San Francisco Chronicle: When the Navy ruled the bay, August 25, 2013


It wasn’t that long ago when the biggest, toughest and strongest vessels on San Francisco Bay belonged to the U.S. Navy.

Navy bases ringed the bay — from San Francisco Naval Shipyard at Hunters Point, to Alameda Naval Air Station, home of aircraft carriers and fighter planes.

Up the bay was Mare island, founded before the Civil War. For more than 100 years, Mare Island built and repaired cruisers, destroyers and submarines.

The Navy was always part of the heritage of the bay — sailors and marines from the USS Portsmouth were the first to raise the stars and stripes over San Francisco in 1846.

Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet steamed through the Golden Gate in 1908; and Navy ships sailed to the far Pacific in all the country’s wars.

Here is an album of the Navy on the Bay, from workers, to ships, to submarines to bases. It all ended in the 1990s, when cutbacks in defense spending meant that one by one, the Navy bases closed.