The modern history of Point Loma begins in September 1542, when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo (a Portuguese navigator in the service of Spain) landed here and explored the surrounding area for 6 days. Cabrillo raised the flag of Spain and named the port San Miguel Bay.
Sebastian Vizcaino, a Spanish trader who operated between Mexico and the Orient, visited the bay in November 1602. He renamed it San Diego in honor of San Diego de Alcala, a Franciscan lay brother. His records establish the NBPL area as the site of the first Roman Catholic mass to be celebrated in what is now the State of California. A monument in front of the present day Chapel at NBPL commemorates that mass.
The Spanish decided to build a fort in the area because the peninsula guarded the only access to the Bay. Completed in 1797, the fort was made of adobe and was armed with a nine-pound cannon. The fort was named Fort Guijarros (Spanish for “cobblestones”) because the point was covered with smooth stones. In later years, English-speaking sailors used these stones as ballast for their sailing vessels – thus the name “Ballast Point.” Both Fort Guijarros and Ballast Point are California historical landmarks.
In February 1852 President Fillmore set aside the southern portion of Point Loma (about 1400 acres) for military purposes. Subsequently, it was assigned to the U.S. Army and named Fort Rosecrans, after General Rosecrans, an 1842 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. In 1898 the Army built a coast artillery installation on the site which remained active until 1945.
In 1959 Fort Rosecrans was turned over to the U.S. Navy. The Navy Submarine Support Facility was established in November 1963 on 280 acres of the land. On November 27, 1974 the base was re-designated a shore command, serving assigned submarines, Submarine Group Five, Submarine Squadron Three, Submarine Development Group One, the Submarine Training Facility and later, Submarine Squadron Eleven. On October 1, 1981 the base was designated as Naval Submarine Base.
Starting in April 1995, several commands were decommissioned or their homeports were changed to meet the down-sizing requirements of the Navy. Commands throughout San Diego were regionalized in an effort to provide equal or better base services while managing a reduced budget. The six naval installations on Point Loma were consolidated as Naval Base Point Loma on 1 October, 1998.
Current major tenant commands include Commander Third Fleet, Naval Mine and Anti Submarine Warfare Command, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), SPAWAR Systems Center, Fleet Intelligence Training Center Pacific, Tactical Training Group Pacific, Submarine Squadron ELEVEN, Commander Sealift Logistics Command Pacific, Submarine Training Center Pacific Detachment, seven submarines, a floating dry dock (ARCO), and the Navy’s Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Department (SARD).