National Geographic : 1942 Jan
San Diego Can't Believe It Where Workers Once Hunted Jobs, Jobs Are Now Hunting Workers Ten years ago only six men worked in San Diego on civilian airplane jobs; now there are 50,000. Every morning union headquarters dispatch fresh squads of workmen-and more during the day, as called for. its carriers. Here, too, is a school for ad vanced flight training. From here pilots start on long transcontinental trips, delivering new planes built in San Diego shops to such far away bases as Jacksonville, Norfolk, and beyond. Should enemies ever make it too hot for Navy's seaplanes to base here, a most unlikely prospect, they can fall back on any number of inland lakes hereabouts, such as Salton Sea - that calm, Dead Sea-like body of shallow water that lies in the Imperial Valley of Cali fornia, just over the mountains east of San Diego. "Why did Uncle Sam pick this place as a naval operating base?" I asked of Rear Ad miral Charles A. Blakely, who commands the 11th Naval District, with headquarters here. "Because it's our first Pacific port of call north of the Panama Canal," said the Ad miral. "Also, its fine climate and ample hinterland make it an ideal area for a naval operating base. Particularly, the harbor is well suited for all-year experimental opera tion of air, surface, and undersea craft." "How does this base compare in size and importance with others in the United States?" "It ranks as one of the most important naval centers in the world. Here is a base hospital and supply depot for the Fleet. Here also are a destroyer, submarine, and light cruiser op erating base, an advanced training base, U. S. Marine Corps headquarters, and one of the largest naval bases for aircraft of all types." "San Pedro and Long Beach are also in your district. What goes on there?" I asked. "That's where we base our battleships, heavy cruisers, and auxiliary craft for the trained forces." "How many young sailors can be handled in your training station here?" "About 17,000 can be given instruction during one course of activity. Each year we train about 82,500 recruits." "Has our Navy ever done any fighting in these waters?" "No. There was an exchange of shots be tween the Spanish guns on Point Loma and an American merchant ship, the Lelia Byrd, in 1803, in an argument over some otter skins; but no blood was shed. "In December, 1846, however, during the war with Mexico, Commodore Stockton sent a relief expedition to help out General S. W. Kearny, whose small command, on its way west to cooperate with the Navy, had just been badly cut up by some California lancers at the Battle of San Pasqual."