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Capt. George, I might say, was our war commandant here, a man of great activity and great ability, and the work the yard did during the war was in great measure due to his administration. I am very proud, indeed, to have been one of his staff here during the war. Capt. George says, and I will quote his words: “I have always been entirely in favor of the development of Mare Island and the concentration of all naval activity at that point.” Those words are quoted from words he gave me.
As I say, I am not going to go into a lengthy statement after the very excellent presentation that has been made here by Capt. Beach and Commander Cox, but there are a few things that I would like to say, based on the experience I have had here.
The question of navigation has been brought up. I do not pose as an expert on navigation, and I am not. But we see the results of navigation here at the yard, and have in the past ten years, in the bringing up of ships for dockings. During the time I have been here I think we have docked something like 1,500 ships of various sizes, large and small, and during that time there has been not one single serious delay in getting a ship to the dry dock, through all kinds of weather, fog included. That speaks for the navigation of ships. Also, while I am on the same subject, no material interference with the docking schedule owing to weather conditions. I believe you will agree that that is a very good record for ten years, and involving something over 15 years, during which there has been no serious interference with the docking of vessels on account of navigation or weather conditions.
The criticism has also been made regarding berthing space. There is of course no berthing space here, because no material improvement has been made in berthing facilities at Mare Island, as the record will show, since the days of wooden ships, and it is quite natural that the berthing facilities are wanting at the present time for ships of the present-day type.
The efficiency of labor here at this yard I feel that I have the right to express an opinion upon, and I believe that the Government gets more for its dollar expended at Mare Island than at any other navy yard. The records of the Navy Department demonstrate that, and Í
am firmly convinced, in my own mind, that the Government does get, and will continue to get, through the excellent spirit that prevails here, owing to the local conditions, better value than they would or do at any other station.
I hope the other stations will develop the efficiency that Mare Island has developed, for the sake of getting more return for the money invested in a Naval Establishment. Now, the question of the docking station to the main repair station. The docking of ships, such as is proposed at the docking station, is a function which requires the coming and going of large ships, their supply, and the minor repairs. It is of distinct advantage to have a docking station that is not absolutely tied up with your industrial center, so that the ships may come and go in their docking and quick overhaul work, at a station which is all under the same administrative control and under the same supervisory control that the main plant is. In docking in that way, you will not interfere with the other work in progress, the major overhaul work or construction work, or work of that kind. So I consider it of distinct advantage to have a docking station conveniently located as this is proposed to be, and not be interfering with your activities at your main repair plant.
There is another point that I would like to bring up, and that is the question of dollars and cents. That is an all-important point in business, as I am finding out, and it is the all-important point in connection with the Covernment business. It will be more so from now on, as I take it from the various things I hear in the conduct of life, that the expenditure of money by the Covernment has got to be curtailed, and therefore it is up to the people, their representatives, and all of us, to do what we can to conserve the moneys expended in the various activities of the Covernment. So I say the question of money is of first importance, outweighting all others, and, in comparing the proposed layout here with any other docking station, such as at Alameda or at Hunters Point, Commander Cox has very succinctly and very clearly placed it before you, and I would like to emphasize only one or two points that he has made. First, assuming that $60,000,000 is the cost of a new plant at Alameda or Hunters Point, and I think that is a very conservative estimate, and before you get through with a project of that kind you will probably spend $80,000,000 or more in it and its development as time goes on, assuming that, remember what you have got to do to operate a separate plant. Just the minute you establish a separate plant and establishment, you obligate yourself to the operating expenses which, in a commercial business, is of first consideration. What is it going to cost you to run it?
Now, a conservative estimate of the overhead expense of running a separate establishment down the bay, away from Mare Island, would be about $2,000,000. That I think a very conservative figure. If you capitalize $2,000,000 at 4 per cent, you have a capital investment of $50,000,000, or at 5 per cent, of $40,000,000. Therefore, as a business proposition, you have got to include that figure. Now, when you add that $40,000,000, and I will take it at 5 per cent, I will say you have to borrow money at 5 per cent to make it as unfavorable as possible--$40,000,000 represents your capitalized investment on operating expenses, and with $60,000,000 as your first cost added to it, it amounts to $100,000,000, in round numbers. You balance against that what you have to expend at Mare Island to get the same thing. At Mare Island you have your repair plant, which, with slight modifications, can be made to meet the situation, and you have an estimated cost which commander Cox has given you of, I think, he said $30,000,000, in round numbers.
Mr. CURRY. $27,000,000.
Commander GLEASON. Well, I will say $30,000,000. That is a direct expenditure which goes against this expenditure of $60,000,000 down below.
Now, of course, in handling these added appliances, the docking station, etc., that would necessarily mean an increase in the operating expenses of Mare Island as a unit, combined with the Carquinez Straits station; it would naturally increase the operating expenses. I have made a conservative estimate of $500,000, and I capitalize that at the same borrowing rate as representing an investment of $10,000,000. Add that to your $30,000,000 and you have $40,000,000 as the amount represented in the business sense in the Mare Island and Carquinez Straits proposition. Put that against your $100,000,000, and you have a difference of $60,000,000. That, in plain horse sense, business sense, is what another project down the bay amounts to. It amounts to a criminal expenditure of the people's money of $60,000,000. That, to my mind, is the controlling factor in the whole situation.
And I would like to add, in conclusion, that in my service here at Mare Island, I feel proud of the fact that I have been connected with the organization, and I don't think I would have been where I am to-day, at the prime of life, if I had not been connected with such an efficient organization.
Senator Ball. Are there any questions?
Mr. BRITTEN. Yes; I would like to ask the commander a question or two. Commander, you are not a military man, are you? You are a civil engineer?
Commander GLEASON. I was eductaed in the Naval Academy as a naval man, and then in construction work. I am an engineer of naval architecture.
Mr. BRITTEN. I was rather surprised to hear you say that the one controlling factor, the predominant issue, in this matter, is the expenditure of money. Do you really mean that literally—that that is really more important than the desirable military advantages ?
Commander GLEASON. That is, assuming that you could get all the requirements of a naval base at Mare Island.
Mr. BRITTEN. You didn't say that. All the military advantages being equal, then?
Commander GLEASON. Not equal; no.
Mr. BRITTEN. Of course, the expenditure would be the controlling feature if all the military advantage were equal. But you didn't say that. I just wanted to get your opinion. Then, supposing there were some military advantages in any one of the other sites. How would you weigh that as against the expenditure of money?
Commander GLEASON. Well, I would say that it would have to have considerable weight to counterbalance $60,000,000. That is a pretty heavy consideration. Senator BALL. Mr. Padgett, have you any questions? Mr. PADGETT. No, sir, I believe not. Mr. CURRY. Mr. Chairman, we have with us Mr. Howard C. Holmes, who is one of the best civil engineers we have in private practice here in the State. As I stated before, he was the engineer for the State harbor commission for a number of years and built the Hunters Point dry dock. Mr. Holmes has no financial interest in Vallejo. He has not been employed by any interest in Vallejo. He is not receiving any compensation either from the citizens of Vallejo or from the city of Vallejo or from its chamber of commerce. He has kindly consented to come here to tell you what he thinks, from his years of experience as an engineer on and around San Francisco Bay and it contiguous waters, as to where the proper location for a naval base should be.
Mr. HOWARD C. HOLMES. Mr. President, Mr. Curry puts it a little strong when he says I come to give my opinion as to what I think. I am merely here to state facts as to conditions both at Hunters Point, Mare Island, and Alameda. My experience in Alameda first was in 1884. At that time I built the trestle and mole for what was then known as the South Pacific Coast Railroad. In fact, even earlier
than that, some time in 1880, I designed the original ferry slip for that company. Since that time I have built the Western Pacific mole on the other side. My experience at Hunters Point has been in the designing and constructing of both the present dry docks at that point, and in 1913, I think, I made some soundings and some observations and a report on the south end of Mare Island for additional dry docks. As I said before, I won't attempt to comment on that. Since that time I have been employed by the contractors as engineer for making the borings and soundings both at Hunters Point and, at Alameda, and I will state to you merely what I have found.
First, in regard to Alameda, I am satisfied that the only dock that could be practically built at the Helms board site at Alameda would be a gravity dock resting on a pile foundation. At the time of the hearing in September, 1919, at Mare Island, the writer testified before the Admiral McKean board, at which Secretary of Navy Daniels was present, to this same effect. Since that time I have had charge of the soundings taken there and am satisfied, as I stated above, that the only type of dock would be a gravity dock, constructed in a similar manner to that of the Pearl Harbor. This would involve the driving of some 10,500 piles, the excavation of between 750,000 and 1,000,000 cubic yards of material, the placing of about 160,000 cubic yards of mass concrete. While the dredging may seem excessive, I am satisfied that it would require fully this amount, for the reason that the strata of the subsoils is such that it would not stand at a slope of less than one in five to one in six.
Without going more into details, based on the present conditions of the material and labor markets, I am satisfied this dock could not be constructed for less than between $5,000,000 and $6,000,000.
Now, as to Hunters Point: From my investigations of the locality proposed for the three dry docks by the Helm naval board, I am satisfied that a dock in this locality would have to be of a combination type; that is, a portion would be a gravity dock, resting on a pile foundation; the middle section of the dock would consist of a gravity dock, resting on a rock bottom, and the balance might be of what is known as a veneer dock, similar to docks 2 and 3 of the Union Iron Works at Hunters Point proper.
The placing of these docks at the Helm's site would involve the moving of between one and a half and two million cubic yards of material, varying from green serpentine to quartzite. If there were no fault lines struck in the land portion of the dock, this dock would probably cost in the neighborhood of between $3,000,000 and $4,000,000. Of course, you understand that the cream of locations at this site are the present docks of the Union Iron Works, and any dock that might be built in the near future would cost from 100 to 200 per cent more than the above said docks.
The construction of a dock as above described that is, a dock resting partly on piles and partly on a solid rock foundation-is at the best poor practice, but I doubt if it would stand in the Bay of San Francisco, for the reason of the danger of earthquake disturbances.
I am satisfied that an earthquake, even of the milder type, would rupture any dock of this character, for the reason that the material in which the piles are driven is more susceptible to earthquake waves than would be the land portion, theoretically to the extent of seven to one.
The location of the docks at Mare Island, as suggested by Commander Cox, would, if they could be built in the dry and veneered so that the 2-foot thickness of concrete, involving the use of some 30,000 cubic yards, would be sufficient, should not cost to exceed $2,500,000. This is exclusive of the excavation necessary to prepare the site for the docks which would involve the removal of some 3,000,000 cubic yards of material.
In the Alameda site it would be necessary, in order to reclaim the land for the proposed site, to construct retaining walls around the entire area. No portion of such retaining walls could be built of any material on the ground. It would necessitate the bringing of rock to the site that was not subject to disintegration by the action of the salt water, or, say, in the matter of dollars and cents, a retaining wall for Alameda of such rock would not cost less than $30 per lineal foot.
What retaining walls that would be needed at either Mare Island or Hunters Point could be constructed, as far as the core is concerned, with the material excavated from the site--that is, in the first case, sandstone, and in the second case, green serpentine. The cost of such walls would be probably nill, as the material excavated could be taken directly to the site. The question of dredging both at Hunters Point and Alameda is a much larger proposition than that at Mare Island. The question of walls and docks, etc., at Alameda would probably be at least from 50 to 75 per cent more expensive than those at either Mare Island or Hunters Point. In the latter cases, they would be about the same. Of course, any walls or piers constructed at any naval base would have to be of extra heavy type ranging in cost from $5 to $9 per square foot.
At the various sites the structures for appurtenances would have to have a pile foundation. Those, of course, at Alameda would be more expensive than either those at Hunters Point or Mare Island. The cost of caissons, pump houses, and other machinery would cost the same at all three localities. Undoubtedly the transportation of materials would cost less at Hunters Point and Mare Island than they would at Alameda, and I am satisfied, without going into details. the cost of upkeep in the matter of dredging would be greater at both Alameda and Hunters Point than it would be at Mare Island. Without comment on any reason for this, I think that a glance at the maps would be sufficient argument to substantiate this statement.
I will say, furthermore, in regard to Alameda, the reason why they would have to have this Pearl Harbor type of dock is that the bottom of any gravity dock at this location would be below the line of seepage; that is, there is water strata all through this location, and the strata run from 40 feet below to 120 feet below the surface, being waterbearing sand and some of it almost quicksand.
Of course, at Hunters Point, you can realize that there could not be any dock built there in any locality that would cost as little as either Dock No. 2 or Dock No. 3. They were veneered from top to bottom. But I am satisfied to-day that they could not be duplicated for double the cost, and that any dock now built at any site at Hunters Point would cost now fully double what a dock could be built for then, even at the site at which those are built that are now there.
Mr. BRITTEN. May I ask Mr. Holmes a question there?