Page images

Board, in order to shift the dry docks farther to the westward, and thus insure solid rock support throughout their entire bottom areas. When the location is so shifted, the foundation conditions at Hunters Point may be classed as excellent. There are, of course, comparatively large amounts of fill, rock excavation, and of rock and sandclay dredging, and while these items add somewhat to the cost, the net result is a distinct advantage. Everything required for a naval base would have to be included in the initial project, as the property is now unimproved, and it is the opinion of all officers with whom I have consulted that the existing privately owned docks belonging to the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation should not be acquired by the Government, but should be encouraged as a commercial activity necessary for the port and available for the Navy in time of war. As in the case of the Alameda site, I have made a fairly close estimateomitting the cost of real estate--of the entire project, in the light of present market conditions, and submit as my opinion that it could be constructed at a cost of $49,359,000, and assuming the most favorable conditions for expediting Government work of this character, together with the usual contract procedure, the work could be completed in from four and one-half to five years. If these assumptions are not realized, this period will be very considerably exceeded. I am assuming wholesale operations, such as were adopted for the Panama Canal, in estimating my time.

Transportation facilities are satisfactory, sources of supply excellent, and labor conditions about the same as at Alameda.

For the Carquinez Straits site no definite layout of docks and piers has yet been adopted by any sanctioned authority. Since I first proposed this site in my report of July, 1919, I have made a number of tentative layouts, and some rough comparative studies as to cost, but inasmuch as all layouts involving an outboard location of dry docks must necessarily await the results of borings now in progress, I have, for the purposes of estimating, adopted a layout affording a rock foundation for dry docks, which I will show you, marked "Scheme E.” In this layout I have indicated for immediate construction the same general water-front and dry-dock facilities as were adopted by the Helm Board, but—as did the Helm Board at the other sitesbesides the two docks, I have indicated by dotted lines locations for two additional docks which I believe will ultimately become necessary for the proper and expeditious upkeep of the fleet. The two docks indicated for present construction are founded on rock, and one of them has its prism entirely within rock. The piers extend to or beyond the present 35-foot-depth contour, and the intervals between piers, together with the entrances to dry docks, are to be dredged to 40 feet below mean low water. Because of the availability of existing shop facilities at the Mare Island Navy Yard, no buildings are included in this layout beyond an additional storehouse, a power substation, and sheds for outside machinist and dock gear. The station would be served by a railroad loop connecting, via the causeway, with transcontinental railroad lines, and public utilities would be served from Mare Island sources. I estimate the cost of executing this entire work at $27,916,000. Assuming the usual Government methods, the work should be completed within three years, and one dock could be opened for service two years after the beginning of actual construction.


It should be borne in mind that the above estimate includes the initial cost of deepening the channel through Pinole Shoal, which now averages 35 feet in depth by 500 feet in width, to 40 feet in depth by 1,000 feet in width, as well as an item to cover the cost of removing the ammunition depot from its present location to the reclaimed area near the northern limits of the yard reservation.

I might say, parenthetically, that I do not believe a channel as wide as 1,000 feet is necessary, but I have included the cost of such channel in order to place beyond doubt its practicability for use by capital ships.

It will be seen from the foregoing statement that by the adoption of the Carquinez Straits site there will be saved to the Government approximately $22,500,000, as compared with the cost of the Helm Board layout at Alameda, and approximately $21,400,000, as compared with the cost of the same board's layout at Hunters Point. There will also be saved the equivalent of the capitalized value of the administration expense at an additional and distant station, which may be evaluated as an investment equivalent to $50,000,000, if the annual cost of administration of the separate station be placed at $2,000,000, and the Government's rate of interest be 4 per cent. If the new base is located at either of the Lower Bay sites, one of two results must follow. The Mare Island Navy Yard will be retained in operation as a base adjunct, or it will be abandoned-no other alternative exists. If Mare Island continues to operate, the capitalized value of the annual cost of administering it, added to the excess in first cost of the additional station, will bring the total increase in the Government's investment to the somewhat imposing sum of $70,000,000. If Mare Island be abandoned, its present value-estimated at $35,000,000—added to the excess cost of the new station, will make the total increase in investment $55,000,000. The obligation of either sum is a matter of sufficient importance to justify the most searching and exhaustive consideration of any alternate plan which offers even a promise of achieving some measure of greater economy.

Obviously, no anticipated saving, no matter how great, would justify a project which, when completed, would be impracticable from the operating standpoint. It remains to be established, therefore, whether or not the Carquinez Straits station, if in existence, would be approachable and usable with convenience by capital ships.

As stated in my report of July, 1919, I am in full accord with the Helm Board in the opinion that the Mare Island Navy Yard, as it now exists, with the Mare Island Strait as its approach channel and water front, is absolutely impracticable for development into a docking and repair station such as is demanded by the Navy of today. I believe it to be impracticable to obtain and maintain at a reasonable annual expense a depth of water in Mare Island Strait exceeding 30 feet below mean lower low water; and even if the desired depth could be obtained and maintained, it would still be inadequate for Navy needs because of its constricted width.

Mr. BRITTEN. I did not quite understand that. Did you say that it might be impracticable?

Commander Cox. To obtain and maintain. It can be obtained.

Mr. BRITTEN. Then I did not understand your previous sentence about the maintenance of a repair station. Will you read that sentence again; just the one before the last? I thought you said it was impracticable, or they could not be maintained as a great repair plant.

Commander Cox. Let me read it again.
Mr. BRITTEN. Thank you.

Commander Cox. As stated in my report of July, 1919, I am in full accord with the Helm Board in the opinion that the Mare Island Navy Yard, as it now exists, that is, with the Mare Island Strait as its approach channel and water front

Mr. BRITTEN. I think the captain is quoting from the Helm Board.

Mr. Hicks. That is the point-you are giving, not your own opinion, but the Helm report. Bring that out.

Commander Cox. I agree with the Helm Board entirely, and I am quoting it indirectly, not having looked up to see what the exact language that they used is.

Mr. BRITTEN. Then, is this quotation your personal opinion ?
Commander Cox. It is my personal opinion.

Mr. BRITTEN. That is what I wanted to have made clear. I see. Just read that again, please.

Commander Cox. As stated in my report of July, 1919, I am in full accord with the Helm Board in the opinion that the Mare Island Navy Yard, as it now exists—those last four words, I think, must be mine. It is my opinion, and that is the reason I did not quote it literally. It must be borne in mind that I am referring to Mare Island Straits and Mare Island Yard as it is now, and not to my scheme for Carquinez Straits station. Now, if I may be permitted to interrupt myself I will state that I appear to be alone in the opinion that the practical depth for Mare Island Straits is 30 feet below mean lower low water. Others with whom I have consulted hold the opinion that a greater depth can be maintained. The Army engineers hold that it is practicable to maintain a depth of 35 feet in Mare Island Straits, and they are now, under the authority of the War Department, excavating the channel to that depth. Personally I do not share that opinion. I know it is easy to maintain a 30-foot channel, but I will not state professionally that I think the maintenance of a 35-foot channel will be within what I consider the reasonable annual expenditure justified by the service demanded for it. My opinion, however, should not weigh against that of Army experts who are more experienced in work of this character.

Mr. Hicks. Let me interrupt you there a minute. I think we, most of us, understand what you now mean. You are now referring to the straits up to the yard, as it now exists?

Commander Cox. Yes.

Mr. Hicks. You are not referring to the straits down in Pinole Shoal ?

Commander Cox. No; I have not touched that.
Mr. Hicks. That is where there may be some confusion.

Commander Cox. I refer to Mare Island Straits only. I am trying to lead up to why I conceived this project.

[ocr errors]

Mr. CURRY. It is the channel as it now exists.
Mr. HICKS. Yes.

Commander Cox. And I make the statement that even if the desired depth could be obtained and maintained in Mare Island Straits, it would still be inadequate for Navy needs because of its constricted width.

I do maintain, however, that it is not only possible but entirely practicable to maintain any required depths in berths alongside the quay wall for ships undergoing long repairs; hence while the Mare Island Straits is not available for the general purposes of a navy yard water front, it can be made to serve as a most excellent fitting out basin for long time work. The best support for this statement lies in the fact that adequate berths are now being maintained for the accommodation of such ships as the United States Army transport Mount Vernon, a ship drawing as much water as the largest battleship afloat and of considerably greater length.

I agree entirely with the Helm Board's conclusion that there should be a second docking depot at some other point on San Francisco Bay, and I differ with that commission only in that I believe that the ideal location for this additional station is off the south end of Mare Island, where its water front would abut on the deep water of Carquinez Straits, involving a minimum of dredging; where foundation conditions are excellent; where the shops and facilities now existing at Mare Island could be utilized to the fullest extent; where Mare Island's ideal labor conditions and ideal climate could be enjoyed; and, finally, where the two stations could be under one administration and could operate under one adminstrative overhead.

Some 16 months have elapsed since my report was submitted, and I see no reason for changing or modifying any opinion expressed therein. There have been various objections raised by advocates of

. other sites, but with the exception of this one they are either wholly insignificant or are of such small moment as to warrant me in ignoring them in a general statement. Again, I am excluding the question of military needs. There is, however, one objection to the Carquinez Straits site which demands serious attention. I refer to the stretch of shoal water across San Pablo Bay and between the south end of Mare Island and Pinole Point, known as “Pinole Shoals." The Helm Board's condemnation of Mare Island, as far as it may have been influenced by the evil reputation of Pinole Shoal, was justified by the evidence before it. I now request the commission to consider my next statement in the light of new evidence. At the time of the sittings of the Helm Board in 1916 there had been no consistent attempts to provide and maintain an adequate channel through Pinole Shoals. Under the authority of Congress the War Department started work on a channel 30 feet deep by 500 feet wide in 1916. The authorizing act also provided for the construction of a dredge to be devoted exclusively to the maintenance of this channel. Prior to this time, engineers both in the Army and Navy had expressed the opinion that the maintenance of such a channel was of doubtful practicability. The work was completed in 1917–18, and since that time the channel has not only been maintained for 40 per cent less than the estimated annual cost but has actually been deepened considerably beyond the authorized depth, and the specially constructed dredge has not been used on Pinole Shoal for more than 60 per cent of its


time. The result is that to-day this channel, which was designed for

. a depth of 30 feet, has a controlling depth of 32.8 feet and averages 35 feet below mean lower low water.

It must therefore be apparent not only to professional engineers but to the layman that the maintenance of a channel 35 feet deep throughout is no longer a problem but a demonstrated certainty, and it is the opinion of all experts whom I have consulted, including at least three different Army engineers, who have been in charge of the first San Francisco district, that it is entirely practicable to provide and to maintain at reasonable expense a channel 40 feet deep and 500 feet wide, or, if desired, a 40-foot channel of twice the width, or 1,000 feet wide, as has been included in my estimates of cost. It may not be out of place to state that the War Department has already authorized under existing funds the improvement of Pinole Shoal to 35 feet depth throughout, which work is now under way and that in accordance with the estimates of the district engineer, Col. E. E. Winslow, C. E., United States Army, as contained in his letter of July 7, 1920: "It is expected with these funds that there will result a gradual increase in the width of this channel to not less than 600 feet, and not improbably eventually to 800 feet." In this connection the commission's attention is invited to the enlarged chart of Pinole Shoal on which I have indicated the soundings in colors. Those shown in red are less than 35 feet while those in green exceed 35 feet, and it will be noted that the depths in some cases now exceed 38 feet below mean lower low water.

It must be apparent to the commission that provision of a 40-foot. depth, and any reasonable width, throughout Pinole Shoal, is, as was stated in effect by the Helm board in its report, a perfectly practical proposition and an engineering question only,

It is, however, of interest to the commission to determine just what constitutes a reasonable and justifiable annual maintenance expenditure. This, of course, the commission is competent to do for

. itself, but it may be proper to point out the obvious principle that any annual expenditure which, when capitalized at the Government's borrowing rate and added to the initial cost of the project, will result in a sum appreciably less than the saving in money to be expected from the improvement is, according to business standards, justifiable. Applying this principle, the annual maintenance cost of a 40-foot by 500-foot channel, as estimated by the district engineer, is $150,000, and the Government's borrowing rate may be assumed at 4 per cent. The equivalent investment would therefore be $3,750,000. The estimated initial cost of such a channel, as given by the district engineer, is $1,250,000, and the saving which I estimate will result from the adoption of the Carquinez Straits site is, say, $20,000,000, or nearly four times the initial and capitalized maintenance cost. If the same criterion is applied to the scheme for a 40-foot by 1,000-foot channel it will be found that the saving is over two times the real and equivalent investment.

The practicability of navigating such a channel as I have assumed in inclement weather and in the fogs which are prevalent throughout the bay is, of course, a question regarding which my opinion must necessarily carry little weight. Nevertheless, it may not be out of place to state that the saving to be effected by the adoption of Carquinez Straits site would more than justify the comparatively

« PreviousContinue »