About Mare Island
The Mare Island Naval Shipyard (MINSY) was the first United States Navy base established on the Pacific Ocean. It is located 25 miles northeast of San Francisco. The Napa River goes through the Mare Island Strait and separates the peninsula shipyard (Mare Island, California) from the main portion of the city of Vallejo. MINSY made a name for itself as the premier US West Coast submarine port as well as serving as the controlling force in San Francisco Bay Area shipbuilding efforts during World War II. The base closed in 1996 and has gone through several redevelopment phases. It was registered as a California Historical Landmark in 1960, and parts of it were declared a National Historic Landmark District in 1975.
The Navy purchased the original 956 acres (387 ha) of MINSY in 1853 and commenced shipbuilding operations on September 16, 1854 under the command of then-Commander David Farragut, who would later gain fame during the U.S. Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay, when he gave the order, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" MINSY served as a major Pacific Ocean repair station during the late 19th century, handling American as well as Japanese and Russian vessels in the course of duty.
In 1861, the longest lived of the clipper ships, Syren, was brought to Mare Island Navy Yard for $15,000 of repairs. Syrenhad struck Mile Rock two times while beating out of the Golden Gate.
Marines first arrived for duty in 1862 under the command of Maj. Addison Garland, who was the first officer to command the Marine barracks on the island.
By 1901, this shipyard, Union Iron Works, was contracted out by John Philip Holland's (Holland Torpedo Boat Company) to build two Adder-class (later A-class) submarines. They were known as USS Grampus / A-3 and USS Pike / A-5 and were the first United States Navy submarines built on the West Coast.
World War I: In March 1917 MINSY was the site of a major explosion of barges loaded with munitions. The blast killed 6 people, wounded another 31, and destroyed some port facilities. Agents of U.S. Military Intelligence tied the blast to roving German saboteur Lothar Witzke, who was caught and imprisoned in 1918.
World War II: Base facilities included a hospital, ammunition depot, paint and rubber testing laboratories, and schools for firefighters, opticians, and anti-submarine attack during World War II. MINSY reached peak capacity for shipbuilding, repair, overhaul, and maintenance of many different kinds of seagoing vessels including both surface combatants and submarines. Up to 50,000 workers were employed. Mare Island even received Royal Navy cruisers and destroyers and four Soviet Navy subs for service. Following the War, MINSY was considered to be one of the primary stations for construction and maintenance of the Navy's Pacific fleet of submarines, having built seventeen submarines and four submarine tenders by the end of hostilities.
Residential: Lennar Mare Island, a subsidiary of Lennar corp bought Mare Island Naval Shipyard around 1977. The company was chosen as the master developer of this site. On 2002 the Navy transferred 650 acres (2.6 km2) to Lennar. Lennar stated that it would use those 650 acres (2.6 km2) to build homes, shops, restaurants and businesses. The company got the land for free in exchange for investing $260 million in streets and utilities, historic preservation and building renovation. The Lennar Mare Island Reuse Plan includes 1,400 homes, roughly 7,000,000 square feet (650,000 m2) of commercial and industrial space, and many recreational amenities.
On Mare Island, the Navy paid for the cleanup, Lennar assumed the environmental cleanup of the site. To date, 274 homes have been sold, including several historic homes. These homes are complemented by tree-lined streets, residential parks and pedestrian pathways.
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