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.
Carriers based at Naval Air Station Alameda included USS Ranger, USS Midway, USS Coral Sea and USS Hancock. All called Alameda home.
NAS Alameda had two 8,000 ft. runways, three seaplane ramps and a lighted seadrome. The air station had 300 buildings and 30 miles of roads.
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.
- Alameda - The Island City view as HTML
An excerpt from Alameda - The Island City, written in 1941 as part of the United States Federal Government's Works Progress Administration (WPA) Writer's Program. This chapter, found between pages 114 and 120 of the original work, describes the genesis for what ultimately became the Alameda Naval Air Station.
- Welcome Aboard - NAS Alameda view as HTML
An excerpt from Welcome Aboard - NAS Alameda, published by the Armed Forces Directory Service in 1963.