Naval Air Station Alameda’s aircraft repair facility was established in 1941 as the Assembly and Repair (A&R) Department. January 1941 marked the A&R Department’s first induction: a dual-wing, single engine SOC-1 “Scouter” airplane. When the facility opened, 200 military and civilian personnel were under the command of A&R Officer, Capt. L.M. Grant. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, A&R employed some 2,000 personnel and were repairing 14 aircraft per month. The number of workers would soar to 9,000 at the conclusion of World War II and the scope of work included: Grumman F6F Hellcat, Martin JRM Mars, Consolidated PBY Catalina, General Motors TBM Avenger, and Douglas C-118 transport.
Cold War Era
The activity’s name was changed in the 1950’s to the Overhaul and Repair (O&R) Department to reflect an increasing depth and range of aircraft maintenance capabilities. O&R closed out that decade with approximately 5,400 civilian workers.
On April 1, 1967, the O&R Department became an Echelon III Command under the Naval Air Systems Command, and was renamed the Naval Air Rework Facility (NARF). Growing to 7,135 civil service employees, the NARF faced the challenges of emerging technologies and advanced aircraft designs. Reworking propeller-driven aircraft and their components gave way to overhauling modern jets and sophisticated electronic equipment. Vintage war machines were replaced by modern jet powered aircraft such as the Douglass A-3 Skywarrior, Grumman A-6 Intruder, Northrup Grumman EA-6B Prowler, Lockheed P-3 Orion and S-3 Viking.
In 1987, all Naval Air Rework Facilities were renamed Naval Aviation Depots (NADEP). NADEP Alameda subsequently evolved into a $375-million-a-year business. Overhaul of S-3, A-6, and EA-6B aircraft continued, while installation of complex electronic warfare suites in the P-3 Orion become a primary role.
Servicing 12,000 individual avionic and airframe components, NADEP Alameda managed the Navy’s largest aircraft component repair program. Deport personnel repaired over 80,000 units and covered 5,000 critical aircraft components for which NADEP Alameda was the Navy’s sole repair site. The depot was also the only overhaul site for the T56 and TF34 aircraft engines. The depot’s engineers maintained over 2,500 technical manuals used in all levels of Navy maintenance. In addition, Alameda’s “Voyage Repair Team” accomplished catapult and arresting gear repairs onboard aircraft carriers.
The 1993 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) committee determined that the six Naval Aviation Depots possessed excess industrial capacity. Consequently, three of the depots were selected for closure, one of which was NADEP Alameda. After 56 years of superior performance in service of the United States Navy, the facility closed in 1997 as directed by the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1990.
Naval Air Station Alameda’s aircraft repair facility was a professional organization dedicated to maintaining the fleet readiness. Alameda’s facility was the largest industry in the East Bay area and was proud of its reputation.
The number of fleet aircraft had increased a thousand fold since World War II. Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) had moved into the arena. From the bottom of the sea to the cold vacuum of outer space, the responsibility for the defense of the West became a herculean effort. Alameda kept our resources in ready condition.
Workload became even more focused on Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) operational readiness. The facility reduced the time that vital ASW aircraft engines and systems were out of action for required rework. ASW would comprise more than half of Alameda’s workload. The rest of the workload was broken down as follows:
- One third – Repair and rework of A3, A6, S3 and P3 aircraft.
- One tenth – Repair and rework of J52, 501K, T56 and TF34 aircraft engines.
- One third – Repair and rework of aircraft components, avionics systems and engine accessories.
- One twentieth – Repair and rework of Sparrow, Phoenix and Shrike missiles.
Naval Air Station Alameda’s aircraft repair facility employed 237 separate trades that were capable of manufacturing any needed aircraft part. Specialized facilities, within the complex, were a foundry, pattern shop, plating shop, parachute loft, clean rooms and machine shops. Extensive paint stripping, paint shops, and weapons testing areas were also available. These capabilities were developed early in World War II and strengthened over three succeeding decades and generations of workers. Alameda was noted for it’s “can-do” spirit. A production record respected by the fleet that placed safety of flight above all else.
24 thoughts on “History of Naval Aviation Depot Alameda”
I was stationed with the USMCR during the Vietnam war had many good memories there.
This was my first duty station with VA-303 in June 1977. I have some of my fondest memories of my Navy career right there at the hangar next to the runway and estuary. I arrived as an E3 PN and left as a 3rd class PO. My motto was to learn everything I could about my rating and take care of my shipmates as my priorities. It worked! I retired in ’97 as one of the most senior 1st class PN’S in the TAR program. Retired many shipmates over the years but the best one was for a Chief who drilled in Atlanta, GA but returned to Asheville Reserve center so I could retire him and do it right! Thanks Chief for your confidence in me.
Thanks to the Navy and Alameda NAS where I began my career and have some of my best memories of service.
Many wonderful memories of my tour in Alameda. Very sorry to see it ‘retired’ by BRAC.
Was glad to see your comments on this site. I left VA-303 in June 1978 and later went regular Navy retiring in June 1992 as a Chief Master
at Arms. We lived in Fortuna, Ca. and in 1996 became Salvation Army Officers. Our last assignment was Roseburg, Oregon. We would
go through Coquille on your way to Coos Bay and would think about you and Kerri. I would often think of Rick Futch, John Foster, and
Jim Eden. Where did you retire? We now live in Elk Grove, Ca just south of Sacramento, Ca. Would enjoy hearing from you. Take care.
ADC (AW) Charles CJ Jones. i had the privilege to be station at Nadep 1989-1992, Assistant Component project officer, an outstanding tour of duty, a lot of great professionals who produce a great and Quality product in all facets. the quality and reliability was second to none, I made chief with the support of a lot of good Ship-mates and Nadep professionals. A lot of good memories, after all the wonderful and productive years, I hated to see it go, I still think that it hurt the Navy’s readiness because no one could match the Quality and Reliable products and support that Naval Air Station Alameda gave, to this day readiness still suffering, a big mistake by BRAC.
I haven’t seen you in quite a few years, Charles; hope you and your lovely wife are doing well. Regards/Rick Patterson
My father, Capt. Rupert S. Miller, was the first commanding officer of Alameda’s Naval Air Rework Facility. I was a lucky Navy brat, as the kind of work my dad did kept him ashore, and with his family. NAS Alameda was a great place to be a 7-, 8-, and 9-year-old. Completely fenced and well policed by the Shore Patrol, the station was safe enough for me to walk to school (at the “Naval Air Primary School”), and to ride my bicycle to the small pool, movie theater, and tiny library.
In those days, flight operations were constant. Mostly F-4s, I believe, and probably not using any noise-abatement procedures. As a result, we all learned the trick of just stopping mid-sentence during a conversation when a jet roared overhead, then picking up again at the point we’d left off when the sound died down. There was also a floating pier in an unused section of the dock area, and we were allowed to go fishing there. For a lot of the year, I could just take a bunch of old hooks and tie them to lead weights, then wrap them in aluminum foil and sink the mess down to the bottom. After an hour, if you slowly pulled it all back up, there would often be one or more crabs, fooled by the foil into thinking it was a dead fish. I’d take them home and my parents would get fresh steamed crab for dinner, while I ate a peanut butter sandwich. No worries, I never liked crab, but it was very cool to catch them for my folks.
I have a lot of good memories from being a Navy brat, but the best ones are from those days at Alameda.
love this so much! Thanks for the memories. My dad and my uncle were stationed there in 1946 and now we regret not hearing about their days spent there!
Just realized I never mentioned the years I was there. They were 1965 to 1967.
Very interesting memories. I was a navy brat in Alameda during the same 2 years. We lived off-base in a newly constructed apartment. The apartment and the street are now gone. I was in Kindergarten at the time and attended Woodstock Elementary. My brothers attended Ensign High School. I recall my older brother fishing on that floating pier and the day he caught a small shark. My father was promoted to E9 while stationed at Alameda so he and your father probably knew each other. His specialty was avionics.
One memory I have that sticks out was when the Enterprise docked there. The superstructure rose up like a city. I’m still upset with my brothers for leaving me behind when they went for a tour of it.
Hey, Jerry! If your dad was an avionics Master Chief, then it does seem very likely that they met each other. Small world. Also, I was there on that pier when a young man (who seemed impossibly mature to nine-year-old me) caught a small shark. Creature flopped around on that pier like a Tasmanian Devil for quite a while. Catching sharks wasn’t unheard of, but it was fairly rare. Who knows? Maybe that was your brother who caught the one I saw.
The name “Woodstock” rings a bell. I think I went there for a year before they opened NAPS. So long ago, now, can’t be sure.
And, yeah, I’d be irritated forever if I got left out of a tour of that Enterprise. Kind of sad there isn’t one in the Navy now.
When she was 20 years old, my mother was a civilian who worked at NAS Alameda. She worked in the Supply Dept., Disposal Division, Supervisor’s section. She did secretarial and clerical tasks, and was employed there between January 1949 and December 1949.
My dad, Orison D. Hughes, got a job in A & R in April 1941 where he was paid $1.00 an hour, or so he told me. He worked there until 1968 when he retired. He had fond memories of the Alameda NAS and especially of his lunch time card games with his buddies there.
I wonder if he knew my dad!! Is he still alive?
I was Stationed at NAS Alameda from Aug 1976 until Oct 1981. I was assigned to the jet engine repair shop AIMD hanger 41. It was the best military experience anyone could imagine. I still remember Chief Worsham, and our Civilian workers Lou Trotter (T-58 Shop), and Earl Evans who I had the honor of working with in the T-64 shop, and out at the test cells at the “High Power Turn up Area. I would like to get hold of Chase,Michael. and smitty who worked in the engine shops during that time. I went on to enlist in the Utah Air National Guard working and flying on the KC-135 refueling tanker, Retiring in 2011 as a Senior Master Sergeant. I visited the base back in 2005. Though I was saddened to see the conditions of the base, I was elated to see the Air Museum and how they were going to use hanger. They even had our AIMD Logo that hung on the Mezzanine above the entrance to the engines shops. Alameda has done the best they can using the facilities for housing and commercial endeavors. I hope to return again in 2019 and see what progress has been. done. At least I had the privilege of serving there during the bases finest years.
Civil servant, P-3 weapon systems, 1990- 1993. Moved on to JAX. Miss Alameda!
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Miss the fellas out there. Cut my teeth on P-3’s. I do miss the SF bay area
I started work at NARF in Jan 1977. I was relocated to NAS Coronado in 1995 after BRAC closed the base. I started on the A-6 line as an aircraft electrical worker working for Frank Dicker.I was promoted into E&E. I ended NADEP on the S-3 line under Jesse Blue. I left NADEP Alameda as EE and became Planner Estimator in San Diego. Those almost 20 years at NARF to NADEP were great. I worked alongside many great people. Some of which we are still in contact today. It was a sad time when the decision came to close Alameda. But it is good to see people still talking about there times at Alameda. I have gone back and visited NAS Alameda. It was good to see private business making NAS Alameda their home.
My name is Jon Robberson, civilian, born in Fremont on February 29, 1972. My memories of what my family simply termed “the base” are very precise and back in the late 70’s, absolutely detailed and wonderful. My grandfather was Jay Cecil Weaver, United States Navy. He served in WW2 in the Pacific and I know for certain he served in the Solomons, Marshalls and Carolinas. He was a Sea Bee & also served in Service of Supply. I believe he was mostly aboard heavy cruisers. Anyhow, as a little boy (as well as today) I’ve always been a military history enthusiast. And as you folks may recall, up through the early 80’s, you were permitted on-base if you were a civilian but you had to be under 12 years old. My mom’s side of the family were humble working class and my dad and several uncles worked for either Mack Western or Peterbilt. So we were of modest means. However my grandparents would shop for our groceries at the commissary and when I was 8 my grandma bought for me, the Millennium Falcon at “the Exchange “ (I can still remember the Exchange price sticker). We also used to fish off the octagonal pier that is now crumbling back into the SF Bay. I remember pulling up a huge crab like it was yesterday. That was 38 years ago. Wow. I remember the hot dog storefront and the ice cream place too.In 1982, during Fleet Week, I got to tour the USS Enterprise at age 10. Incredible. The only place in the whole Bay Area that could even remotely match visiting “the base” was a trip to the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant in Santa Clara. I forgot to mention, my aforementioned granddad was a Chief Petty Officer and also a plank owner. If you check Google Earth it appears that the old Exchange storefront and miniature boardwalk promenade are still there but the grocery store (we called it the commissary) has either been demolished or it might’ve burned down. It’s hard to tell. Well, here’s a final salute to the US Marines in their Class A’s (complete with white patent leather gun belts and .45s) and a final wave to the hardworking cashiers who pounded away on those chunky old brown electromechanical cash registers when they sold my Grandma and Grandpa Weaver a $28.99 Millennium Falcon and gave a 9 year old kid the best Christmas ever! God bless the United States Navy. God bless the United States Marine Corps. God bless President Trump, each of you who took a moment to share these memories & God bless the USA!!
Husband was on the Carl Vinson, docked in Alameda, I was civil service in Admin as a Mgmt Analyst at nARF 1993 to 1997. Trying to find priest, Father Murray.
My Grandfather was a plank owner of which I am very proud of
I was stationed with the aircraft escort division at NAS Alameda from Jan 69 to Sept 70. I would love to find anybody that was in that unit or knows but that Unit. Please I need to find my History with this Unit.
I started work at the Depot in Nov. 1977 working in Radio/Radar (Electonic Flight Test) Worked there until it closed in 1995/6. It weas a real interesting crew of individuals that I worked with. Started out working A6-A/E program S-3A program and eventually the P-3 Line in IN Oscar 8 area.
Spent some time in the Missile Building 1987 (Shrike area). 1988-1990. traveled to Moffett Field to work on Alameda P-3C Update III .!994 I was picked up, after base closure was made known, by NADEP Jacksonville and worked Flight Check there until I retired in 2007. Traveled back to Alameda in 1996 to help get the last 2 EP-3E’s out End of flight operations.
Stationed on the USS Coral Sea from 1979-1982, which was home-ported at Alameda. After a stint repairing computers at Atari, started working on the S-3 line under Frank Dicker, who was my father’s best friend (Back in the 70s I was “Forced” to go out boating every weekend with Frank’s four daughters) Worked on the S-3, A-6 and P-3 line….Then worked base clean-up from 1995 until April 1997.
My father worked at Alameda rework on various lines, becoming General foreman of the P-3 line, then GF of the metal shop. The one time I worked under him (1983) I was terrified because I knew he wouldn’t “cut me any slack”….So I was removing panels from the bottom of the wing of a A-3 and the head mech suddenly came up to me; “Hey, Eric- get down from there- it’s break time…and you are making us look bad!”