The Mare Island Naval Shipyard (MINSY) was actually the very first United States Navy base established on the Pacific Ocean and some buildings date back all the way to the Civil War. Located 25 miles northeast of San Francisco in Vallejo, California, the Napa River goes through the Mare Island Strait and separates the peninsula shipyard from the main portion of the city of Vallejo. MINSY made a name for itself as the premier US West Coast submarine port as well as serving as the controlling force in San Francisco Bay Area shipbuilding efforts during World War II.
MINSY reached peak capacity for shipbuilding, repair, overhaul, and maint- enance of many different kinds of seagoing vessels including both surface combatants and submarines where up to 50,000 workers were employed in the 1940s and even received Royal Navy cruisers and destroyers and four Soviet Navy subs for service. Following the War, MINSY was considered to
be one of the primary stations for construction and maintenance of the
Navy's Pacific fleet of sub- marines, having built seventeen submarines
and four submarine tenders by the end of hostilities.
MINSY was registered as a California Historical Landmark in 1960 and parts
of it were declared a National Historic Landmark District in 1975. However, Naval operations ceased and the facility was decommissioned on April 1,
1996. The California Conservation Corps, Touro University California, and numerous commercial and industrial businesses are currently leasing
My father, who was an electrical engineer, worked at Mare Island, as it’s commonly called, for a while when I was a teenager, so I was already familiar with it after getting to watch a few submarine launches there with my family during the 1960s, which, as you can imagine was a pretty dramatic event in itself. However, after dad retired and I moved to Southern California....and then the Navy closed all of its operations...it had pretty much disappeared from my cultural radar. In 2014, however, after my vintage trailer business took a hit from the Great Recession and I ended up living in Vallejo, I rediscovered it again. But, what had the most profound effect on me this time was that here were all these large, old office and industrial buildings sitting around on these huge, wide, empty streets and, especially on the weekends, there was absolutely nobody else around. It was very quiet and besides there being hardly any people around, there were no cars or trucks parked on the streets either. Besides that, there were no bicycles, motorcyles, taxis or even dogs or cats....other than a guard that drives around periodically keep to keep out the riff-raft like me.
It’s really very strange and eery, which is the exact impression I’ve decided to try and capture. So, being a huge fan of period architectural, my first efforts have been with one of my favorite buildings on the island, a 1940s Modérne style office building with a large, industrial style, parking structure attached to it’s back side. However, the encompassing shots I made of both the front and back of the entire building from a very low street angle hasn’t really captured that empty eeriness I feel when I’m there. So, I decided that maybe shooting from a very high angle might do it. Problem is, a lot of these buildings are now in-accessable for one reason or the other, sp I’m now considering putting together a crowd-funding effort to purchase a drone so that I can shoot from high above, which I'm sure will not only give me that impression I’m looking for, but which may also provide for some other interesting shots of this historic landmark as well. Stay tuned for more details.
As usual, these images were captured in color and in the RAW format, using Nikon digital cameras and lenses..The tones were then adjusted and cropped very specifically in Adobe Camera RAW, and then converted to b&w tri-tones
in Adobe Photoshop.