San Diego Military Bases - Everything You Need to Know Before You PCS (2023)

San Diego – Pacific Hometown of the Naval Services

San Diego–America’s finest city is first and foremost a Navy town, and proud of it. Not only is San Diego the principal homeport of the U.S. Navy’s massive Pacific Fleet, but it’s also home to a surprising number of other bases and military installations.So here is an overview of the San Diego Military Bases and helpful tips before you even get here.

As a naval officer, I always knew San Diego had a huge military presence. But fate and circumstance kept me away until late in my career when I was stationed back East and came here for a meeting. I love the beauty and ambiance of the region and the way the locals welcomed and embraced their military.

I set my sights on making San Diego my next navy home and managed to land back-to-back tours here. Although my career eventually took us elsewhere, I promised my better-half we’d return once retired, and in late 2008 we came back to stay.

Yes, San Diego is a big Navy town with a great military heritage with many military museums, memorials, and monuments like the USS Midway. A little-known fact however is that thanks to the major local presence of our other naval service, the U.S. Marine Corps, San Diego County has the highest population of military personnel of any county in the U.S.

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Major San Diego Military Bases

San Diego Navy Base

Often referred to as the 32nd Street Naval Station, this massive San Diego Navy Base complex is the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s main homeport. Currently, this San Diego Military Base has over 50 vessels of all sizes among the 213 individual commands that call Naval Base San Diego home.

San Diego Military Bases - Everything You Need to Know Before You PCS (2)

The base consists of several sections–a “wet-side” large waterfront naval station and a “dry-side” across Harbor Avenue straddling 32nd Street. The operational “wet-side” includes piers lined with frigates, destroyers, littoral combat ships, big deck amphibious ships that carry Marines, and more. It’s a testimony and tribute to the immense power of the U.S. Navy and its mission of “freedom of the seas.”

(Video) Find out Where to Live when you PCS to San Diego

The base’s “dry-side” provides housing and administrative support for the thousands of young sailors stationed here. There is also an expansive Commissary and Navy Exchange shopping complex with shops, eateries, gas station, Navy Lodge, and more, providing a range of services to military personnel and their families.

Coronado Naval Base – Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI)

Now under one joint command with the Amphibious Base Coronado and six other area facilities, North Island is part of the Navy’s largest aerospace-industrial complex, Coronado Naval Base.

NASNI is homeport to two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, 23 aviation squadrons, and 80 tenant commands and activities. Its Fleet Readiness Center Southwest is the largest aerospace employer in San Diego.

North Island is headquarters for four major military Flag staffs: Commander, Naval Air Forces and Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. North Island employs nearly 35,000 active-duty military, reserves, and civilian personnel.

NASNI has a fascinating storied history and is considered the birthplace of naval aviation. Most of the military aircraft seen over San Diego skies come from this iconic Naval Air Station.

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Naval Amphibious Base (NAB)

This compact base has been operating since 1943. Today its long stretches of beaches, coastal topography, and facilities support training for amphibious, littoral, unconventional, and special warfare operations. NAB is home to the prestigious Navy’s Sea-Air-Land (SEAL) Team and the Navy’s famed Navy Parachute Team, the Leap Frogs.

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The amphibious base also houses the Pacific Fleet’s Commander Naval Surface Force and Commander Naval Special Warfare Command along with most of the Navy’s Expeditionary and Special Warfare Pacific Fleet units.

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (MCAS Miramar)

MCAS Miramar is the home of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. This is the aviation element of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force located in nearby Camp Pendleton.

This former Naval air station, located 14 miles north of downtown once hosted many Pacific Fleet air units. Miramar’s most iconic claim to fame is that it was once home base to the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School. Its TOPGUN training was showcased in the famous movie. During its heyday, the station was widely renowned as “Fightertown USA.”

With military base realignments in the 1990s, the Navy departed and turned Miramar over to the USMC as Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

Today, MCAS Miramar supports 15 fixed-wing, helicopter, tilt-rotor aircraft squadrons, and numerous other command and logistics support elements. Miramar is also home to the Miramar National Cemetery. Annually, MCAS Miramar hosts the impressive Miramar Airshow each October.

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Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base

As the major West Coast base of the USMC, Camp Pendleton is one of the largest Marine Corps bases in the nation. Located in the northeast portion of our county near Oceanside, this immense military installation encompasses over 125,000 acres bordering the California coast. Established during World War II, it became the permanent Marine Base for the 1st Marine Division.

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Today Camp Pendleton is the West Coast’s premier Fleet Marine Force Training Base. This base provides training, logistical support, and housing for Fleet Marine Force elements and other assigned units. Major commands include 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Logistics Group, and portions of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. Among its key tenant units are the Marine Corps Air Station and Naval Hospital Pendleton.

In all, over 42,000 active-duty personnel live here along with another 38,000 military family members in base housing complexes. Despite the massive Marine footprint, only 20% of Camp Pendleton’s land is developed, providing vast areas for Marines to practice their comprehensive air, sea, and ground assault training.

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Naval Base Point Loma

This consolidation of several Navy facilities is centered around San Diego’s historic and picturesque Point Loma area. Its major installations include the Point Loma Submarine Base, Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command, Fleet Combat Training Center Pacific, Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, and the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific.

The bayside elements of Naval Base Point Loma are adjacent to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. Submarine operations line the southern edge of the Point Loma peninsula where you can admire views of the subs, a drydock vessel, and docks hosting local sea lions. Its combined facilities host approximately 22,000 Navy and civilian personnel.You can also find the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetary on Point Loma.

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Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD)

MCRD is nestled adjacent to San Diego International Airport and Liberty Station (once the former Naval Training Center San Diego). MCRD San Diego’s main mission is the grueling boot camp training of enlisted Marine recruits for the western U.S. Over 21,000 recruits train here annually.

The entire San Diego Military base with its Spanish-Colonial designed facilities built in the 1920s is on the National Register of Historic Places in San Diego County. The Depot also is the home to the Marine Corps Recruiter School, a Drill Instructors School, and the MCRD San Diego Command Museum.

(Video) PCSing To Coronado Naval Base - 5 Things You Need To Know

U.S. Coast Guard Station San Diego (CGS San Diego)

The compact CGS San Diego sits directly across the street from the San Diego International Airport. From this strategic point, the U.S. Coast Guard conducts federal maritime law enforcement from the U.S.-Mexico border north to San Mateo Point.

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Operations are conducted using three MH-60T Jayhawk helicopters and an array of small boats, a Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement vessel along with two 87-foot USCG Coastal Patrol Boats and a cutter located on the Navy Base.

True to Coast Guard tradition, the Station stands by 24/7 for Search and Rescue missions and cruise ship medevacs. Homeland Security duties include escorting cruise ships and some Navy vessels in and out of the San Diego Bay.

Military Housing

Lincoln Military Housing arranges military housing for military personnel looking to PCS (Permanent Change of Station) to the San Diego area. This link provides information on availability in 36 housing areas both on and off-base, including information on paygrades, pets, and distance from the Naval Base.

Michael Kompanik wrote San Diego Military Bases for San Diego Explorer.

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San Diego Miliary Bases – Pin for later:

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Last Updated on August 19, 2021 by Maria Haase


What should I do before PCSing? ›

8 Tips to Prepare for Your First PCS Move
  1. Start the official process as soon as orders are in hand. ...
  2. Visit your installation's transportation office. ...
  3. Go online. ...
  4. Make a PPM decision. ...
  5. Sign up for on-base housing. ...
  6. Create a PCS binder. ...
  7. Get friendly with base family services. ...
  8. Research your new installation.

Can I bring my girlfriend on-base? ›

If you've been itching to host guests in your on-base housing, you might have asked yourself, “Can civilians get on military bases?” Yes, they can! Though we all know military members throw the best parties, you might want to invite non-military members to visit you from time to time.

How long do you have to be at a duty station before you can PCS? ›

Enlisted PCSing

The average time on station for enlisted members is four and a half to seven years. While not likely under normal circumstances, first term Airmen are eligible to PCS after 12 months' time on station and career Airmen after 24 months' TOS.

Can my wife live on-base with me? ›

To qualify for on-base housing, you must be residing with a dependent (in most cases, that means a spouse or minor children). The number of bedrooms you'll be authorized depends on the number and age of the dependents residing with you.

What should you not bring to PCS? ›

Consider this your guide for what not to pack for your next PCS.
Prohibited and Unauthorized PCS Items
  • Hazardous Materials. ...
  • Building Materials. ...
  • Vehicles. ...
  • Live Animals. ...
  • Household Goods for Resale or Commercial Use. ...
  • Ammunition.
Feb 15, 2022

What to keep with you during PCS? ›

Essentials to include in a PCS binder:
  • Passports.
  • Personal documents.
  • Medical records.
  • Insurance documents.
  • Marriage license.
  • Car titles.
  • Other paperwork that must be accounted for during every phase of the move.
  • Contacts for both the current and upcoming duty stations.
Jul 9, 2018

Can my girlfriend stay in my barracks? ›

Girls are allowed to visit men in the barracks, but you cannot spend the night. You must sign in with the duty at the front desk. The door to the barracks room is supposed to be propped open during the visit.

What not to do at a military base? ›

Finally, all United States military bases are “ hands free ” so absolutely no texting, talking or even just holding your phone. Be sure to keep the volume on your radio down, so as not to distract yourself or others around you.

Who is not allowed on military bases? ›

Any person convicted of a hate crime or violent act in the past 12 months or twice in the past 5 years. Any person registered as a convicted sexual offender at anytime. Any person who is the subject of a current protection order (restraining order) and is considered armed and dangerous as flagged in the NCIC System.

How far can you drive during a PCS? ›

1) Official Travel Time: A traveler who is authorized PCS travel by POV is allowed one day of travel for the first 400 miles between authorized points. For any distance greater than 400 miles, the traveler is allowed another day of travel for every additional 350 miles.

Can you leave a duty station early? ›

Soldiers can request early separation through their chain of command using a DA Form 4187 (Personnel Action). For assistance, soldiers should contact their local career counselor.

Does the military ship your car when you PCS? ›

Transporting your car for military assignment isn't as difficult as it seems. The government typically pays to ship one privately owned vehicle (POV) if your permanent change of station (PCS) is overseas. Entitlements are also available within the continental United States (CONUS) if you have a second vehicle.

Can I live with my boyfriend off-base? ›

For starters, an unmarried couple cannot live on a base outside of certain extenuating circumstances that would have the non-service member defined as a caregiver for the service member's children. As a result, unmarried military couples typically live off-base.

Does military housing come with washer and dryer? ›

All on-base houses are furnished with major appliances (Range, Refrigerator, Washer, Dryer, and Dishwasher). For authorized personnel living off-base, FMO will provide you with major appliances except dishwasher for your entire tour of duty.

Can girlfriends live on military bases? ›

Can girlfriends stay on an army base? No they cannot. Only family (spouse and children, not parents, siblings) can stay on the base if the military member has authorization for it and housing is available.

How many travel days do you get when you PCS? ›

Official Travel Time: Generally, 1 day of travel time is allowed for each 350 miles of official distance of ordered travel. If excess is 51 miles or more after dividing the total number of miles by 350, one additional day of travel time is allowed.

Are PCS for poor people? ›

Our Mission – Through electronic reuse, PCs for People provides the opportunity for all individuals, families, and nonprofits with low income to benefit from the life-changing impact of computers, internet, and digital skills.

Can you claim PCS on your taxes? ›

Who is eligible? Only active-duty military members who relocate due to PCS orders or, in some cases, their unaccompanied family members, can deduct moving expenses. These include orders to a first duty station and orders when separating or retiring from military service.

Can you PCS with alcohol? ›

You can ship alcohol as part of your total household goods shipment, assuming that the alcohol you are shipping doesn't violate any international customs or state-specific import laws.

Are hotels covered during PCS? ›

Major hotel chains are all covered and valid for reimbursement, but reservations through a travel site like AirBnB or VRBO are not covered. Always call ahead for a reservation and mention that you are traveling on military PCS orders to get the best compatible options.

Do you tip PCS movers? ›

Tipping is not reimbursed with other PCS expenses, so it is not a reasonable out-of-pocket expense, especially for younger military families with lower income. By some estimates, typical moving tips outside the military community could be $40 per person per day.

What is not allowed in barracks? ›

Incense, candles, sparklers, and burning substances of any kind are prohibited. NO SMOKING in any Government facility. Smoking areas are located outside of the Barracks. Smoking is NOT PERMITTED within any duty rooms at any time.

Can you have overnight guests in barracks? ›

You can explore the base with your service member and in most cases, you can visit their rooms. While visitors cannot stay the night in the barracks, there are accommodations on base, if you choose, for visiting family members and friends, and your service member can stay the night with you.

Why do military men marry? ›

"Marriage is deliberately made to be compatible with military life because this is an important way to retain personnel. The conditions of military employment also lead naturally to marriage. There's stable employment, comprehensive family benefits, and economic mobility in an entry-level job.

What happens at 5pm on military bases? ›

Retreat: 5 P.M. ‐ At the end of the work day, Retreat will sound.

What should you not say in basic training? ›

Don't send pornography or 'pin-up' or nude photos, off-color or racist jokes or comics. These items can get your soldier, sailor, marine, airman or guardsman in serious trouble. Don't send packages of goodies. Basic is not the time for 'Care Packages”.

What is played at 5pm on military bases? ›

Retreat will sound at 5 p.m. and be immediately followed by the National Anthem. At the first note of Retreat, all military personnel in uniform will immediately face the flag and stand at parade rest (if flag is not in view, face the source of music).

What do they check when entering a military base? ›

To enter a military base, you must show your dependent ID card (if you are a military spouse) or have a military sponsor (your service member.) A service member can sponsor non-military guests on base. But they will need to either fill out a sponsorship form in advance or meet you in person at the gate.

Can soldiers have visitors on base? ›

The Visitors Center

Many bases have a “visitor information” section on their website. If not, call the general phone number and ask for the visitors center. It is a great place to start. There are often several base entrances, and visitors are only allowed through a few of them, if not just one.

Do soldiers need permission to leave base? ›

Service members may request leave at any time. Approval will be at the discretion of the command, based upon a wide variety of factors including operational requirements. Some commands may have specified times when all or portions of the command can take leave at the same time.

How much is PCS hotel allowance? ›

Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE)

The service member (with dependents) will receive reimbursement for temporary lodging and meal expenses, up to $290 per day. If the member is moving from one CONUS base to another, he/she is authorized up to 10 days TLE.

What will military movers not pack? ›

Same goes for batteries, which could leak acid, or things that could melt into liquid like candles. For that reason, your local military transportation office will probably warn you that the movers will not pack food, batteries, candles and more.

How soon after PCS can I retire? ›

Soldiers having 19 years or more of active federal service (AFS) when notified of permanent change of station (PCS) may request a retirement date. If the Soldier elects to retire, the retirement application (DA Form 2339) must be submitted and approved within 30 days of receipt of official alert notification of PCS.

Can I pick my first duty station? ›

- The Army is currently offering duty station of choice to recruits, which means Future Soldiers can opt to select their first duty station after completing basic training.

What do you do at your first duty station? ›

Here are six tips for making the most of life at your first duty station.
  1. Get to know your installation. ...
  2. Make friends and have fun. ...
  3. Pay attention to the “off-limits” list. ...
  4. Find military discounts on and off your installation. ...
  5. Enjoy family and friends visits. ...
  6. Check out Military Family Readiness Centers.
Nov 16, 2021

Can active duty go on vacation? ›

Annual Leave: Active duty Soldiers earn 2.5 days of annual (chargeable) leave for each month of service, for a total of 30 days per year. Currently, Soldiers can bank up to 60 days of leave at the end of the fiscal year.

Does military pay for gas during PCS? ›

If you're driving yourself or your family in your own vehicle during your PCS move, those miles will start to add up almost instantaneously, as will the cost of gas to drive them. Luckily, the DoD will reimburse you for the distance you have to travel on PCS orders.

How do you weigh a car for PCS? ›

To calculate the weight of your shipment, follow this formula:
  1. Loaded Weight = Your vehicle with a full tank of gas + all of your property loaded + no drivers or passengers inside.
  2. Empty Weight = Your vehicle with a full tank of gas + no drivers or passengers inside.
  3. Loaded Weight - Empty Weight = Net Weight of Property.

How many vehicles can I pcs with? ›

Drive separately

This reimbursement is called the Monetary Allowance in Lieu of Transportation (MALT) and is valid for up to two vehicles, as noted on your PCS orders. You can find the most up-to-date MALT rate on the DFAS website, here. If you have two adults and two cars, you can each drive one.

Do male and female soldiers sleep in the same barracks? ›

Military housing varies by rank, location and family situation, but almost all new recruits typically start their military careers living on base. During Basic Training, men and women live in separate quarters known as barracks, which consist of shared bunks and bathroom facilities.

What rank can you live off base? ›

Air Force policy allows E-4s and above with at least three years of service to live off base, regardless of the on-base dormitory occupancy rate.

Can soldiers date each other? ›

The following relationships are permitted in the military and not considered fraternization: Dating between enlisted members of the same rank. Dating between enlisted members and civilian employees or government contractors.

Is rent free in the military? ›

Key Takeaways. If you choose to live on base and the housing is government owned, the Department of Defense owns and manages the property and the service member doesn't pay rent.

Does military housing come with a fridge? ›

Bachelor quarters are furnished, and come with cable and internet. Family housing is not, but does come with refrigerator, dish washer, and washer and dryer.

Do Soldiers live rent free? ›

Single or unaccompanied military installation housing such as “the barracks,” or “bachelor quarters,” are rent-free, but you may share a room or bathroom. Privatized military installation housing is owned by a private-sector company.

Can you hold hands on a military base? ›

Holding Hands: Military personnel are not allowed to hold hands while in uniform. Males may escort women or help the elderly, but affectionate hand holding is a no-no.

Can I bring a civilian on base? ›

If you've been itching to host guests in your on-base housing, you might have asked yourself, “Can civilians get on military bases?” Yes, they can! Though we all know military members throw the best parties, you might want to invite non-military members to visit you from time to time.

What is the dress code for military wife? ›

The spouses dress in formal gowns or tuxedos. Formal Balls: Balls are usually held to celebrate special military occasions or a holiday. Proper dress is a formal gown or tuxedo. If Service Member is attending as a guest (not their own unit), then they may wear “spouse or guest” attire.

Do you lose Bah when you PCS? ›

a. BAH-T "without dependents" continues while a member is in a travel status or leave status between Permanent Duty Stations (PDS). b. BAH-T with dependent rate is not affected by the PCS move.

What should I do 2 weeks before moving? ›

How to Prepare to Move In 2 Weeks:
  • Book a mover as fast as possible. ...
  • Clearly label all boxes & items. ...
  • Check on parking or truck access from the street. ...
  • Schedule any necessary appointments as far in advance as possible. ...
  • Prepare packing supplies. ...
  • Call your moving company and check your appointment.
Jun 21, 2020

How do I prepare for HHG move? ›

Military Move Day: What to Expect When The HHG Movers Come
  1. Don't Pack Anything for Your Military Move. ...
  2. Understand it's Hard to Watch Movers Pack Your Stuff. ...
  3. Expect to Oversee Packing Day. ...
  4. Loading May Actually be Separate. ...
  5. Rank Matters For Weight Allowance. ...
  6. Expect Them to Inventory Everything.
Aug 9, 2020

What does a PCS move pay for? ›

The Defense Department provides travel and relocation allowances to help you with moving expenses. Per Diem reimburses you for meals, incidentals and lodging while you are traveling to your new duty station.

How many miles can military PCS travel in a day? ›


A traveler who is authorized PCS travel by POV is allowed one day of travel for the first 400 miles between authorized points. For any distance greater than 400 miles, the traveler is allowed another day of travel for every additional 350 miles.

Can military claim PCS on taxes? ›

Who is eligible? Only active-duty military members who relocate due to PCS orders or, in some cases, their unaccompanied family members, can deduct moving expenses. These include orders to a first duty station and orders when separating or retiring from military service.

What should I pack first when moving? ›

Pack Decor & Books

Items that are in your home purely for aesthetic purposes are good items to pack first when moving. This might include artwork, decor, books, magazines, and the like. These items are easy to pack first because chances are you won't need them during the move or the weeks preceding it.

What are the best months to move? ›

Best Month of the Year: Mid-September through April

Demand for movers usually slows down during this time frame and rates are low. According to various moving professionals, peak moving season stretches from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend, with roughly 70 percent of all moving takes place in the spring and summer.


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