5 December 1945


  1. Location:

  2. Function:

  3. Improvements and Facilities:

    Inland Area

  4. Transportation.

    Within the two areas of the station and between same, there is a total of approximately 100 miles of Navy-owned railroad trackage, including three classification yards with a capacity of approximately 650 cars. Direct connection with the Southern pacific is available in he Tidal Area. Direct connection with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe (and the Sacramento and Northern via the ATSF) is available to the Inland Area. Approximately 45 miles of the above Navy-owned railroad was originally the Bay point - Clayton R.R., serving the town of Cowell. It was taken over and operated by the Navy as of 1 July 1945.

    Both areas are served by either railroad by means of a Navy-owned overpass which bridges the Southern Pacific and Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe main lines.

    Interchange facilities for all three railroads are also available in the yards of the town of Port Chicago.

    Interchange facilities between the Sacramento and Northern and Inland Area are also available just south of the town of Clyde.

    An extensive system of roads services all facilities.

    Shipments and deliveries may be effected by rail, truck, or water.

    There is a joint Army-Navy flying field approximately two miles west of Concord, between the towns of Concord and Pacheco.

    Regular commercial passenger bus service is available at Port Chicago, for San Francisco, Oakland and other cities in the Bay Area, as well as to the Navy Yard at Mare Island, Pittsburg, Antioch, Sacramento and other San Joaquin and Sacramento Valley points.

  5. History:

    Establishment of the Naval Magazine, Port Chicago, was the outgrowth of a confidential report made by a board on "Terminal Facilities for Shipment of Explosives -- San Francisco Bay Area" A16-1/NTSI(24) (SG_ (1952-14-sm-ku of 9 Dec 1941 to Com12). Procurement of site was inaugurated and construction began in February 1942, under the cognizance of the Public Works Officer of the Twelfth Naval District and the Commanding Officer, Naval Ammunition Depot, Mare Island.

    In the early stages there were considerable differences of opinion between the various interested parties as to the nature, extent and design of facilities required for the accomplishment of the purpose in mind.

    Initial facilities provided included the following major structures:

    Initial facilities were completed so that operations could begin 30 November 1942.

    The first cars of ammunition for transshipment arrived the first week in December and the first ship, the SS BREWER, moored at 1200, 8 Dec. 1942, to load approximately 3800 tons of anti-aircraft ammunition for Epic (Noumea, New Caledonia).

    The actual loading operations began 9 December 1942, and the first ship was loaded and sailed at 1500, on 13 Dec. 1942.

    All loading and handling operations were performed by Naval personnel (100% colored enlisted Ordnance battalions), supervised by officers and small group of trained civilian ordnancemen made available from Naval Ammunition Depot, Mare Island, California. Maintenance work and operation of locomotives and cranes was performed by civil service employees.

    After the first two months of operations it became apparent that the loading platforms at the ships pier were too narrow for efficient and safe handling of ammunition. Consequently, in March 1943 the loading platform on the inboard berth was moved and joined to the outboard loading platform, thereby providing a 20 ft. loading platform with resulting increased efficiency and safety. To accomplish this, one railroad track on the ships pier was sacrificed and the inboard berth no longer was available for loading. However, during the 11-month period from 1 December 1942 to 31 October 1943, it was only necessary to load a total of 39 ships, or a total of approximately 115,000 tons and one berth was ample for the work load.

    On 1 July 1943, cognizance of new construction at Port Chicago was transferred from the Public Works Officer, Twelfth Naval District to the Public Works Officer, Mare Island.

    Anticipating an increase in tonnage to be loaded at Port Chicago in the future, recommendations were made in the spring of 1943 to construct a marginal wharf inboard of the first pier to accommodate an additional two vessels. However, no action was taken on this proposal until approximately November 1943, when the Commandant, Twelfth Naval District, visited Port Chicago.

    As a result of this visit and apparent need of increased loading capacity at Port Chicago, construction of the marginal wharf was expedited. Meanwhile, as an expedient to get two berths in operation at pier #1 in the shortest possible time, it was concluded to widen both the inboard and outboard berths ten (10) feet each, thereby permitting 20 feet loading platforms at each berth and enabling two ships to load simultaneously.

    Work on this widening was instituted shortly thereafter with loading operations continuing at one berth while the other was being widened. The widening of the berths was completed so that two ships could be simultaneously loaded for the first time on 10 May 1944. Also by that time work was well under way on the marginal wharf, together with 13 additional barricades to accommodate an additional 95 cars and five additional barracks buildings.

    Early in 1944 the Inland Area project was contemplated as a permanent Magazine for stowage of ammunition and high explosives. By April a survey had been made and actual plans drawn. After consultation with representatives from BuOrd, a request was sent to BuDocks to acquire the land. This request was approved in June.

    Expansion program at that time also included a combined Auditorium, Gymnasium, and Recreation Building, a BOQ to accommodate 74 officers, and construction of twenty (20) magazines in the Tidal Area, also barracks and messing facilities to accommodate the increased personnel required to load four ships simultaneously.

    On 17 July 1944, the S.S. A. E. Bryan and the S.S. Quinault Victory were berthed at ship pier #1. The A. E. Bryan was almost completely loaded with ammunition, while the Quinault Victory had just berthed and was being rigged for loading.

    At about 2200, two explosions, a few seconds apart, took place at the pier, causing complete destruction of both ships, the pier, all buildings and equipment on the pier, and a marginal wharf (pier #2), at that time under construction and approximately 80% completed. A U.S.C.G. fire barge moored at the pier was also destroyed. The explosion caused considerable damage to buildings on the station and in the vicinity.

    A total of 319 people were killed and 255 injured. All fatalities, however, were confined to persons either on board the ships or on the pier.

    Assistance was quickly rushed from nearby towns, the casualties were given first aid and removed to hospitals, and the majority of the remaining personnel evacuated to nearby stations.

    For further details of the explosion see "War Diary, U.S. Naval Magazine, Port Chicago" dated 31 July 1944 and the report of the Court of Inquiry appointed by the Commandant of the Twelfth Naval District to investigate the facts surrounding the explosion.

    As a result of visits by representatives of the Bureau of Ordnance shortly thereafter, plans for the future development and expansion of Port Chicago were outlined as follows:

    1. The construction of two additional ship piers (piers #3 and #4) which, together with pier #2 (to be reconstructed) would provide a total of six berths. It was concluded not to rebuild the demolished pier #1.

    2. Abandonment of plans to construct 20 magazines in the Tidal Area.

    3. Provision of facilities for the segregation of returned ammunition.

    4. Development of the program to establish the Inland Area.

    5. Construction of additional barracks buildings and auxiliary structures to accommodate requirements of resulting increased work load.

    6. Abandonment of policy of operating the station with 100% colored enlisted personnel.

    Accomplishment of the foregoing expansion program was begun immediately thereafter, and proceeded with dispatch.

    Following the explosion, the first berth at pier #2 was completed and became available 6 September 1944, the second berth at pier #2 6 October 1944, and berths #3 and #4, pier #3, 3 January 1945.

    By 20 January 1945, construction of the Inland Area had progressed to the extent that the first group of 20 HE magazines and the first row of 15 gun ammunition magazines were available for use.

    Berths #5 and #6, pier #4, were completed and available for use 1 April 1945. However, insufficient personnel was available for the simultaneous loading of six vessels until 1 June 1945. Also by 1 June 1945, most of the facilities in the Inland Area were completed and in use. As of 15 August 1945, the following facilities had not yet been completed or accepted:

    Tidal Area

    1. Segregation facilities for returned ammunition (contract to be completed)

    2. Three additional barracks (15 completed and in use -- contract to be completed)

    3. BOQ for 50 officers (No work has been started. The request is in the hands of the Secretary of the Navy for approval.)

    4. Eleven 5-car barricaded sidings. (Contract to be completed with rail and road access. All other proposed barricaded sidings to be eliminated.)

    5. Rehabilitation of the main line of the Bay Point -- Clayton R.R. (A proposal to re-lay the light rail of this line with 110 pound rail is in the hands of the Secretary of the Navy for approval.)

    6. Additional N.S.A. storehouse and vehicle storage shed. (This project is in the hands of the Secretary of the Navy for approval.)

    7. A..Q.E. facilities. (These facilities as specified in BuOrd Letter NT1-32 Ad3b of 7 July 1945 were authorized but no work has been started.)

    As of 15 August 1945 a total of approximately 809,195 tons of ammunition and HE has been loaded in 178 deep draught vessels since the start of operations at this Magazine. Operating 6 berths with about 40% vacancy, tonnage was being loaded at the rate of 58,000 tons per month. Approximately 4000 tons a month was being handled at the barge pier. Approximately 2,754 railroad cars were being received monthly and approximately 35,000 tons per month was being handled in and out of magazines in the Inland Area.

    For the past twelve months the vast majority of ships at Port Chicago have been loaded for selective discharge in contrast to the period prior to that time when most ships were block stowed. Ship loading at Port Chicago has been characterized by a great variety of types of ammunition handled. While other loading stations have loaded greater quantities of ammunition, it is doubted that other loading stations have been required to handle as many diversified types of ammunition as Port Chicago, or to load as many types of ammunition in one vessel. At times there have been as many as 175 items to a 7,000 ton load for selective discharge.

    In compliance with BuOrd letter S78(A) dated 31 August 1944, a ship loading safety organization (Coast Guard) was established 17 February 1945 (Station Order NO. 10-45, dated 17 Feb. 1945), enclosure #2.

    Estimated oversea loading rate at this station with 6 berths in operation is better than 100,000 tons a month. It is believed no difficulties will be encountered in loading at this rate, provided that arrival of ships can be regularly scheduled to efficiently utilize the available berthing capacity and that arrival of cargo can be controlled and coordinated with the scheduled loading period of the respective vessels.

    As outlined in BuOrd letter N21-10/S78 pr 6D/10 May 1945, it is anticipated that full operation of the Inland Area at Port Chicago will largely eliminate the storage and issue of all serviceable types of ammunition, including high explosives, at Naval Ammunition Depot, Mare Island. Furthermore, with the restrictions imposed on transporting high explosive through the Navy Yard, Mare Island, and other points in the San Francisco Bay Area, Port Chicago has become the principal ammunition loading port and storage point for ammunition and high explosives on the Pacific Coast.

  6. Statistics:

    (a) Navy Officers    
    On Board
     : 1 January 1943 -- 18
      1 July 1943 -- 27
      1 January 1944 82 44
      1 July 1944 82 71
      1 January 1945 82 86
      1 July 1945 168 152
      15 August 1945 168 152
      1 December 1942 402 525
      1 June 1943 612 514
      1 January 1944 2059 706
      1 July 1944 2059 1431
      1 January 1945 2646 2168
      1 July 1945 2790 3667
      15 August 1945 2790 3908
    (c) Marines    
      1 January 1943 -- 59
      1 July 1943 --- 52
      1 January 1944 --- 70
      1 July 1944 --- 106
      1 January 1945 --- 95
      1 July 1945 --- 215
      15 August 1945 --- 215
    (d) Civilians    
      1 January 1943 (no ceiling) 87
      1 July 1943 " 107
      1 January 1944 " 142
      1 July 1944 " 231
      1 January 1945 " 336
      1 July 1945 " 609
      15 August 1945 " 651
    (e) Coast Guard Officers    
      17 February 1945 14 ---
      21 February 1945 14 ---
      5 May 1945 14 12
      1 July 1945 14 11
      15 August 1945 14 14
    (f) Coast Guard Enlisted Men    
      17 February 1945 252 ---
      21 February 1945 252 81
      1 July 1945 252 195
      15 August 1945 252 254
    (g) Loading Figures by Years
    (Into Vessels for Overseas Shipment)
      9 December 1942--31 December 1943 142,261 tons
      1 January 1944--31 December 1944 220,316 tons
      1 January 1945--10 August 1945 346,618 tons
        Total 709,195 tons

  7. Morale:

    In the early days of shiploading operations the morale of men and officers at this base was extremely low. Some of the contributing factors were:

    1. Lack of sufficient experienced officers

    2. Isolation of the station

    3. Inadequate transportation

    4. Lack of recreational facilities for officers and men

    5. Lack of recreational facilities for Negroes in nearby towns

    6. Lack of officers selected to work with Negro personnel

    7. Lack of facilities on base, such as laundry, tailor shop, cobbler shop, etc.

    8. Irregular work and liberty schedule

    9. Lack of proper work clothing for inclement weather

    Furthermore, at the outset, due to lack of sufficient properly indoctrinated officers, there was a certain amount of friction between the officers assigned to the Magazine and those assigned to the Naval Barracks. These two groups were quartered and messed some distance apart. Also the officer responsible for Magazine activities was junior to the Commanding Officer of the Naval Barracks. This unfortunate condition led to an overlapping and misunderstanding of various responsibilities, with a definite lack of integration between the two groups.

    This situation was considerably improved when the combined BOQ was completed in July 1944. The necessary intermingling in these quarters, the additions to the recreational facilities, and the addition of a large group of new officers all tended toward an improvement in morale.

    After the explosion on 17 July 1944, due to the razing of the barracks buildings, several divisions of men were sent to Camp Shoemaker for billeting. Because the Port Chicago facilities were totally destroyed, and in an effort to continue the shipping of ammunition, these men were later sent to Mare Island to load ship. On 9 August 1944 when first ordered to the docks for this work, there was a concerted refusal of duty on the part of 3 colored divisions. The Commandant of the Twelfth Naval District personally addressed this entire group on the following day after which 206 men returned to duty, while 50 continued their refusal. The 206 men who returned to duty were given Summary Courts Martial for refusal to obey orders, while the 50 who continued their refusal were tried by General Court Martial on the charge of mutiny. All men involved in this occurrence were Negroes.

  8. Training:

    As the shiploading operations progressed, the need for better trained personnel to handle explosives became apparent, and steps were taken to establish a training department. The primary need among the enlisted personnel was for experienced winchmen and hatch tenders; therefore, in October 1943 the building of a training rig was started. The structure represented two small holds of a ship with Liberty-ship-type booms and rigging. By February 1944 the structure was equipped with steam winches for one hold, and training of station personnel began. In September 1944 a more elaborate and comprehensive training program was established, and an electric winch was installed at the second hold. The program for officers included lectures on different types of ordnance, proper handling and stowage of ammunition, and safety precautions. The training of enlisted men included a series of films on ammunition handling and identification, practical work in winch driving and hatch tending, electric lift truck operation, and ship rigging. Lectures were also given on safety precautions. In addition to training men assigned to the Magazine, these facilities were also used for the training of men from ships berthed at Port Chicago for loading. In May 1945 ComWesSeaFron began to send men to be trained as winchmen and hatch tenders for W.S.A. ammunition ships. In the same month ammunition handling units of 100 men each began to arrive for six week training periods. Practical training in ammunition handling was given at this Magazine while checkers were sent to NAD MI for instruction. Approximately 200 winchmen and hatch tenders were trained for W.S.A. ammunition ships and about 500 ammunition handlers in units during the period from May to August 1945. In April 1945 a special training program was inaugurated for the teaching of reading and writing to about two hundred illiterates.

  9. In Retrospect.

    To enable the responsible officials of the future to take advantage of the successes of the current war and avoid its mistakes, the following are considered the most significant lessons learned at this station:

    1. From a logistic standpoint, it was demonstrated that shipment and arrival of cars containing ammunition and their subsequent temporary storage at a loading station could be coordinated and controlled with scheduled availability of ships without unduly tying up transportation equipment and accrual of excess demurrage.

    2. The wisdom of locating an ammunition loading station at a relatively isolated locality, in contrast to the congested lower San Francisco Bay Area or Navy Yard, Mare Island, was proven in the explosion that took place 17 July 1944.

    3. The safety inherent in storing loaded cars of ammunition in barricaded sidings was also proven in the same explosion.

    4. The inadvisability of employing 100% colored ordnance battalions to handle and load ammunition was amply demonstrated.

    5. Much was gained from practical experience at Port Chicago towards the proper design and construction of a pier for loading ammunition. Based on experience at this station it is believed that such a pier should incorporate the following features:

      1. Each pier should be approximately 1,100 ft. in length to accommodate two ships loading on the outboard side of the pier only.

      2. Ammunition ships should not be loaded abreast of one another at a loading pier.

      3. A loading platform should be provided which should be at least 25 ft. in width and of approximately car floor height.

      4. If main movement of cargo is from car to dock, height of this loading platform should be from two to three inches lower than average floor of box cars.

      5. Not less than three tracks, with adequate crossovers, should be provided for each berth -- two to be used to accommodate cargo, permitting cargo from outboard cars to be loaded through inboard cars when empty, thus minimizing lost time from switching. The third track to be used for a work track (operation of locomotive crane, movement of dunnage, etc.)

      6. Separate approach tracks for each berth should be provided so that cars may be moved to and from a given berth on one pier without interfering with, or interrupting loading operations in progress at the other berth on the same pier.

      7. If more than one pier is provided at a loading station, there should be a minimum of 2,155 feet distance between piers.

      8. Not more than six berths should be provided at one loading station.

      9. Piers should be equipped with adequate flood lights and spark enclosed electric outlets for safety extension cords for explosion proof lights in box cars in order that loading operations may be carried on twenty-four hours a day.

      10. In addition to usual utilities such as fire protection, fresh water, light and power, permanent facilities for compressed air should be provided to permit operation of pneumatic saws in holds of vessels.

      11. It is also desirable that facilities for charging batteries, riggers loft, heads, and an office space be provided on or near each pier to minimize lost time.

      12. From a safety standpoint, it is desirable to minimize pedestrian and vehicular traffic on ship piers and its approaches. Separate approaches for (1) railroad traffic and (2) vehicular and pedestrian traffic are recommended.

    6. Construction of 5 car barricades is recommended in contrast to 15 car barricades. The reasons for this are that BuOrd regulations do not permit storage of more than 250,000 lbs. (5 cars) of high explosives in one barricade, although it is permissible to store as many as 15 cars of projectiles or smokeless powder in one barricade. Since the needs of the forces afloat cannot be anticipated and will fluctuate from time to time, 5 car barricades will permit maximum storage and utilization of available barricade facilities, whereas, if a portion of such facilities are 15 car barricade, unless a proportionate part of each shipment comprises projectiles and smokeless powder, full use of 15 car barricades cannot be made. At Port Chicago there have been numerous instances when the station was required to temporarily store more high explosive cars than it had barricade capacity for. This was primarily due to the fact that many shipments were almost entirely comprised of high explosives, plus the fact that higher authorities in planning ammunition movements used the station's total barricade capacity without giving consideration to its respective capacity for high explosive, projectile and smokeless powder cars. Also it has been this stations' experience that a 15 car, 3 track barricade provides more flexible working conditions than a 15 car single track barricade. If barricades are located at a substantial distance from ship piers, it is recommended that barricade capacity of at least 10 cars per berth be provided at a point close to the pier to minimize lost time in switching.

    7. The layout of the magazines in the Inland Area is excellent in that all magazines, H.E. and G.A., have both rail and truck access. Furthermore, the loading platforms are constructed at car-floor height, rendering the transfer of ammunition in and out of magazines comparatively simple.

    8. Due to the fact that no car blocking shed was included in the original installation of the Inland Area, it was necessary to install certain equipment in one of the G.A. magazines and utilities it as a car blocking building. Car blocking facilities should be provided in close proximity to magazines.

    9. It is not believed that inset magazines constructed as an integral part of HE barricades are practical for the following reasons:

      1. Car capacity of a barricade is reduced proportionately to the amount of material stored in inset magazines. For example, at Port Chicago, there are 5 inset magazines in certain 5 car HE barricades. If one of these inset magazines contains ammunition, it is only permissible to store 4 cars in that barricade.

      2. Material generally cannot be loaded in or out of a given inset magazine, regardless of whether by truck or rail, without moving cars stored in the barricade.

      3. Truck deliveries to Port Chicago inset magazines cannot be effected unless barricades are emptied of railroad cars.

      4. Only side loading or unloading of trucks is possible, whereas many trucks are more efficiently loaded or unloaded from the ends.

      5. When material must be unloaded to avoid tying up foreign box cars, it is more efficient and costs less to transfer such material into station-owned cars and store these cars in barricades than to unload this material into an inset magazine. One handling is eliminated and high explosives can be stored in station-owned box cars in barricades as well as in inset magazines that are an integral part of such barricades. If the question of safety is involved, it is felt that the extra handling is fully as hazardous as having explosives in sealed box cars in barricaded sidings in a continental naval station.

    10. Based on experience of this station, it is recommended that barricaded sidings for at least 4 days loading requirements be provided. For example: at 1000 tons per day loading rate per berth, if a station has 6 berths, 4 days requirements total 24,000 tons. At 40 tons per car, this is equivalent to 600 cars or 100 cars per berth. A minimum of 4 days loading requirements per berth is needed because:

      1. Shipment of large quantities of ammunition from inland and eastern depots (both Army and Navy) was seldom controlled or accomplished within a 3 day margin of scheduled arrival time prior to V-J Day. Steps were under way, however, to improve this control prior to the cessation of hostilities.

      2. Unless cargo being loaded for selective discharge can be accumulated prior to start of loading operations or its arrival very closely controlled from day to day, loading operations will be interrupted with resulting inefficiency, delays, and excessive tying up of ships.

      3. It is not possible to definitely schedule in advance the exact date a given ship will be available to load. Cargo must be ordered from 10 to 30 days in advance so that it may arrive at the loading station in accordance with the tentative date the vessel will to on berth. Ships commonly were not available for loading until 2 or 3 days later than originally scheduled and there have been instances when ships were as much as 7 to 10 days late. Obviously, cars ordered and shipped to arrive in accordance with original and tentative loading date must be held until the ship arrives.

      4. Last minute deletions, substitutions or additions to cargo during the process of loading must be expected to meet the needs of the forces afloat. In one instance it was necessary to discharge approximately 3600 tons from two ships partially loaded due to a last minute change in cargo. This tonnage had to be stored in cars and on lighters approximately one week until disposition of the discharged material could be determined. Meanwhile, cargo in replacement had to be accommodated in addition to cargo arriving for other ships simultaneously loading at other berths.

      5. Arrival dates of cars diverted to Port Chicago while enroute to other Depots cannot be closely controlled and coordinated with scheduled loading periods. Leeway in available barricade capacity is required to accommodate such diversions.

      6. In the San Francisco Bay Area there are restrictions on the receipt of ammunition and high explosives in most localities. Consequently, if cars continue to arrive at Port Chicago and accumulate beyond its barricade capacity, there is a lack of convenient facilities to store such cars. BuOrd does not approve of storing cars on unbarricaded classification tracks, sidings, etc. However, there have been numerous instances when, in furtherance of war effort and for want of other disposition, Port Chicago has had to accept cars in excess of its barricade capacity.

      7. It is obvious from the foregoing, that the need for leeway in barricade capacity increases proportionately with the number of berths at a station. If there are 6 berths, there are six chances of all the above described problems arising with resulting compounded difficulties.

    11. Until January 1945 there were no facilities provided a Port Chicago for the storage of the substantial quantities of lumber required for shoring and dunnaging ships. 30,000 to 40,000 board feet per 1,000 tons of ammunition loaded is required. Facilities for the accumulation and storage of such lumber should be provided when a loading station is constructed. It is also recommended that the location of such lumber bearings be as close to the ship piers as possible. At the same time facilities should similarly be provided for the salvage and reclamation of lumber generated in unloading cars of ammunition. Unless this is done, problems will arise in the disposition of a large volume of scrap lumber without the creation of a severe fire hazard. Moreover, utilization of salvaged lumber for shipboard dunnaging proportionately reduces necessary purchases of lumber with resulting savings to the government and economy in the use of a critical material.

    12. It is believed that the assignment of trained personnel to handle and load ammunition at ammunition depots and magazines is of paramount importance. For the first year and three-quarters of its operation, this station was assigned almost 100% colored enlisted personnel to load substantial quantities of ammunition and high explosives aboard deep draught vessels for overseas shipment. They had received no prior training whatsoever and but a "once over lightly" indoctrination in military conduct and bearing at the Naval Training Station, Great Lakes. In addition, qualified petty officers were not supplied, and the great majority of non-rated men available were not satisfactory petty officer material. Coupled with inexperienced officers, commented upon in more detail in subsequent paragraphs, the result was a most difficult and trying situation for all concerned. Lessons belatedly learned were as follows:

      1. Personnel at ordnance stations should not be predominantly colored, and the ration of white to colored should be at least 70% to 30%.

      2. Personnel handling ammunition should be given training in ammunition handling, identification, and stevadoring (winch driving, ship rigging, driving mules, etc.) before being assigned to the duty of loading ammunition and high explosives aboard vessels.

    13. Much the same situation existed in respect to officers supplied to supervise the handling and loading of ammunition. Stevedoring in itself requires special technical knowledge. Loading explosives aboard deep water vessels requires even greater technical knowledge and practical experience owing to the hazards involved, the knowledge of ammunition required, the restrictions and limitations imposed by Coast Guard regulations, loading for selective discharge, fleet issue, etc. The need for such professional ability is all the more acute when stevedoring is performed by military personnel, since the services of experienced "walking bosses" are not available to supervise actual placement, loading, and shoring of cargo. It is recognized that the number of people available with such training or background is very limited and the demand far exceeds the supply for all the various activities, both Army and Navy -- continental and abroad -- required in the logistics of a global war.

    14. It is therefore strongly recommended that a naval magazine such as this be provided at the outset with qualified personnel and a proper organizational setup. Otherwise, an indifferent work attitude may result which is most difficult to overcome and rectify later on. This involves initially supplying an adequate number of officer and enlisted personnel, supplying such personnel with a proper background and training for the particular duties they will be called upon to perform, and establishing an organizational setup for them to work under that is both practical and in accordance with naval regulations. Specifically, it is recommended that relative rank of the top commands of such a station be in the following order:

        Commanding Officer or Officer-in-Charge;
        Executive Officer;
        Commanding Officer -- Naval Barracks;
        Executive Officer -- Naval Barracks.

    15. In preparing for the eventuality of another war, it is also recommended that thorough study be given to the regulations governing the transportation of military explosives on merchant vessels in time of war. At the outbreak of this war, the only regulations available were I.C.C. regulations (Bureau of Explosives) which were primarily designed for peace-time movement of explosives in small quantities. These regulations, modified by Army classifications, were adopted and resulted in the so-called "Red Book", with the full force and effect of law. Many of the provisions of the "Red Book" were proven to be not applicable to war-time conditions and the necessities of the forces afloat. This resulted in the "First Revision" of the Regulations Governing the Transportation of Military Explosives on Board Vessels During the Present Emergency, NAVG 108. This publication had not been received at this station upon the cessation of hostilities in August 1945.

    16. Also, no loading manual was available for the guidance of naval personnel engaged in loading explosives. Recognizing the need for such standardized instructions, the Commandant of the Twelfth Naval District appointed a board to compile such a manual. This manual has been prepared and submitted to higher authorities in Washington, but as yet the official status of same is not known. Profiting from this experience, it is recommended that an agency in the Navy Department be designated and given the responsibility to prepare safe and practical regulations that meet the requirements of the forces afloat for the transportation of military explosives aboard cargo vessels in time of war, and to prepare an adequate loading manual for the guidance of naval activities required to handle and load ammunition and high explosives. This manual should provide explicit instructions as to the type of gear and methods to be used for loading each type of explosive. In connection with the foregoing, machinery should be set up so that new types of ammunition, packaging, loading methods, etc., may be promptly incorporated in such publications and information concerning same immediately disseminated. Furthermore, these regulations should be drafted in such form that they are not subject to different interpretations by the various loading stations and agencies responsible for their enforcement. Thus, loading operations wherever undertaken will be conducted in a uniform and relatively standardized manner to meet all requirement of safety, efficiency, and practicability.

    17. It is suggested that the policy of charging representatives of the U. S. Coast Guard with the enforcement of such regulations at naval loading facilities be further studied. While it may be desirable to charge the Coast Guard with these responsibilities when loading is performed at a commercial facility by professional civilian stevedores, it is believed such policy is unnecessary at naval loading stations where qualified naval personnel should be available to perform these functions.

* Subsequently established as a separate command.

Source: US Navy. Bureau of Ordnance. "War Time History of U.S. Naval Magazine, Port Chicago, California." 5 Dec. 1945. In "Selected Ammunition Depots, Volume 2" [World War II Administrative History #127-B, located in Rare Book Room, Navy Department Library, Naval Historical Center, Washington, DC.]

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