Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies

Image: Ripples on water

SF State's bayside marine and estuarine research facility.



The Romberg Tiburon Center is an off-campus research and teaching facility operated year round by San Francisco State University (SF State). It was established in 1978 by the late Paul F. Romberg, then President of SF State, on a portion of a 46 acre parcel of land rich with history.


The waterfront site first came into use in 1877 when a packing plant to dry, process and ship codfish was constructed. In 1905, the Navy purchased the property for use as a Navy ship coaling station, and President Theodore Roosevelt visited with the Great White Fleet in 1908. During construction of the Golden Gate Bridge in the 1930's, the Roebling and Sons Company used the north warehouse to reel cables for the bridge. The steel wire was wound and reeled, then barged to the Gate to be spun into cables.

From 1931 to 1940, the Navy loaned the base to the state of California , which established its first nautical training school (later to become the California Maritime Academy). With the outbreak of World War II, the U.S. Government re-appropriated the site for use by the Navy, and the Maritime Academy relocated to its present site near Vallejo.

During World War II, the Tiburon facility was used for the construction of anti-submarine and anti-torpedo nets. These nets were shipped to Navy bases all along the West Coast and across the Pacific. The biggest job faced by Navy Net Depot personnel during this time was the laying of an anti-submarine net seven miles long and 6,000 tons in weight across the entrance to San Francisco Bay. This net was in place by December 7, 1941.

The Navy Net Depot was active through the Korean War until 1958 when its operation was terminated and the property was transferred from the Navy to the Department of Commerce. In the 1960's, the property housed the National Marine Fisheries Service's Southwest Fisheries Center (NMFS), as well as the Minerals Management Technology Center, which investigated how to sustainably mine manganese nodules from the deep sea. In 1973, NMFS consolidated its operations to 10 acres of the parcel.

In 1977 SF State submitted a proposal to develop a field station and marine laboratory dedicated to the study of San Francisco Bay, and the Romberg Tiburon Center was established on the remaining 36 acres.

(From administrative report T-82-01 to NOAA by Susan Smith in August 1982)


To see more historical photos, click here.


Back to RTC Home page



SF State Home