The San Diego Naval Station was under lockdown for almost five hours on Tuesday after a driver tried to enter the property with explosives, U.S. Navy officials said.

According to local reports, the North Island Naval Air Station was shut down for incoming and outcoming traffic at about 9 a.m. after “bomb-making materials” were discovered in the car of a man trying to get past security. 

U.S. Navy public affairs officer Kevin Dixon said that an investigation is ongoing and has declined to offer many details. He added that the “bomb-making” ingredients were not assembled or armed at the time they were discovered by military personnel.

By 2 p.m. local time, the lockdown had been lifted and its gates were reopened to regular traffic, reports indicate. 

The driver, whose name has not yet been publicly released, is reportedly in the custody of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). Authorities have not discussed potential criminal charges or an apparent motive. 

Bomb Threat at San Diego Naval Station 

According to U.S. Navy officials, a nondescript vehicle approached the front gate of the San Diego Naval Base at around 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. 

NCIS security guards stopped the car and searched its contents, discovering what Dixon characterized as “bomb-making materials.” The materials were not described in detail, and officials said they were not assembled into a functioning bomb when NCIS found them. 

The driver was subsequently taken into NCIS custody and questioned at length this morning, media outlets reported.

Security at the San Diego Naval Station said a man tried to enter the base with bomb making materials Tuesday.
Security at the Naval Station in San Diego said a man tried to enter the base with bomb making materials Tuesday. Photo credit: Shutterstock

According to NBC 7 San Diego, civilian and military personnel stationed at the harbor received an alert just after 9 a.m., the first public acknowledgement of the incident by Navy officials. 

“The main gate at [North Island Naval Air Station] is closed until further notice, use alternate routes to enter via the Ocean gate or 01st / Alameda. from 9:30 a.m.,” the message read.

The New York Post reported that alerts were circulated on social media, warning readers to “stay away” from the North Island gate and advising that the commissary, exchange, and visitor center were “closed until further notice.”

One individual reportedly told the outlet that “all non-essential personnel” were instructed to leave the base, though Dixon later said that only the area near the Station’s front gate was evacuated for safety reasons. 

By 2 p.m. on the West Coast, Dixon said all gates to the Station had reopened, and that the lockdown was lifted. 

The San Diego Naval Station remained on lockdown for hours following the bomb scare, and some buildings remain closed.
The San Diego Naval Base remained on lockdown for hours following the bomb scare, and some buildings remain closed. Photo credit: U.S. Navy

“Shelter in place has been lifted. Resume normal operations,” the station confirmed in a post on Facebook.

As of the afternoon, the commercial vehicle inspection lane at the North Island gate remained closed, as did the ID Lab in the visitor center. It was not immediately clear whether these closures were directly related to the bomb threat. 

Questions Linger in Navy Bomb Scare

Details remain scant even after Navy officials reopened the base on Tuesday afternoon. 

The driver apprehended at the scene is still unnamed, and authorities have not said whether they are a civilian or military personnel. Though the suspect was detained for questioning, NCIS and Navy brass have given no indication that they are prepared to charge them with a crime. 

Naval officials said they will give more updates on the San Diego Naval Station bomb scare as they are available.
Naval officials said they will give more updates on the San Diego Naval Station bomb scare as they are available. Photo credit: Shutterstock

The bomb-making materials discovered in his car have not been described in detail. Though officials said the materials were not assembled, it’s not known if investigators believe the suspect planned to use them while on base. 

Through Dixon, the San Diego Naval Station said it expects to release more information by the end of the day Tuesday.