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Dave Berry | profile | all galleries >> Galleries >> St. Peter's Chapel and Mare Island Naval Shipyard, California tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

St. Peter's Chapel and Mare Island Naval Shipyard, California

The Navy commenced shipbuilding operations on 16 September, 1854, under the command of then-Commander David Farragut, who later gained fame during the U.S. Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay, when he gave the order, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!". During WWII, base facilities included a hospital, ammunition depot, paint and rubber testing laboratories, and schools for firefighters, opticians, and anti-submarine attack. Mare Island reached peak capacity for shipbuilding, repair, overhaul, and maintenance of many different kinds of seagoing vessels including both surface combatants and submarines. Up to 50,000 workers were employed. Mare Island even received Royal Navy cruisers and destroyers, and four Soviet Navy subs for service. Following the war, the base was considered to be one of the primary stations for construction and maintenance of the Navy's Pacific fleet of submarines, having built seventeen submarines and four submarine tenders by the end of the war. Mare Island Naval Shipyard expanded to over 5,200 acres in its service life and was responsible for construction of over 500 naval vessels, as well as overhauling thousands of other vessels. Though it remained a strong contender for continued operations, it was identified for closure during the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process of 1993. Naval operations ceased and the facility was decommissioned on 1 April 1996.

My wife's Dad served in the US Navy for 20 years, most of it in the Submarine Service. He made 5 combat patrols during WWII and received the Presidential Unit Citation for 2 patrols on USS Gudgeon, which was lost with all hands later in the war. He took a job teaching the new generation of submariners his specialty of electronics after he retired. That necessitated a move from Connecticut to California, something that his wife and 2 daughters gave him a load of grief for all the way across the USA. Without that decision, Kathy and I would not have met and dated our Senior Year at Napa High, and married several years later. Kathy and I were married at St. Peter's Chapel on Mare Island in January, 1972. It is the oldest Naval chapel in the Pacific, having been put into service in 1901. It was also the first non-denominational Naval Chapel in the Pacific. The building is constructed of California redwood. Even the rain gutters are redwood. It's a beautiful chapel, both inside and out. On the inside are beautiful and historic stained glass windows. From 1905 to the 1930s, twenty-nine stained glass windows were installed in the chapel. Twenty-five of those windows were made by Tiffany Studios, NYC. It is the largest collection of Tiffany windows under one roof. The non-Tiffany windows were installed after Tiffany & Co. had stopped manufacturing stained glass windows.

The chapel was open during the San Francisco Flyway Festival last weekend, giving Kathy and I a chance to stroll down Memory Lane, and me a chance to photograph this beautiful historic structure.
St. Peter's Chapel
St. Peter's Chapel
The view from the altar
The view from the altar
My bride at the altar in January, 1972
My bride at the altar in January, 1972
Behind the altar
Behind the altar
Ill-starred Naval Officer
Ill-starred Naval Officer
President John F. Kennedy
President John F. Kennedy
I suppose throwing beer bottles is out of the question.
I suppose throwing beer bottles is out of the question.
Mare Island Naval Cemetery
Mare Island Naval Cemetery
Memorial to 15 sailors from the USS Boston
Memorial to 15 sailors from the USS Boston
Gunner's House is the oldest existing residence on Mare Island
"Gunner's House" is the oldest existing residence on Mare Island