Welcome to Naval Base San Diego

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San Diego, CA isn’t just the land of sunshine and sandy beaches – it's proudly home to the largest concentration of military personnel in the United States.

Many of the servicemen and women living in San Diego are members of the United States Navy – the country’s main maritime military branch - not to mention one of the strongest navy forces in the world. The United States Navy has a massive presence in San Diego – in fact, here you'll find the second-largest naval base in the country! The base is located less than 5 miles from downtown San Diego.

Naval Base San Diego is the largest Navy Base on the West Coast and the principal homeport for the powerful Pacific Fleet Surface Navy, which includes more than 150 tenant commands, more than 50 navy ships, and 13 piers! Known as the 32nd Street Naval Station, the massive base covers 1,600 acres of land near the city of San Diego as well as 362 acres of water in the Pacific Ocean.

Navy personnel and their family love living in San Diego

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Plenty of Navy sailors and their families enjoy living in San Diego and experiencing the fabulous Southern California weather, beautiful beaches, and local attractions during their free time. Around 35,000 military personnel and civilians call Naval Base San Diego their home base. The base often hosts visiting surface ships and foreign navies as well. 

Throughout the city, there are multiple veterans who loved living in San Diego so much that they decided to retire in America’s Finest City. Some of San Diego’s most wonderful businesses are owned and operated by veterans - and Navy veterans make up around 13% of San Diego County’s entire population. 

Whether you've just received word that you'll be stationed in San Diego, or you're simply fascinated by the rich military history of America, let us be the first to welcome you to Naval Base San Diego!

Where is Naval Base San Diego located?

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Naval Base San Diego is one of the two major fleet support ports in the United States of America. The Navy port is located on 32nd Street and is just 10 minutes south of downtown San Diego on the east end of San Diego Bay and the south side of Coronado Bay. You can reach the base by taking the I-5 or I-15 freeways.

It’s on the water, across the bay from Coronado. The base is right in-between downtown San Diego and Chula Vista. Some nearby neighborhoods include Barrio Logan, Mountain View, and Logan Heights.

History of the Navy in San Diego

During WWI the land that Naval Base San Diego now occupies was owned by a group of concrete ship-building companies known as the Emergency Fleet Corporation. The coalition company was named Pacific Marine Construction.

Eventually, after WWI ended their profits began to suffer, which eventually led them to pursue selling the land back to the city of San Diego. When the Navy caught wind of the land sale, they jumped at the opportunity to create a west coast ship repair facility for specialized fleet support purposes - which eventually led to today's massive military complex.

When was Naval Base San Diego established?

Navy ship San Diego

Naval Base San Diego was first established over a hundred years ago. The base first opened on February 23, 1922, just four years after the end of WWI, and grew rapidly during its first few years.

Back then, it was called “U.S Destroyer Base, San Diego” – an ominous name for a military base filled with San Diego’s famous sunshine. After the onset of World War II in 1939, the base began to expand even further. By 1942 the base had grown to include amphibious force training units and fleet training schools.

During WWII, the base was used to repair navy ships and equipment, and in 1943 it was renamed. Now known as the U.S. Repair Base San Diego, it became an important place where warships and surface ships were brought for repair and improvements as well as storage.

After WWII ended, the base function began to shift once again. It was seen as an ideal place to provide logistical support, and to repair and dock surface ships from the active fleet. In 1946, the Secretary of the Navy renamed the repair base the Naval Station San Diego.

When Long Beach Naval Shipyard closed in the 1990s, Naval Station became the primary port for the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The name changed once again under the direction of Commander, Navy Region Southwest– and has been known as the Naval Base San Diego ever since.

Can tourists visit the base?

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Most of the time, the San Diego Naval Base is closed to the general public, which is standard for an active military base. However, if you’re lucky enough to plan a trip to San Diego during the annual Fleet Week San Diego event, you’ll have incredible access to the largest navy base on the west coast.

The goal of Fleet Week San Diego is to honor the servicemen and women of the Navy. There are all kinds of public events that aim to highlight and celebrate the military’s contribution to San Diego County.

2023 Fleet Week will be held from November 8-12. Special events include a golf tournament, and softball tournament, a boot camp challenge, a military & veterans art exhibit, a military band concert, and more. Visitors can also enjoy ship tours and military displays, and watch a spectacular Veteran’s Day boat parade.

More things to do nearby 

USS Midway

Don’t worry if you aren’t visiting in November – there are still plenty of ways to experience the military history and presence that is so important to the city of San Diego. You can visit the Maritime Museum of San Diego, which features plenty of Navy-themed exhibits that encompass the century since the Navy came to San Diego.

Another option is to visit the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier – an incredible naval ship turned into a museum. The ship is massive, and over its active duty lifetime, over 225,000 Navy sailors spent time on the ship. You’ll have the chance to check out 9 aircraft, climb into flight simulators, and explore crew quarters below deck. The ship/museum is parked on the water in downtown San Diego.

If you’re still excited to catch a glimpse of the base itself, you can take a harbor cruise or boat tour that allows glimpses of the base from the Pacific Ocean.