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SAN FRANCISCO BAY NAVAL BASE SITES.
NOVEMBER 16, 1920.
San Francisco, Calif.
SITE AT HUNTERS POINT.
A hearing before the Special Joint Committee of Congress on Pacific Coast Naval Bases was held at the chambers of the board of supervisors of the city and county of San Francisco, State of California, in the city hall, San Francisco, Calif., November 16, 1920, commencing at 10 o'clock a. m.
There were present the following members of the committee: Senators L. Heisler Ball, Henry W. Keyes, and Thomas J. Walsh; Representatives Fred A. Britten, Frederick C. Hicks, A. E. B. Stephens, L. P. Padgett, and Daniel J. Riordan; together with W. M. Coffin, secretary of the committee, and T. E. Peeney, secretary to Senator Ball.
There were also present Senator James D. Phelan and Representative John I. Nolan.
There were also present naval officers Rear Admiral C. W. Parks, Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks; Admiral R. E. Coontz, Chief of Naval Operations; Rear Admiral W. L. Capps, of the Navy Department; Lieut. Commander H. W. Hill, aid to Admiral Coontz; Rear Admiral Alexander S. Halstead, Lieut. Commander James M. Doyle, Commander L. M. Cox, Capt. W. L. Potts, and Lieut. C. L. Macrea.
There were also present, representative of the interests of San Francisco, the mayor, James Rolph, jr.; the city engineer, M. M. O'Shaughnessy; the city attorney, George Lull; supervisors Richard J. Welch, Edward I. Wolfe, Ralph McLeran, Joseph Lehaney, J. Emmet Hayden, James B. McSheehy, Charles A. Nelson, W. S. Scott, Charles A. Powers, together with J. S. Dunnigan, clerk of the board of supervisors, and P. H. McCarthy, president of the San Francisco Building Trades Council; John A. O'Connell, secretary of the San Francisco Labor Council; George C. Boardman, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco; B. M. Rastall, industrial engineer of the chamber of commerce; P. R. Thompson, of the San Francisco Bureau of San Francisco Organizations; Daniel A. Ryan, attorney for the California State Board of Harbor Commissioners; Howard Holmes, constructing engineer, and others.
The hearing was presided over by Senator Ball, chairman of the joint committee, Supervisor Welch acting as spokesman for those representative of the interests of San Francisco, and the following proceedings were had:
Senator BALL. The meeting will be in order. If those present will
Ball present to us their case, so far as Hunters Point is concerned, we shall be pleased to hear what they have to say.
Supervisor WELCH. Gentlemen of the Joint Congressional Commission on Naval Base Sites, as chairman of the commercial and industrial committee of the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco, and as well as chairman of the mayor's special committee on Hunters Point as a naval base site, I desire to present to you the formal program which will be followed upon this hearing.
The hearing will be opened by Hon. James Rolph, jr., mayor of the city and county of San Francisco, who will outline the claims of San Francisco, Hunters Point, to be made the site of a naval base. He will be followed by Mr. M. M. O'Shaughnessy, chief engineer of San Francisco, and others who will speak of the engineering features of the work; also representatives of the board of State harbor commissioners, Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco, the Civil League of Improvement Clubs, and representatives of San Francisco Building Trades and Labor Council and others.
I might state, for the benefit of those who are here from San Mateo County, representing San Mateo County, that this afternoon, weather permitting, of course, the commission and our committee will Hunters Point, and go from there to San Mateo. To-morrow and the day following the commission are to inspect points on the east side of the bay and at Vallejo. Friday they have consented to have a hearing in this chamber, where San Mateo and other points about the bay can be heard.
Senator BALL. Including Richmond ?
Supervisor WELCH. Richmond and San Mateo and any other points desiring to be heard. The commission has gone so far as to say that, if San Francisco is unable to present its case for Hunters Point this morning, they will give us further time.
Some of the gentlemen go so far as to say that they will give us a hearing some evening We are in hopes, however, that that will not be necessary Our case will rest largely with our chief engineer, Mr. O'Shaughnessy, and, as I stated before, we will hear from representatives of our civic bodies, together with the State Harbor Commission, including the chamber of Commerce and the Civic League of Improvement Clubs.
Before proceeding further with the hearing, gentlemen, I would like to call on the mayor of this city and county, Hon. James Rolph, jr., to say a word in behalf of the city and county of San Francisco to the commission. Mayor Rolph needs no introduction at my hands, I am sure.
Mayor JAMES ROLPH, Jr. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the commission, I am sure that it is hardly necessary for me to tell you that we are gratified and very much pleased at your coming out here to San Francisco to see what we have and to observe the beauties of our harbor, its advantages, and to see San Francisco itself, and, of course, I welcome you in the name of the city.
On the 11th of December, 1916, in these very rooms, the Helm Naval Commission held a hearing, and we prepared our case in the presentation of our views as to why we felt that Hunters Point was the proper site on San Francisco Bay for this naval base. Yesterday afternoon we went out to Hunters Point and, in the inclemency of the weather, we had a splendid opportunity to see that site, and you
it now before you in your mind, and you have it here pictured in photograph and in chart; but, in order that this record that is being prepared to-day may be the more complete, I am going to ask permission to put into the record a copy of the proceedings of the hearing that took place on the 11th of December, 1916, giving the views of all of us as they were then presented.
Senator Ball. Before the Helm committee !
Mayor Rolph. Before the Helm committee, and that will give you the view then presented without its repetition here.
Senator BALL. If there is no objection, that will be made part of the record. Hearing none, it is so ordered.
Mayor ROLPH. We had an opportunity yesterday, in an informal way, to discuss the features of Hunters Point. I know that I am only taking up time while I continue talking, and I know the thing for me to do is to yield to the city engineer, who will present to you all the data in connection with that site. Yesterday, however, a remark was made regarding the purchase of that site from the present holders of the dry dock and the land in connection with the dry docks. And last night I'made some inquiry about that, and I found out that no Government official had ever
asked for a price on that property. And I am assured that, if the Government is anxious to purchase that Hunters Point site and those dry docks, that there will be no difficulty between the Government and the owner in getting together on the price. But there is one provision that I found may have to be made, and that is that the State of California, owning the water front, will probably have to find another location for one or two floating dry docks to take the place of the stone dock which the Government will take at Hunters Point. That can be done adjacent to the Bethlehem Shipbuilding plant in the Portrero. So I make that statement to-day and tell you positively that those lands can be purchased, and if they can not be purchased at a price you deem fair, then you can proceed to condemn them. When it comes to condemnation, the city of San Francisco condemned all this property upon which this building stands, and all the property around here here, known as the civic center. It has condemned rights of way through the high Sierras, condemned lands for our waterworks, condemned 63 blocks (or the State did) right adjoining Hunters Point, and the land was purchased for less money than the owners asked in almost every case, and yet the prices were satisfactory both to the city and to the owners of the land.
Now, there is at Hunters Point a going concern. There are there two dry docks capable of docking the largest ships that can come through the Panama Canal. And there is the basis around which a naval base can be built, a foundation in these two dry docks, and something that the Navy can get at once.
The question was raised yesterday about the soundings. I am not, by the way, talking about the advantages of San Francisco Bay, because that is all in our report to the Helm committee. selected San Francisco Bay as the site upon which a naval base will be constructed. The only other point that was raised yesterday in our informal discussion was the question of soundings, and I have spoken to the city engineer about that matter of soundings, and he is prepared this morning to cover every point that was raised in the talks that we had aboard ship and out at the dry docks.
Senator Ball. That is, the soundings where?
Senator BALL. There was some question as to whether the recent soundings had not changed the depths there.
Mayor ROLPH. That was the point, Senator, and when it comes to soundings, I am sure that the engineers will go into the soundings carefully. I hope you will always bearin mind, and I hope your commission will always bear in mind, that when you are establishing a naval base it is not a navy yard, and that a naval base, as we understand it, is a safe place, free from attack, with sufficient depth of water and accessible, where ships of all classes and all drafts of the Navy may securely, conveniently, and amply replenish their fuel and supplies of all kinds, where ample supplies and materials can be stored, where may be made major and minor repairs, dry-dock maneuvers, and where they may refit in times of war as well as in times of peace, in a harbor which is adjacent to a large city, within easy access by street and vehicular transportation, where labor can be readily obtained, and labor itself find places of abode at lowest cost of living, within easy distance of the naval base, where direct rail and water transportation can be obtained at all times, from all directions and in all seasons, where the climate is good and equable, and where work can be done almost every day in the year.
navy yard may exist without a naval base, but a naval base should be within easy reach of a navy yard. In other words, a navy yard is an auxiliary to a naval base.
We think we have all those points covered in that wonderful site over there at Hunters Point, and we believe there is nothing in the United States that can touch it.
I want now to yield to City Engineer O'Shaughnessy, who will present all these points from the standpoint of an engineer.
Supervisor WELCH. Gentlemen, I am pleased to present to you Mr. M. M. O'Shaughnessy, chief engineer of the city and county of San Francisco.
Mr. M. M. O'SHAUGHNESSY. Mr. Chairiman and gentlemen of the commission, I have prepared some data covering investigations the site at Hunters Point, and in order to present the matter grar cally to you, I would like to ask that each of you accept a copy o' datà I have so prepared. And therefrom I shall endeavor to pres to you the engineering features which show the desirability of selec. ing the Hunters Point site for a naval base.
San Francisco Harbor lies 440 nautical miles from San Dieg) und 836 miles from Bremerton, in the north. The Navy Department has decided to divide the national fleet equally between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and the time is ripe to take care of the repair of onehalf the fleet by adequate shops and yards. The only place on the Pacific coast where a deep battleship can be taken care of at the present time is Puget Sound.
One of the controlling features determining the selection of a site for the great naval base is the security of foundation, so that large graving docks can be safely and cheaply completed. The other features in connection with a site besides the graving docks are railroad facilities and structures and workshops.
Two reports have already been made on the relative merits of the various sites, one by Admiral Helm and the other under Admiral
McKean. In addition, Secretary of the Navy Daniels, with Admiral Parks, made a further investigation ---all within the past four years.
Senator BALL. Is this an entire transcript of what you have to say ?
Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY. I am going a little outside of that as I go along. Senator Ball. You want the stenographer to take down all your
. additional statements, aside from what is contained in this?
Mr. PADGETT. I have just suggested to the stenographer that it was not necessary to take down what is printed here, because we have it before us.
Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY. What is here contained need not be taken down.
Senator BALL. No. But it will be necessary for Chief O'Shaughnessy to call the attention of the stenographer to it when he digresses, so that he will know what is being said outside the written statement.
Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY. Three dry docks have already been completed by the Union Iron Works at Hunters Point. Dock No. 1 was built in here [indicating on a map), and scrapped for the construction of Dock No. 3, the large one, a thousand feet long, that you saw last night. This is the No. 2 dock [indicating]. The present small dock, No. 2, at Hunters Point, cost less than half a million dollars. The length of the floor is 681 feet 10 inches, width of floor 76 feet, with a coping of 120 feet; depth of water on sill, 30 feet 3 inches, while Dock No. 2 at Mare Island, of exactly the same size, completed in 1910, rests upon piles, and cost $1,670,655.80 or over three times as much as the Hunters Point dock of the same size.
Senator Ball. I would like to ask there, what was the difference in the time the two docks were built?
Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY. I will say, roughly, about double the time for the pile structure that it took to make the craving dock.
Senator BALL. And when were these built ? When was the dry dock at Hunter's Point built ?
Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY. About Senator BALL (interrupting). What I want to know there is the • "orence in the cost of the docks, probably built at two different
---whether the difference in cost was altogether due to the acter of the soil and surroundings, or whether there was a differ.ce in the cost of labor at that time. That is the point I desire to smphasize there.
Ń BRITTEN. The Mare Island dock, Senator, was built in 1910, M
he Hunter's Point dock was completed last year. Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY. No; this is the old dock. If you will consult the table on page 20 of this document, you will find there all the historical data as to the dates on which these different docks were built.
Supervisor WOLFE. Can you answer the Senator directly, chief ?
Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY. Mare Island No. 2 dock is marked No. 6 on this diagram. It was finished in 1910, I think four or five years under construction. The old dock at Hunters Point was built about 20 years ago. That is the old dock, the smaller dock at Hunters Point.
Senator PHELAN. Do I understand that the Senator desires to know if the new dock at Hunters Point and the dock at Mare Island are of the same size?