VALLEJO— On Jan. 4, 1853, almost 171 years ago, the United States Navy purchased Mare Island from private owners for $83,491.
Mare Island is a peninsula located in the city of Vallejo, Calif. It is situated in the northeastern part of San Francisco Bay and is known for its historical significance. Mare Island Naval Shipyard was established in 1854 and operated as the first Navy base on the West Coast. The naval shipyard was a critical facility for the Navy for over a century and was paramount in various aspects of naval operations, including shipbuilding, repair, maintenance and support.
Mare Island has a rich history that spans military, industrial and cultural aspects. The shipyard was involved in building and repairing ships during major conflicts, including World War I and World War II.
The shipyard was closed in 1996 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. BRAC is a mechanism used by the Department of Defense (DoD) to optimize its infrastructure and realign resources by closing, consolidating or restructuring military bases and facilities. The process is driven by the need to adapt to changes in defense strategy, reduce excess capacity and achieve cost savings.
Since the shipyard’s closure, efforts have been made to redevelop the area. Some portions of the former shipyard have been repurposed for various uses, including residential, commercial and industrial developments. The Mare Island Historic Park Foundation works to preserve and showcase the historical legacy of Mare Island. The park includes a museum, historic homes and other points of interest related to the island’s military and industrial history.
Mare Island is also the location of one of the oldest cemeteries in the U.S. The Mare Island Naval Cemetery, established in 1856, contains the graves of sailors, marines and their family members.
Mare Island remains an object of historical interest as efforts continue to preserve its heritage while adapting to new uses and developments. The former naval shipyard and its surroundings are an important part of California’s maritime history.
Wikimedia Commons image.