NAVAL WEAPONS STATION
where our primary mission is to enable Warfighter Readiness by providing installation management and infrastructure support to all Lowcountry Warriors and their Families!
We take pride in providing outstanding service to all newcomers to the installation. Whatever your status − military, civil service, contractor, family member, full-time employee, or student − we are committed to providing you the highest quality programs, facilities and services available.
We hope you use this guide as an overview of base services available to all newcomers and families at the Naval Weapons Station….as well as other military members and families assigned to the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Coast Guard in the Charleston area who we also serve. This booklet is designed to augment information provided to you by your command sponsor and the Welcome Aboard Packet available at the Fleet and Family Support Center.
Regardless of the distance involved with moving, the number of previous moves, or the fact that you may have visited Naval Weapons Station Charleston before ... we all experience some amount of trepidation in finding a new place to live, moving household goods, obtaining information on local schools, learning about the community “outside the fence,” and selecting where to go for off-duty recreational activities.
Becoming familiar with a new area or base represents one of the biggest challenges involved in moving. The information provided in this guide will assist in making your move easier.
We are extremely excited about several initiatives that will enable us to significantly improve the quality of life for our military members and their families in two critical areas: on-base housing and medical care.
In order to provide military families outstanding quality homes on-base within the cost of Basic Housing Allowance, the Navy signed a Public Private Venture Housing agreement with a private developer—Balfour Beatty Community (formerly GMH Military Housing). Under terms of the agreement, the government turned 1,885 older homes on Naval Weapons Station Charleston over to Balfour Beatty Community on October 1, 2007, with the understanding that they divest 368 homes; demolish 1,302 older homes; build 433 new state-of-the art single and duplex homes; and renovate another 215 homes.
All new and renovated homes are to be completed within six years. In addition, Balfour Beatty Community will build a 5,000 square foot community center, swimming pool, basketball and volleyball courts, and soccer field, as well as tot lots and playgrounds. Balfour Beatty Community is also responsible for managing all of the homes, maintaining the landscape, and providing maintenance 24 hours a day. Rent and utility costs will be covered by Basic Allowance for Housing.
In March 2007, ground was broken on the Naval Weapons Station for a state-of-the-art Department of Defense/Veterans Administration Consolidated Medical Clinic. The $41.5 million construction project will consolidate all existing Navy military medical services while expanding Veterans Administration support for South Carolina’s veterans. This new state-of-the-art facility, called the John G. Federer Ambulatory Care Clinic, is scheduled to open in 2009. This clinic will ensure that beneficiaries are provided the most comprehensive and convenient care possible.
We take great pride in providing a wide range of activities that offer something for all members of our base community.
The Morale, Welfare and Recreation department provides many recreational and athletic activities, for young and not so young. Golf, bowling, outdoor sports, physical fitness ... the list goes on and on. Other departments provide assistance for child-care, parenting, basic skills for living, budgeting and stress management, educational opportunities, employment assistance, spiritual guidance, legal assistance, new parent support, and a variety of other programs to meet your every need.
But what makes the Naval Weapons Station “special” is the exceptionally talented and dedicated people who carry out our mission − to support fleet readiness by providing quality services and facilities to our Navy and DoD community and their families.
For this reason alone, we think you’ll find that Naval Weapons Station Charleston is a great place to live and work!
Navy’s Historical Impact on
South Carolina’s Lowcountry
From the first cannon shots fired at Fort Sumter starting the Civil War, to the great Naval fleets of World War II, to the massive movements of military equipment and supplies into Iraq, Navy units in the Charleston area have played a major role in United State’s history.
Naval Weapons Station Charleston carries on that tradition today, training Sailors for duty aboard the world’s most sophisticated nuclear aircraft carriers and submarines; shipping military cargo and supplies worldwide; storing and maintaining ordnance for Fleet operations; and engineering revolutionary advances in information and communications technologies into war fighting capabilities for all Department of Defense agencies.
The vision for Charleston’s Naval power began in 1900 when John D. Long, Secretary of the Navy, appointed a military board to determine the feasibility of transferring the Port Royal Naval Station, South Carolina, to Charleston. Port Royal Naval Station had originally been established during the Civil War as a Union coaling station and Blockading Squadron. Following the Civil War, in 1891, it became the Nation’s only military dry dock south of Norfolk, VA.
In January 1901, the board recommended transfer of the Naval Station Port Royal to Charleston, and eight months later the government acquired 2,250 acres of land, adjacent to Cooper River, approximately five miles north of historical Charleston…the official beginnings for Charleston Naval Shipyard which eventually became one of the Navy’s primary support facilities for submarines, guided missile ships, destroyers, cruisers, frigates, submarine tenders and other surface ships.
But by 1909, the first new Federal shipyard built in the 20th century still only had one dry dock, a pier, five shops, and a power house…just enough to enable the Navy to close the
Naval Station’s dry dock at Port Royal. During these early
years, the yard’s mission was to repair vessels and serve
as a docking facility.
By World War I, the mission was expanded to include the building of torpedo boats and other craft, producing machinery parts, manufacturing naval clothing, and serving as home base for destroyers and submarines. Along the banks of the Cooper River on the south end of Charleston Naval Yard, an aviation training school for pilots and mechanics was also established, with two 1,600-foot sod runways. The airfield was reportedly closed after World War I.
In fact, work dwindled at the shipyard after the war was over and there was great uncertainty over its future. America entered the Great Depression in 1929, but while most of the country suffered, the shipyard saw a revival. Funds were approved in 1931 to rebuild the dry docks, followed by contracts for destroyer and gunboat construction. Using Public Works Administration (PWA) and Works Progress Administration (WPA) money, Charleston Naval Shipyard became one of the fastest growing Navy facilities in the country.
With a new war threatening in Europe, Charleston Naval Shipyard began a $3.5 million expansion and improvement program in 1939, employing 1,700 to 1,800 WPA workers. By the time war was declared, the shipyard had nearly 2,000 production workers. During World War II, it reached peak employment with 26,000 civilians. During the war years, 1,359 vessels were worked at the shipyard: damaged ships were repaired, combat vessels overhauled, and 253 warships were constructed and launched.
While all eyes were on Charleston’s Naval Shipyard, the government was working to acquire another 17,000 acres of land—seven times larger than the Naval Shipyard site--on the western shore of the Cooper River just north of the shipyard.
This land was commissioned in 1941 as Naval Weapons Station Charleston and it was given two distinct missions: as home for two strategic missile submarine squadrons and a submarine tender, and as an ordnance station with capacity for more than
60 million pounds of conventional ordnance. The submarine squadrons are now gone, but the ordnance mission continues
to this day.
After the war, Charleston’s Naval Shipyard became part of the Charleston Naval Complex, which included Charleston Naval Station and several other Navy Commands. The Naval Weapons Station continued as a separate command “up the river.”
Initially, after the war, the shipyard’s work load shifted from the construction to the decommissioning and preservation of vessels. But in 1948, the mission again shifted to the overhaul of the U.S. submarine fleet. By the late 1950s, the Naval Weapons Station became home to a Polaris Missile Facility to support the growing submarine mission.
By the early 1990’s, the Charleston Naval Complex was considered the third largest U.S. Navy homeport and fleet concentration area in the United States, with 45 ships and submarines and more than 50 shore activities supporting the fleet. It was home to 22,000 Sailors and civilians who supported vessels docked at the Navy’s 20 piers.
But in 1993 the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission recommended the closure of the Charleston Naval Complex. Naval shipyards at both Charleston and Mare Island, California, were directed to close to “reduce excess capacity.” Twenty-one ships assigned to Naval Station Charleston were relocated to Norfolk, Va.; Mayport, Fla.; Pascagoula, Miss.; Ingleside, Texas; and Kings Bay, Ga. Three other commands at the Naval Station were directed to disband, and four were directed to relocate.
With the city predicting doom and gloom as a result of the BRAC recommendations, Charleston area leadership joined forces to increase redevelopment efforts, tripling funding and combining the financial and political clout of three area chambers of commerce, the three counties, their five major cities, and
many Charleston area businesses. The South Carolina General Assembly promptly passed legislation to establish the Charleston Naval Complex Redevelopment Authority. Together, they established what has been highlighted as a model of success
for base closures.
The Charleston Naval Complex officially closed April 1, 1996. Since that time, more than 90 private, local, state and federal entities purchased or leased property on the former Naval complex. Altogether, 5.7 million square feet of building space are currently occupied, accommodating over 5,400 jobs—including more than 1,000 jobs filled by former base workers. More than $164 million in tangible goods are produced on the property each year, and civilian shipyards at the site export American goods to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Far East.
Naval Weapons Station Gains
Dominant Role in Charleston
While civilian industries began to prosper at the former Charleston Naval Complex, military missions rapidly expanded at Naval Weapons Station Charleston as the Twentieth Century came to a close. New organizations included:
• Naval Nuclear Power Training Command; directed by the 1993
BRAC Commission to move from Orlando, Fla., to Naval
Weapons Station Charleston. The command’s modern training
complex was built in 1998 and includes a state-of-the-art school
house, six modern dormitories, an award-winning galley, gym,
and liberty center. Approximately 3,000 officers and enlisted
students graduate each year from the Naval Nuclear Power
• Nuclear Power Training Unit; established in 1989 to provide
hands-on nuclear propulsion training to nearly 1,500 officers and
enlisted Sailors who graduate each year, ready for duty aboard
• Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic; established
at the Naval Weapons Station Charleston in 1994 after four
naval electronic systems activities on the east coast were
consolidated at one location. Ground was broken for its $26.5
million engineering center the same year.
• The Naval Consolidated Brig Charleston; which received its first
prisoners in 1990. Housing prisoners from all services, it was
originally staffed only by the Navy, but was joined by Air Force
and Army staff in 1993 and Marine Corps staff in 2000.
• The Army Strategic Logistics Activity Charleston; activated in
1995 to implement a new strategy…pre-position ships at sea with
Army equipment and supplies. The Army invested $37 million in
modifications and new construction to the former Polaris Missile
Maintenance Facility. Another $16 million went into modifications
of the staging area pad and the 25-acre Wharf Alpha site so it
could accommodate the Army’s $1.8 billion upload and download
Today, Naval Weapons Station Charleston supports more than 40 Tenant Commands and has a work force of more than 11,000 military, civil service and contract employees. Despite the loss of the Charleston Naval Complex in 1996, the Naval Weapons Station is still the largest single employer in the Charleston Lowcountry area.
Encompassing more than 17,000 acres of land, the Naval Weapons Station includes 10,000 acres of forest and wetlands, 16-plus miles of waterfront, four deep water piers, 38.2 miles of railroad and 292 miles of road. With its integrated rail head, surge mobilization capability and the only unencumbered explosives arcs in the continental U.S., Naval Weapons Station Charleston is truly a unique national defense asset.
The Naval Weapons Station takes pride in providing quality support for all of its tenant commands. Most of this support falls into five critical missions:
• Training – Nearly 4,500 nuclear propulsion students graduate
annually from Naval Nuclear Power Training Command and
Nuclear Power Training Unit in preparation for duty aboard the
Navy’s nuclear fleet. In addition, Navy, Army and Marine Corps
Reserve Centers prepare reservists for military duty in dozens
of career fields.
• Logistics – Recognized as the busiest military terminal battalion
in the U.S. Army, the 841st Transportation Battalion is
responsible for command and control of transportation of
military cargo and equipment via ship, train, convoy and truck
to destinations around the world. In addition, the Army Strategic
Logistics Activity Charleston is responsible for loading Army
equipment and supplies aboard Military Sealift Command ships
which are pre-positioned at sea.
• Ordnance – With a capacity for more than 60 million pounds of
conventional ordnance, the Navy Munitions Command CONUS
East Division Detachment Charleston is responsible for the
receipt, storage and issue of Navy and Marine Corps ordnance
to Fleet and base units.
• Engineering – Engineers and computer technicians assigned to
Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Atlantic, work
together to integrate revolutionary advances in information and
communications technologies into war fighting capabilities for
the Department of Defense.
• Corrections – Rehabilitation is the primary goal of the Naval
Consolidated Brig which houses military prisoners from all
branches of the military service.
Despite the 1996 closure of the Charleston Naval Complex, the Charleston area has emerged as a model for joint military operations that saves money, increase efficiency, share resources, and benefit from security of local ports and installations. In 2006, U.S. military operations in the tri-county region of Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties accounted for over 29,000 direct jobs and a total annual economic impact of $3.5 billion, according to the 2006 Charleston Area Military Economic Report.
The military economic impact is second only to tourism as the region’s primary economic driver. The United States Navy is once again the region’s largest employer with over 11,000 full time employees, while Charleston Air Force Base ranks third in the region with 7,500 employees. Combined, the two installations occupy approximately 23,000 acres in Berkeley, Dorchester and Charleston Counties.
Under the 2005 BRAC announcement, a new concept was introduced called “joint basing” where two or more adjacent or nearby DoD installations are managed by a single designated service – be it Army, Navy or Air Force. By consolidating installation management support services at nearby bases under one lead service, the Department of Defense plans to save $2.3 billion over 20 years.
The 2005 BRAC recommended that Naval Weapons Station Charleston be “realigned” by relocating the installation management functions to Charleston Air Force Base. Areas
being looked at include command support, community services, environmental services, facilities, fire protection and
emergency services, housing, human resource management, information technology services management, logistics support, law enforcement and physical security, and operational
By combining capabilities and eliminating unnecessary duplication and redundancy, the military can save scarce funds, resulting in more efficient installations from which we, and our sister services, will more effectively project combat power for our nation. BRAC directed that the “joint basing” program between Naval Weapons Station Charleston and Charleston Air Force Base be implemented not later than September of 2011.
The Naval Weapons Station Charleston Newcomers' Guide is published by Benchmark Publications Incorporated, a private firm in no way connected with the Department of the Navy, under exclusive written contract with Naval Weapons Station Charleston. The appearance of advertising in this publication, including inserts and supplements, does not constitute endorsement by the Department of the Navy or Benchmark Publications, Incorporated of the products or services advertised. Everything advertised in this publication shall be made available for purchase, use or patronage without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, physical handicap, political affiliation or any other non-merit factor of the purchaser, user or patron. If a violation or rejection of this equal opportunity policy by an advertiser is confirmed, the publisher shall refuse to print advertising from that source until the violation is corrected. The Naval Weapons Station Charleston Newcomers' Guide is an unofficial publication authorized by AR 360-81. Editorial content is prepared, edited and provided by the Public Affairs Office of the Naval Weapons Station Charleston. All photos are provided by the Public Affairs Office unless stated otherwise.