Chapter III
Wartime Organization and Growth of the Bureau of Yards and Docks
and the Civil Engineer Corps

Part I -- Bureau Organization

Supervision and management of the work of the Bureau of Yards and Docks under the tremendous expansion outlined in the preceding chapter imposed many problems of the Bureau organization and the Civil Engineer Corps. A short time before the Limited National Emergency was declared in 1939, there were fewer than 200 persons in the Bureau of Yards and Docks in Washington. By December 1941, the number had passed one thousand, including military personnel employed in Washington. Almost 2,000 were employed by August 1944; the number dropped to about 1,750 in August 1945.

Under normal peacetime conditions the volume of work was fairly constant, and the deliberate process of obtaining an appropriation gave ample time for thorough study and preparation of plans. Appropriations for only a few new projects were made each fiscal year. Although some of these projects were of considerable magnitude, it was possible for the Chief of the Bureau to keep in close touch with all current undertakings. During the years that intervened between the end of World War I and the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, the administrative organization of the Bureau remained practically unchanged. Comparison of the Bureau in 1921 with the Bureau in 1938 shows only minor changes; the addition of three sections (War Plans, Shore Establishments, and WPA Projects) and the merging of two earlier sections (Submarine Base, and Drydocks and Research) into one, the Fleet, Yard, and Base Facilities Section. In 1921, there were twelve subdivisions in the Bureau, and in 1938, there were fourteen. In the functioning of the pre-war organization, each construction job under the cognizance of the Bureau of Yards and Docks was assigned to a project manager, who was responsible for its progress from inception to completion. These project managers consulted with the operating bureaus of the Navy to determine requirements, and utilized the services of other divisions and sections within the Bureau of Yards and Docks in order to fulfill those requirements within the limits of the funds available.

Each project manager was head of a section specializing in work of one or more types, and the assignment of a project was determined by the kind of work principally involved. For example, the construction of a hangar was assigned to the project manager heading the Aviation Facilities Section.

In carrying out the planning, design, and execution of a project the project manager was expected to utilize the services of such other sections and divisions in the Bureau of Yards and Docks as might be applicable. Thus, he would obtain an allotment of funds from the Maintenance and Operating Division; he would request the Design Division to prepare detailed plans and specifications; he would turn over to the Contract Division the details of advertising for bids and awarding a contract; and he would make use of the field representatives of the Bureau of Yards and Docks to supervise the actual construction operation. The project manager kept the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks informed of the progress of the various projects in his section, and he consulted with him regarding the technical details of any unusual or outstanding work.

Reorganization Study. -- This procedure worked satisfactorily during the years when the volume of Bureau of Yards and Docks work was fairly stable


and during the first spurt of National Defense activity. As the amount of construction continued to increase, however, it became more and more evident that the old form of organization was not suitable for the greatly increased volume of work involved. For one thing, the practice of having project managers, as well as other division heads, report directly to the Chief of Bureau was becoming cumbersome. Some reorganization was advisable. In 1940, Admiral Moreell initiated action which brought a management engineering company in to make a study of Bureau organization for the purpose of suggesting changes in administrative methods that would make for greater efficiency. Subsequently, other bureaus and offices obtained similar advice.

The result of the study and of further study by Bureau officers was the organization on December 1, 1941, of the Bureau of Yards and Docks into five departments; Administration and Personnel, Progress Control and Statistics, Finance and Operating, Planning and Design, and Construction. Later, as the war progressed and the Seabees began to perform a great amount of construction work in advance areas, a sixth department, the Advance Base Department, was organized on January 5, 1944.

Each department was placed in charge of a director, who was a senior officer of the Civil Engineer Corps. Each was subdivided into divisions dealing with specific aspects of the work. The divisions, in turn, were subdivided into sections and sub-sections. The directors of departments, together with the Assistant Chief of the Bureau, comprised an advisory council to the Chief. The system retained the project-manager method of handling construction but the project managers no longer reported directly to the Chief of Bureau.

The plan provided ample flexibility. As the work of the Bureau of Yards and Docks continued to grow in amount and complexity, it was easy to divide, to rearrange, and to reclassify divisions, sections, and sub-sections as might be advisable.

Departmental Functions

Administration and Personnel Department. -- The Administration and Personnel Department had cognizance of general administrative and personnel activities of the Bureau of Yards and Docks in Washington and, to a certain extent, in the field.

The Administration and Civil Personnel Division performed administrative and clerical work not assigned elsewhere in the Bureau. This division handled mail, had cognizance of central files, provided messenger service, supervised printing, recruited civilian personnel, and operated a typing pool.

Records of the officers of the Civil Engineer Corps, and other officers under Bureau of Yards and Docks cognizance were maintained by the Naval Personnel and Records Division. All enlisted personnel matters, including WAVES records and discipline, were also under the cognizance of this division.

The Labor Relations Division handled labor matters affecting Bureau of Yards and Docks contracts. Some of its problems are further discussed in Chapter 4.

The Contract and Liaison Division collected data on contractors, architects, and engineers seeking Navy negotiated lump-sum and Cost-Plus-a-Fixed Fee contracts in the Bureau. It maintained, classified, analyzed, and filed qualifying data on these firms. This division initiated and supervised Bureau security measures, issued periodic listings of Bureau personnel, a roster of officers, and other lists and bills pertinent to the operation of the Bureau.

At the time of the authorization of the construction battalions, four divisions were set up in the Administration and personnel Department. These were: Construction Battalion Recruiting Division, Construction Battalion Operation and Personnel Division, Construction Battalion Training and Inspection Division, and Construction Battalion Material Division.

The Construction Battalion Operation and Personnel Division was established to expedite Seabee enlistments through meetings, publications, and other forms of publicity. This division also kept records of, and set standards for, Seabee ratings. This division ceased to operate in August of 1944, when the recruiting program ended. From that time on, new Seabees were handled through the Bureau of Naval Personnel, and the battalion rosters were replenished by inductees.

The Construction Battalion Operation and Personnel Division was first organized in the Bureau; later, it was transferred to the Bureau of Naval Personnel. The functions of this division were to establish complements for the battalions, handle movement and formation, maintain schedules of training and readiness dates, and handle records


Pearl Harbor Headquarters of Cincpac (Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet)
Pearl Harbor Headquarters of Cincpac (Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet)

of promotion recommendations and maintain liaison on rating and promotion of enlisted personnel.

The work of the Construction Battalion Training and Inspection Division included the establishment of training policies, inspection, supervision, and direction of Seabee training activities. The division also established the policies for inspection of Seabee units in the field, and it disseminated inspection reports initiating policy and administrative action to correct defects and effect improvements. This division was transferred to the Bureau of Naval Personnel in July of 1944. Although the two divisions which were transferred to the Bureau of Naval Personnel became integral parts of that bureau, they were manned by officers of the Civil Engineer Corps and they cooperated closely with the Bureau of Yards and Docks.

Last of the Seabee divisions was the Construction Battalion Material Division, which was charged with handling administrative and policy matters in connection with equipping, outfitting, and refitting construction battalions for duty overseas. Later, the division was divided between the Advance Base Department and the Planning and Design Department.

Other divisions of the Administration and Personnel Department were the Legislative and Information Division, and the Departmental Buildings Maintenance and Repair Division. The latter handled the alterations, structural changes, and maintenance of space, together with design, coordination, and direction of construction of additional buildings occupied by the Navy Department in Washington and contiguous areas, and maintained liaison with the Washington navy Yard and the Public Buildings Administration. Ultimately, the division was transferred to the Administrative Office of the Secretary.

Progress Control and Statistical Department. -- The Progress Control and Statistical Department had cognizance of Bureau activities relating to accounting and auditing, progress reports, and the handling of priorities and allocations for critical


Bureau of Yards and Docks Annex, Washington, D.C.
Bureau of Yards and Docks Annex, Washington, D.C.
In July 1945, the Bureau moved from the main Navy Department buildings on Constitution Avenue
into this temporary building which it had built in Arlington Farms, Virginia.

material and equipment, the use of equipment on construction contracts, the handling of surplus materials and equipment, and liaison on contract terminations. (This work is discussed in detail in Chapter 4.)

The Priorities and Allocations Division was responsible for assisting in procuring materials and products. It handled the priority ratings and allocations for materials and equipment, for both contractors and public works departments. It also handled the processing of applications for out-of-line and emergency priority ratings. An important job of this division was the procurement of shipping space, both rail and water.

The Accounting and Auditing Division developed policies and procedures for financial control of the cost-plus-fixed-fee contracts, and it had cognizance over the issuance and revision of the manual of accounting for cost-plus-fixed-fee contracts. It also provided field service to assist contractors and the officers in charge of construction in the organization of administrative and audit systems. It also handled exceptions taken on Bureau war contracts by the General Accounting Office.

The Bureau of Yards and Docks maintained a Material Requirements Division in New York. This division was responsible for forecasting Bureau requirements for materials included in the Controlled Materials Plan of the War Production Board. It also prepared allotments of controlled materials to yards and stations, contractors, and privately financed projects of interest to the Navy.

The Scheduling Division of the Progress Control and Statistical Department was charged with the duty of scheduling Bureau requirements for critical common components allocated by the War Production Board.

The Equipment Division passed upon and approved rental schedules covering the use of contractor-owned or controlled equipment and rented equipment on CPFF contracts.

The Surplus Materials and Equipment Division redistributed government-owned materials and equipment to other naval activities, the Army, and other government agencies. This division also had cognizance of declaring materials and equipment surplus and of designating disposal.

Finance and Operating Department. -- The Finance and Operating Department allocated and accounted for funds under the control of the Bureau, prepared the annual budget, negotiated contracts, and acquired real estate needed for naval purposes.


Organization of Bureau of Yards and Docks, June 1, 1944

Fig. 3 -- Organization of Bureau of Yards and Docks, June 1, 1944

The Maintenance, Operating and Budget Division allotted funds for specific purposes. It maintained account of funds expended for other bureaus and agencies. The division also prepared the financial reports and kept progress records on force-account work. It was charged with transferring surplus property, which included transfer from one contract to another, from contract to advance base depots, from one station to another, and from station to advance base depots. It kept a record of appropriations, allocations, and allotments of funds under the cognizance of the Bureau, and assembled data for the annual budget. This division also received requests for, investigated, and procured railroad cars, locomotive and traveling cranes, printing equipment, and other utilities equipment.

The Real Estate Division assisted and advised on the selection of sites for naval use, procured surveys, prepared legal descriptions, and conducted purchase and lease negotiations. In the acquisition of property, this division was also charged with disposal of surplus real property. (Its problems are further discussed in Chapter 4.)

The Contract Division supervised all matters pertaining to the contractual relations of the Bureau, including preparation of contracts, supplemental agreements, and change orders; supervision of contractual matters during construction; action on vouchers for payment; consideration of proposed changes in contracts; settlement of contracts; and assignment of contract numbers. (A detailed discussion of contracts is presented in Chapter 4.)

The Board for Contract Awards recommended to the contracting officer the fee for cost-plus-fixed-fee contracts and supplemental agreements and change orders thereon and the amount of negotiated lump-sum contracts and supplemental agreements and change orders thereon.

The Conservation Division was charged with making studies, investigations, and surveys of all operations under the Bureau's direction, with a view to recommending, through the cognizant Bureau division, measures designed to effect economies in the utilization of manpower, equipment, materials, and services. The amount estimated to have been saved by this division's activities for the four years, 1942 through 1945, was $775,000,000.

The Civil Works Division was charged with coordination and administration of the civil works field inspectional service, and other matters pertaining to the inspection, maintenance, and repair of civil works and related government-owned property for which the services of the Bureau had been requested. Civil works comprised industrial plant facilities built by the Navy to accommodate private manufacture of war products, such as ships, shells, and aircraft. (Further discussion of civil works will be found in Chapter 16.)

Planning and Design Department. -- The Planning and Design Department analyzed the needs of the Navy for shore facilities, prepared plans and specifications for the construction of authorized projects as requested by the Construction Department, and conducted research into materials and methods used in construction. This department employed more civilians than any other Bureau department.

The War Plans Division, later transferred to the Advance Base Department, developed plans, materials, and equipment for advance-area construction. Development included pontoon gear, quonset huts, and other equipment needed for the overseas construction program of the Bureau.

The planning for station development was carried on by the Planning Division, which was charged with collecting data and preparing schematic studies for additional facilities at continental shore establishments. It made special reports and analyses and studied the long-range planning of public works and the requirements for berthing the vessels of the inactive reserve fleet in the post-war period, In January 1944 the duties of this division were broadened to include compilation of information on physical characteristics, resources, and facilities of occupied and enemy territory pertinent to construction work under cognizance of the Bureau; preparation of schematic layouts for specific advance bases; and logistic studies in connection with planning of military and naval operations.

The Design Division, which employed the largest number of professional men in the Bureau, evolved the engineering standards, covering Bureau design and construction and prepared plans and specifications for specific projects as assigned. The division also reviewed plans and specifications prepared by local public works officers and by architect-engineers.

The Research and Records Division of the Planning


and Design Department maintained contact for the Bureau with research activities of other governmental agencies and private research laboratories. It made quantity and cost surveys in various geographical locations. The division maintained the Bureau's library, photographic records, and photographic laboratory.

The Historical Division was established as a division late in 1944. Previously, its head had been designated a special assistant to the director of the Planning and Design Department. It was charged with collecting, organizing, and preparing for publication the story of the Bureau's part in the war. For the pictorial part of this record, a photographer was assigned o take pictures of significant work carried on by the Bureau both in continental United States and overseas.

Construction Department. -- The Construction Department was responsible for carrying through, from start to finish, including the selection of architectural engineers and construction contractors, all construction projects under the Bureau's cognizance except those initiated and carried out at advance bases by Seabee organizations. Thus, it administered the great wartime program of construction projects, utilizing the well-established pre-war functions of the project manager. Its division heads conferred with other bureaus and offices in the Navy Department to determine requirements, and utilized the services of other departments within the Bureau of Yards and Docks in order to meet those requirements.

The Fleet and Industrial Facilities Division had cognizance of projects such as navy yard repair facilities, graving docks and floating drydocks, including construction and outfitting (and the training of operating personnel for floating drydocks); marine railways; and fleet, destroyer, submarine, and section bases. It also was in charge of weight-handling equipment, civil works construction performed by the Bureau of Ships, and mooring and harbor facilities. On March 14, 1946, this division was divided into two main sections: Dry Docking Facilities, and Fleet and Industrial Facilities.

The Aviation Facilities Division had supervision over all matters of construction at air stations, including lighter-than-air stations, Marine Corps air stations, and air training stations and bases. The division approved estimates and reviewed plans and specifications on civil works projects for the Bureau of Aeronautics, and also collaborated with that Bureau in site selection and the planning of aviation facilities. This division also supervised bolt-tightening contracts for the wooden structures for all stations, and conducted evaluation surveys of load capacities of Navy air station runways.

The Power Division had cognizance of power plants of the naval shore establishments. It computed requirements and supervised construction of power and heating plants, and interconnected Navy power systems with outside utilities systems. It had cognizance of mobile power units and general mechanical and electrical work, including telephone and fire-alarm systems. On March 14, 1946, the functions of the Water Supply and Sanitation Section, also the Fire Protection Division, were transferred to this division, which was then redesignated as the Power and Utility Division. Under Presidential directive, this division had full responsibility for procurement of power for all naval activities and for liaison with the Federal Power Commission in connection with this duty. The review of existing and proposed power contracts during the period, November 12, 1942 to March 1, 1946, resulted in annual savings in rates of $1,445,900 and savings in facility charges and other non-recurring items of $692,770.

The Radio, Marine Corps, and Storage Division handled the construction of shore radio facilities for the Bureau of Ships and the Office of Communications; also, all construction work at the Naval Research Laboratory and Marine Corps establishments. The Water Supply and Sanitation Section of this division furnished technical advice to other divisions and, in addition, handled large projects of this category. The division also had charge of the construction of fuel and general storage facilities for the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, and conducted original research into matters of prestressed concrete design and fuel fire protection.

The WPA, Community Facilities, and Access Roads Division, the division of the Bureau that had control of the low-cost housing projects at the various naval stations, also had cognizance of access roads, and maintained liaison with other agencies regarding work of interest to the Navy performed by those agencies. The remaining functions of this division were transferred on March 14, 1946 to the Finance and Operating Department.

The Ordnance and Personnel Structures Division had cognizance over ammunition storage facilities, including civil works contracts, and structures for


Personnel of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, September 1945
Personnel of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, September 1945

Bureau of Naval Personnel stations, including the War College, the Naval Academy, and the Naval Home. On November 22, 1943, this division became two divisions, the Ordnance Division and the Personnel Structures Division. On March 14, 1946, the Personnel Structures Division was combined with the Hospital Division.

The Hospital Division handled the construction and equipment of hospitals, dispensaries, and medical supply storehouses.

The Overseas Base Division was established on March 1, 1946, by transfer of material procurement and control functions from the Advance Base Department, which was disestablished on that date. This division was established also to be responsible for coordinating all overseas work in which other divisions had a primary interest.

The Fire Protection Division inspected and reported on naval shore establishments with respect to fire protection, fire prevention, and fire-fighting facilities. It reviewed plans for new construction to eliminate fire hazards and made appropriate recommendations to other divisions, which handled the contracts.

Advance Base Department. -- The Advance Base Department maintained liaison with the Chief of Naval Operations and other bureaus on advance base matters. This department made schematic studies of advance base layouts, developed new types of gear for advance base construction and operation, procured, tested, and shipped advance depots at Davisville, R.I., Port Hueneme, Calif., Gulfport, Miss., and Tacoma, Wash. (These depots are discussed in Chapter 5.)

The Administrative Division maintained financial records of allotments and commitments, including allotments of public works funds for construction battalions.

The Requirements and Liaison Division estimated the requirements of advance base materials and prepared the advance base drawings and allowance lists for all functional components. This division also maintained liaison with the Chief of Naval Operations regarding advance base matters.

The procurement of materials, although it was actually done at Chicago, was directed from the Bureau by the Materials Division of the Advance Base Department. Other functions of this division included controlling the distribution of materials to the advance base depots, directing shipment from the depots, and maintaining records of the availability of materials. (Further discussion of procurement procedure will be found in Chapter 5.)

The Development and Research Division developed and improved advance base materials and equipment. It also collected information on the many problems that confronted the battalions in their work in advance areas.

The Field Activities Division correlated and standardized procedures among the Chicago procurement office, the depots, and the area directors.

Chief Planning Officer. -- In November 1944, the office of Chief Planning Officer was established in the Bureau of Yards and Docks. The duties of the Chief Planning Officer were to direct and coordinate all planning of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, including all planning in connection with continental public works and advance base development, post-war plans, war plans, logistics, and personnel plans. He maintained liaison and consulted with high-level planners of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Chief of Naval Operations, and other bureaus and offices; he inspected the shore establishment in connection with the formulation of plans; and he consulted with the Superintending Civil Engineers, the Area Directors, and the directors of the Bureau's departments, on matters under their respective cognizance.

Chief Inspector. -- The Chief Inspector maintained continuous scrutiny of all organizations under the cognizance of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, for the purpose of determining the adequacy of public works organizations and the matériel to insure the proper functioning of such organizations, and to make sure that changes of organization were made as needed to meet changing requirements. He maintained contact between the Bureau of Yards and Docks, and the Superintending Civil Engineers and the Area Directors, and he made special inspections as directed by the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks. Pursuant to a General Order, he was assigned duties as General Inspector for the Bureau and additional duties, as required, for the Naval Inspector General.

Both the Chief Inspector and the Chief Planning Officer were Rear Admirals in the Civil Engineer Corps.

WAVES. -- The Bureau of Yards and Docks, like all other continental activities, used many officers and enlisted personnel of the WAVES. The women occupied clerical, administrative, and fiscal positions


Classroom Buildings in the CEC Officer Training Area, Davisville, R.I.
Classroom Buildings in the CEC Officer Training Area, Davisville, R.I.

in the Bureau, releasing enlisted men and male officers for technical and advance base duties. One Bureau WAVE officer was also a civil engineer enrolled in the Civil Engineer Corps.

Field Organization

Need for Expansion. -- The work of the Bureau of Yards and Docks was carried on in many places throughout the world; hence, many representatives were needed in the field. The organization in Washington was responsible for the general administration and coordination of the work; for procurement of funds and their allocation to specific projects and purposes; for suitability and adequacy of planning and design; and for award of construction contracts. The primary function of the field officers was supervision, although they participated in planning and design work and in the award of contracts. At first, contracts were awarded by the Chief of the Bureau, on the recommendations of the officer in charge of construction, who also performed many design and specification assignments with his own staff and by the employment of architect-engineers. Later, officers in charge of construction were authorized to award and to execute contracts, within delegated limits.

Before the war, annual appropriations for the Bureau were voted by Congress in two major categories: (1) "Maintenance, Bureau of Yards and Docks," which included the general upkeep, repair, and operation of existing public works and public utilities under the Bureau's cognizance; and (2) "Public Works, Bureau of Yards and Docks," which embraced new construction. There also was a relatively small contingency fund, available to meet unforeseen emergencies such as fire and flood damage to the shore establishments. In addition, funds were frequently transferred by other bureaus for the accomplishment of specific projects.

The size of the various pre-war public works field organizations was determined largely by the volume of work covered by maintenance allotments; such new construction as was assigned to each station being handled in most cases as a temporary overload.

Supervision and inspection of construction contracts was handed by the field organization.

The design for new installations was the responsibility


of the Bureau in Washington. However, because of the fact that officers in the field were thoroughly familiar with the purpose and need for each structure and the local conditions that might affect construction, close liaison was maintained between the Bureau and the field during the design process. Field participation varied in degree, from simple comments regarding the general features and location to the actual preparation of plans and specifications. In the pre-war period a few of the larger yards and stations handled all of their own design work.

The approach of war brought many changes to this system. More intensive use of existing facilities increased the repair, maintenance, and operating responsibility of the field organizations. The volume of new construction was extended beyond any previous experience. Appropriation procedures were streamlined; no longer did months, or even years, elapse between the conception of a needed project and the provision of funds. A great many entirely new stations were built at locations where there had been no naval establishment. Speed in completing urgently needed facilities was of the utmost importance, and the wide use of the negotiated cost-plus-fixed-fee contract imposed much work and heavy responsibility upon field officers supervising construction.

Under such circumstances, it was impossible to maintain in Washington the close control over planning, design, and construction of all public works projects that had previously obtained.

The solution adopted was that of decentralizing authority to the greatest extent practical while still retaining in the Bureau cognizance over unusual and difficult problems. Both in Washington and in the field, wide use was made of established civilian architectural and engineering organizations for the preparation of detailed plans and specifications.

Officer in Charge of Construction. -- Officers of the Civil Engineer Corps, designated direct representatives of the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks on all construction contracts, were usually called the Officer in Charge of Construction. In many cases, they were also the Public Works Officers of naval districts, navy yards, or other naval stations. In the case of a large new activity which was not yet commissioned, an officer of the Civil Engineer Corps was designated Officer in Charge of Construction. In such a situation, he performed no public works duties for a local command. The Officer in Charge of Construction had full responsibility for all matters pertaining to construction, including, when so directed by the Bureau, the preparation of plans and specifications and the negotiating and award of contracts.

Superintending Civil Engineer. -- Decentralization was further accomplished by the establishment of the area Superintending Civil Engineer offices. The Superintending Civil Engineer was a senior officer of the Civil Engineer Corps, who acted as a direct representative of the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks. The Secretary of the Navy on March 31, 1942, established the offices of the Superintending Civil Engineers, in a letter which read, in part, as follows:

In order to expedite the construction of all public works and public utilities, including facilities for naval production designated as "Civil Works," and in furtherance of the policy of decentralization in the interest of speed of accomplishment, the Secretary of the Navy has authorized the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks to establish offices of Superintending Civil Engineers in certain areas of the continental United States.

Seven areas were designated. In some cases, more than one area was assigned to a Superintending Civil Engineer.

The letter continued:

The Superintending Civil Engineer in each area will be the representative of the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks on all maters relating to any new construction. The Superintending Civil Engineer will report directly to the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks.

In general, it shall be the function of the Superintending Civil Engineer to expedite the construction of all Public Works and Public Utilities to the greatest practicable extent, with due regard to quality and cost of construction.

To carry out the provision of the letter's first paragraph, one of the first assignments of the Superintending Civil Engineer's offices was to assume cognizance of the Bureau's expediting activities, already set up in January 1942.

In June 1942, shortly after the Superintending Civil Engineer offices were set up, a conference of the Superintending Civil Engineers was held. The status of the Superintending Civil Engineer offices was clarified in a Bureau circular letter1, as follows:

The Superintending Civil Engineers are attached to no field activities. They are direct representatives of the Bureau in their respective areas. They have the full authority to act on behalf of the Chief of the Bureau in exactly the


same manner as though they had left the Bureau and gone to a station or activity directly to confer or consult with the Officer-in-Charge or other representative on any or all official matters.

The Superintending Civil Engineer is available to the field forces in his area for consultation, advice and as much assistance as he may be able to render. General matters of administration of contracts and field operation should be, as in the past, handled directly between the field activity and the Bureau, and routine administrative matters should not be referred to the Superintending Civil Engineer. Emergency or spot decisions and advice should be requested of the Superintending Civil Engineer by a field activity when expediency and urgency require.

The letter stated further that Superintending Civil Engineer offices would render assistance in the local adjustment of labor controversies.

When, in the middle of 1943, the pressure of wartime construction relaxed sufficiently to allow the Bureau of Yards and Docks to transfer the bulk of its construction from cost-plus-fixed-fee to lump-sum contracts, Superintending Civil Engineers were charged with expediting the preparation of plans and specifications for the new jobs. They checked to make sure Officers in Charge of Construction were adequately staffed to make plans and specifications, and they provided a consulting service where it was needed for those new jobs. In connection with close-out procedures on cost-plus-fixed-fee contracts the Superintending Civil Engineers assisted in expediting technical reports and completion reports. Another function which arose in this connection was the disposal of surplus material. Representatives of the Superintending Civil Engineers determined where government-owned surplus materials, tools, and equipment from the closed-out contracts should go.

In August 1943, a sanitary engineer officer of the Civil Engineer Corps was assigned to each Superintending Civil Engineer's office. His duties were to advise officers in charge of construction in the planning of sanitary facilities and to review plans and construction of those facilities. During this same month of Superintending Civil Engineers were directed to set up civil works sections for the purpose of safeguarding the Navy's investment in civil works -- primarily industrial plants built under Navy supervision for operation by private organizations in the manufacture of naval material. This section's duty was to visit the plants and furnish inspection services and technical advice as required. Other special services included fire protection inspection and power plant consultation.

In addition, the Superintending Civil Engineer offices conducted engineering studies as assigned by the Chief of the Bureau. They also maintained contact with other governmental agencies in their respective areas on construction activities in which both the Navy and the other organizations were interested.

Area Directors. -- Overseas operations of the Bureau of Yards and Docks closely related to combat activities were directed by divisions of the Bureau set up for that purpose. Originally there were three divisions. The Atlantic Division, with headquarters in London and Washington, had charge of activities in the Atlantic, Caribbean, African, and Mediterranean areas, and in the British Isles. The Pacific Division, with headquarters in San Francisco and Honolulu, had charge of activities in the Pacific Ocean areas. The Alaskan Division, with headquarters in Seattle, had charge of activities in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. The Pacific Division later was divided into two divisions, the Eastern Pacific and the Western Pacific. Headquarters for the former remained at San Francisco and Honolulu. Headquarters for the latter were established at Guam. The Western Pacific Division handled work west of Longitude 165° West. The directors of these divisions had additional duties on the staffs of the fleet commanders operating in their areas; thus, they maintained close liaison, to ensure maximum shore construction support for fleet activities.

After the surrender of Japan, the reduction in civilian personnel kept pace with the Navy demobilization program. On June 30, 1945, there were 1,211 civilian employees in the Bureau and more than 24,000 in field activities under the direct jurisdiction of the Bureau, most of them at the four advance base depots. More than 10,000 of them were at Port Hueneme. One year later, these figures had been reduced to 895 at the Bureau and 5,800 in the field, 5,000 being at Port Hueneme.


Military Personnel of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, September 1945
Military Personnel of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, September 1945

Part II -- Civil Engineer Corps

The difference in the numbers of Civil Engineer Corps officers called to duty in World War II, as contrasted with World War I, was marked -- a maximum of 209 were on duty in 1918, compared with 10,186 in 1945. One reason for the difference in ratios was the fact that a significant portion of World War II construction was performed under combat conditions at advance bases where non-military technical and supervisory assistance could not be used. Hence, many CEC officers were required for types of work which previously had been performed by civilians. Although other new activities also required the services of uniformed civil engineers, an important factor contributing to wartime CEC growth was the expansion of the shore establishment which required the civil engineer's traditional services, contract administration and station administration.

During the years after World War I, there was little call for a large organization of engineers; construction of new facilities was practically at a standstill, and maintenance costs were kept to a minimum. The Bureau continued to function with the majority of its employees as civilians. By the end of the fiscal year 1939, the Corps comprised only 126 regular officers, though 33 reserve officers had been called to active duty.

The nature of the work performed by the Bureau required a general engineering education rather than specialization; duty assignments ranged from design and broad planning in the Bureau to administration, inspection, and maintenance in the field.

Field activities. -- The only field positions requiring Civil Engineer Corps officers at the beginning of the period of limited national emergency were those of Public Works Officers and certain members of their staffs. The staff of each naval district included a civil engineer as the District Public Works Officer, who was charged, under the Commandant, with the administration, inspection, supervision, and direction of all naval public works activities within the district, except those at established stations where a separate Public Works Officer was assigned.

As the number and size of stations increased during the period of national defense and war, Civil Engineer Corps officers were assigned to more and more stations as Public Works Officers; more Civil Engineer Corps officers were assigned to the staffs of Public Works Officers. The creation of the post of Officer in Charge of Construction increased the demand for Civil Engineer Corps officers. District Public Works Officers who were assigned additional duties as Officers in Charge of Construction contracts at numerous stations in their districts needed officers to act as resident officers in charge of construction and to provide other assistance in contract administration. Additional officers were needed to staff the contract administrative operations at large new stations.

During the period of National Defense, contract work under Officers in Charge of Construction took place outside the United States as well as within its limits. Skilled laborers and technicians were transported to the United Kingdom, West Africa, South America, Iceland, and numerous other places where, under the supervision of Civil Engineer Corps officers, they built advance bases from which our fleet and men operated.

Seabees. -- The type of duty in which a great number of Civil Engineer Corps officers served in an unprecedented manner was that with the Seabees. Many officers, brought into the Corps from civil life at the beginning of the war, were immediately assigned to construction battalions. The battalions provided a new function for the Corps, one which emerged almost full grown immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor and one which demanded a great number of officers and trained, experienced "know-how", can-do" men. (Seabee organization and training are discussed in Chapter 6.)

In the construction battalions of World War II, Civil Engineer Corps officers became military officers as well as construction officers. Each battalion sent out to the field had as its senior officer a lieutenant-commander of the Corps. According to a letter signed by the Secretary of the Navy on March 19, 1942, the senior officer's authority extended


over all officers and men assigned to the battalion. This was designed to centralize military and construction control. Seabee officers and many of the men were selected for their ability to direct construction operations.

The executive officer and officers in charge of the four companies constituting a battalion held the rank of lieutenant, each company commander having a lieutenant (junior grade) and an ensign as assistants. The headquarters company was directed by a junior officer, who was responsible for the administration and maintenance of the camp. Five warrant officers and the medical and disbursing staffs completed the officer personnel roster.

As the bases grew in number and size the shipment of materials in necessary quantities proved a major problem. At first, available native labor and enlisted units were able to cope with the unloading and disposition of equipment, but a backlog soon developed that became unmanageable. Stevedoring battalions, designated "Special," were formed, and stevedoring experts and men of other background were commissioned in the Corps to staff these battalions.

Another activity which used Civil Engineer Corps officers was underwater demolition. This activity, however, was taken over by the amphibious forces early in the war. The officers in charge of these crews, like the men, were volunteers. Teams, made up of five men and one officer, trained and worked together. In combat they stole ashore in advance of the first assault groups, to blast or otherwise clear the way for ships and men.

Officer procurement. -- Though obtaining officers quickly and in great numbers was of utmost importance throughout the war expansion program, it was deemed essential that any men procured to swell the ranks of the Corps be well trained. Preferably they should have had some experience in the field and in the supervision of construction forces. It was hoped that some would also be familiar with extra-continental work and military organization, though this was not considered a requisite. Men were selected from contractors' organizations, oil and steel companies, public utilities, and state highways departments. For the most part, they were engineers experienced in modern construction practices. An attempt was made to assign to the battalions only men with actual field construction experience rather than those who had been employed in offices on design and related work. As battalions increased in number and the number of available qualified officers decreased, warrants were established, the first one being selected in April 1942. Many without technical degrees but otherwise well qualified by experience were given commissioned ranks commensurate with their age and experience.

Officer Training

Beginnings at Camps Allen and Peary. -- The first Reserve officers sworn in were shipped immediately to their posts, so urgent was the demand. Formal Navy training for these officers was conducted by the use of correspondence courses, which were completed in extra hours while the officers were performing their regular duties. As the tension eased, the beginnings of a Civil Engineer Corps officer-training program were developed. Officers assigned to construction battalions trained for a short time at Camp Allen, Norfolk, Va., then they accompanied their men to Camp Bradford at Little Creek, Va., where a station had been set up to represent an advance base site, especially for the training of Seabees.

The practice of training at Camps Allen and Bradford continued until early 1943, when the CEC officers' training program was transferred to Camp Peary, Williamsburg, Va. At Camp Peary, several special courses were created, and the time for "orientation," which corresponded to the indoctrination course at Camp Allen, became five weeks.

The principal functions of the Officers' Training School at Camp Peary were: (a) To indoctrinate officers who were reporting for active duty: (b) to orient these new officers in Seabee or Public Works duties depending upon which category of duty was to follow the course; (c) to re-orient and familiarize officers under change-of-station orders with the rapidly developing new methods, procedures, equipment, and techniques. Special subjects, including camouflage, soil mechanics, stevedoring, and chemical warfare, supplemented the regular courses.

The object of the indoctrination course was to give newly commissioned officers a basic knowledge of naval customs, usage, and nomenclature, in military law, hygiene, and infantry drill, and the special construction equipment used by construction


Dedication of U.S. Naval Construction Training Center, Camp Endicott, Davisville, R.I.
Dedication of U.S. Naval Construction Training Center, Camp Endicott, Davisville, R.I.

battalions. After finishing the indoctrination course, and possibly one or more of the special courses, officers received training in handling recruits for several weeks before they were assigned to regularly organized battalions.

The school, located on a site several miles from the main part of Camp Peary, was practically a self-contained unit, under an officer in charge who reported direct to the commanding officer of the Naval Construction Training Center. It had its own rifle range, dispensary, galley and mess halls, tailor and barber shops, ship's service store, and recreation facilities.

In May 1943, a public works course was formed to train the officers who were being assigned to duties in the expanded public works and maintenance departments of the naval establishment. This course consisted of two parts:

This public works training had as a prerequisite the orientation course at Camp Peary, or its equivalent.


Headquarters of the CEC Officers School, Davisville
Headquarters of the CEC Officers School, Davisville

In March 1944, a midshipmen school was formed under the officer in charge of officer training at Camp Peary. This school was established to supplement the supply of CEC officers obtained by direct commissioning for the construction battalions and public works billets. The first class, which reported March 6, 1944, was given a two-months course. The enrollment was 189, and the trainees were engineers from the Naval V12 and ROTC schools. During the first month of the course, the trainees were enrolled as apprentice seamen; during the second month they were midshipmen; and at the end of the two months course they were commissioned ensigns in the Civil Engineer Corps Reserve.

Seven midshipmen classes were graduated between May 1944 and September 1945; the total number of ensigns thus commissioned into the Corps was almost a thousand. Other officers entered the Corps from Naval ROTC schools.

Move to Camp Endicott. -- In May 1944, two major events in the story of the Civil Engineer Corps officer training occurred: The curriculum was reorganized and more carefully established by the Bureau of Yards and Docks, and the school was moved from Camp Peary to Camp Endicott at Davisville, R.I.

The new curriculum at Camp Endicott included: midshipmen training; officer indoctrination for men who came from civil life; preliminary construction battalion training (a consolidation of former special courses); advanced construction battalion training (formerly advanced military, weapons, and range firing); public works course.


Upon completion of the first four weeks of the public works course, officers went to the Public Works School at Norfolk, Va.

During the summers of 1943 and 1944 a conditioning course was conducted at Camp Endicott. The two-weeks course, frequently called a "retread," consisted of a week at nearby Sun Valley reservation (an annex of the Naval Construction Training center, Camp Endicott), where the time was devoted to firing on the range, close-order drill, and recreation, and a week at the main station, inspecting the facilities of NCTC and adjacent activities and exercising for physical conditioning.

Establishment of the Civil Engineer Corps Officers' School. -- The next major event came in May 1945, when the Public Works School at Norfolk was moved to Camp Endicott and consolidated with the Officer Training School. The school with its new title of U.S. naval Civil Engineer Corps Officers' School was established by the Bureau of Naval Personnel. In the summer of 1946, the school was moved to Port Hueneme.

Demobilization. -- In line with the general Navy pattern of rapid demobilization after V-J Day, the number of CEC officers on active duty decreased from 10,186 in the sumer of 1945 to 2,418 by June 30, 1946. In the five years from June 1940 to June 1945, the Corps had grown from 220 officers, the greatest period of expansion having been in the month of June 1943, when more than 1,000 engineers joined the Corps.

For the post-war Navy, the Reserve Component of the Civil Engineer Corps was established, consisting of Reserve Officers (CEC), USNR, and enlisted personnel (CB), V-6, USNR, and assigned to the Volunteer Reserve.

The Bureau of Yards and Docks and the Bureau of Naval Personnel worked out a program of inactive-duty training, designed to provide the Navy with a trained Reserve of professional engineers having sufficient naval and military background to fill the needs for initial mobilization in the event of a national emergency.

For purposes of training and administration, the Reserve Component was divided into two echelons; the first, made up of personnel who actively participate in the required training; the second, of those who do not fully participate in the training

Regimental Headquarters, Naval Construction Training Center, Camp Endicott, Davisville, R.I.
Regimental Headquarters, Naval Construction Training Center, Camp Endicott, Davisville, R.I.


Administration Building, Corpus Christi
Administration Building, Corpus Christi

program. Members of the First Echelon would be available for immediate mobilization without further training. Personnel in the Second Echelon can be transferred to the First Echelon upon completion of the required courses.

The training program consists of an annual series of ten monthly seminar meetings and of extension courses. These courses, together with tours of active duty at naval shore establishments, under the guidance of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, constitute a program parallel to the active instruction periods of other Naval Reserve components.


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