, which had a total floor area of 61,745 square feet.
Power throughout the entire base was obtained from twenty 75-kw and eleven 50-kw portable diesel-electric generators, dispersed throughout the base. Water was obtained from wells and was stored in wooden tanks which included one 60,000-gallon,
seven 15,000-gallon, and three 6,000-gallon units. Between 30 and 40 miles of roads and walks were constructed and maintained.
To perform the construction during the initial phases of the occupation, small detachments of the 4th and the 8th Battalions were sent to Adak, followed by their equipment as shipping space became available. On December 25, 1942, the first group from the 32nd Battalion arrived from Dutch Harbor; the whole battalion was ashore by the end of January 1943. This battalion began the real construction of the air facilities.
In February the 6th Naval Construction Regiment was formed from forces available at Adak; it was later augmented by the 42nd Battalion, a company of the 23rd, half of the 5th Special Battalion, and the entire 52nd Battalion. Additions during June and July 1943 involved more groups of the 23rd, the remainder of the 5th, and the 12th Battalion. The 66th Battalion and a detachment of the 38th arrived during August, followed, on September 20, 1943, by detachments of the 7th Special Battalion and the 45th.
The 12th Battalion left Adak during September 1943, and the 32nd departed just after the first of the year. By the summer of 1944, most of the work at Adak had been turned over to the 86th Battalion for maintenance, and the only unit then left was CBMU 510, which had arrived on May 22, 1943. When the 86th Battalion departed on November 14, 1944, a detachment from the 138th Battalion was sent from Attu to take over maintenance and necessary minor construction.
All construction at Adak was performed by the Seabees. In addition, considerable work was done on the outlying bases, including Kiska and Attu.
Sand Bay, on the southern end of Great' Sitkin Island, about 21 miles northeast of Adak, was established as a naval advance fueling station on May 15, 1943. Facilities for this activity and for a net depot were constructed by the Seabees. This included accommodations for 680 officers and men; provisions for storage of general supplies, net materials, and liquid fuels; small- and large-craft piers.
Housing was provided in 46 quonset huts. Messing facilities were set up in six temporary buildings. Recreational facilities included a theater for 550 men, a recreation hall, and a library.
Storage facilities consisted of 89,200 cubic feet of cold storage space in two temporary buildings; 18,800 square feet of dry-storage space in two buildings; 64,550 square feet of general-storage space in 11 buildings; and 25,710 square feet of space for construction and maintenance materials in two buildings. Fuel-oil storage required twenty-two 10,000-barrel tanks, three 6000-barrel tanks, and one 15,000-barrel tank, all of which were set in excavations with dike berms. Diesel-oil and aviation-gasoline storage was in sixteen 6000-barrel steel tanks. Ordnance was stored in 19 magazines.
Service facilities for small craft at the net depot were centered around the 40-by-630-foot, semi-permanent pier. Four moorings were provided at the fueling, station, where a 60-by-800-foot pier was furnished with eight 8-inch and eight 6-inch fuel lines and a fresh-water outlet.
Administration offices were placed in five temporary buildings which had a total floor space of 6090 square feet. The fleet post office occupied two quonset huts. Radio transmitting and receiving stations were placed in separate buildings. The hospital, which consisted of six standard quonset huts, was located at the fueling station. Station maintenance shops were established in nine quonsets which had a total floor area of 8690 square feet. Diesel-electric units supplied power for the entire station.
All work was accomplished by Seabees, with the major portion performed by the 52nd Battalion, which had made the initial landing. Later, small detachments were assigned from NOB Adak to carryon the work. On V-J day, Sand Bay was still functioning as a naval fueling station and net depot.
Ogliuga, one of the Delarof Islands, off the western end of the Adreanof group, 100 miles from Adak, is the lowest and flattest island of the Aleutians. It is 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, with a rocky, irregular coast.
Construction of the emergency landing field established at Ogliuga for the Army in July 1943, was performed entirely by Seabees. A 100-by-3000-foot runway and four 100-foot-square parking areas were constructed, with a surface of steel matting. The only other construction at Ogliuga was a small building for living quarters.
Amchitka, one of the Rat Islands group in the western Aleutians, lies about 178 miles west of Adak. It extends 34 miles northwest-southeast and averages about three miles in width. The northwest section of the island is rugged but gradually
levels out toward the center, and in the southeast portion the terrain is low, rolling tundra and flat tableland dotted with lakes and ponds.
A detachment of the 42nd Seabees arrived at Amchitka on March 16, 1943, at the time it was established as a naval air facility. Construction included personnel accommodations, storage buildings, runways, individual hangars, a small-craft pier, and a radio station.
Personnel facilities to accommodate 1200 men were provided in 69 barracks, most of which were small quonsets; 20 additional ones served as officers' quarters. Messing facilities were set up in two H-shaped structures composed of quonset huts; each structure seated 900 men. A mess hall and galley, combined in a single 20-by-90-foot building, served the PT base. Two structures, each a combination of quonset huts, provided officers' mess facilities. Recreational facilities included two 500-man theaters.
Freezer storage was in ten units with a total capacity of 3468 cubic feet; chill storage, in nine boxes which furnished 328 cubic feet. Dry stores were located in a single large quonset with a concrete floor. General stores occupied six buildings which were combinations of various-sized quonsets and had a total floor-space of 12,585 square feet. Construction-material storage required 2471 square feet in six buildings. All fuel, including diesel oil, was under Army control and no construction was required by the Navy. Ordnance was stored in seven small magazines.
Installations for aircraft included the construction of a 50-by-150-foot seaplane ramp, a 60-by-1l5-foot parking platform, and nine shop buildings. Landplanes were handled at the Army-operated airstrips.
Service facilities for small craft consisted of a 700-foot barge dock, an 80-foot pontoon dock, and five shops with a total floor-space of 3290 square feet. Ships were serviced at two piers maintained by the Army. At one of these the Navy installed a 6-inch water line for joint use.
Administration offices for all activities were in quonset huts. Post offices were in two quonsets. Ready rooms were provided in five buildings. Radio facilities included two structures each for transmitter, receiver, and direction finder stations, and a single radar building. Hospital facilities consisted of a main two-story building of three wings, with a separate dispensary and isolation ward.
Station maintenance, including garages and shops, was set up in six quonsets with a total area of 8645 square feet. Power generators were installed in three units, a 200-kw and a 175-kw unit at the naval air facility and a portable unit at the PT base. The four miles of roadway were of temporary construction, with a 20-foot, crushed-rock surface. Sewage disposal was accomplished by three tanks at the air facility and a single septic tank at the PT base, with outfalls to the sea. Water supply was from five lakes, with storage in two 88,500-gallon wooden tanks used jointly with the Army, and 17,600 gallons of storage in three wooden tanks.
All naval construction work under the original plan was completed by December 1943, when the detachment from the 42nd Battalion returned to Adak. Maintenance was carried on by CBMU 509 until September 1944, when the 509th returned to the United States. On V-J day, Amchitka was still operating as a naval air facility, with station personnel accomplishing maintenance work.
Atka Island, 50 miles long and roughly crescent-shaped, is the largest of the Andreanof group. Its coast line is generally irregular, indented with many small bays and inlets with steep, rocky shores. Vegetation consists mainly of tundra.
Atka was established as a naval air facility in November 1942 and re-established as an auxiliary air facility February 13, 1943. On September 1, 1943, the air facility was decommissioned and a weather unit remained as the only naval activity.
Facilities, constructed by the Seabees, included housing and storage buildings and a nose hangar adjacent to the Army landing strip.
The 160 men and 15 officers were housed in tents, and mess facilities were provided in quonset huts. Two small buildings were used for recreation.
Storage installations provided 12,000 cubic feet of cold storage, 2300 square feet of general storage, a 500-barrel steel tank for diesel oil, and two steel igloo-type magazines. All other stores were under Army control.
A single 50-by-80-foot nose hangar for land-planes was built, as all aircraft services and runways were also operated by the Army. Two buildings were erected for administration. The hospital was established in tents. Power was supplied by three 10-kw gasoline-driven generators.
Construction at Atka was accomplished by a detachment from the 21st Seabees. Later, this detachment was relieved by two companies of CBMU 510, which arrived on August 31, 1943. On
86th Seabees Lined up for Inspection on Maintenance Avenue, Adak, July 16, 1944
V-J day the naval weather unit at Atka was still in operation and aircraft facilities were available through the Army.
Tanaga Island, in the western part of the Andreanof group, 51 miles west of Adak, is irregular in shape and very mountainous in the northern part, although the remainder of the island is relatively level, with many small lakes and streams. Tanaga was established as an emergency landing field in July 1943, to be operated as an adjunct to NOB Adak.
On September 24,1943, a detachment of the 45th Battalion landed to carry out the necessary construction. In January 1944 the airstrip was ready for use and by March, NAAF Tanaga was commissioned as an activity of the Adak sector.
Construction included quarters for 720 officers and men, emergency land plane facilities, and a small-craft pier. Housing was provided in tents; messing and galley facilities for all personnel were set up in a 25-by-110-foot wood-frame, canvas covered building. Recreation buildings included three smaller structures of the same type.
Storage space totaled 1100 cubic feet of cold storage in four portable boxes, 740 square feet of dry storage, 930 square feet of general storage, and 1200 square feet for construction and maintenance materials. Aviation gasoline was stored in drums, for emergency use only.
A 200-by-5000-foot runway was installed, with a pierced-plank surface and two portable lighting units. Five hardstands with revetments were also constructed. A pier and a mooring area were provided to service patrol craft.
Administration was centered in two office buildings which had a total floor area of 1560 square feet. Radio installations were in tents, but the direction finder was in a small permanent building. Medical facilities consisted of a 12-bed quonset-type dispensary. Station maintenance required three buildings.
Power was supplied by a 75-kw diesel-electric
unit. Water was pumped from a lake to two 3000-gallon tanks. Sewage disposal was by septic tank, with an outflow to a ravine. More than 2 miles of temporary gravel-surfaced roads were constructed.
After the initial construction, maintenance and minor construction were carried on by detachments from NOB Adak. On V-J day the air facility was still in operation.
Attu Island, of the Near Group, lies at the extreme western end of the Aleutian chain. It is 740 miles from Dutch Harbor and only 700 miles from the Asiatic mainland. The island is 14 miles wide and 38 miles long. Its topography is similar to other islands of the chain, with the rugged coast-line, tundra-padded valleys, and the treeless, wind-swept mountains. The area is, subject to violent and unpredictable weather, with wind a constant factor and fog, snow, or sleet possible at any time.
Attu and Kiska had been occupied by the Japanese in June of 1942, after their unsuccessful attack on Dutch Harbor. Approximately 2000 Japanese composed the Attu garrison, and the main installation at Kiska was several times larger and was better developed. By-passing Kiska, American Army units, in two forces, landed on Attu on May 11, 1943, one in Massacre Bay and the other around the western arm of Holtz Bay. Although little resistance was encountered on the beaches, the Japanese made stubborn stands inland, but on May 17 a juncture of our two forces was accomplished. After this union the Japanese were slowly driven back across the island.
The Seabees arrived in Massacre Bay on May 21. A detachment of the 23rd Battalion was the first ashore on May 21, 1943, and by the latter part of June all of the Battalion had arrived and were occupied with construction work. The 22nd Battalion arrived July 15, 1943, the 68th Battalion on July 29, 1943. The 9th Naval Construction Regiment, composed of these units was authorized July 8,1943. In August, Seabee forces were increased by the arrival of half the 8th Special Battalion and the 66th Battalion. The 66th became part of the 9th Regiment.
Naval construction included accommodations for 7650 men; storage for all materials, fuel, and ordnance; seaplane- and landplane-landing areas; hangars and repair shops; small-craft and submarine piers; a drydock and repair shops; a radio station and maintenance shops.
Housing was constructed to accommodate 3291 men at the Seabee camp, 312 at the ordnance depot, 138 at the submarine base, 40 at the net depot, 264 at the PT base, 583 for the fleet air wing, 913 at the naval air station, 187 at the Marine barracks, and 1428 at miscellaneous activities. This housing involved construction of 239 standard quonset huts, pacific huts, and 238 winterized tents. Quarters for 116 chief petty officers and 410 officers were also provided in quonset and pacific huts located at the various activities. Messing facilities were established in 15 buildings, most of them consisting of several quonset huts. Recreational facilities centered around four theaters, which also served as gymnasiums. Eight libraries and seven ship's service stores were provided in standard quonset huts.
Cold-storage space totaled 53,000 cubic feet in three 8000-cubic-foot units and 42 smaller ones. Dry-storage space was provided in quonset huts. General-stores warehouses consisted of a single 60-by-200-foot building, 23 quonsets, and six other buildings, with a total floor area of 87,640 square feet. Construction and maintenance materials were, stored in 11 buildings which totaled 22,700 square feet; medical stores were in three huts, providing 1990 square feet of floor space. Two aviation-gasoline tank farms were erected. One consisted of nine 500-barrel tanks, and the other had twenty 1000-barrel tanks and eight 500-gallon tanks. A reserve store of approximately 5000 drums was also at hand, and 13,500 feet of steel piping was laid. Motor gasoline was stored in a 5500-gallon, elevated, storage tank and 2000 drums. Diesel-oil storage was in a 500-barrel tank, two 600-barrel, elevated tanks, and 500 drums; lubricating oil, obtained from the Army, was also stored in drums.
Ordnance of all types required 38 buildings of various sizes. Aviation bombs were kept in 60-foot, open revetments. Four quonset huts were used for torpedo overhaul.
Seaplane facilities included 15 anchorages in Casco Cove for patrol bombers, a 30-by-400-foot ramp of pierced plank, a 150-by-500-foot parking area, a 10-by-250-foot finger pier, and eight kodiak-type hangars. Two runways, 150 by 5000 feet and 150 by 4200 feet, were constructed of pierced planks, with 12,000 feet of pierced-plank taxiways.
General View of the Naval Air Station at Attu
Plane view of 114th Seabees working on runway
Hardstands were of the same material. Repair and maintenance shops were set up in the hangars.
Small-craft piers were built, together with two 220-foot material piers at the Seabee base and a 70 foot pier at the net depot. Two 1100-foot large-craft piers were constructed at the air station, each provided with fresh-water service and with aviation gasoline service for PT boats. A submarine pier, 1100 feet long, with fueling connections, was built at the submarine base, and seven quonsets were erected to house the various shops.
Administration offices for all activities were located in 51 buildings which had a total floor area of 44,355 square feet. The post office at the Seabee base was located in quonsets, that at the air station was in two pacific huts, and the fleet post office, also at the air station, was in a single 62-by-100-foot semi-permanent building. Radio facilities required construction of transmitter, receiver, direction finder, and radar buildings.
Hospital facilities included a hospital located at the air station and dispensaries at various activities. Buildings used as wards, surgical centers, and dispensaries totaled 21 quonset and pacific huts.
Station maintenance required seven garages, seven laundries, and various shops, which totaled 38 buildings with a floor area of 49,965 square feet. Power was supplied by eight 75-kw and five 50-kw diesel-driven generators, with 30,000 feet of distribution lines. A total of 16 miles of dirt roadways was constructed.
Water was obtained from local sources, and storage tanks, with a capacity of 10,000 gallons, and 4000 feet of water lines were installed. Sewage disposal
Hospital Area, Attu
was accomplished by outfall to the sea and by septic tanks, 32,000 feet of sewer lines being used.
All naval construction was performed by Sea-bees.
On the last day of 1943 the 23rd Construction Battalion left for the United States; the 22nd followed on March 28, 1944. In the meantime, the 138th Construction Battalion had arrived on February 1, 1944, to take over both maintenance and construction. The 68th and 66th Battalions left for the United States in October and December of 1944. The 138th Seabees remained until April 1945, when they were relieved by the 114th, which was still there on V-J day. The 8th Special Battalion left Attu on April 27, 1945 for the United States.
Attu was established as a naval air station in September 1943 and as a submarine repair facility in February 1944.
Kiska Island, one of the Rat Islands group, is about 45 miles northwest of Amchitka and 165 miles southeast of Attu. It is about 22 miles long, with a maximum width of 6 miles. The island is mountainous in its northern end but slopes southward into a flat tableland. Several lagoons, lakes, ponds, and numerous small streams exist, and tundra and muskeg bogs are characteristic of the lowlands. The shores are generally steep and rocky, with a few sandy beaches. Heavy rains are rare, but precipitation in small amounts is frequent and amounts to between 50 and 70 inches annually.
Kiska was occupied by the Japanese in June 1942. Later, as the American counter-offensive in the Aleutians gained momentum, Kiska was bypassed in our occupation of Attu. With Attu secure, attention was focused on Kiska, and in August 1943 the Army landed to discover that all enemy forces had been withdrawn. On August 21, 1943, a detachment of the 38th Seabees landed at Kiska to construct a naval auxiliary air facility.
Housing for 248 men and 19 officers was in quonsets and tents. Mess hall, galley, and stores were housed in an H-shaped building formed by five quonsets and a 25-by-75-foot building. Recreational facilities included a 130-man theater, a tent library, and a quonset hut used as ship's store and barber shop.
Cold storage included four 600-cubic-foot freezer units and two 150-cubic-foot chill units. General storage space, totalling 10,900 square feet, was provided in five quonset-type buildings. Construction and maintenance materials were stored in a standard quonset hut. Medical stores were in tents. Two small magazines were built. All fuel was stored in drums.
For seaplanes, a 30-by-150-foot nose hangar and a 30-by-150-foot ramp with a steel-mat surface were built. A 3500-square-yard parking area was also surfaced with steel matting. Landplanes used the abandoned Japanese fighter strip, which was under Army control. Service facilities for small craft were limited to a single 20-by-105-foot pier.
Administration offices were located in a T-shaped building made of quonset huts. Radio facilities were also set up in a quonset hut. The dispensary was housed in an L-shaped building composed of two quonsets. Another quonset contained the gunnery instruction classroom.
Station maintenance shops occupied seven buildings with a total floor area of 3145 square feet. Power was provided by two 75-kw diesel-driven generators. Almost 3 miles of roadway were built, and 4500 feet of 6-inch and 8-inch lines, with outfalls to the sea, were installed for sewage disposal. A small stream was dammed to provide water, which was stored in two 15,000-gallon tanks.
All naval construction at Kiska was performed by the original detachment of the 38th Battalion. This group, which returned to Adak on October 31, 1943, was relieved by a detachment of the CBMU 509, which operated the public works department.
Shemya, the easternmost island of the Semichi group, lies 137 miles northwest of Kiska. It is smooth and barren except for patches of scrub growth, and is dotted with small lakes. Shemya was established as a naval auxiliary air facility in June 1943.
Construction by the Seabees included tent and quonset housing and parking area for planes. Enlisted men were housed in quonsets and tents with a total capacity of 193 men, and officers' quarters for 47 included four quonsets and four tents. Messing facilities for all personnel were installed in quonset huts. Recreational facilities were centered around a 25-by-78-foot structure used as a chapel, theater, and gymnasium.
Storage space consisted of 1300 cubic feet of refrigerator space and material-storage space which
Seabees at Point Barrow
Members of the 1058th Detachment setting up the core hold rig for test hole No. 1
totaled 4800 square feet, all of which was in winterized tents.
Aviation facilities included a parking area for two planes and a motor-test shop, also in a winterized tent.
Administration offices were located in three temporary buildings with a total floor area of 2310 square feet. A radio unit was installed in the operations building. Hospital facilities consisted of eight beds.
Station maintenance, including a garage, a laundry, and shops, occupied five buildings with a total area of 2340 square feet. Power was furnished by a single 75-kw diesel-electric generator.
Aviation gasoline, land-plane facilities of all types, radar and radio stations, and other necessities were furnished by the Army. On V-J day the facility was still operating under the control of the Attu naval base.
Point Barrow Sector
In the spring of 1944, exploration operations were undertaken to determine the petroleum-producing potentialities of Naval Petroleum Reserve Number Four at Point Barrow, Alaska. This reserve, 35,000 square miles in area, had been established by Executive Order on February 27, 1923.
Point Barrow, the northernmost tip of the North American continent, lies at approximately 71 degrees North Latitude and 156 degrees West Longitude.
On March 21, 1944, the Bureau of Yards and Docks, on instructions from the Secretary of the Navy, sent a reconnaissance party of four officers
A Point Barrow Supply Train
Seabees use a D-8 to haul supplies to Umiat, February 1945
into the reserve for investigations concerning the various problems which would be encountered if a drilling program were to be undertaken. In June 1944, two officers and five enlisted men were flown to Barrow to make surveys on which to base the choice of drilling locations.
In August 1944, Seabee Detachment 1058, a petroleum unit consisting of 181 men and 15 officers, debarked at Barrow with 8000 tons of drilling and arctic equipment. The detachment carried sufficient supplies to maintain operations without reinforcement for a 12-month period. Contact with the unit was maintained by plane and radio. Work was begun immediately on the erection of a camp for shelter and construction of an airstrip for Naval Air Transport Service, which was to serve the operation.
The operation during the first year consisted primarily of the surface geological work, the coring operations throughout the reserve, and the drilling of test wells.
The crux of the petroleum exploration problem in the Arctic region was transportation, primarily tractor train and air. Adequate air support was essential. High priority was given to the construction of the airstrip at Barrow and to the planning of a second strip at Umiat, on the Coleville River, which had been selected as the site for the first test well.
The second phase of the mission proved most difficult. This involved the tractor-train operations over the 330 miles of snow and ice from Barrow to Umiat. The expedition had arrived at Barrow during mid-summer in order to take advantage of the fact that the port would be free of ice. Mapping of the roadless, trackless wilderness between Barrow and Umiat revealed that many streams and swamps had to be crossed. This could be accomplished only when the ground was frozen and the ice thick enough to support the tractors and the sled-loads of heavy equipment. Hence, the movement to Umiat could not begin until January 1945.
The first tractor train carried a cargo of airfield construction equipment, a dragline, two pans, a grader, and accessory equipment, as well as food and miscellaneous supplies and fuel. The train consisted of four tractors with a bulldozer in front and twenty bobsleds behind. By means of house sleds, called wannigans, travel was able to be continued, day and night, without interruption. The wannigans were used as living quarters, portable machine shops, radio stations, mess shacks, and provision storehouses. A snow jeep preceded the train; difficult crossings were examined by Army
scouts on dog sleds; and an air-jeep constantly guarded the train. Radio communications were maintained with the various units of the train, Point Barrow, and Umiat.
After completion of the first trip, the tractors and one wannigan returned to Barrow to begin carrying in the heavier pieces of drilling equipment, and as much fuel as was practicable for the construction of the airfield. By June, three trips had been made between Barrow and Umiat. For the thousand miles covered the average speed was only slightly more than one mile an hour.
During the summer of 1945, the well at Umiat was drilled to a depth of 1,816 feet. At the same time, construction of an airstrip was begun. Extensive reconnaissance surveys were made to determine the route for a proposed pipe line from Umiat to Fairbanks, and preparations were made to shift the scene of operations to a new location following the completion of drilling operations at Umiat.
Geological and geophysical investigations continued to be carried on at Umiat and Simpson, and an additional 17,000 tons of equipment and supplies were unloaded at Barrow.
On January 13, 1945, NATS was directed by the Chief of Naval Operations to provide air support of the expedition both to and within the reserve. By March, the back log of air cargo at Fairbanks had been completely eliminated. A great deal of light-plane service within the reserve was required for support of Umiat and Simpson, of the tractor trains to Umiat, for ice patrol, and the support of the several geological parties. Two commercial planes furnished light-plane support by flying fuel and supplies to a radio aid station at Umiat.
V-J Day, however, and its accompanying de-mobilization program made necessary a shift from the use of military personnel to employment of civilian contractors.
CBD 1058 was inactivated on March 1, 1946, and three civilian companies were selected to continue the explorations, merged under the title of Arctic Contractors. Future operations were to be carried out under a civilian contract which was to cost $2,125,000. The Seabee camp site and all naval equipment and materials connected with the operation were inventoried, given a computed value of $1,175,000, and turned over to the contractors.
The Director of Naval Petroleum Reserves was given general cognizance of naval petroleum reserves under the Secretary of the Navy, and was to define the scope of the exploratory program.
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