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entitled to a little more consideration than might otherwise be given us by the Government. And besides that, it resulted in practical education to take the place of what prior to that time had been merely theoretical assumptions.
Capt. Gleason has told you that he believes it is due to the fact that he was intimately connected with the construction of ships at Mare Island that private interests were induced to reach out and offer him the material inducement which resulted in his leaving the service. Prior to this period, you had, as I have said, a large number of constructors and assistant constructors on the register of the Navy, who had had no practical experience in building ships. And I think the opportunity thus afforded to demonstrate their ability is of very material advantage to the Government. The same with your engine builders. We believe that, everything being equal, and it occurs to my unscientific mind that it has been demonstrated here to-day that everything is equal, as to advantages between Mare Island and the lower bay, aside from the question of the financial saving that we ought to be given a little more than an even break.
We believe that if there was not a dollar to be saved by establishing this base at the point of the island, that to preserve from confiscation the invested savings of the Government employees, that Mare Island should be given the preference, and we think beyond any question, if you gentlemen find, upon considering Commander Cox's statement of the saving of $15,000,000, $20,000,000, or $25,000,000, that that is true, that ought to determine the settlement of this question in favor of Mare Island.
Now, we have, as has been stated, bonded ourselves and our engineers are now at work on the installation of a new water system which has met the approval, as I have been informed, of quite a number of naval officials, as to not only the furnishing of present needs, but whatever ultimate development the yard may require, with an abundant supply of good water. Of course, that is quite a burden upon the people of Vallejo, but they have cheerfully assumed it, because their whole future existence is involved in the retention of Mare Island as a naval base.
Take our churches. To illustrate what I have said about the failure to analyze the permanence of investments, we have a church which is just now completed, which has cost $50,000 or $60,000, and that illustrates the fact that they gave no consideration to the uncertainty that was hovering over the future existence of the town, but felt that they needed a church, and that the time was propitious. And every congregation is considering the building. There are a great many of them who have already obtained a portion of the necessary money. Then there is a hotel project that will involve $250,000 or $300,000, that they are about ready to begin work on
Then there has been a very, very large addition made to the housing conditions, and a small percentage who do look into the future as to whether their investments are going to be permanent or not, are those who are best able to make investments in the line of additional housing facilities. And if it were once understood that this uncertainty is to be removed, and that Mare Island is going right along, there would be an immediate activity in the line of furnishing such additional housing facilities as would meet their need.
And let me say that we are better prepared in this respect now than they are in the Lower Bay. Our rents are not as high. And I think you need have no uneasiness at all about our being able to house all of the employees that the activities of the yard may demand. The same conditions prevail in Napa. There is a large portion of the people at work at the island who commute from Napa to Mare Island, simply because they have become attached to Napa, for reasons that they preferred commuting rather than coming down to Vallejo to live. And the reliability of the labor supply here has already been enlarged upon, and the reasons assigned, which is, that when a man has a home, and a great many of the employees here own their own homes in Vallejo, they give the matter the once over before making up their minds to quit or to follow the suggestions of some of those fellows who tell them that the time for striking is ripe. We have had no strikes, and there has never been an hour lost here on account of any labor difficulties, and there is no liability of anything of that kind occurring in the future.
I don't know of anything else I want to touch upon, except that I will repeat what I have said, that our whole future existence depends upon the determination of this question, and I believe the Government owes it to these people not to do anything toward the confiscation of the property, unless it is absolutely compulsory. And I think you will find a paragraph in the Helm report that that is not compulsory; it is merely a question of desirability. I believe, Mr. Chairman, we are justified in asking the committee's consideration of what will happen to us if this decision should be adverse.
Mr. BRITTEN. Mayor Roney, I am inclined to agree with you in every particular but one.
Mayor RONEY. What is it?
Mr. BRITTEN. You suggested that, with the increased number of Representatives south of here, that appropriations would naturally be in favor of that locality, to the detriment of Mare Island. That might occur in most instances, but it doesn't apply in this case, because you have Charlie Curry here, and I don't know of any one man or any group of men in Congress who are as capable as Charlie Curry, and you are to be congratulated on having him as your Representative in Congress.
Mayor RONEY. We don't need to be reminded of the obligations we are under to Charlie Curry, but at the same time, I have been in the game for a good many years, and I have never yet been able to find that one vote will outvote two or more.
Mr. BRITTEN. Now, Mayor, don't you go to making any political speeches.
Mr. CURRY. Gentlemen of Mare Island and Vallejo, I know every member of this committee personally, and I know that they are going to decide this matter in the interests of the people of the United States and the military defense of the country, and that is what I want them to do. They would do that, whether I were here or whether I represented this district or not. I am pleased to represent this district. I said before, and I say now, that, present company excepted, I represent the best people, the best district, and the best State, and the best country in the world.
But, in addition to representing this district, I represent the American people. My first interest is the welfare of my country
and the defense of the Nation. If I did not think that Mare Island was a proper place for the naval base, regardless of the fact that my home is in this district, I would say to the people of Vallejo that, in the interests of the country, it should be removed. But I know San Francisco Bay, and all the three bays, I know the contiguous waters, and I earnestly and honestly believe that Mare Island Navy Yard is the best possible place, the best possible location in this part of the country for a naval base. And if any military reason should hereafter be given to me that it is not the proper place, I would tell you so.
So far, no person has ever given me one single, solitary, military reason for the removal of the Mare Island Navy Yard or for the construction of another navy yard, or naval base, within 30 miles of Mare Island. If such a naval base should be constructed, it would not be economy on the part of the Government to maintain Mare Island as a separate navy yard for any length of time, and I do not believe it would do so.
I appreciate the patient hearing that the committee has given to the Mare Island Navy Yard. I know that the committee are ready for their lunch. They all ate breakfast early and came across the bay when it was stormy and rainy, and I doubt not they are a little bit hungry. • I am not going to impose on their time any longer, with the exception of asking them if they will please listen to Capt. T. M. Potts, United States Navy, retired, for a few moments.
After that we will retire to the banquet hall, and there you will find everything that California produces.
Capt. T. M. PotTS. Mr. Chairman, I shall not reiterate any of the statements that have been made here by my brother officers, but I want to say that I am thoroughly in accord with the recommendations which are made to you here of the Mare Island Navy Yard site, having spent three months in the study of the various projects around the bay and the literature which pertains to it. As to the establishment of a second naval station in San Francisco Bay, I would like to quote from the records of the General Board and the War College.
The number of yards should be the least that will fulfill strategic considerations. On economical considerations alone, it would be ideal to have only one great yard on the Atlantic coast and one on the Pacific coast, since the repairing, docking, and supplying of the fleet could then be so regulated and systematized as to give the highest economy and efficiency, both as regards the fleet and the yard.
Naval considerations, however, must also be regarded. I think that has a direct bearing, and represented the opinion of a great many officers when Admiral Dewey was at the head of the board as to efficiency and economy of work in any particular district:
The General Board also states: As to the retention of Mare Island, should investigation prove that permanent improvement which will render the condition satisfactory can not be made, it is recommended that steps be taken to establish a new navy yard with adequate facilities in the lower part of San Francisco Bay on a suitable water front; that the repair and supply facilities of the Mare Island be transferred, so far as practicable, to the new yard, and when the latter is ready for use, the Mare Island yard be closed as a docking, repair, and supply yard, but employed for other naval purposes to which it may be suited.
These are both from the files of the General Board, showing the opinion of a great many officers.
There is one other question here which a great many of my brother officers may regard as trivial, but I think it ought to be made a matter of record in the commission. This is a definition of a main home base by the General Board and the War College. It reiterates all that we have been discussing to-day as regards the matter of berths and anchorage and all that, but the final sentence is, “And all behind a defense independent of the fleet.” which means, in other words, that the fleet is not to be considered as part of the defense of a station. The geographical position of Mare Island renders it absolutely immune from attack. Alameda and Hunters Point are well within the range of a 14-inch gun from outside.
Mr. BRITTEN. So was Heligoland.
Capt. Potts. This is the opinion of the General Board, Mr. Britten, that they should not depend upon the fleet for the defense of the base.
Mr. PADGETT. Heligoland was a fortification itself, and a navy yard is not a fortification.
Capt. Potts. No. I merely call attention to that. Many of my brother officers think it is trivial, but at the same time, it represents the opinion of a great many officers in the Navy, and other boards, notably, one in 1911, 'when I was a member of the General Board myself, which contained nearly all the conditions laid down as fundamentals and essentials and requirements for a home base. But the fact that a vessel of the New Mexico type can lie outside, under certain conditions, and it is possible to destroy both Hunters Point and Alameda, I think is a factor which ought to be taken into consideration
Mr. BRITTEN. Are you considering the land fortifications ?
Mr. BRITTEN. Are you assuming that they would be destroyed by gunfire ?
Capt. Potts. No; I am taking into consideration that the fleet is not here, and that a vessel outside, with 14-inch guns, could take a position on the coast in the neighborhood of what is known as Half Moon Bay, taking into consideration the low visibility and the fogs, etc., which enter through the gate, and shell Hunters Point or the Alameda site without much interference. For nearly three years I have been president of the board of survey and inspection here, and have run in and out of this bay many times a week on destroyers and vessels of other types. It is notorious that the fog belt will come in through the gate, and yet to the southward of it about 10 miles, frequently there is no fog at all. Therefore, it is possible for a vessel to come in under certain conditions and shell the whole of San Francisco.
Mr. BRITTEN. It is also possible for an entire Navy to come into San Francisco Bay under those same conditions without being seen, isn't it?
Capt. Potts. No; I don't think so.
Capt. Potts. There might be a fog, but I take it that the usual military precautions would be taken in the mining of the shoal water and channels.
Mr. BRITTEN. I presume those same military measures would be taken on Half Moon Bay ?
Capt. Potts. I don't see how they could, unless you are going to fortify the whole coast.
Mr. BRITTEN. Don't you suppose a portable gun could be used, such as Plunkett used in Europe?
Capt. Ports. That is possible; yes.
Mr. BRITTEN. And that is done by the mere extension of a railroad track. That would solve the question of that sort of an attack, would it not?
Capt. Potts. No; not at all. If you have a vessel armed with 12 or 14 inch guns, I don't think it would solve the question.
Mr. BRITTEN. I am only mentioning the fact as a possibility. I don't suppose we would be content with one gun, do you?
Capt. Potts. No, I don't think so. I hope we would not. I only mention this fact of attack from the outside as a possibility, that is all.
Mr. Curry, Is that all, gentlemen ?
Mr. CURRY. In answer to a question of yours, Mr. Britten, I have just received word that the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. would charge the same for electric power in any Government plant on the bay, including Hunters Point, Mare Island, Alameda, and anywhere else.
Mr. BRITTEN. I think that is evident.
Mr. CURRY. Yes. There is no advantage or disadvantage to any proposed site, excepting that Mare Island makes most of her own electricity, and in fact furnishes the Pacific Gas & Electric with some that is not needed here. Also, in reference to the question of freight rates, Capt. Conard could explain that, but it is not necessary. The freight rates would be practically the same here or at any other points down the bay that you have railroad tracks laid to all points, excepting that there is a little shade in favor of Mare Island-not much, but a little--and the rates by water to Mare Island would be practically the same as it would be to San Francisco for part cargoes, and for full cargoes it would be just the same.
If you gentlemen do not wish to hear, or are not desirous of hearing any further testimony—if you think you have heard enough—we will submit the case, and submit our proposition to you on the evidence already before the committee, and we will go and partake of luncheon.
Senator BALL. The hearing is concluded.
(After conclusion of the hearing, the following letter was submitted by Capt. E. L. Beach, commandant, Mare Island Navy Yard, setting forth analyses of administrative costs at Mare Island and estimated administration costs at proposed new bases in the lower bay:)
Mare Island Navy Yard, November 27, 1920. Senator L. H. Ball, Chairman Joint' Congressional Committee on Naval Base Sites,
Senate Chamber, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR SENATOR: Inasmuch as the data may be of interest to your commission, I am forwarding herewith a copy of a letter addressed to Rear Admiral Parks, Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, and its inclosure, which sets forth an analyses of the