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Island has performed its duty with great success for 66 years, and if a great establishment has been built; if the Government has invested in it over $32,000,000; if it is the second largest navy yard, counted either by number of employees or value of product, in the United States; if it is efficient in the repair, upkeep, and supplying of more than a quarter of all of the vessels of the United States Navy; if, in the last year, the Government spent at Mare Island $60,000,000 with never a criticism or failure in any respect to meet the Government's requirements; if Mare Island ranks first of all Government navy yards in efficiency and economy; if Mare Island is able to take care of the needs of 90 per cent of the fleet; if Mare Island, with an expenditure of $26,000,000 can be made capable of taking care of 100 per cent of the fleet; that is, to provide facilities for anything required by the greatest superdreadnaughts; if Mare Island, with a comparatively small expense for additional facilities, can supply everything for every class of ship of the fleet; if Mare Island provides for every requirement laid down by the general board and by the judgment of far-sighted, experienced officers—then it would seem that there must be some great ulterior reason not yet studied or mentioned in the Helm Board report or in any other place that would cause the Government to construct a naval base at some other place near Mare Island, thereby causing the Government to sacrifice what it has at Mare Island and to construct a great naval base at an expenditure of at least $60,000,000 and probably more, at a place within 35 miles of Mare Island.
The Helm report, page 40, paragraph 99 (i), states that “the present dry docks at Mare Island can accommodate 90 per cent of the vessels of the fleet as completed in 1921.”. If, by comparatively small expense, Carquinez Straits Station can be made to take care of the additional 10 per cent, is it economical, good business, and good judgment to locate within 35 miles another naval base at a cost which will vary between $60,000,000 and $100,000,000, and throw away the 90 per cent capability that Mare Island is reported by the Helm Board to have, and further, probably ultimately to sacrifice the Government's investment at Mare Island and its splendid capabilities?
A discussion will now be made of every single disadvantage quoted by the Helm Board against Mare Island. These disadvantages are stated as follows: (a) Expense of maintaining channel approaches at suitable depth.
This is really the only disadvantage stated which is in any sense a controlling factor. The other alleged disadvantages disappear upon consideration. This disadvantage will be discussed later.
(6) Difficulties of navigation in narrow approach channels, under unfavorable conditions.
With regard to this, it is a matter of statistics that there is much less fog at Mare Island than in the lower San Francisco Bay. Further, that in the 66 years that ships have been coming to and from Mare Island, I have never heard of a single ship that ever went aground proceeding from San Francisco to Mare Island. In the last 21 months that I have been on duty here, there have been many hundreds of ships that have come to and from the lower bay to Mare Island. There has never been one that ever went aground or reported that it could not navigate because of the fog, or that was
interfered with by the fog, It is to be remembered that there is not much fog at Mare Island.
(c) Swift currents, rendering maneuvering in navy-yard waters, especially when entering dry dock, difficult except at slack water.
The currents at Carquinez Straits Station are practically the same as at other parts of the bay. They are no greater than the currents leading to the New York Navy Yard, or the Boston Navy Yard, or the Norfolk Navy Yard. There is never occasion for a great ship to attempt to go in dry dock except at slack water. I want to interrupt myself there for just a moment, if I may, to
, recall a circumstance that I heard. About December 1, 1918, the American Battle Squadron, which was part of the Grand Fleet of the British Navy, was detached and left the Grand Fleet, swung around the north of Scotland, through the boiling waters of Petland Firth, and went down the Irish Channel-I have been told'a very formidable looking place, with heavy seas and swift currents. That night a heavy fog set in, a terrific fog, and that from the bridge of the New York one could not see the jackstaff of that ship, nor from the stern could one see the lights of the Texas, 500 yards astern. When the fog
the worst, and the admiral commanding the American Battle Squadron took personal charge of the navigation, and for 150 miles, through boiling seas, through the thickest fog that anybody ever saw, through swift currents, in seas infested by mines that were floating about, by rocks, without a landmark visible—through this 150 miles this fleet was navigated by the admiral personally at a speed of 20 knots an hour, and by zigzagging, dodging the rocks, allowing
for currents, they got there. Why I have brought that in is this: Any person thinking of that kind of navigation, that naval officers have to go through with, knows what must be expected of our Navy in time of war. And any person finding that navigation in this secluded, sheltered, lighted, buoyed harbor, for 18 miles, difficult, had better never go to sea with the admiral who commanded that battle squadron, or with the officers brought up in school with him.
(d) Berthing spaces quite inadequate at present, and impracticable to obtain to as great extent as would be necessary for a first-class yard.
It is true that there are not as many berths at Mare Island as is desired, but berths for ships do not exist naturally; they must be made. There are no berths at all at Alameda or Hunters Point, and will not be until they are built there. At present there are 50 and more ships berthed at Carquinez Straits station, ranging from predreadnaught battleships to small craft, including cruisers, destroyers, etc. Except at the fresh-water basin at Philadelphia, where ships are laid up in reserve, at no navy yard in the United States are there so many ships berthed as at present at Carquinez Straits station. If the plan of berthing as designed by Commander Cox be created here, and there is ample space for it, Carquinez Straits station will have the greatest facilities for berthing of any navy yard in the United States.
(e) Muddy bottom, with a tendency to cause clogging of condensers and pipes when large vessels enter under their own engines under unfavorable conditions, due to insufficient depths of water.
In the approaches to Carquinez Straits station there is natural deep water of 40 feet and over everywhere except over Pinole Shoal, a stretch of 8 miles. This has been dredged by Army engineers for commercial purposes, for the oil companies, sugar refineries, etc., to a depth at low water in its shallowest part of 32 feet; at high water, 38 feet. For the greatest part of the channel over Pinole Shoal the average depth is 35 feet. There is no occasion for heavydraft ships to pick up mud in proceeding to the Carquinez Straits station. It is to be noted that the Army transport Mount Vernon, drawing more than 32 feet, went over this shoal four times without experiencing this disadvantage. The Army engineers have reported that it is entirely feasible to maintain this channel at a 40-foot depth at low water, with a width of 1,000 feet, if desired. (1) Water area limitedin extent, interfering with safe movement of vessels, etc.
This is correct as applying to Mare Island Straits. It is entirely incorrect as applying to ships maneuvering to get into dry docks or berths at the docking station at the southern end of Mare Island. Mare Island Straits, which have a present depth of 33 feet at high water, is now being dredged by Army engineers, and they report a depth of 35 feet at low water can be maintained. Ships for long overhauls will be brought up the straits, which will be the greatest fittingout basin possessed by any navy yard of the country. But no maneuvering will be required in the Mare Island Straits; all maneuvering and turning will be in Carquinez Straits, where there is ample space and over 40 feet depth everywhere.
(9) Anchorage ground very limited at navy yard. Available anchorage about 3 miles distant, but water frequently too rough for convenient use of small boats, and quite undesirable for vessels under refitting or repair.
Carquinez Straits station, where docking and berthing of great ships would be carried on in accordance with Commander Cox's design, butts right into the deep water of Carquinez Straits. It butts into an anchorage ground that is far greater in extent, stretching as it does for about 8 miles, than will ever be required for ships at the Carquinez Straits station for overhaul, docking, supplies, etc. The Carquinez Straits provides a better anchorage ground for the Carquinez Straits station than is possessed by any navy yard in tho country. To begin with, there is no anchorage ground so close. The anchorage ground at the Portsmouth Navy Yard is limited in extent and several miles below the navy yard. Everyone in the Navy is aware of the tremendous currents in the Piscataqua River. There is but little anchorage ground for the Boston Navy Yard, only two or three or four ships at most could be anchored there. The anchorage ground for the New York Navy Yard is about 10 miles away, off Staten Island. There is not much anchorage ground for the Philadeļphia Navy Yard. The anchorage ground for the Norfolk yard is 15 miles away, at Old Point Comfort. Nor at the other navy yards is there any anchorage ground that permits many ships to be anchored. No navy yard in the country is so splendidly provided with anchorage ground as is the Carquinez Straits station.
(h) Inadequate supply, within reasonable distance, of materials required by the Fleet and in shipbuilding and repair work.
This is certainly not borne out by results at the Mare Island Navy Yard. In spite of this statement of inadequate supply, Mare Island during the war built destroyers in quicker time than at any navy yard or at any private shipbuilding plant. The destroyer Ward was actually launched in 17 days after her keel was laid, and in 108 days after her keel was laid she was in commission, completely equipped and ready to steam away to the war. Between July 1, 1919, and July 1, 1920, $60,000,000 was spent by the Navy Department at the Mare Ísland Navy Yard. Out of every $15 spent on the Navy for all purposes by the Navy Department, $1 was actually spent at Mare Island. As a matter of fact, the Carquinez Straits station is better situated with regard to supplies than either Hunters Point or Alameda, because practically all supplies are brought by freight from the East by means of the railway over the causeway to Mare Island. Mare Island is in direct connection with the transcontinental railroad lines, and by this means received freight many hours earlier than San Francisco, because freight to San Francisco must be ferried over the Carquinez Straits from Benicia.
On page 41, under article 101 (a), the Helm report states that it is "impracticable and unadvisable to develop Mare Island as a navy yard suitable for the largest vessels with 40-foot depths at mean low water in its channel approaches.” Army engineers state that since this report was written they have had much experience with the channel leading to the Carquinez Straits station, and that it is entirely feasible to have a 40-foot approach. They state that the average depth at low water over the shallowest part of Pinole Shoal (except in a small part where it is over 32 feet), is now 35 feet, with 41 feet at high water; that the cost and ease of maintaining this is much less than originally expected, and they therefore believe that the cost of a 40-foot channel will be much less than originally estimated.
With regard to this 35-foot channel over Pinole Shoal, attention is invited to the fact that this depth was created for the benefit of commerce and that the Navy Department has never had to pay a cent of this cost.
Page 41, article 101 (6) states that it is “impracticable and unadvisable to attempt to develop Mare Island as a navy yard of intermediate capacity with a 35-foot depth at mean low water in channel approaches." The answer to this is that this 35-foot depth at mean low water already exists, except for a small part of the channel where the present depth is over 32 feet.
On page 15, paragraph 19, of the Helm Board report, it is stated that there are "physical limitations which make it impracticable and unadvisable, etc.' The Army transport Mount Vernon, drawing more than 32 feet, passed through this channel repeatedly. The additional facilities needed by superdreadnaughts can certainly be constructed at Carquinez Straits station, and the greatest ships can proceed there. The question is rather advisability than capability.
Page 27, paragraph 61, of the Helm Board report, states thąt the "rapid silting of the channel and basin has been a constant source of expense and inconvenience.” This is true, but to a greater extent formerly than at present. The silting was partly caused by the washing away of gold-bearing sand in rivers emptying into the bay by hydraulic mining. This has now been forbidden by law, and part of the cost of this silting has been removed.
Paragraph 63 of the same page refers to the inadequate anchorage ground. Carquinez Straits anchorage ground is far more protected and safer than any anchorage ground in any other part of San Francisco Bay. Some months ago, at a time of bad weather, shipping was much injured in the lower bay. One vessel was damaged to the extent of $140,000. It was impossible for small boats to do any boating at all.' On account of the protection that naturally exists in the Carquinez Straits, there was no damage of any kind to shipping in this locality:
Page 29, article 68, of the Helm Board report states that "there is no direct railroad connection with the mainland." This was true in 1916. It is not true to-day.
Article 69 states that “practically all material is shipped from the East. Because of Mare Island's railway connection, she receives this material hours before it could possibly get to Alameda or Hunters Point.
Page 32, article 67, states that “one of the most serious deficiencies at the Mare Island Navy Yard is great lack of berthing spaces, and much of that existing is not altogether satisfactory. This is absolutely true, but nevertheless there are 50 ships and more berthed at the present moment at the Carquinez Straits station, more than at any other navy yard except in the fresh-water basin at Philadelphia. Berthing spaces have to be built. If this is an objection to Mare Island at present, it is a far greater objection to Hunters Point or Alameda, because there are no berthing spaces there at all. Berthing spaces do not exist until they are built. All the berthing spaces needed can be provided at Carquinez Straits station in much less time and at much less cost than at Hunters Point or Alameda.
Page 33, article 79, states that “among the most serious disadvantages of the Mare Island Navy Yard are lack of adequate depth in channel approaches." The answer to this is that there is already practically an average low-water depth of 35 feet, which can easily be made 40 feet at but comparatively small expense.
The report states that “there is limited water area of suitable depth immediately adjacent to the navy yard." In answer to this, it is a fact that Carquinez Straits station provides the greatest water area for anchorage purposes possessed by any navy yard in the country. It is indeed immediately adjacent to the navy yard, because the proposed Carquinez. Straits docking station projects into it. There is no inherent difficulty at all of providing adequate berthing accommodations required. Referring to the statement that “providing a 40-foot depth involves expenditures of a serious character, etc., that is true, but they are not nearly so serious as would be required by the creation of a naval base at Hunters Point or Alameda.
On page 39, article 96, it is stated that “there are physical limitations at Mare Island which seriously affect its development as a navy yard of the first order; that among these may be mentioned narrowness and limited area of waters adjacent to the navy yard. With regard to this, the Carquinez Straits station is better situated than any other navy yard in the country.
“Swift currents in Mare Island Straits." These currents are no swifter than at Portsmouth Navy Yard Boston Navy Yard, New York