Naval Station Treasure Island Redirected from Treasure Island Naval Base

Naval Station Treasure Island
San Francisco
Treasure Island Admin Bldg.jpg
Headquarters Building at US Naval Station Treasure Island
Naval Station Treasure Island is located in San Francisco
Naval Station Treasure Island
Naval Station Treasure Island
Naval Station Treasure Island is located in California
Naval Station Treasure Island
Naval Station Treasure Island
Coordinates37°49′26″N 122°22′16″W / 37.824°N 122.371°W / 37.824; -122.371Coordinates: 37°49′26″N 122°22′16″W / 37.824°N 122.371°W / 37.824; -122.371
TypeNavy Station
Site information
Controlled byUnited States Navy
Site history
Built1942 (1942)
In use1942–1997

Naval Station Treasure Island is a former United States Navy facility that operated on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay from 1942 to 1997.


During World War II, Treasure Island became part of the Treasure Island Naval Base, and served as an electronics and radio communications training school, and as the major Navy departure and receiving point for sailors in the Pacific aboard surface ships and submarines. The Naval Station also served as an Auxiliary Air Facility airfield for airships, blimps, dirigibles, planes, and seaplanes by Hangars / Bldgs. 2 & 3. The seaplanes landed in the Port of Trade Winds Harbor. For his dedicated service in developing the Treasure Island Naval Station and Auxiliary Air Facility from inception the US Navy honored Rear Admiral Hugo Wilson Osterhaus (1878–1972) by naming the square in front of the Administration Building (at Bldg 1 on 1 Avenue of the Palms) after him.

On 9 December 1945, the three theatre complexes on the base were dedicated to World War II Naval heroes killed in action. Theatre One was named for Doris Miller, the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross; Theatre Two was named for Medal of Honor recipient Edward O'Hare; and Theatre Three (at Bldg 401 on Avenue I and 9th Street) was named for Medal of Honor recipient Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone USMC. Broadcast nationwide on the ABC radio series Orson Welles Commentaries, the ceremonies featured Commodore Robert W. Cary, commander of the center, and Orson Welles, who interviewed family members.[1][2][3] The three honorees were selected through a renaming contest in the base publication, The Masthead.[4]

USS Pandemonium (PCDC-1) in 1957.

After the war, a training center for nuclear decontamination was established on the island. A full size mockup of a navy ship dubbed the USS Pandemonium (PCDC-1) was constructed in July 1956. Radioactive materials were placed on the land-locked ship in order to train crews in radioactive detection and cleanup. The Pandemonium remained in use until July 1969. It was moved from its original site and then demolished in 1996.[5]

During the 1960s–1980s Treasure Island was used by the U.S. Navy for shipboard fire fighting and damage control training for Hull Maintenance Technicians and other sailors. Treasure Island housed the "USS Buttercup" (in Bldg. 341 on Avenue M and 4th Street) which was a static damage control trainer that was used for real time shipboard battle damage repair and control. The Auxiliary Air Facility airfield was limited to helicopter landing pad use at Naval Airship Square on the East side of Hangar/Bldg. 3 near the Naval firehouse at Bldg. 111.

In 1990 highly decorated Lieutenant Commander Edgar White was credited with running the most efficient and humane military detention center in U.S. military history. He was known as "Commander Friendly" his ability to use what was later dubbed "verbal judo" to calm even the most violent offenders, with only his words. In his honor, the U.S. Navy dedicated a leadership program for troubled youth called "Edgar White's Leadership School for Small Boys”. Commander White has had a major impact on corrections and many of his practices are still employed today. Techniques such as: "pack dominance", “instruction demonstration”, "lesser than/ greater than", “walk don’t run”, and "non-verbal crowd control”. In addition to his own techniques Commander White also employs a variety of techniques borrowed from others, these include but are not limited to: “final countdown” and “stand-up sit-down”. The Naval Consolidated Brig located in Miramar built an additional confinement unit which houses approximately 2,000 offenders and employs a staff of approximately 300, in honor of Commander White. The unit is located across from the base golf course near the west gate, next to Commander White's house.

Additionally, the Hull Maintenance Technician Training School Phase "A" was trained at Treasure Island for Nuclear, Biological, Radiological and Chemical Warfare Training as part of their phase "A" and phase "B" training.

Treasure Island was also the location for the (nominal) 42-week Electronics Technician (ET) 'A-School'.

In 1996, Treasure Island and the Presidio of San Francisco Army Post were decommissioned and opened to public control, under stipulations. Treasure Island is now part of District 6 of the City and County of San Francisco, though it is still owned by the Navy. In 1993, the naval station was selected for closure, and Navy operations ended there in 1997. Some of the property was transferred to the Federal Highway Administration, the Labor Department and the U.S. Coast Guard, and the rest is open for development.

Problems have arisen over the determination of Treasure Island's fair-market value. The city's redevelopment agency, The Treasure Island Development Authority, valued the land at $13.8 million, and the city offered the Navy $40 million for the property.[6] Two other estimates determined the fair market value at $250 million. However, in 2008 Congress offered the publicly held property to the city of San Francisco for nothing, under Section 2711 of HR 2647, drafted by Rep. Sam Farr.[7]


Although it was designated Naval Station (NAVSTA) Treasure Island for most of its existence, the naval base had other names during its history:[8]

  • 1941-1947: Naval Training and Distribution Center (TADCEN) Treasure Island
  • 1947-1975: Naval Station (NAVSTA) Treasure Island
  • 1975-1980: Naval Support Activity (NSA) Treasure Island
  • 1980-1997: Naval Station (NAVSTA) Treasure Island

Environmental issues

After the Naval Station closed in 1997, Treasure Island was opened to residential and other uses, but according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Toxic Substances Control, the ground at various locations on the island is contaminated with toxic substances.[9] Caesium-137 levels three times higher than previously recorded were found in April 2013. These are thought to date from the base's use by ships contaminated in post-war nuclear testing, and from a nuclear training facility previously based there.[10]


  1. ^ "Treasure Island Medal of Honor Dedication: Orson Welles ABC KGO Broadcast Script and Photograph Lot". Snyder's Treasure Trove: Collectible Militaria. Archived from the original on 16 March 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  2. ^ "Orson Welles Wartime Broadcasts". Internet Archive. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  3. ^ "Treasure Island Theaters to Bear Names of 3 Navy Heroes". Oakland Tribune, 2 December 1945, page A13.
  4. ^ "Treasure Island Theater to be Named for Marine Hero". Oakland Tribune, 111 November 1945, page 20A.
  5. ^ "Microsoft Word - Treasure Island HRA Feb 2006 Final.doc" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 February 2013. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  6. ^ "Piracy on Treasure Island". The Washington Times. 7 October 2009. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  7. ^ Rep. Ike Skelton [D-MO4]. "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (2009; 111th Congress H.R. 2647)". GovTrack. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  8. ^ Hice, Eric; Schierling, Daniel (March 1996). Historical Study of Yerba Buena Island, Treasure Island and their Buildings. Mare Island Naval Shipyard. pp. P-4. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  9. ^ Ron Russell "Toxic Acres" Check |url= value (help). SF Weekly. 24 May 2006. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  10. ^ "Nuclear byproduct levels on Treasure Island higher than Navy disclosed – The Bay Citizen". Bay Citizen. 12 April 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2013.

External links

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