The Navy in San Diego
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San Diego has never been afraid to call itself a "Navy Town," and the positive and inspiring link between the navy and the city knows no equal across the country. For over 150 years, beginning with the U.S. Navy's capture of the city for the United States in the opening days of the Mexican War, the navy has been an indelible part of San Diego's lifestyle, culture, and vitality. Not only has the navy formed the bedrock of the region's economy, but it has helped shape the population while endowing the city with a sense of international and cosmopolitan awareness that separates San Diego from many other cities of its size. San Diego and its navy enjoy a special relationship, one deeply rooted in historic perspective that renews itself with each
The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan returns to port via the San Diego channel in 2006 with her crew manning the rail. (U.S. Navy.) ON THE COVER: A navy recruit stands at the temporary naval training station during the summer of 1918. In the four years of its existence, nearly 4,000 sailors passed through this temporary boot camp housed in the vacant buildings of the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park before the opening of the naval training station in Loma Portal in 1923.
the navy began using the field in the 1920s for weapons training and carrier-landing practice. By the time this photograph was taken in August 1958, the field was well on its way to becoming the principal navy helicopter base in the Pacific. (U.S. Navy/Naval Facilities Engineering Command.) Due to sailing restrictions in the bay during the war, the San Diego Yacht Club pioneered the use of Penguin-class sailboats for competitive racing. Kettenburg Boat Works was a prime builder, and after the
Ellyson (Naval Aviator No. 1), and an unidentified man. Ellyson and Towers would return two Curtiss aircraft and one Wright Brothers airplane to North Island later that year for their first season of aircraft operations. Training in Coronado continued, including the use of the Curtiss F-boat seaplane trainer shown below in Spanish Bight c. 1917. (Naval Historical Center, National Archives.) One of North Island’s great attributes is evident in this c. 1916 photograph (above)—its open spaces and
seaplane trainers line up early on a clear morning in 1918. (San Diego Air & Space Museum.) The army’s Rockwell Field stands at the top of the photograph of North Island in 1927. Carrier Langley and navy administration buildings are at the bottom, with navy airplane hangars at the middle right. A wooden landing deck for practice carrier landings can be seen in the center of picture. (U.S. Navy.) It was an active day in the mid-1930s with a Northampton-class heavy cruiser moored mid-stream while
Randy Thompson, and at College Park, Maryland, assisted in finding some terrific images, as did the always helpful photographic section of the Naval Historical Center at the Washington Navy Yard. Locally I was aided by a wide spectrum of enthusiasts who contributed their time and sense of historic photography to this effort, including Bob Kyle, who contributed lavishly from the archives of the San Diego Yacht Club; fellow historian Mark Allen; Roger Clapp, force historian, Naval Special Warfare