The history of Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest (NAVFAC Southwest), has changed dramatically over the years to meet the needs of the Navy and Marine Corps we have been tasked to support.
The first organization, known as a District organization, was established on October 27, 1917 when CDR Leonard M. Cox, Civil Engineer Corps, U.S. Navy (CEC, USN), was ordered to duty as Public Works Officer on the staff of the Commandant, 12th Naval District, whose headquarters were in San Francisco. The geographical area was tremendous but contained only a few naval establishments.
When CDR Norman M. Smith, CEC, USN, reported as Public Works Officer in November 1918, the Public Works personnel were all military. CDR Smith, with the assistance of Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NavFac), recruited and selected the best qualified civilians that could be found. The entire original staff consisted of 10 civilians. This force was augmented from time to time as the workload increased, until on June 30, 1941 (just prior to World War II), the total complement was 14 officers, 65 professional and technical personnel, and 45 administrative and clerical personnel.
The Eleventh Naval District, with Headquarters at San Diego, was established on January 31, 1921. At that time the Public Works Department, Eleventh Naval District, was established, with the District Public Works Officer serving on the District staff as an advisor for NavFac matters concerning the design, construction, maintenance, repair, and upkeep of all stations in the District.
The Public Works Office was first located at 6th and "E" Streets and was moved later that year to a building at the corner of Rosecrans and Lytton, Point Loma. In May 1922, it was moved to the Naval Supply Center (formerly Naval Supply Depot).
Increased operations and responsibilities introduced by World War II necessitated that activities located in the Naval Supply Depot obtain additional space. City-owned reclaimed tideland was obtained on a long-term lease at no cost to the government at a location in close proximity to District Headquarters with support utilities closely accessible. Present facilities were constructed and the District Public Works Office moved to 1220 Pacific Highway on April 14, 1945.
At the end of the war, the total value of land and improvements in the Eleventh Naval District had increased to $420,979,000. The District Public Works Officer was responsible for the design and construction of many additional facilities at existing activities as well as a large number of new activities. An additional 30 Navy housing projects increased housing units from 1,300 to 9,600 units.
As the command changed from an active wartime unit to a peacetime unit, a reduction in officer and civilian personnel took place.
During 1947, the officer complement was reduced first to 10, then to 6. By 1950, the total number of civilian employees had been reduced to less than 600.
In 1951, all per diem personnel were transferred to the Naval Station except the housing maintenance crew and the chauffeur pool. Subsequently, cognizance of housing maintenance was assigned to the Naval Station and the chauffeur pool was absorbed in 1956 by the newly established Public Works Transportation Center. Graded ceiling continued to decline to a low of 254 until the Korean crisis, when the ceiling took an about face and rose to 634 in December 1952.
Past Commanding Officers