Chapter V
Procurement and Logistics for Advance Bases

The extensive advance base construction program in which the Navy engaged during the war created a series of new problems that had to be, and were, solved by the Bureau of Yards and Docks. The Bureau organized the purchase of materials for constructing the advance bases, and it also organized channels by which this material was directed to the advance base construction sites. During the periods of National Defense and of war, a total of $3,180,000,000 was spent on advance bases. Of this amount, $930,000,000 was spent for contract work either prior to our entry into the war or, after our entry, in areas not within the immediate war zone.

Provision for the building of air bases in the Pacific at Midway, Johnston, Palmyra, and the Hawaiian Islands had been made in the 1940 appropriation act, in accordance with the recommendations of the Hepburn Board. On August 5, 1939, the first of the cost-plus-a-fixed-fee contracts was awarded for building these bases to an association of three contracting firms, who became known as Contractors, Pacific Naval Air Bases. The next July the association was enlarged by the addition of two more firms, and a new contract was drawn to include an expansion in scope of the existing projects and additional projects at Wake, Guam, Samoa, various locations in the Philippine Islands, and various new locations in the Hawaiian group. In the springs of 1941, additional projects were assigned to three more companies, which were brought into the group already operating. These were all well-established firms, with experience in diverse types of construction work. This association became the basis for much of the advance base procurement work.

Also in July 1940, a contract was signed with two other firms, subsequently known as the East Coast Contractors, to build an air base at Quonset Point, R.I. In September, the destroyers-naval base agreement with Britain was signed, and, in order to obtain quick action, a project, covering the preliminary work at Argentia, Newfoundland, was added to the Quonset Point contract. The contractors utilized their field facilities at Quonset Point to assemble equipment, supplies, and personnel for the Argentia project.

With the passage of the Lend-Lease Act in March 1941, plans were immediately formulated to build four bases for the British -- two in Scotland and two in Northern Ireland. The Quonset Point location was designated as the assembly port for the material required for the construction of these bases, and the East Coast Contractors, by an expansion of the existing contract, were engaged to prepare detailed specifications and to act as purchasing agents for the necessary equipment.

The bases in Britain were to be the first major example of the new type of advance base that was being developed by the Bureau of Yards and Docks. These bases consisted of standardized building units that could be brought in and set up without extensive reliance on local resources of material or labor. The Bureau had developed general plans and specifications for many of these items, and the task of transforming these into the detailed plans and engineering specifications, from which manufacturers could work to produce the items, was turned over to the contractor. One of the most important items was the development of the quonset hut, a versatile but standardized type of housing that could be easily transported and quickly erected. It was the outgrowth of experiments for the improvement of the British Nissen hut. These improvements, mostly made to effect better living conditions, more efficient use of shipping


Advance Base Depot, Davisville, R.I.
Advance Base Depot, Davisville, R.I.

space, and quicker erection, were adapted to meet a variety of needs. (This problem is further discussed in Chapter 7.)

Continental Advance Base Depots

As the scope of the overseas projects increased, the resulting increase in the amounts of material became too large to be handled at the Quonset Point air station, and an adjacent 85 acres was acquired. On March 30, 1941, a few days after the directive on the British bases was issued, ground was broken for the first of the advance base depots, and two weeks later the first portion of the new tract was occupied.

A major part of the new depot was a plant for the mass production of the newly developed quonset hut. To operate this activity a separate organization was set up by the contractor, with engineering, estimating, and purchasing departments, and a field force to erect experimental structures. This phase of the contract was first known as the "Temporary Aviation Facilities," but by October 22, 1941, due to its broader scope, it was re-termed "Temporary Advance Facilities," and in April 1942 it was again expanded to become Advance Base Depot, Davisville.

For the construction of the bases in the United Kingdom, and later in Iceland, the system of having the actual work performed by a contractor under Navy supervision was followed. However, due to the fact that the construction of these bases involved many new problems and new ideas, the degree of Navy supervision and cooperation required


was much greater than would have been necessary had it been possible to let the contract on the basis of pre-existing detailed plans and specifications. The Bureau prepared schematic layouts for each base, indicating the number, relative position, and general properties of the principal facilities involved. From these layouts, the contractors developed the detailed drawings and made up lists of material and equipment to be procured and assembled. Upon approval by the resident officer in charge of construction, orders were placed for the material and equipment, which were then assembled at Davisville, checked for completeness and working efficiency, crated, marked as to proper destination, and loaded aboard British ships, which sailed on approximately weekly schedules beginning in June 1941.

When the first British bases were projected, it was believed that this would be a "one time" procurement situation. It would serve to provide the Bureau with the opportunity to develop and test the new types of facilities and equipment that had been planned, but there was no intention of building stockpiles. During the following months, the scope of Lend-Lease bases for the British was greatly increased, our occupation of Iceland created needs for new bases, and it became necessary to accumulate stocks of many types of material and equipment to prepare for the ever-increasing demand. It was from those stocks that emergency shipments were made in January 1942 to Borabora, in the Society Islands, and in February and March to Efate, in the New Hebrides, and to Tongatabu and Samoa. Housing and hospital facilities, water-supply and electricity-generating systems, and a tank farm of more than 200,000-barrel capacity were some of the items "pulled out of the hat" for those shipments.

In the Pacific the Pacific Naval Air Base group of contractors had been pushing ahead on a constantly expanding program of projects under the original contract. They had set up a procurement office at Alameda, Calif., and had leased facilities at the Ninth Avenue Pier, Oakland, for the shipment of material and equipment. Many new and unusual problems had to be overcome in building and supplying bases on practically waterless coral or sand islands. This experience was of great importance in preparation for the later program.

Early in 1941, when the Bureau of Yards and Docks commenced planning the procurement for overseas bases, all procurement of naval equipment -- as distinguished from material and equipment used by contractors in the construction of bases -- was arranged through the regular procurement agency of the Navy, the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts. The program at that time was small (approximately $500,000 being available) and was concerned chiefly with the newly developed pontoon. It was found that the time required to place orders and secure deliveries through the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts was greatly in excess of the time which the construction contractors required to accomplish similar procurement. One of the principal reasons for delay in procurement through the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts lay in the fact that the personnel making contact with the vendors were not specialists in the procurement of construction and other technical equipment, and every question that arose had to be referred by memorandum to the Bureau of Yards and Docks for recommendation. Another difficulty lay in the fact that the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts had no system of follow-up and would make a check on the status of deliveries only when specifically called upon to do so.

Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the decision was made to have Navy personnel engage in the construction of advance bases, and the Seabees were organized to do this work. As the Seabees would be using the same kind of equipment as the contractor the most practical system for obtaining the necessarily large quantities of specialized material and equipment was to have the contractors continue to act as procuring agents. This was accomplished by adding the projects, covering the procurement of materials, to the original contracts.

An informal agreement was also reached with the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts concerning the division of purchasing activities. This relationship was defined in a circular letter from the Secretary of the Navy on October 23, 1942. This letter provided that the officer in charge of an advance base depot should regard the supply officer of any issuing supply activity as an additional vendor or source of supply, through whom he could requisition materials that might be carried in stock by the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts. Such supplies would be charged to Title "V," Account 600, Issues to Advance Base Depots (Y&D) and to the appropriation, "Public Works, Bureau


of Yards and Docks." No further accounting to the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts was necessary.

ABD Davisville

In order to handle large quantities of supplies and equipment, it was decided to create two large advance base depots, one on each coast, where materials could be collected, assembled, tested, stored, packed, and loaded for shipment as need arose. At Davisville, R.I., the beginning of such a depot existed in the use of facilities at the Quonset Naval Air Station and the adjacent Temporary Advance Facility. This, however, was a makeshift arrangement that could not be continued. Accordingly, on March 11, 1942, the Bureau of Yards and Docks instructed the officer in charge of construction at Davisville to direct the contractor to proceed with the construction of certain facilities to create a full-fledged base for the distribution of advance base materials.

From the original 85-acre tract, the base was expanded to cover a total of 1,892 acres. Twenty miles of railroad and forty miles of road were constructed; a pier, 1,200 feet long and 250 feet wide, capable of berthing four ships, was built, and a channel, 3,000 feet long and 1,500 feet wide, was dredged to give access to deep water. To provide storage, manufacturing, and administration space, 56 buildings were erected. In addition, 13,638,450 square feet of open-storage space was graded and paved or provided with racks. By June, the depot was in operation, and by the end of the year, a total of 286,000 long tons of material had been shipped.

Under a supplemental agreement to the basic contract, the contractor agreed to purchase and assemble materials and equipment for advance bases.

A complete organization, separate from the construction activities, was set up by the contractor to carry out these functions and to maintain the necessary records and controls. Later, when the Chicago Procurement Office was established, most of the engineering and purchasing was transferred to that office. There was maintained at the depot, however, a small staff for purchasing certain items scheduled for local procurement.

In the days immediately following our entry into the war, the procurement agents had many unusual problems to meet in obtaining materials and equipment. The normal channels of trade were often clogged with orders, and it was necessary to locate and utilize many new sources of supply. For example, in the spring of 1942, a directive was received for the purchase of more than a million dollars worth of tool kits for carpenters, plumbers, electricians, machinists, repairmen, etc. There was such urgency for these items that, after the usual sources had been contracted, it was necessary to send several procurement agents on the road, combing every company, in all sections of the country, that might have these tools on hand. In fact, blanket orders were issued to some companies for their entire production during the war.

All purchases were under the supervision of the Navy. On purchases of materials in an amount of $50 or more, or of a piece of movable equipment costing $200 or more, at least three bids were obtained. A bid sheet was prepared and submitted to the Navy for approval prior to the issuance of formal purchase orders. Purchases covered a wide range of commodities, and during 1942, totaled more than 30,000 individual purchase orders and 100,000 change orders. The total commitments in connection with the purchasing program from Davisville amounted to about $235,000,000. Practically all the material covered by these purchase orders was for transshipment to advance bases and was consigned either to Davisville or to the second and third advance base depots, at Port Hueneme, Calif., and Gulfport, Miss.

On January 29, 1946, the Davisville depot was transferred from the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Yards and Docks to that of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, and was redesignated as an annex to Naval Supply Depot, Newport.

ABD Port Hueneme

Meanwhile, arrangements had been made with the Pacific Naval Air Base Contractors for the establishment of a similar depot on the West Coast, as it was obvious that the existing facilities at Oakland would be inadequate, and it was desirable to get away from the larger shipping ports. Port Hueneme, about 55 miles north of Los Angeles, was selected. Preliminary work was begun in April 1942, when a project was added to the basic contract by supplemental agreement. This called for the purchase, unpacking, testing, fabricating, assembling, crating, transportation to shipping point, and loading on ships, of advance base material. Some shipping facilities existed at Port Hueneme,


Open Storage Area, Advance Base Depot, Port Hueneme, Calif.
Open Storage Area, Advance Base Depot, Port Hueneme, Calif.

and these were immediately utilized; additional facilities were built by the contractor who was currently building the Fleet Operating Base at San Pedro. To speed the construction, quonset huts were shipped from Davisville and erected to provide personnel quarters and small shops. In its layout, also, the depot at Port Hueneme benefited from the experience that had already been gained at Davisville.

By the end of hostilities, the Advance Base Depot Port Hueneme had a storage area of approximately 600 acres, with 14 major and 21 minor warehouses having a total area of 719,000 square feet. There were also 19,000,000 square feet of improved open storage area, 30 miles of railroad trackage, and 33 miles of roadway. The Ninth Avenue Pier at Oakland continued to operate as a part of the main depot, under the designation of Division "O." With nine ship berths and loading ramps for LST's, plus the Oakland facilities, the depot at Port Hueneme was able to reach a peak of 225,000 long tons of material shipped in June 1945. Although the major responsibility for procurement had been delegated to Davisville and later to Chicago, a large amount of material was purchased by the Pacific contractors, through their Alameda office.

ABD, Gulfport

Immediately after the establishment of the Port Hueneme depot, in May 1942, another depot was established at Gulfport, Miss. This location was designed to provide an outlet from the Mississippi River valley and was conveniently located with


respect to proposed activities in the Caribbean and South American area. New Orleans was already crowded, so the choice went to Gulfport, where a large municipal pier was available for shipping, and large areas could be developed for storage. Construction and operation of this base was covered by a contract which did not cover procurement of advance base supplies.

Due to the fact that extensive Seabee activities were not required in the Caribbean, Gulfport did not rank in importance with either Davisville or Port Hueneme.

On October 23, 1945, the depot was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, and redesignated a naval storehouse.

ABD, Tacoma

In spite of the expansion at Port Hueneme, from an average of 4 ships per month in 1942 to 25 ships per month in 1944, it was obvious that additional shipping facilities would ultimately be required for the Pacific theater of operations. As the burden on rail and shipping to the southwestern coast exceeded the burden on the northwestern railroads, it was decided that additional facilities should be located in the Pacific Northwest. A careful investigation of the Portland, Tacoma, and Seattle areas disclosed no location providing both pier and storage facilities. However, two piers, owned and operated by the Port of Tacoma, were available, and there was also available, about 10 miles from the pier, an inactive commercial airport. Both these facilities were leased and construction was begun in June 1944. The operation of the depot was placed in the hands of the Pacific Naval Air Base Contractors by a supplemental agreement, and a real estate contract was established with the Port of Tacoma, which was already operating the piers.

Operations on a limited scale began shortly before the end of 1944, and by May 1945, shipments had reached the estimated capacity of the depot, 60,000 long tons per month.

Early in 1946, ABD Tacoma was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, under the redesignation of naval storehouse.


The earliest shipments of advance base material, such as those for Borabora and Efate, were special tailor-made layouts, based on miscellaneous information concerning the comparatively little known islands where the bases were to be located. It soon became apparent, however, that such detailed planning for specific locations was impractical, because it was not possible to draft the complete plans in sufficient time to permit procurement and shipment. The similarity of these early installations was also apparent, and the development of typical plans, suitable for installation on any island, was the natural solution of the problem. Two types of bases were planned. The LION was approximately equivalent in size to Pearl Harbor prior to the war, and the CUB was about one-fourth the size of the LION. A major air base was designated OAK, and a smaller air base was known as ACORN. With the establishment of these typical bases, accumulation of stocks at the advance base depots was simplified; requirements could be determined in terms of the number and kind of unit needed.

Central Procurement Office

By the fall of 1942, operations were progressing actively at all three depots. Davisville was supplying material for bases established in Britain and later in North Africa, and Port Hueneme was sending material to the widely separated Pacific bases. In addition to the new bases, the Seabees were taking over and completing many of the overseas bases that had been under construction by civilian workers at the beginning of the war.

During this period, many new factors began to assume great importance. It was found that more attention should be given to the problem of supplying existing bases with replacement parts, supplementary equipment, and maintenance materials. The system of having two sets of procuring agents was cumbersome, because often one would be called upon to purchase for the other, and there was also danger that they might compete for deliveries from the same vendor.

As the result of a survey made by a professional merchandiser, in November 1942, a central purchasing agency was established to schedule purchasing in terms of the coming strategic demands and then perform the necessary follow-up to assure that goods would be on hand when needed. Steps were immediately taken to set up a central procurement office in Chicago, and by January 1, 1943, it was ready to begin operations. This central procurement office, called Advance Base Division, Chicago, and located in the Furniture Mart, 666 Lake Shore Drive, was operated jointly by the East


Cold-Storage and Provisions Warehouses, Pearl Harbor Naval Supply Depot
Cold-Storage and Provisions Warehouses, Pearl Harbor Naval Supply Depot

Coast Contractors and the Pacific group of contractors under supplemental agreements to their respective contracts.

During the early period of the war program, advance base activities in Washington had been conducted by two divisions of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, the War Plans Division of the Planning and Design Department and the Advance Base Division of the Construction Department. The War Plans Division was responsible for the development of special equipment, such as pontoon gear, and the planning of requirements; the Advance Base Division was responsible for the procurement and shipment of equipment and material. Both divisions expanded rapidly, from half a dozen officers at the time of Pearl Harbor to divisions of some thirty officers each, by the end of 1943. When the central procurement office was established in Chicago, about half of the officer personnel of the Advance Base Division was transferred to that activity as a nucleus of experienced officers. By the end of 1943, advance base activities had become such a large part of the total program of the Bureau of Yards ad Docks, that the War Plans Division and the Advance Base Division were combined into a new Advance Base Department, which conducted the planning and directed the procurement and shipment of necessary material and equipment. All depots and the central procurement office were supervised by this new department.

In order to obtain closer liaison with the units operating in the field and to fulfill their continuing requirements more efficiently, the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, in October and November 1942, created two advance base area offices and delegated authority to the area direction to act for him in all matters under the cognizance of the Bureau. The Director of the Atlantic Division maintained offices in the Navy Department at Washington and in London and served on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; the Director of the Pacific Division established offices in San Francisco and Honolulu and served under the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet. In the spring of 1943, an Alaskan Division was created, with the director's office in Seattle. All field requisitions for material were submitted through these offices, and all information for the field or changes in policy were issued through the directors' offices. The directors also maintained close contact with the commanders of the fighting forces in their respective fields, in order to coordinate the activities of the Seabees with other operations.

They or their deputies served on the staffs of the


Pontoon Storage Area, Advance Base Depot, Davisville
Pontoon Storage Area, Advance Base, Davisville

officers commanding naval operations in the various theaters and were the coordinating agents between the Bureau of Yards and Docks and the commanders in the field.

In function, the duties of the Director, Atlantic Division, Director, Alaskan Division, and Director, Pacific Division, were similar, but they varied widely in scope and extent. In the Atlantic area, the maximum number of Seabees was approximately 26,000; in the Pacific, more than 200,000 were involved in the advance base program.

By May 1945, with operations reaching to Okinawa, the duties of the Director, Pacific Division, exceeded the capacity of one man. His advice and presence were continually needed at the bases in the forward area, such as Okinawa and the Philippines and his advice was necessary at Pacific Fleet advance and rear headquarters in Guam and Pearl Harbor; as deputy type commander for Seabees, he had to be in Pearl Harbor, at headquarters of the Commander, Service Force, Pacific Fleet, a large part of the time; and frequent conferences were necessary with the Commander, Western Sea Frontier, at San Francisco, and with the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, in Washington. In order to permit needed attention to be given to all those urgent demands, the Pacific Division was divided into the Eastern Pacific Division and the Western Pacific Division. The Director, Western Pacific Division, with offices at Pearl Harbor and on Guam, continued as head of construction activities in the western Pacific and as type commander of Seabees on the staff of the Commander, Service Force, Pacific Fleet.

The Director, Eastern Pacific Division, took over the activities that had been performed in the San Francisco office, principally those of coordinating and expediting the flow of supplies and material


from the depots in the United States to the field. In addition, he was assigned the functions of coordinator of Bureau activities on the West Coast.

Materials Requirements Division, New York

In December 1942, in order to comply with the Controlled Materials Plan that was soon to be put into effect by the War Production Board, a section of the Materials Requirements Division of the Bureau was established in New York, to compile the necessary information and reports. Originally, the payroll for this office was carried under the contract which provided for the construction at Trinidad; when this contract was terminated, the section was transferred to the contracts covering procurement activities and the office was supervised by the Central Procurement Office in Chicago.

Advance Base Proving Ground

During the spring of 1943, an advance base proving ground was established at Davisville, as a special activity under the direction of the War Plans Division of the Planning and Design Department of the Bureau, and later, after the Advance Base Department was organized, the Research and Development Division of that department. New equipment and material were tested at the proving ground, and special equipment was developed. A large percentage of the proving-ground activity was devoted to the development of pontoon gear, which was later used extensively in amphibious actions in both the Atlantic and the Pacific. (For further discussion, see chapter 7.)

Central Spare Parts Warehouse, Joliet

A problem which plagued those responsible for advance base procurement and supply throughout the war was that of spare parts. In the first place, the conditions under which equipment had to operate were different and much more severe than those of normal operations, and existing tables of replacement and repair parts were largely inadequate. In addition, the supply of spare parts was never completely sufficient, and existing stocks had to be carefully distributed. Prior to the establishment of centralized purchasing, much study of the problem had been done at Davisville, and schedules of replacement parts had been developed for many items of equipment. However, the movement of initial material from Davisville to the Pacific, and later procurement from Davisville for delivery to Port Hueneme for shipment to the Pacific, meant that spare parts for the initial equipment were at Davisville when they were needed at Port Hueneme. The problem of transferring a portion of these parts to Port Hueneme was difficult because spare parts were often procured on a basis of requirements for ten or more units, and shipments did not always fit the pattern of spare-parts procurement.

To make spare parts more readily available, a Central Spare Parts Warehouse was established at Joliet, Ill., near Chicago, in August 1943, and all spare parts were transferred there from the three depots. The Central Spare Parts Warehouse was operated jointly by the East Coast and the Pacific contractors until January 1945, when the East Coast Contractors took over sole operation. In the fall of 1944, procurement of spare parts was moved from the Chicago Office to Joliet and placed on a maintenance-of-stock basis.

Depot Operation Contracts

Originally, supplemental agreements to the contracts covering operations at Davisville, Port Hueneme, the Central Procurement Office, the Central Spare Parts Warehouse, and the Material Requirements Division, New York, had been designed to run to December 31, 1944. However, due to the fact that the status of some of the construction projects under the contract had changed because of completion or termination, it was considered advisable to close out the contracts and set up new ones. By agreement between the Bureau of Yards and Docks and the contractors, the arrangements under the contracts were allowed to lapse as of December 31, 1943, and, beginning January 1, 1944, new contracts were issued. These were, in effect, continuations of the original contracts.

The new contract with the PNAB contractors, which was to run until December 31, 1945, covered the operation of Advance Base Depot, Port Hueneme, the shipping facility at the Ninth Avenue Pier, Oakland, Advance Base Depot, Tacoma, and, jointly with the East Coast contractors, the Advance Base Division, Chicago, the Joliet Spare Parts Warehouse, and the Controlled Materials Plan Office in New York. The contract with the East Coast contractors provided for the operation of Advance Base Depot, Davisville, and for joint operation with the PNAB contactors as already noted.


The Central Procurement Office was set up with Navy officer personnel paralleling the contractors' personnel, from the top management down to departmental heads. An Officer in Charge (who was also resident officer in charge of the contract) was assigned by the Bureau of Yards and Docks and reported both to the Chief of the Bureau and to the Commandant of the Ninth Naval District. Under the contracts, all purchases required prior approval of the Officer in Charge. Authority for granting this approval was delegated to the Navy officers who were assigned to the various departments and sections to work with and supervise the activities of the contractors' personnel. In August 1943, a Supply Corps officer was assigned to duty under the officer in charge at Chicago to provide liaison between the Advance Base Division and the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts.

Chicago Office Activities

The organization set up at Chicago was more than just a straight buying agency, being also charged with the responsibility for scheduling and interpreting requirements, maintaining an inventory on all programmed items, supplying engineering services in conjunction with or supplemental to the work done by the Bureau itself, expediting deliveries to the depots, and preparing catalogues and stock lists. It also served as coordinating unit for the depots in such common functions as operating procedures, standardization of crating and marking, and as an inventory control point. In practice, the actual purchasing accounted for less than 25 percent of the work of the office.

Probably the most important functions of the Central Procurement Office were procurement control and engineering. With the many shortages existing in critical items and material, great care had to be exercised to maintain adequate supplies on hand without excessive stockpiling. Accurate current inventory controls, with information as to materials awaiting shipment and on order, were kept for all depots, and procurement was planned on the basis of this information. Directives from the Bureau of Yards and Docks were often given in general terms. Due to the requirements for overseas shipment and use under adverse conditions, special specifications were required for satisfactory procurement. Adequate standards for overseas packing and crating were also necessary. The engineering function also included the provision of a complete Yards and Docks stock list numbering system to permit simplified re-ordering and inventory control.

The procurement activities of the Advance Base Division covered only those items used by the Bureau in its advance base operations. Purchases made by the Bureau under its public works program were in another category.

There were items of material and equipment that were not purchased by the Chicago office, although scheduling and warehousing did come under its control. Certain types of automotive equipment, such as jeeps, water-tank trailers, small craft, etc., had been developed by the Army, Marines, or Coast Guard, and had been adapted for use in advance-base construction. The manufacturers of these products were under contract to the particular service for their entire output, and the Bureau of Yards and Docks had to fulfill its needs by purchasing from those services. In the case of six-wheel-drive trucks, extreme difficulty was experienced in obtaining enough through the Army, so an arrangement was finally made with the Marine Corps, whereby it contracted for the entire output of these trucks and the Bureau took 75 percent of all deliveries. All lumber and crawler-tractor procurement had been placed in the hands of the Army early in the war, and the Army divided its supplies with other services. Such items accounted for almost 30 percent of the total procurement program were handled by the Advance Base Department of the Bureau in Washington, by requisition on the service involved.

There were also many items which were normally carried in stock by the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts. Procurement of these items was handled through the liaison officer of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts in the Chicago office, who could either draw on some naval supply depot or order through the Navy Purchasing Office, Chicago.

The items falling solely within the scope of the Chicago Advance Base Division were divided into three principal categories as follows:

Class I -- Bureau Scheduled Items. -- These were items of critical importance to the advance base program or those which presented difficult procurement problems due to long lead time, use of critical materials which involved clearance with the War Production Board, or similar circumstances. For these items, a schedule of requirements was prepared monthly by the Bureau. About 350


Pontoon Assembly Area, Advance Base Depot, Gulfport, Miss.
Pontoon Assembly Area, Advance Base Depot, Gulfport, Miss.

items fell in this class, but they represented about half of the total tonnage and about 60 percent of the cost of advance base materials.

Class II -- Stock Items. -- These were standard commercial items, not confined to war usage, which could be obtained without great difficulty on the open market. A large proportion of these items was obtained through the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts.

Class III -- Bureau Special Items. -- These consisted of special equipment which was needed only occasionally and therefore was not suitable for monthly scheduling. Requirements were determined by the Bureau and were made the subject of special directives.

Because of the nature of Class I items -- their high unit value, their critical manufacturing requirements, and, in many cases, their reduced peacetime value -- the strictest form of control was exercised in their procurement. Orders were placed normally at three-month intervals, based on stock on hand and on order, and the estimated requirements for the time that would elapse until delivery, plus an additional three months. Constant adjustment was necessary, due to fluctuations in requirements and changes in the length of time required for obtaining delivery.

Class II items were procured under a stock control plan that provided for automatic re-ordering when inventories fell below a predetermined limit.

All materials purchased by the Chicago office or requisitioned from other branches of the Navy were consigned to the appropriate depot, and all payments to commercial vendors were made by the contractor who operated the depot, after the goods were received and inspected, except in the case of Gulfport, whose payments were made from Davisville by the East Coast Contractors. Upon approval of payment by a Navy auditor, the contractor was later reimbursed by Navy voucher.

Procurement of all items at the Advance Base Division included the preparation of necessary forms for priorities, allocations of scheduled materials,


Waterfront Area, Advance Base Depot, Davisville
Waterfront Area, Advance Depot, Davisville

and manufacturing schedules. This work was done by the WPB liaison division and was correlated with other Bureau requirements by the Bureau's Progress Control and Statistical Department, which, in turn, maintained close contacts with the Navy's Office of Procurement and Material and the WPB. Follow-up action, to assure promised delivery schedules and, in many cases, to improve the schedules, was undertaken by the inspectors of naval material at the manufacturers' plants. Liaison officers from the Chicago office assured cooperation in this respect.

Functional Components

As previously mentioned, planning for procurement was based on typical bases known as LION or CUB, depending on size and function. This system, however, was not flexible enough to meet the varied requirements of advance bases. To meet this problem, early in 1943 the Chief of Naval Operations established a planning program based on requirements for functional needs at advance bases. The material and equipment required for each type of activity were designated as functional components. Such components were established for approximately 200 different field activities, such as communication units, hospital units, camp units, ship repair units, etc. The Bureau prepared allowance lists of Yards and Docks, material for each of these components and modified its procurement procedures in order to obtain supplies on the basis of functional components rather than typical bases. This had relatively little effect on the general procurement program but did facilitate closer control and provided for more effective assembling for shipment.

Planning for procurement was based on two major factors. Every month, the Advance Base Department in Washington received from the Chief of Naval Operations a schedule of the functional components estimated to be required during the coming months for the establishment of new advance bases and the augmentation of those already established. With this information, the department determined a schedule of requirements for the more critical advance base items coming under the cognizance of the Bureau of Yards and Docks. This schedule, which indicated requirements from a year to eighteen months in advance, was forwarded to Chicago on the 25th of each month. Meanwhile, in Chicago, a monthly report of items on hand, on order, receipts, and shipments was received from all depots. This information was collated with the report of requirements, and a procurement schedule worked out. By this procedure, the Bureau was able to fulfill the demands placed upon it when operations during 1944 and 1945 were increased to a much faster rate than had originally been planned.

Also, on the basis of reports of receipts and


Typical Warehouse, Advance Base Depot, Davisville
Typical Warehouse, Advance Base Depot, Davisville

shipments that were received daily from the depots, and the monthly stock control reports that were submitted, the turn-over of individual items could be forecast and procurement planned. These reports showed the materials that had been shipped in response to requisitions from already established bases; from advance base construction depots; or from special purpose depots in the field. As the war progressed, this demand claimed an ever-increasing amount of the material and equipment handled.


Shipments of material and equipment from the advance base depots were based either on directives from the Chief of Naval Operations or on requisitions from advance bases in the field. Shipments made as a result of Chief of Naval Operations directive usually were a part of an initial move, such as the establishment of airfields and bases on an enemy-held island. These shipments were planned far in advance and were made, as far as possible, in terms of functional components. A directive from the Chief of Naval Operations advised the Bureau when and what material should be shipped, and notified shipping authorities to provide the necessary transportation. The Bureau, in turn, directed the most convenient depot that carried the stock to have the material ready for shipment.

A close liaison between the depots and the shipping authorities permitted a smooth flow of material from storage areas to dockside to shipboard. In general, shipping directives were issued to the depots as far ahead of loading dates as possible, but not more than sixty days. This allowed adequate time to assemble the material and, where necessary, to permit special procurement or expediting of material that was not available in stock. Reports were made to the Chief of Naval Operations directly from the depots as to the availability of materials for shipment under these directives.

Requisitions from the field were handled through the area directors, who received the requisitions and forwarded them, as directives, to the depots which stocked the necessary material. As soon as a depot received sufficient requisitions to provide enough cargo to warrant scheduling a ship for a destination, the depot would request the shipping authorities to make space available for the shipment. Where small quantities of material were required at a minor destination, they were shipped by rail to some larger port where they could be shipped with material from other activities for the same destination. The area directors,


Open Storage and Warehouse Area, Advance Base Depot, Gulfport
Open Storage and Warehouse Area, Advance Base Depot, Gulfport

who worked closely with the commanders of the sea frontiers and with the port directors of the larger ports, were in a position to facilitate such shipments.

As the stock of Class I and Class III material and equipment was limited and was essential in filling directive from the Chief of Naval Operations, all requisitions for these items were controlled by the Bureau of Yards and Docks. When an area director received requisitions including these items, that portion of the requisition was forwarded to the Bureau for action. If sufficient stock was available for all project CNO demands, the field requisition was filled by directive from the Bureau.

When shortages of stock or unsuccessful efforts for procuring additional material made incomplete shipments necessary, the depots referred the problem to the director of that area to determine which orders should have the highest priority. Where shortages wer unfilled for ninety days after original shipments, the information was forwarded to the area director so that he could cancel any items no longer required in the field.

The depots were responsible for fulfilling all shipping directives as completely as possible and for shipping the equipment and material in good condition. When necessary, material was given special packing, waterproofing, or servicing. All assemblies of material or components required at one time for satisfactory operation at advance bases were shipped together. Certain materials were prepacked at the depots, in standard assemblies that had been established by the Bureau to expedite shipping and simplify installation in the field. Among these were such standard facilities as galleys, bakeries, moorings, and lighting systems. All depots packaged these assemblies in the same manner, so that activities receiving them in the field could combine shipments from various depots or substitute portions of one assembly shipped from one depot for missing portions of another assembly. Plans for these, as well as uniform standards for marking and crating, were established by the engineering section at the Chicago Office. Packaged assemblies were made up on an assembly line, in amounts covering the estimated requirements of several months. This permitted a more efficient operation than was possible if each assembly was packaged as it was shipped.

Toward the end of 1944, with the planned establishment of Tacoma and the decidedly reduced activity in the Atlantic area, stocks and shipments at Davisville and Gulfport were reduced. This was done to limit the overall stocks on hand at the


Quonset Warehouses at Guam
Quonset Warehouses at Guam
Part of the Marine Corps' field depot of supplies

close of the war and to permit reduction of operating personnel at both depots. However, early in 1945, the Chief of Naval Operations decided that West Coast shipping facilities would be inadequate for both Army and Navy shipments to the Pacific theater and that East and Gulf Coast facilities would be required. Steps were immediately taken to reestablish complete stocks at Davisville and Gulfport, and by the end of the war, all four depots were maintaining full stocks of advance-base material.

Depot shipments. -- Shipments of advance base material from Davisville amounted to 226,000 long tons in 1942; 336,000 in 1943; 498,000 in 1944; and 253,000 up to August 31, 1945.

At Gulfport, there were no water shipments in 1942, but 6,000 long tons were shipped by rail to New Orleans or elsewhere for transshipment. In 1943, there were 75,000 long tons shipped, and this doubled in 1944 to 154,000 long tons; the record showed 144,000 long tons for 945 prior to August 31.

Port Hueneme rapidly became the largest advance base depot, reflecting the scale of activity in the Pacific. In six months of operation in 1942, there were 123,000 long tons shipped. This rose to 777,000 long tons in 1943 and to 1,500,000 long tons in 1944. For the first eight months in 1945, it was 1,344,000 long tons.

The depot at tacoma did not get into operation until late in 1944, but shipped 7,000 long tons that year. In 1945, prior to V-J Day, the amount was 262,000 long tons.

The Central Spare Parts Warehouse at Joliet began making shipments immediately after its establishment in August 1943, averaging 325 long tons per week, a total of 5,850 tons in the last four months of the year. In 1944, the total stood at 16,900 long tons. From January 1945 until November 1945, when the depot was closed and the storage of spare parts was transferred to Port Hueneme, the record showed 22,500 long tons of material shipped.

Distribution outside the United States

After materials and equipment were aboard ships, many problems remained to be solved before they


Open Storage Area, Advance Base Depot, Port Hueneme
Open Storage Area, Advance Base Depot, Port Hueneme
Advance base refrigerator units shown packed for export in the skid-mounted crates used in palletization

could reach the places where they were to be used. These problems were especially acute in the Pacific, where great distances and the absence of established ports seriously complicated matters. As plans for the prosecution of the war developed and as experience with the Seabees in the field was gained, the need for stocks of advance base equipment and materials at strategic points in the Pacific became apparent. In August 1942, the Commandant of the 14th Naval District recommended that an "Advance Base Sub-Depot Equipment Pool" be established at Pearl Harbor. This was approved on August 29, 1942, by the Bureau of Yards and Docks, and shipments from Port Hueneme and Davisville were begun. In June 1943, in connection with a change in the set-up of the Seabees in hawaii, the equipment pool was transferred to the Director, Pacific Division, Bureau of Yards and Docks, and was designated as Advance Base Construction Depot, Pearl Harbor.

Meanwhile, as advance bases were constructed in new forward areas, it was realized that depots of material and equipment must be provided in each area. In December 1942, the first to be designated as an advance base construction depot was established in Noumea, New Caledonia. (The ABCD at Pearl Harbor was the second to which this term was applied.) The third advance base construction depot was established at Brisbane, Australia, in July 1943, and others were subsequently established in the Solomon Islands, at Milne Bay, Manus, Guam, Samar, Subic Bay, and Okinawa. Because of delays that had been encountered in completing the construction, organization, and delivery of stock of the earlier ABCD's, arrangements were made late in 1944 to have the plans for subsequent movements include definite provisions


for an advance base construction depot. The size and organization of the different depots varied considerably, but they all contained a spare parts depot, and most of them had an equipment overhaul plant, as well as other storage facilities.

In the autumn of 1942, the Bureau of Yards and Docks realized that the large quantities of pontoons needed for barges, piers, floating drydocks, and other purposes in the offensives then being planned would require many ships, and that a great deal of shipping space could be saved if the pontoons were shipped "knocked down" as flat plates and assembled in the forward areas. To accomplish this, the necessary equipment to build a complete pontoon assembly plant was collected; a group of Seabees was picked and trained; and Pontoon Assembly Detachment 1 was sent to Noumea, arriving there in December 1942. The plant was quickly erected and placed in operation and in a short time was equal in efficiency to the best continental plants. Later, five other pontoon assembly depots were established, each of which produced approximately 1,800 pontoons per month and assembled large numbers of pontoon structures.

Inability to obtain sufficient spare parts was one of the most difficult problems of Seabee units in the field. In the urgency of outfitting the first units, it was impossible to obtain adequate assortment of spare parts for shipment with the equipment; this deficiency was emphasized in the earliest reports from the South Pacific. By October 1943, spare parts were being actively purchased from such sources as were available, and shipments were being made to Pearl Harbor and Noumea. During 1943, especially with the establishment of the Central Spare Parts Warehouse at Joliet, the situation improved somewhat, but there were still not enough parts, and delivery of those obtainable was greatly delayed by lack of shipping, especially to units in combat areas. In 1944, a number of automotive construction equipment parts depots were established at ABCD's, and, in the middle of the year, a functional component was established to provide an assortment of spare parts, with necessary building and handling equipment, for each new movement. In March 1945, this spare parts component was supplemented by the standard parts unit, a prepacked assortment of the most urgently needed parts for trucks, tractors, and cranes, which was shipped with each Seabee unit going to a new base. However, in spite of continual efforts to improve selection, procurement, and distribution of parts, the supply in the field never became fully satisfactory.

The early construction battalions displayed remarkable ingenuity in repairing and rebuilding damaged equipment, but it was quickly realized that greater efficiency would be obtained by establishing a separate plant for major overhaul jobs, so that battalions would have to make only minor or routine repairs. After a study by the Bureau of Yards and Docks, a plant, equipped to rebuild every type of automotive, construction, and utilities equipment in use at advance bases, was organized and sent to Espiritu Santo in July 1943. This plant proved satisfactory enough to justify the organization of a similar plant at Pearl Harbor. Later, automotive construction and equipment overhaul plants were sent to Milne Bay, Manus, Guam, Samar, and Okinawa.

The story of the advance base construction program was essentially the story of the Seabees and the organization that was created to provide the tools and material with which the Seabees made their epic achievements. During the first two years of the war, priority was given to the European theater, where the Seabees had a relatively small role. With the opening of the major Pacific offensives in 1944, the Seabees came into their own, and a tremendous stream of equipment and material flowed from the manufacturers in the United States, through the advance base depots, to the field of operations. At the time the Japanese surrendered, this stream of material was at its peak, in preparation for the planned attack on Japan.

Post V-J Day

In May 1945, advance base depots and the Chicago Office were directed to review all outstanding purchase orders and requisitions and determine their disposition on V-J Day. All outstanding and subsequent purchase orders and requisitions were placed in one of three categories, namely: (a) continuation, (b) reduction, (c) termination. It was further directed that for procurement falling in category (c) a telegram be prepared for each such purchase order and placed in the purchase order jacket, the requisitioning activities being advised of the categories into which their requisitions were placed. After V-J Day, the method used to determine the amount to be cancelled from each contract was as follows: Stock on hand at the depots and on order was checked against levels needed


to maintain necessary supplies at advance bases, and terminations by stock-list numbers were made accordingly.

As a result, cancellations following V-J Day reflected a value of approximately $396,000,000.

Scene at the Lisahally (Londonderry) Base
Scene at the Lisahally (Londonderry) Base
Quonset huts shelter (left to right) library, ship's stores, dispensary


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