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.
Now capable of repairing more than 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.
In 1993, the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) committee determined that the corporation consisting of 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 the technology demands of maintaining the fleet in 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. Additionally, Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) had moved more and more 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.
In time, the workload became even more focused on Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) operational readiness. The facility reduced the time that vital ASW aircraft engines and related systems were out of action for required rework. Eventually, 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 three generations of workers. Alameda was noted for it’s “can-do” spirit and a production record respected by the fleet that placed safety of flight above all else.