Roosevelt Roads Naval Station

Roosevelt Roads Naval Station is located in the eastern part of Puerto Rico in the town of Ceiba. It is approximately 35 miles east of the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport. It takes about an hour and 15 minutes to drive from the airport to Roosevelt Roads. Roosevelt Roads Naval Station is located about 50 miles (an hour and a half drive) from San Juan. The towns of Fajardo, Luquillo, and Naguabo are within a 10 to 25 minute drive from Roosevelt Roads. There are several small shopping centers within a 30-minute drive, with such stores as WALMART, KMART, SAMS and Builders' Square.

Naval Station Roosevelt Roads was named for then Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt, who conceived the idea in 1919 on a surveying trip. It would eventually become one of the largest naval facilities in the world, encompassing more than 100 miles of paved roads and more than 30 tenant commands. Its 1,300 buildings are home to 7,000 personnel.

The station was first commissioned as a U. S. Naval Operations Base in 1943. The newly constructed naval operating base was to become the keystone of the Caribbean Defense System with a well-protected anchorage, a major air station and an industrial establishment capable of supporting 60 percent of the Atlantic Fleet under wartime conditions. There were even rumors that if the British Empire ever fell to Axis powers, Roosevelt Roads would become the new operating base for the British Fleet.

But by 1943, it was clear that with Allied Operations focusing on Europe and the Pacific, a major defense hub on the island would be unnecessary. Construction on the base was halted, and in March of 1944, Naval Operating Base Roosevelt Roads was put in a maintenance status with a Public Works Officer, a small detachment of Seabees and a large civilian workforce. Over the next 14 years, the base closed seven times and was reopened eight.

In 1957 it was redesignated as a Naval Station. It has grown over the years to include acquisition of the Army's Fort Bundy which now comprises the southern portion of the Naval Station and an additional 29,000 acres of land on Vieques Island. Presently, various naval facilities are spread over the entire eight thousand acres which comprises the Naval Station complex. Naval Station Roosevelt Roads continues to be a major training site for fleet exercises.

The Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station, Puerto Rico Base Communication Department's [N3] mission and function is to provide strategic and tactical communications and information systems support to units operating in the Atlantic and Caribbean areas. N3 department provides communication support for foreign national units and forces assigned to NATO. N3 accomplishes their mission by operating and maintaining a Fleet Center, a Technical Control Facility and a Tactical Support Communications (TSCOMM) Detachment. The Communications Office is responsible for the day-to-day management and administration of base communications services and facilities. This function includes administration of the base inside and outside cable plan, station records, station equipment, off-line devices, and plant-in-place records. Other responsibilities include liaison with Navy shore activities; coordinate/consolidate requirements, to include MILCON and special projects; and establish budgetary guidelines for shore activities.

Roosevelt Roads Naval Station is located on the extreme eastern portion of the island of Puerto Rico about 35 statute miles east-southeast of San Juan. Puerto Rico is the easternmost island of the Greater Antilles Group of the West Indies and is located about 1000 miles southeast of Miami, Florida. The Naval Station is constructed around the perimeter of Ensenada Honda (Bay of Honda). Ensenada Honda, approximately 1 to 1 1/2 miles wide and 2 miles long, and the surrounding area are used exclusively by the US Navy with no civil facilities located within the harbor complex. Ofstie Field, a naval air station, is located about 1 mile north of the bay.

Ensenada Honda contains the harbor for the US Naval Station Roosevelt Roads and a small craft marina used by the Navy for small boat mooring and recreational purposes. No facilities are available for repair of ships' hulls or machinery. There are three Navy piers located on the east side of the harbor with alongside depths 30-42 ft. The piers are constructed upon concrete pilings and have deck heights 8-10 ft above mean sea level. Bulkheads located between the piers provide additional mooring with depths to 15 ft. Pier 1, the US Navy fuel pier, is the northernmost pier in the harbor. The pier is 450 ft long with depths alongside of 32-36 ft by the latest (1982) pilot soundings. Pier 2, a submarine pier, is located southeast of Pier 1 and is 400 ft long with alongside depths of 30-32 ft. An LST landing ramp is located about 300 yd southeast of the cargo pier. Pier 3, a 1,200 ft long US Navy aircraft carrier pier, is about 400 yd south of Pier 2. Alongside depths are about 40 ft on the north side and 44 ft on the south side.

The US Navy operates three tugboats in the harbor for docking and undocking vessels and towing as necessary. Pilots are required upon initial visits to the harbor, and available on request for subsequent visits. The three tugs meet all normal needs of the limited vessel traffic within the simple, compact harbor.

The Bay of Puerca lies about 1 mile northeast of Ensenada Honda. This bay, also a part of the US Naval Station, is about 1/2 mile wide and 3/4 mile long with depths of 37 ft or more. A 1000 ft pier is located at the head of the bay. This pier has 37 ft depths alongside on either side, but it has a no facilities and is not currently maintained by the Navy. A large but inactive graving dock is inshore of the pier to the south side.

The area surrounding Ensenada Honda consists of low, grass-covered hills typical of eastern Puerto Rico. The terrain ranges from low (40-50 ft) hills on either side of the harbor entrance to a low ridge in the northwest quadrant having a maximum elevation of about 300 ft. A 1060 ft peak is located 2.5 miles west of the air field. El Toro peak and El Yunque peak, with elevations of 3524 and 3496 ft respectively, lie about 10 miles to the west-northwest of Roosevelt Roads.

The ship channel into the harbor passes between Cabra de Tierra and Pta Cascajo. The channel is 1000 ft wide, and a controlling depth of 40 ft is available in both the channel and the turning basin into which the channel leads. The channel is oriented southeast-northwest, and two mooring areas 31 ft deep are located at the northwest terminus of the channel. There is a third mooring area/turning basin just southeast of the pier area, and a fourth just inside the harbor south of Pier Three.

The harbor is somewhat protected from sea and swell (except from the southeast octant) by the partially encircling shore and reefs, which restrict the deep-water entrance to about 1/3 mile width. Water depths in the bay-proper decrease rapidly once outside the channel, pier areas, and other controlled depth areas.

Puerca Bay, a small open-mouth bay located one mile northeast of Ensenada Honda), has depths of 37 ft or more. Cabras Island separates the entrances to the two bays. Vieques Island, 17 miles long, lies five miles southeast of the harbor entrance.

The approach to Ensenada Honda from the Atlantic Ocean is somewhat restricted by passage through shallow reef areas and narrow channels. Deep-draft ships (tankers) have made passage via Virgin Passage to Roosevelt Roads. The approach from the south or Caribbean Sea area is via Vieques Passage (between Puerto Rico and Vieques), which is less restricted but limited to drafts less than 34 ft.

Puerto Rico -- "The Island of Enchantment" -- is the smallest of the Greater Antilles Island chain, which forms a border between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The island is nearly 500 miles east of Cuba and about 1,000 miles southeast of Miami. Roughly rectangular in shape, Puerto Rico measures approximately 110 miles east to west and 35 miles north to south. In area it is slightly larger than the state of Delaware. Puerto Rico transforms into a great diversity of landscapes. Sunny beaches give way to upland rain forests, and crammed urban highways intersect with country roads. This is a tropical island with consistent easterly trade winds. San Juan is the island capital and the largest city, with more than one million people in the metropolitan area. The island's population is approximately 3.6 million.

The Taino Indians, who called their beautiful island Boriquen, were the inhabitants when Christopher Columbus first arrived in 1493. Puerto Rico was a Spanish colony for four centuries, with early military preoccupations replaced by agricultural and economic concerns by the 19th century. Puerto Rico was formally ceded to the United States on 10 December 1898 as part of the Treaty of Paris, which was signed at the close of the Spanish-American War. At first, the islanders were Puerto Rican citizens under American rule. In 1917 they were granted United States citizenship. Neither a state nor territory, Puerto Rico has a unique status as a Commonwealth of the United States.

Although Puerto Ricans are citizens of the United States and have most of the rights, privileges and obligations of other citizens, they do not vote in national elections. Instead, they are re- presented in Congress by a Resident Commissioner who has a voice but no vote. Federal income taxes are not collected from residents, but because of its commonwealth status, Puerto Rico is eligible for many federal programs.

In January 2004 The Navy decided to relocate U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (USNAVSO) from Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, to Naval Station Mayport, FL. Since the Navy must close Naval Station Roosevelt Roads by March 31, 2004, relocation of USNAVSO is a high priority.

Roosevelt Roads is due to close on 31 March 2004. On Sept. 30, 2003, the President of the United States signed into law the Fiscal Year 2004 Defense Appropriations Act. The legislation included language that calls for the Navy to close Naval Station Roosevelt Roads no later than six months after enactment of the act. This legislation requires the relocation of tenant commands.

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