Little Island, Big Ideas Program Series

"Little Island, Big Ideas" Treasure Island Museum Program Series

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From Arrival to Departure: US Navy in the Bay Area

Saturday, October 8 at 10:30 AM

*Free Virtual Presentation*

Speaker: Dennis R. Kelly

This presentation will focus on the United States Navy’s presence in the San Francisco Bay Area for 154 years, beginning with the first navy base on the Pacific Coast, located on the barren Mare Island in the North Bay in 1854.

Highlighting the Bay Area’s importance to the United States and the world, major topics will include its role as a major naval fleet complex when Treasure Island served as the principal Naval personnel gateway to the Pacific Theater of operations. During World War II 4.5 million fighting men passed through Treasure Island while also being trained as gunners, navigators, cooks, pilots, radar operators, firefighters, etc. 

The Bay Area naval complex continued to play a vital role through the end of the Cold War; as major fleet operational base of operations and as host to highly classified Navy, National Security Agency, and Central Intelligence Agency operations. The Bay Area also played a critical role in the technological evolution of the Navy from the surface of the sea operating sidewheel steamers to nuclear-powered warships conducting operations on, above, and below the sea. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a variety of factors contributed to the closure of the entire naval infrastructure in the Bay Area.

About the Speaker:​

Dennis R. Kelly has many years of experience, working for 22 years at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in technical and managerial positions. Kelly was assigned to be an ombudsman for the conversion of the base to civilian use in 1993. Subsequently, Kelly helped negotiate transfer agreements for most Bay Area naval bases, including Treasure Island.

Kelly has been involved as a Board Member and officer of the Mare Island Historic Park Foundation since its inception in 1995. Kelly continues to manage and create posts for the Mare Island Historic Park Foundation’s social media sites.

Note: This will be an online-only presentation due to traffic restrictions on Treasure Island during Fleet week. To attend, you must first register through Zoom here: 

Little Island, Big Ideas

Treasure Island Museum Program Series

These ongoing talks on the past, present and future of Treasure Island cover topics including Treasure and Yerba Buena Island history, San Francisco world’s fairs, naval history, current island activities and redevelopment, island sustainability, the Golden Gate International Exposition, and art and architecture on Treasure Island.


See Coming Programs

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See the Directions page for maps and directions to Treasure Island Museum.

The “Little Island, Big Ideas” program series is presented with support from the Treasure Island Development Authority and funding from the Historic Preservation Fund of the City and County of San Francisco, Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

Coming Programs

TBD. Check back for updates!

Click here for the archive of all program flyers from March 2013.

Click here for titles and abstracts of all talks.