Deployments - San Pedro

Like most submarine bases, Submarine Base San Pedro was established quite some time after Submarines had been operating in and around the area. The first submarines to visit San Pedro were accompainied by the tender Alert (AS 4) in 1912. It wasn't until 1917 that the submarine base at San Pedro was established. While it may seem odd that San Pedro would have a Submarine base many, many years before others were established - there were many reasons the Navy choose San Pedro.

First is the excellent anchorage available at San Pedro. In 1899 work began on a 2+ mile breakwater that would shelter the harbor from the Pacific and create the second largest man-made harbor in the world. With over 600 acres of anchorage - much or which is deeper than 40 feet - the United States Navy often used San Pedro to anchor the fleet when visiting the west coast or as a port of call when transiting between coasts.

Another reason is the strategic value of the harbor - it's value as a port of trade and a point of defense. Several times the Harbor has played an important part in the defense of the United States - notibly during the 1914 elevation of tensions between the United States and Mexico, and certainly during World War I.

USS Alert at San Diego with three F boats along side Though not dated - this is from a photo taken in the 1912 - 1914 era.

In 1888 much of the coastal area around San Pedro Harbor was set aside by the State of California to provide for the defense of the harbor. In 1913 the United States Navy obtained the use of Municipal Pier Number 1 and it's warehouse for it's use, and it assigned USS Cheyenne to deploy there as a submarine tender.  USS Alert, which had been returned to the United States Navy by the California Militia in 1910 was reffitted and deployed as a submarine tender in 1914 - and was soon bringing her brood of submarines to San Pedro.

Another view of USS Alert with two F boats along side.

As it became clear that the United States was going to be pulled into World War I, Alert received orders deploying her as the permanent tender at San Pedro. In 1917 the submarine base had grown to have a compliment of more than 500 officers and men - and a submarine school was established to train potential crew members in the various skills needed aboard a submarine.

In 1919 the relations between the United States and Japan nearly reached the breaking point - with hostilities anticipated. At the direction of president Wilson's administration - 200 capital ships were transferred from the east coast to the west coast. Since - as noted before - San Diego's harbor was considered too shallow for these larges ships - they proceeded on to San Pedro where they anchored waiting further orders. With this huge influx of ships - came an equally large demand on the available services in the harbor - so the facilities at the submarine base were shared with the fleet. This was the start of a trend which saw the submarine base transformed into a general naval facility over the next ten years.

The last known Navy order addressing the base as Submarine Base San Pedro is dated 1929. By this time - the submarine school had been moved to New London - as had most of the rest of Submarine specific assets - and Submarine Base San Pedro ceased to exist.

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