History of Alameda Naval Air Station Home » History

nas-alameda-logoThe 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. History brochure McCrary WWI.  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.  History Brochure of NAS-A, the Piers, Building #77

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.

Historical Documents

Alameda – The Island City

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

An excerpt from “Welcome Aboard – NAS Alameda”, published in 1963 by the Armed Forces Directory Service.

5 thoughts on “History of Alameda Naval Air Station

  1. Would like to continue to refer guests and rentals your way, but cannot find your contact information anymore. Please send ASAP!


  2. I served at the air base a board the USS Samuel Gompers AD37. It’s been many years since I have been there. I loved the view and the flight back pizza place. I’m happy to hear that the history is being displayed for everyone to see and learn.

  3. I served on the Alameda Naval Air Base with VF 150 Air Group which served aboard the USS Constellation Air Craft Carrier in 1960.
    Working as Air Craft Support we had great views of San Francisco from the main runways.

  4. Does anyone know if the Oriskany’s retrofit around 1959 thru 1964 (exact date i do not know), was performed at Alameda ? My dad Commander John Warren Ramsey (my dad) was the Exec Officer on Big O During the refit. If anyone knows let me know something. I am visiting the Hornet soon (my dad served his 2nd tour of Guadal Canal with VF-11 on CVA 12 Hornet). While i am there i would like to look up history of the Oriskany retrofit. Finishing up his fighter pilot duties of WWII and Korea he was in Naval Weapons as he was an engineer also. He oversaw the Oriskany’s upgrades that would be used in Vietnam.

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