The Amphibious Training
Base (ATB) was established initially as the Morro Bay Section
Base for Navy Patrol Force vessels. The base occupied 250 acres
of leased or fee purchased land acquired as follows: On 25 August
1941 a suit in Condemnation proceedings was filed on 108 parcels
composing 120 acres. On 29 October 1942 a suit in Condemnation
was filed on approximately 130 acres. While the suit was pending,
the Navy leased the 130 acres from the State of California. This
property was acquired by the State for non payment of taxes, and
the land was subject to whatever rights the previous sixteen owners
may have had under tax redemption privileges. The Navy Department
occupied an adjacent 96.23 acre parcel of non owned and non leased
land and constructed improvements thereon. In September 1944,
the ATB acquired a parcel of land to be known as the Morro Bay
State Park located approximately three miles from the ATB. As
of July 1943, the majority of the patrol vessels attached to the
Morro Bay Section Base were actually operated from the nearby
harbor at Avila, at which a yacht club building and a storehouse
had been under lease. The total acreage of the site over the years
The ATB was established
in 1941 and operated as a Naval Section base until August 1943
when the facilities were turned Over to the U.S. Coast Guard.
As of January 1944 an agreement was entered into to have joint
operation of the base between the U.S. Coast Guard and the Navy
Amphibious Training Command. At this time the Morro Bay Detachment,
Landing Craft School was established under the administrative
command of the ATB, Coronado, California. In February 1944 the
Amphibious Training Base was established at Morro Bay. In April
1945 the ATB absorbed the Morro Bay Detachment of the Landing
Improvements to the ATB
include two piers, a boat underpass in an existing trestle, roads,
training buildings, garages, two 100,000 gallon water storage
tanks, various other buildings, a gas chamber, and a magazine
At the annex at Morro Bay
State Park, facility improvements included barracks for 545 men,
Bachelor Officers' Quarters for 128 officers, a large galley and
mess hall, extensive road and grounds improvement and landscaping,
new heating and boiler system and a recreation area.
Duke Energy operates a power
plant on the former base.
Source: Army Corps of Engineers,
Los Angeles District
Update: A 26 August 1946 Post Engineer
Map of the site identifies the base as "Camp Morro Bay"
and have been transferred to the War Department as a sub-post
of Fort Ord..
San Luis Obispo County
of Morro Bay Amphibious Base Described
Editor's Note: Containing the first
official details of the U.S. Naval Amphibious Training Base at
Morro Bay, the following article has been complied by Lt. Cmdr.
James Bassett, Jr. USNR, public relations officer of the Twelfth
Naval district, with headquarters in San Francisco.
"Morro Bay today; the
That could well be the slogan at Morro
Bay, 13 miles from San Luis Obispo, where the old Naval Section
Base has become an active camp of Bluejackets, Marines, Coast
Guard and Army troops whose daily amphibious training means one
The Morro Bay station now is known as
the U.S. Naval Amphibious Training Base, Morro Bay, and is a
unit operating under Amphibious Training Command, Pacific. Rear
Admiral Ralph O. Davis, USN, is commander of the Amphibious Training
Command, with headquarters at San Diego. Commander B.A. Hartt,
USN, commands the Morro Bay Base.
Working toward a common objective of training
men for amphibious warfare, peculiar to the Pacific war theater,
the Morro Bay station is dotted with hundreds of uniforms of
nearly every branch of the armed forces. Nearby is Camp San Luis
Obispo, an army post and home for new divisions which are given
training at the Morro Bay base in the role they will play against
Japanese islandsa,amphibious landing, storming beaches,
transporting men, machines and supplies from ship to shore.
The Army's Camp San Luis Obispo, itself,
is sprinkled with Navy and Marine Corps units, one group of 600
Blue jackets and naval officers being trained as a Beach Battalion
for operating ashore once landing operations are under way. The
Navy's Beach Battalion is commanded by Captain J.C. Webb, USNR.
Every day columns of khaki-clad troops
are taken in truck convoys from Camp San Luis Obispo to the Naval
Amphibious Training Base at Morro Bay where they are given instructions
in embarkation methods, transfer to a simulated ship and disembarkation
over the side of a large frame mockups and down rope ladders
into landing craft.
Then the Navy's Amphibious trainees
Landing Craft Units demonstrate boat handling which they
have been taught. Through the narrow channel of Morro Bay stream
hundreds of landing craft toward the open sea for a rendezvous.
At a given time and place they go into action, racing through
the swells and surf of the Pacific to the nearby beaches of Estero
Bay where "enemy" troops offer simulated resistance
by blowing up the beach with land mines, sending a stream of
machine gun fire over the heads of troops and throwing up barriers
wherever possible to make the "invasion" approximate
the real thing.
Hours in the Open Sea
Sometimes the landing craft spend hours
in the open sea before starting to land troops. Many men get
seasick but most of them become used to it in time. The troops,
sometimes Army, Navy and Marine Corps alike swarm through the
surf, waist-deep, hitting the beaches in a prone position to
be ready with their rifles for the enemy. Small tanks are brought
up by the landing craft ploughing through water and sand and
blasting through "enemy" installations.
A large building which once was a vacation
resort hotel in Estero Bay offers the troops a "fort"
which is captured every day. From there the troops roll through
the nearby villages and across the highways in mechanized invasion
style. Green amphibious troops sometimes require all day to capture
the objectives but those who have received the rigorous training
for several weeks or months have "taken" the same objectives
in a few hours.
Maneuvers are carried out in exacting
detail, with the Army, Navy Marine Corps and Coast Guard working
as a team. The Coast Guard's main function at Morro Bay is Beach
Patrol duty, working with horse-mounted patrol personnel and
war-trained dogs. It isn't a picnic and it isn't all fun merely
because the amphibious training is mock warfare. Training given
the large numbers of Naval personnel, Army troops, Coast Guardsmen
and Marines is hard. The combat instructors are men who have
had real experience in the South Pacific and are stern in teaching
untrained troops who must be hardened to meet the Japs. As soon
as one unit is trained and ready for real combat another takes
Jetty Protects Bay
Morro Bay is an excellent location for
amphibious training. The small bay is protected by a long jetty
which leaves an entrance adjacent to a giant solid fortification
known as Morro Rock. When the surf runs too high for the hundreds
of small landing craft and the weather is too inclement, a protected
beach inside the jetty is used for training. The Navy is spending
$1,500,000 for improving the harbor, extending a breakwater and
for building necessary pontoon docks, loading piers and mockups
as well as for general improvement of the base itself.
At present the Morro Bay base is a village
of Quonset huts, 62 of the semi-cylindrical metal structures
being used for barracks, shops and utility buildings. The Quonset
huts, incidentally, are the same type so familiar in South Pacific
Islands which have been captured by similar amphibious trained
troops, some of who may have been trained at Morro Bay.