Unlike the period between World War I and World War II when the Naval Station had been reduced to a standby status, the Base, although reduced from the wartime peak, did not decrease too much in activity or size after 1945. Naturally many outlying facilities which had been maintained at Santiago de Cuba, at Antilla, Cuba, and Kingston, Jamaica were discontinued; the Net Depot was put in stand-by status; and the number of Marine Corps personnel was sharply reduced. As has been noted, the Naval Air Station personnel had been decreasing since 1944, and the Little Goat Island Auxiliary Air Field at Jamaica had been disestablished. The Anti-Aircraft Training Center continued in operation until disestablished on 15 September 1947, at which time all equipment, spare parts, and buildings were put in the custody of either the Naval Station or the Naval Supply Depot.
During 1945, however, all efforts were not bent toward reduction. The DD-DE Shakedown Task Group was moved to Guantanamo from Bermuda in February and March 1945 and became the Training Group (later Fleet Training Group). Another command that arrived in Guantanamo about that time was Utility Squadron 16.
Utility Squadron 16 had been established in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on 1 December 1943. There it served the need for aircraft towing and utility services for the Atlantic Fleet in the Caribbean area. Utility Squadron 16 was moved from San Juan on 10 May 1944, and after eleven months stay in Miami the Squadron arrived in Guantanamo Bay on 1 April 1945 under the command of LCDR V. C. Wright. The Squadron furnished utility services for Fleet units in the Guantanamo Bay area, particularly during Fleet problems. In the summer of 1946 the designation was changed to Utility Squadron 10, commonly known as VU-10.
The duties of this squadron include target towing for anti-aircraft gunnery practices, various radar exercises, rescue missions for ships or aircraft in distress, and bringing in emergency supplies and spare parts for the Base.
In the summer of 1948 two helicopters were attached to the Squadron and were used to provide security patrols for the Base, furnish a platform for spotting shore bombardments, furnishing air-sea rescue, plane guard, and emergency transportation. Santa Claus even arrives by helicopter in this tropical country.
VU-10 also has a large drone component, the drone Planes being used as targets for anti-aircraft practice.
The Naval Hospital, formerly the Naval Dispensary, was established on 1 June 1946 with Captain Paul M. Crossland as the first Medical Officer in Command. The Hospital was classified as a general hospital with staff adequate to offer medical care in any contingency. The Hospital has a bed capacity of 150 and an average census of between 80 and 120 patients.
The functions of the Hospital included Base military sick call (except for the Naval Air Station which maintained its own dispensary), sanitation, malaria control, venereal disease control, Fleet sick call and medical liaison, Labor Board Dispensary medical examinations, civilian employees sick call, Public Health Service and quarantine duties, hospitalization and medical care for all personnel and dependents on Base, and supervision and upkeep of the Navy cemetery.
The Hospital gained full recognition and approval by the American College of Surgeons in January 1949 and is listed as a Class A hospital in the American Hospital Directory.
The title of Medical Officer in Command was changed to Commanding Officer, Naval Hospital on 28 November 1949.
Naval Dental Clinic
On 25 August 1948 the Naval Dental Clinic, formerly part of the Naval Dispensary, was established with Commander Joseph H. Scanlon as the first Dental Officer in Command. On 28 November 1949 the title Dental Officer in Command was changed to Commanding Officer, Naval Dental Clinic.
The Dental Clinic consisted of five operative units, together with laboratory, storage, and administrative spaces located on Bay Hill. In addition, there were two complete dental operating units, one located at the Naval Hospital and one at the Naval Air Station Dispensary, both manned by personnel from the Dental Clinic.
Return of Dependents
With the cessation of hostilities in Europe in June 1945, the Base was again considered safe for dependents of Navy and civilian personnel. The first Navy dependent to arrive on the Base was Mrs. Don Stuck. As her husband later told in a speech presented at the Toastmasters' Club on 12 April 1952, Mrs. Stuck obtained her passport which was then necessary, and other credentials; authority was granted "and Mrs. Stuck travelled commercially and arrived on Base on July 3, 1945, the very first (Navy) dependent to arrive. The Stucks were the first residents of Newtown (Villamar) and we weren't expected that early. There were no roads, no lights, no phones, no transportation, no furniture. I can well remember the look on Mrs. Stuck's face when we first entered our home. Public Works had quickly gathered up a card table and a couple of iron chairs for the living room, a bed for the bedroom-and that's all. Our jump on the rest of the dependents lasted about a week, and then Newtown (Villamar) started adding families fast."
With the return of dependents, many problems developed, mainly the shortage of quarters for both officers and enlisted families. Although there had been a considerable number of quarters built after dependents left in 1941, they were not close in proportion to the increase in personnel on the Base. This problem was partially solved when the Marine Corps complement was decreased and some of the housing formerly occupied by Marine Corps personnel was turned over to the Naval Operating Base for the housing of Navy families.
The 200 units of Defense Housing now known as Villamar had been erected at about the time the dependents were evacuated in January 1942 and had never been occupied. However, beginning In July 1945 families began to move into them. In December 1946 the roads were paved in that area, and what an improvement that must have been. The temporary barracks buildings on Victory Hill were converted into apartments for dependents and the first eight units to be completed were occupied in October 1947. The first fourteen units of housing (Homoja huts) erected on Bargo Point were occupied On 9 January 1948, and each month for the next two years a few more units were completed until there was a total of 282 units.
During the summer of 1949 a beautification contest was conducted at Bargo Point with three cash prizes given to the families who best landscaped their small yards. Much pride was developed in planting lawns and transplanting tropical shrubs to beautify the housing development.
According to the INDIAN, the Base weekly newspaper, dated 10 December 1949, 323 sets of quarters for enlisted personnel had been completed in the two years from 1947 to 1949. These included new units put up as well as conversions from other buildings, and the account listed quarters on Victory Hill, Bargo Point, Newtown, and Hospital Cay.
A census conducted in September 1948 showed that there were on the Base at that time 610 family living units and a total of 1329 women and children dependents of military and civilian personnel.
By September 1945 the school bad been organized again and 78 children attended classes that year. The school building on Massip Hill (now known as Chapel Hill) had been completed in September 1941 and used only until the families were evacuated in January 1942. During the emergency period it had been used as the center for Educational Services for the Base. Now the small chairs and desks were reinstalled and children could not escape school even at this distance from the United States.
The school grew rapidly as more and more dependents arrived on the Base, and by the next school year attendance had almost doubled. By, 1951 there were 392 children enrolled in grades one through twelve, eight new classrooms were constructed, and a temporary building was pressed into use as music and art rooms. The kindergarten, which had been started in the fall of 1947, was moved to quarters on Victory Hill.
In 1949 the high school was accredited by the Southern Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges so that its pupils and graduates would have no trouble in transferring to schools elsewhere or entering colleges and universities in the United States. The schools are inspected periodically by members of the accrediting board, and each year the students are given a series of standardized achievement tests so that their progress may be recorded.
With the arrival of dependents and children on the Base, the Sunday School was also re-established with classes meeting in the school building on Sunday mornings. The Sunday School grew rapidly until by 1951 it was the largest Sunday School in the Navy.
Commissary and Ship's Service
Due to the advent of the families in 1945 the Commissary began to stock food in family size containers instead of mess hall sizes, and the Ship's Service also took on a new appearance as their stock of items changed to accommodate the dependents.
In December 1946 the "Yippie Boat", refrigerated YP-629, began making scheduled runs to Miami for fresh vegetables, meat, eggs, milk, and other supplies. This was a great improvement over the weekly market boat to Caimanera.
To further facilitate shopping, a delivery service was instituted for groceries; a play pen was built at the Commissary where mothers could leave their small children under supervision while they shopped; and in April 1949 a branch Commissary was built in the Bargo-Newtown area where the families in that area could do much of their grocery shopping.
In the INDIAN for 20 September 1947 there was a short article expressing the appreciation of wives on the Base for the fresh eggs which were supplied the Commissary from the chicken farm located behind Victory Hill. The chicken farm had approximately 2,500 hens and later installed incubators and raised its own chickens. By the fall of 1949 the chicken farm was providing the Commissary with 100 dozen fresh eggs per day.
Commodore C. E. Battle, Jr., relieved Commodore J. J. Mahoney as Commander, Naval Operating Base in January 1946. By this time the rate of personnel turnover had more or less settled down to normal and the Base began to take on a peace-time appearance and routine.
One appearance on the Base that was not routine, however, was the arrival on 2 January 1946 of a group of 79 officers and 1,088 men from the Chinese Navy. These men were being trained In their duties In manning eight vessels secured from the United States government through Lend-Lease. They stayed here for six weeks' operational training followed by six weeks of repair and overhaul.
Aside from the training and operational aspects of the Base, the routine was not long in acing "ruffles and petticoats" as the dependents caused changes in the social and recreational facilities. A Girl Scout troop was organized in the summer of 1947 (and was reorganized in December 1949); a sewing shop was opened at the Naval Air Station Ship's Service and soon had to be enlarged.
When, in August of 1948, the Base was left with no Red Cross representative, Captain Robbins, the Medical Officer in Command of the Hospital, and Chaplain Bosserman suggested that the women of the Base form an organization to substitute for the Red Cross work in the Hospital. The women responded enthusiastically and formed the Hospital Recreation Committee. Each woman on the Committee gave a few hours a week in the wards at the Hospital. The members distributed library books, collected and distributed magazines, obtained stamps, stationary, and pencils for the patients, conducted bingo games, community sings, and similar types of entertainment; organized picnics, and remembered birthdays. Each day some member of the group could be found in the Hospital Recreation Hall, doing everything from sewing on buttons to wrapping Christmas packages for the patients.
In December 1949 the Hospital Recreation Committee was reorganized under the newly-arrived Red Cross Representative, and, as the Hospital Volunteers, continued their work.
In September 1948 a Little Theatre Group was organized and has presented many plays for the entertainment of Base personnel.
In November 1948 a Boy Scout troop was organized, providing recreational outlets for many of the boys on the Base.
A Thrift Shop was opened on 6 December 1948 and run by volunteer workers, both to provide inexpensive purchases and to furnish a much-needed medium of exchange for hard-to-get items.
All of the facilities and recreation on the Base were not run for or by the dependents during this period. In October 1946 a thirteen-piece orchestra had arrived at the Naval Station to play for inspections, parades, dances, and concerts.
Prior to July 1947 the Recreation Department had presented as much radio entertainment as their limited facilities afforded. In July 1947, however, radio station WGBY went on the air, affiliated with the Armed Forces Radio Service. Dependents as well as military personnel worked to make the station a success and to give it a varied program. The Little Theatre presented several radio plays.
According to a notice in the weekly parent paper, the INDIAN, a daily newspaper for the Base named the PAPOOSE, "was born in the Naval Station Communication Department on the night of 25 October 1947. The little INDIAN weighed approximately 500 copies".
In February 1947 the Naval Air Station opened a Hobby Shop. On 5 January 1948 the Air Station opened an Enlisted Men's Club; and in June 1948 the Naval Station opened a Hobby Shop.
In December 1948 a set of chimes for the Chapel was installed and dedicated. These chimes were purchased with money contributed through good-will offerings from Bass personnel.
Earth tremors are not uncommon at Guantanamo Bay, although none has caused serious damage and no one has been injured by their action. The last severe shock occurred in June 1947 and left cracks in the pavement of Wharf Baker and in the foundations of some Supply Depot buildings in that area. The Ship's Repair Department suffered several thousand dollars damage when an electrical switchboard was toppled by the earthquake. Boulders and smaller rocks littered Sherman Avenue where it passes through hilly sections. Residents of the Base were badly frightened as their homes shook so hard that small objects fell off the shelves, but there was no panic.
Administration of civilian employees at Guantanamo Bay was on an informal basis until 1946. The Civilian Personnel program had been limited to the bare essentials of employment and separation, together with the wage and salary administration incident thereto. These functions were not coordinated, and there was no uniform system for pay increases, no established policy regarding promotions, no uniform schedule of disciplinary offenses and penalties, no established grievance procedure, no system for efficiency ratings, no record of physical examinations, no individual personnel jackets containing complete records of employment, and no program in the fields of training, safety, employee relations, or employee services.
Establishment in 1945 of a small Civilian Personnel Office, under the Chief of Staff, Naval Operating Base failed to correct the deficiencies, but established a pattern for future development. The four employees of the office spent much of their time on other administrative duties.
Thus, Naval activities at Guantanamo Bay had lagged far behind those in continental United States in the field of industrial relations. The deficiencies noted above, and the lack of uniformity in the minimum functions being carried out, by 1946 contributed to growing discontent among some 2600 employees, more than 95% of whom were native and alien personnel, and most of whom were Spanish-speaking.
The numerous civilian personnel problems had not gone unnoticed by the Base Commander and other local administrative officials, and an industrial relations officer had been requested in 1945. However, it was June 1946 before a lieutenant (junior grade) was ordered to the Base to fill the billet.
In August 1946 there began a series of visits to the Base by the Chief of the Position Classification Field Office (now AWCO), Jacksonville, whose concern with the many personnel problems at Guantanamo Bay-particularly those in the field of classification and wage administration - aroused interest and concern at District and Departmental levels.
It was noted on his first visit that no wage survey had ever been held at Guantanamo Bay, and that the wage schedule was unorthodox and undoubtedly inequitable in many ways.
By the spring of 1947, the District Civilian Personnel Director, TENTH Naval District, the Head of the Programs and Field Coordinating Section of the Office of Industrial Relations, Navy Department, and additional staff members of the Position Classification Field office had visited Guantanamo Bay, and numerous conferences had been held with the Base Commander and Commanding Officers. A classification study of all IVb-type positions had been made and a survey of wages prevailing in Cuban private industry in the Guantanamo-Santiago area had been initiated but not completed.
The process of bringing order out of chaos came to a temporary standstill in April 1947 with detachment of the Industrial Relations Officer. The Industrial Relations program had not developed satisfactorily due to the inexperience of the Industrial Relations Officer, his inability to build up a staff of experienced personnel assistants, and other factors.
On the recommendation of the Area Wage and Classification Chief and District and Departmental officials, the Base Commander determined to employ a trained civilian as Base Industrial Relations Officer, and to request additional funds for employment of a competent staff to carry on an adequate program.
The new position was duly established, and filled by appointment or LCDR H. P. McNeal, USNR who was being released to inactive duty after a tour as Industrial Relations Officer for Naval activities in the Key West area. The new officer reported on 12 May 1947, and found five clerical employees on board in the Civilian Personnel Office.
Formal establishment of the Base Industrial Relations Department-a consolidated organization serving all Naval activities at Guantanamo Bay-followed shortly thereafter. Policies governing in-hiring rates, periodic pay increases, and other phases of wage administration, reduction in force, efficiency ratings, and other aspects of civilian personnel administration were promulgated as rapidly as possible.
Despite reductions in funds and personnel allowances then prevalent, the Industrial Relations staff was gradually expanded in an orderly manner to include all essential functions of good personnel administration. Today the organization has a total of 17 employees conducting an Industrial Relations program for more than 8300 employees. This staff is inadequate in numbers and additional billets have been requested. Nevertheless, the quality of the program has been constantly high, and is still improving.
Effective 1 July 1951 the functional conduct of the Industrial Relations program was transferred to the Naval Station in accordance with a new plan of organization directed by the Chief of Naval Operations. The Industrial Relations Officer was retained on the Base Commander's staff for primary duty, administering a consolidated Naval Station Industrial Relations Office-serving all Base Commands-as additional duty.
A union of native and alien employees was formed for the first time on the Base in December 1950, under the title of "Sindicato de Obreros y Empleados de la Base Naval de Operaciones de los Estados Unidos." Unschooled in group dealings as practiced by the Navy, the new Union was inclined at first operate in the same manner as a trade union in private industry. This attitude created many employee relations problems and added to the industrial relations workload. In recent months, however, the Union has shown a willingness to work together with management toward a solution of problems suitable for group dealings. and a continuation of this attitude should contribute to better relations between the Navy and its employees at Guantanamo Bay.
President Truman's Visit
On 25 February 1948 the Base was afforded great excitement when the President of the United States, Harry S. Truman, arrived for a visit. After a 21-gun salute which was rendered when the WILLIAMSBURG, accompanied by the GREENWICH BAY, steamed into the harbor, the presidential party came ashore, were entertained at
a luncheon at the Officers Club, made a tour of the Base, and departed by plane at 1600 on the same day.
You can well imagine the excitement that enveloped the Base in the week before the President arrived; the refurbishing of uniforms and dresses, the cleaning of
white gloves, and the attention paid to all details of the tour and luncheon.
A special edition of the daily news bulletin published on the Base gave a brief history of the Base and told of the advantages to be found here and the pleasures to be enjoyed by the personnel and their families -Following are excerpts:
"�Guantanamo Bay today is a far cry from the Guantanamo Bay of a few years ago. With the advent of World War II, the program of expansion that inaugurated the Naval Operating Base, added five new commands to the existing Naval Station: Naval Air Station, Fleet Training Group, Naval Hospital, Naval Supply Depot and Marine Barracks. These six closely united commands, under the Commander, Naval Operating Base, have made the Naval Operating Base a major servicing unit of the Atlantic Fleet, capable of basing all types of vessels from submarines to the mighty giants of the U. S. Navy, the battleships and aircraft carriers. During the first three months of 1947 an average of 30 ships per day were utilizing the Base and its facilities.
"The personnel of the Base have been increased from a handful of Navy men and civilians to approximately 5,000 persons: 193 officers, 1426 enlisted men, 62 patients in the Naval Hospital, and dependents of these service men making up 564 families. Three thousand civilians mostly Cubans and Jamaicans, are employed as office workers, laborers, and domestics. The Base is increasing in size so rapidly that in spite of excellent housing facilities, new buildings, and quonset huts are being added to take care of the waiting list of officers and enlisted men . . .
". . . The community is a veritable city, replete with facilities for modern living, with churches, school, movies, shopping centers, restaurants, dry cleaner, laundry, beauty shops, tailors, and cobblers . . .
"New naval installations include two airfields, a seaplane ramp, concrete piers, etc. The AFDL-47, the largest drydock ever built on inland waters, was brought here in 1947 and secured to Pier One . . . The drydock's 6,000 ton lifting capacity will enable it to handle most of the Navy's tender or auxiliary type ships . . .
"Deep-sea fishing trips are made weekly by the sailing yacht "Hurricane", a twelve-ton, 48-foot craft . . . The sixty-six horses at the Corral were formerly used by the Marines for patrol duty; but when the Marines began using jeeps, Recreation acquired the Corral and bought the horses ... Turtle hunting is exciting sport during May, June, September, and October . . .
Relations With Cuba
The Commanders, Naval Operating Base, have done much to cement good relations between the Base and its Cuban neighbors. It was considered a matter of course to furnish aid when at 0430 on the night of 11 March 1948 a fire broke out in the town of Caimanera. YTD-524 and a Fleet Boat Pool LCM were sent to Caimanera with portable fire pumps and hose and aided greatly in quenching the flames before they spread away from the waterfront.
The fire destroyed some twenty-two bars and restaurants and did between $300,000 and $600,000 damage before it was brought under control, and would have spread even farther had it not been for the equipment from the Base. Base Police, hospital corpsmen, and the crews of the two boats were commended for their good work.
More recently the Base furnished planes and a DDT solution to spray Caimanera and Guantanamo City when they were plagued by flies during a rainy season.
The End of the 1940 Decade
Although the Naval Operating Base had become a permanent Base and established as a full-time activity, it did not escape the economy drive that affected all branches of the Armed Services in the Spring of 1948. In May of that year a board was appointed to make recommendations concerning consolidation of services in the Naval Operating Base. This board took into consideration such questions as the consolidation of laundry facilities, the placing of Ship's Service and Ship's Store Ashore activities under Naval Supply Depot, and the consolidation of other activities. By the summer of 1948 the population of the Base had dropped from a high of 5,450 military and 4,700 civilians in January 1944, to approximately 1,700 military and 2,700 civilians in June 1948. The number of civilians employed continued to drop until in the summer of 1950 it reached 2,300.
Rear Admiral W. K. Phillips relieved Commodore C. E. Battle, Jr., as Commander, Naval Operating Base in June 1948. His tour as Base Commander was marked by many changes and the solution of many of the problems of post-war years.
Under his administration the assignment of quarters was assumed as a Base function, and a comprehensive Base Housing Policy was established. Greater coordination of quarters assignments had become necessary because of the
critical shortage of family housing on the Base.
The Ships Store Ashore was enlarged, and its stock was expanded to provide better service to the ever-growing number of dependents. Recreation facilities were also improved, and the Base regained a community spirit which had been virtually extinct since the beginning of World War II.
Rear Admiral Phillips in credited with "straightening out" many of the problems of the post-war adjustment period. He often visited all the areas of the Base where military or civilian personnel might be working, and this practice soon made him a familiar figure to all Base personnel.
It was during his administration that an annual supervisors' picnic was initiated to bring together Cuban and U. S. citizen supervisors and their families, as well as military supervisors, in a Labor Day outing at one of the Base recreation areas.
Although the Base was now permanently established and flourishing it must not have been known too well for the following notice appeared in the 4 November 1950 issue of the INDIAN:
"In making a study of world harbors, the Department of Defense has asked the Commander, NOB Guantanamo regarding icing conditions in the harbor here during the winter months.
"Anyone seeing ice in the harbor is requested to measure it and report to the NOB Administration Building or better still to collect and bring in a sample. Request a crane if the ice is too heavy to handle by hand.
"A suitable reward will be given to anyone who locates any ice in the harbor."
Go to Chapter Seventeen