Deployments - San Diego

San Diego has an interesting history regarding submarines. While first submarine activity around San Diego goes all the way back to 1912 - San Diego didn't have any "official" shore based submarine facilities until 1963. It wasn't until 1981 that Naval Submarine Base San Diego began to be developed - with full "handover" of service and support of submarines not taking place until the mid 1990s.

Yet San Diego has long been one of the primere sites in the world for the support and srevice of submarines. Obviously - this is due to submarine tenders (yes, usually at least two) being deployed to San Diego for most of the century. USS Alert (AS 4) was first to visit with her brood in 1912 - as the new - and barely operable submarines operated up and down the California coast. Alert and Rainbow (AS 7) visited off and on over the next ten years - escorting their ever improving charges as the Navy learned how to operate the boats - and more importantly - as the Navy learned from the Germans in World War I just how effective the boats could be.

In 1926 Holland (AS 3) established the first permanent presence of Submarines at San Diego - with occasional visits from Argonne (AS 10). In 1931 Bushnell (AS 2) joined Holland at San Diego - forming the first long-term "team" deployment.

When the Navy realized that the United States was not going to be able to stay out of World War II - they took advantage of the tender's ability to quickly forward deploy. Holland was sent first to the Philippines - then - like the other tenders - regrouped back some - then began their relentless chase of the Japanese back to their homeland. During the latter years of the war - as Atlantic assets became available for use in the Pacific - Beaver (AS 5) was deployed to San Diego in February 1944 for the remainer of the war.

After World War II - Sperry was sent to the yards for an overhaul - and when completed - deployed to San Diego - arriving there in July, 1947. Nereus (AS 17) joined Sperry in 1948 - and the two were "Sub base San Diego" until mid 1971. At the end of 1971 Dixon (AS 37) replaced Nereus. For the Next 10 years Sperry and Dixon were the Deployed pair. In Spetember 1981 McKee (AS 41) arrived - and began taking the load from Sperry - whom the retired a year later. For those three years - San Diego had three tenders deployed servicing much of the Pacific Fast Attack Fleet.

Sperry and Nereus at their post - which they stood from the mid 1960's until Nereus was retired in 1971 - relieved by Dixon.

USS Dixon, USS Proteus and USS Sperry at San Diego (likely 1980)

Sperry and Dixon at San Diego - where they served together from 1971 to 1982 when McKee relieved Sperry.

As noted - in 1981 the Navy had started building a permanent shore facility - and by the mid 1980s - it began taking more and more of the work load. During this time Dixon and McKee began serving various deployments about the Pacific - leaving the other tender at San Diego to provide needed services. When Dixon was retired in 1995 - McKee became the sole tender at San Diego - though she too was increasingly available for various deployments elsewhere. In 1998 - McKee began the final phase of "turn over" where all submarine support at San Diego would be handled by the shore facility - ending 70 years of nearly continous tender deployments at San Diego.

USS McKee on one of many deployments from San Diego

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