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Historical Documents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.

24 thoughts on “History of Alameda Naval Air Station

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. Yes in the 1970’s I was a NAS Alameda and the Oriskani was retrofitted there and it was then scrapped after that. I served at NAS Alameda at the base dispensary from 76 to 79 and the Oriskani left about 6 months after I arrived. RobinLee Schieding Phillips

    2. Dear Warren, I am an amateur naval aviation historian and very much enjoy meeting and interviewing WW2 and Korean era pilots – unfortunately now few in number. Nowadays the best sources are often logbooks and personal papers, and I wonder if you still have any of your Dad’s. I would be happy to defray the expense of duplication and any other costs involved. My collection of copies includes many famous and not-so-famous pilots of all types of USN/USMC aircraft. If you have had little success in finding out about the modernization of ORISKANY I can do some research in my library. As you likely know, it was the last and most extensive of the ESSEX-class done, and had an exceptional record before in Korea and afterwards in Vietnam.

      1. Dear Jason, I hope you don’t mind my contacting you. I ran across your name as I was beginning research regarding the father of a friend of mine. The only name I have for him is his last name, Heyl. I’m told he was a part of the development of Alameda Naval Air Station and that he died in an aviation accident off the east coast in the 1944-45 time frame. I know that’s not much to go on, but it’s a start. If you could lead me in any direction, it would be a great help. Thanks a million,
        Lou Richards

    1. Ed – I am looking for a roster of photographers who worked NAS Alameda in 1953-54. Is there a group or historical organization you can refer?

  4. Hello Mr. Ranson,
    Did you know a Donald L Nunn in 1959 Alameda Navy by chance ? He ran a craft shop there, I’m searching for my biological father.
    My apologies if this causes any inconvenience but I’m trying everything I know and can. My email is lgc460@me.com.

    Thank you,
    Sincerely Lisa.

  5. I served a great tour of duty in Comflog wing pac, VR-2, first reenlistment and Flew as engineer on the Martin Mars. 1954-56

  6. I remember Alameda Naval air station 1958 or 57 when a pilot was killed in a crash who was married to the commanding officer”s daughter. As a chaplain in Treasure Island I had to conduct the funeral. Aaron Krauss

  7. I was stationed at the base from February 1970 to October 1972. I was on loan (TAD) from Squadron VR 30 to the Master of Arms Force at the gally. I would like to know what happened to my 1st class signalman in charge of us. Unfortunately, I cannot remember his name. I would appreciate any help anyone provide.

  8. I worked @Alameda Naval Air Station from 1964 thru 1967. I was a Timekeeper & Accounting Clerk. I was a model & Pin-up for the Alameda NAS & also @Hawaii Naval Air Station. Does anyone remember the event when the Actor that played Elliott Ness was at the NAS?

  9. I served aboard the CORAL SEA 1981-84 as she called Alameda HOME for the last time in 1983 when she was reassigned to her new HomePort
    Of Norfolk, Va. at the end of a World cruise.

  10. I was stationed at NAS Alameda with VP=47 in 1960 as an Aviation Electronics Technician. It was some of the best years of my life. I would take the Bay Bridge to San Francisco and down to the beaches. I drove through the mountains around San Jose and all around the bay. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I still have a pewter trolley from Nob Hill and many wonderful memories. I left Alameda and went to Japan and finally to Seattle. I now live in South Carolina.

  11. Nas Alamedawas still a hoping place in the 80’s. I worked as a radar weapons tech AQ at aimed. It was a great place to serve. A6 and A7intruder were maintained and repaired for the Big E and the Carl Vinson.

  12. I was Avionics Chief in a Marine Air attack squadron, VMA-133, stationed at NAS Alameda. It was a Marine Reserve squadron, where we worked on A4’s, and our pilots flew them, one weekend a month. Each summer we took the planes and squadron to another base for two weeks of training. I served from 1961 – 1968.

  13. I served with HM-15 as the first fling chief Petty Officer as the Operatoons Chief from 1988 to 1992. Great squadron and a great Naval Station.

  14. I was a young boy who set pins for 10 cents per game in the around 1945-47
    I’m writing stories about my boyhood for my grandchildren.
    I’m now 85. My family resides on a Burbank St.
    If you can will you direct me to some photos of that facility?
    Thank you,

    1. Are you looking for pictures of the bowling alley in 1945-1947, or on Burbank Street? Burbank St is a palm tree lined street that has quite a history as well!

    2. Harvey – Here is a link to some high res images of NAS Alameda (copy and paste https://tinyurl.com/Pics-of-NAS-Alameda or do a google search on “pictures of NAS Alameda, Ca.”
      I retired as a SCPO stationed at the NARDAC (located in two buildings – Building 5 and Building 62) on NAS Alameda. I had my retirement ceremony on the green just outside the main entrance to the Admin Building ( which is now the City of Alameda Town Hall).
      I lived in Alameda for 26 years – What a great little city. I moved in 2006 and understand the city as well as the base have gone through some exciting changes.

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