Since 1965 NAS Alameda CA1 has been the homeport of the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43). A high tempo of operations was maintained throughout the Vietnam War. Other carriers based at NAS Alameda included USS Enterprise, USS Ranger, USS Midway, and USS Hancock. All called Alameda home.
In the 1967 photo below right to left: USS Coral Sea (CVA-43), USS Hancock (CVA-19), two auxiliary ships, and USS Ranger (CVA-61) at NAS Alameda, CA.
To maintain the channel ship worthy, each year a million cubic yards of silt must be dredged. A 1,000-foot-wide channel is maintained from the piers at Alameda to the deep water of San Francisco Bay. These piers have complete facilities to accommodate the largest aircraft carriers.
NAS Alameda had two 8,000 ft. runways and three seaplane ramps. In 1967 the aircraft field was named in honor of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.
Naval Air Reserve Unit
The Naval Reserve Unit is the nation's largest single Air Reserve activity, comprising as it does seven Reserve Force Squadrons, four Flying Reinforcing Units, fourteen Ground Sustaining Units, and ten Air Intelligence Units. Involved are 2,000 Selected Air Reservists.
Marine Air Group 42
Marine Air Group 42 is the largest contingent of Marines in Northern California. It provides training, supervision, and support for five Selected Marine Corps Reserve Units—175 active officers and enlisted men who fly A-4 Skyhawks and CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters.
One of the largest facilities at NAS Alameda is the Naval Air Rework Facility, the principal tenant. An industrial component of the Naval Air System Command, it was commissioned on April 1, 1967. Occupying 139 acres, it is one of six Naval Air Rework Facilities and employs almost 5,000 civilian employees, about 75 percent of them being blue-collar workers. It has over two million square feet of covered space in seventy buildings. Upon call, it sends special groups2 to repair aircraft stationed abroad yet repairs about 200 aircraft at the facility annually, with each aircraft requiring an average of forty working days.
The Alameda Naval Air Station has a remarkable history. It was one of the largest, most complete Naval Air Stations in the world. It was commissioned on November 1, 1940 and commanded by Captain Frank McCrary. There were 200 military and civilian personnel.
The workers at the Naval Air Station represented 271 separate and distinct trades and could manufacture and repair every part of any aircraft. In time, modern production methods insured that the overhaul of an attack aircraft was completed every day and one and a half patrol aircraft every other day.
The base was once part of an Indian burial ground, and later was part of a Spanish land grant of Don Luis Maria Peralta. In 1864, the terminus of the first transcontinental railroad ended at Pier 2 at the old Alameda Point. Old Alameda Point was in the confines of what became the Alameda Naval Air Station. An oil refinery was built in 1879 and was purchased by Standard Oil. It operated until 1903. The site of the Engine Overhaul Building was used as the Pacific Borax Works.
The City of Alameda saw the possibility for a Naval Base on the west end of the island of Alameda. In 1936, Congress authorized Franklin Delano Roosevelt to accept the old Alameda Point for the purchase price of $1.00.
The Alameda Naval Air Station was created just in time for World War II. The original site was 300 acres of high ground. Note: When the station closed in 1997 the total area was 2,527 acres or one-third of the island of Alameda.
Dredging operations began in 1938 and the air station grew almost overnight. In January 1941, the Assembly and Repair Department (A&R) received its first assignment. One Curtis Sea Gull (SOC) aircraft was the first one overhauled. On December 7, 1941 the A&R employed 1,935 personnel and repaired 14 aircraft a month. In 1958 O&R produced 1,305 jet engines and 881 reciprocating engines.
From World War II through the Korean Conflict and Vietnam, NAS Alameda supported the Department of the Navy's defense mission until operational closure in 1997. Christmas 1994 represented the last time two aircraft carriers and a cruiser — USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) and USS Arkansas (CGN-41) — were home ported together at the air station's piers.
The Navy was deeply involved in the history, traditions and culture of California, so too, was it bound to economics with this region so popular with seafaring men.
1 This web site contains information limited to the time I was on duty aborad the USS Coral Sea.
2 Upon seperation from active duty in October 1969, I was employed by NARF Alameda as a systems expert for E-2 and A-6 aircraft. I served aboard numerous fleet carriers on field teams as a civilian employee of the Department of the Navy in this capacity both ashore and underway at sea. At times of urgent need we were flown to carriers in operations underway and also deployed to overseas Naval Stations to perform scheduled major system upgrades.