Naval Station Norfolk: Celebrating a Century 1917-2017

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NORFOLK 1917 - 2017


A century of success at NAS Norfolk.

Congratulations on turning 100.

SureID® salutes the thousands of dedicated men and women at Naval Station Norfolk who, since 1917, have helped keep our country safe and secure. We understand the magnitude of providing trusted security in today’s uncertain world. Since 2011, our RAPIDGate® program has provided secure and streamlined access for nearly 70,000 employees at 2,900 companies that conduct business at NAS Norfolk.

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Every employee at SureID recognizes NAS Norfolk as a vital part of America’s proud military history. We wish you another 100 years of success in protecting the freedom we all enjoy.




Newton B. Jones International President William T. Creeden International Secretary-Treasurer INTERNATIONAL VICE PRESIDENTS


Lawrence McManamon, Great Lakes Joe Maloney, Canada J. Tom Baca, Western States Warren Fairley, Southeast John T. Fultz, Northeast



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NAVAL STATION NORFOLK Celebrating A Century 1917 - 2017 Lockmasters, Inc. is proud to join in the celebration of the Naval Station Norfolk’s 100th Anniversary. It’s the world’s largest naval station, with the largest concentration of U.S. Navy forces through 75 ships alongside 14 piers and with 134 aircraft and 11 aircraft hangars at the adjacently operated Chambers Field.




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Since 1957, Farm Fresh has been the grocer of choice for the working men and women of Hampton Roads. Then and now, we are proud to support Hampton Roads military families! Congratulations Naval Station Norfolk on a century of service in Hampton Roads. Thank you for what you do for us!



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1917 - 2017

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PRESIDENT AND CEO Maryellen Baldwin

Picture credit

EXECUTIVE BOARD CAPT Christopher “Kit” Chope, USN (RET) – Vice President At Large MajGen Jon A. Gallinetti, USMC (RET) – Immediate Past President CAPT Robert N. Geis, USN (RET) – Vice President At Large Mrs. Julie A. Gifford – Vice President of Membership Mr. John Griffing – Vice President of Development VADM James D. McArthur, Jr., USN (RET) – Vice President of Military Affairs FORCM James “Jim” Monroe, USN (RET) – Treasurer CDR Mark E. Newcomb, JACG, USN (RET) – Judge Advocate FLTCM Jon Thompson, USN (RET) – Secretary

BOARD OF DIRECTORS HON David H. Adams VADM David Architzel, USN (RET) CDR Charles S. Arrants, USN (RET) RADM Charles J. Beers, USN (RET) CAPT Robert E. Clark, USN (RET) Mr. Joseph Gianascoli ADM William “Bill” E. Gortney, USN (RET) CAPT Ronald Hoppock, USN (RET) CAPT Cameron Ingram, USN (RET) RADM Jack Kavanaugh, SC, USN (RET) Mr. Kevin F. King CAPT Louis P. Lalli, USN (RET) Mrs. Elizabeth Mayo Mrs. Christina Murray CAPT Michael O’Hearn, USN (RET) LtCol John A. Panneton, USMC (RET) CMDCM Len Santivasci, USN (RET) CAPT Louis J. Schager, Jr., USN (RET)







A FATHER OF THE U.S. NAVY Statue featured in MEMORIAL PARK Arcadia Wisconsin.



AVENUE OF HEROES/SOLDIER’S WALK Located in Arcadia, Wisconsin

Among his many philanthropic contributions, Ron Wanek, founder of contemporary Ashley, is the lead benefactor of the Avenue of Heroes/Soldier’s Walk. Located at Memorial Park in Arcadia, Wisconsin, Soldier’s Walk is the premier war memorial in the United States outside of Washington, D.C. This memorial captures all U.S. wars with monuments and memorials in chronological order along a 500 meter walk to honor those leaders and veterans who fought to give us the life and freedom we enjoy today.

The 54 acre Memorial Park is a unique tribute to all of our veterans of all wars and conflicts. Soldiers Walk is approximately one mile long with 28 Memorials that honors all our Veterans; past, present and future.


The [agency] did not select or approve this advertiser and does not endorse and is not responsible for the views or statements contained in this advertisement.




7 Governor of Virginia Terence R. McAulif fe Mayor of Newport News McKinley L. Price



Adm. Philip S. Davidson Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command


Capt. Rich McDaniel Commander, Naval Station Norfolk



H A M P T ON R O A D S : T H E F IR S T 3 0 0 Y E A R S By Dwight Jon Zimmerman



100 Years of Naval Station Norfolk By Eric Tegler



The Navy League Supports the Sea Services By Edward H. Lundquist

Your educational home port.



Hampton Roads and Virginia’s Tidewater By Dwight Jon Zimmerman



Naval Aviation Pipes Aboard Naval Station Norfolk By Jan Tegler



The Hampton Roads Community and the Armed Forces By Eric Tegler






The Navy Exchange is proud to celebrate the Centennial of Naval Station Norfolk alongside the brave men and women serve our great nation.



Published by Faircount Media Group 701 North West Shore Blvd. Tampa, FL 33609 Tel: 813.639.1900 EDITORIAL Editor in Chief: Chuck Oldham Managing Editor: Ana E. Lopez Editor: Rhonda Carpenter Contributing Writers: Edward H. Lundquist Eric Tegler, Jan Tegler, Dwight Jon Zimmerman DESIGN AND PRODUCTION Art Director: Robin K. McDowall Project Designer: Daniel Mrgan Ad Traffic Manager: Rebecca Laborde ADVERTISING Ad Sales Manager: Steve Chidel Account Executives: Christopher Day Joe Gonzalez, Beth Hamm Troy Koontz, Patrick Pruitt OPERATIONS AND ADMINISTRATION Chief Operating Officer: Lawrence Roberts VP, Business Development: Robin Jobson Business Development: Damion Harte Financial Controller: Robert John Thorne Chief Information Officer: John Madden Business Analytics Manager: Colin Davidson FAIRCOUNT MEDIA GROUP Publisher, North America: Ross Jobson Copyright Faircount LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction of editorial content in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Faircount LLC and the Navy League of the United States do not assume responsibility for the advertisements, nor any representation made therein, nor for the quality or deliverability of the products themselves. Reproduction of the articles and photographs, in whole or in part, contained herein is prohibited without written permission of the publisher, with the exception of reprinting for news media use. Permission to use various images and content in this publication was obtained from the U.S. Department of Defense and its agencies, and in no way is used to imply an endorsement by any U.S. Department of Defense entity for any claims or representations therein. None of the advertising herein implies U.S. government, U.S. Department of Defense, or U.S. Navy endorsement of any private entity or enterprise. This is not a publication of the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy, or the U.S. government.

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1917 - 2017


ADM. PHILIP S. DAVIDSON C o m m a n d e r, U . S . F l e e t Fo r c e s C o m m a n d


Maritime Operations, U.S. Fleet Forces Command; the senior military adviser to the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) at the State Department; and the deputy director for Strategy and Policy in the Joint Staff/J-5. He served earlier in his career in policy, strategy, and operations billets on multiple tours with the U.S. Pacific Fleet staff, the Navy staff, and the Joint Staff, and as the Navy’s military aide to the vice president of the United States. Davidson is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval War College. He has a Master of Arts in national security and strategic studies, and a Bachelor of Science in physics. His decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat “V,” a Superior Honor Award from the U.S. Department of State, and other personal, service, unit, and campaign awards.

dm. Phil Davidson is from St. Louis, Missouri. He is a 1982 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He assumed command of U.S. Fleet Forces Command/Naval Forces U.S. Northern Command on Dec. 19, 2014. A surface warfare officer, he has deployed across the globe in frigates, destroyers, cruisers, and aircraft carriers. In his most recent assignment, he was the commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and the commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, while simultaneously serving as the deputy commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa. His previous command assignments include command of Carrier Strike Group 8/Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, USS Gettysburg (CG 64) and USS Taylor (FFG 50). Ashore, Davidson has served in fleet, interagency and joint tours as a flag officer. He was previously the director,

Naval Station Norfolk: Celebrating a Century: U.S. Fleet Forces Command must itself be one of the longeststanding military commands in the nation. What makes it so important to have such longevity and how have its roles and responsibilities changed over the decades? Adm. Philip S. Davidson: The United States Fleet Forces Command (USFLTFORCOM) is a service component command of the United States Navy that provides naval forces to a wide variety of U.S. force commanders. USFLTFORCOM has a long, distinguished history of service to our country and the U.S. Navy. USFLTFORCOM was originally established as Commander In Chief,

U.S. Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANTFLT) in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. The first Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet was Rear Adm. Robley D. Evans, who assumed command on Jan.1, 1906, aboard his flagship, the battleship USS Maine (BB 10). In December 1907, Rear Adm. Evans led the fleet of 16 first-line battleships out of Hampton Roads on the start of the famous world cruise of the Great White Fleet (1907-1909). President Roosevelt witnessed the departure from his yacht Mayflower. This ceremonious Fleet Review served as a highlight of the Jamestown Exposition, held at the site of the present Norfolk Naval Station.


Fast forward many years, and on Oct. 1, 2001, the Chief of Naval Operations designated CINCLANTFLT as concurrent Commander, Fleet Forces Command (COMFLTFORCOM), a new command responsible for overall coordination, establishment, and implementation of integrated requirements and policies for manning, equipping, and training Atlantic and Pacific Fleet units during the inter-deployment training cycle. On May 23, 2006, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) issued OPNAV NOTICE 3111, Ser. DNS33/6U827232, that disestablished the Commander, Fleet Forces Command (COMFLTFORCOM) and Commander,

U.S. Navy photo

U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMLANTFLT) and renamed COMLANTFLT to Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (COMUSFLTFORCOM), ordered to carry out the missions currently performed by COMFLTFORCOM and COMLANTFLT and serve as primary advocate for fleet personnel, training, requirements, maintenance, and operational issues, reporting administratively directly to the CNO. All forces previously reporting to COMLANTFLT or COMFLTFORCOM now report to COMUSFLTFORCOM. On Oct. 31, 2006, a ceremony was held to officially mark the transition of the United States Atlantic Fleet and Fleet Forces Command to the United States Fleet Forces Command. Three of the 37 previous admirals who held the top post in the Atlantic Fleet attended the ceremony, held aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), then homeported at Naval Station Norfolk. The command is henceforth known as Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. The U.S. Atlantic Fleet’s mission was to provide fully trained, combat-ready forces to support United States and NATO commanders in regions of conflict throughout the world. The mission of the command expanded when it became USFLTFORCOM. The mission of USFLTFORCOM is to organize, man, train, and equip naval forces for assignment to Unified Command Combatant commanders; to deter, detect, and defend against homeland maritime threats; and to articulate Fleet warfighting and readiness requirements to the Chief of Naval Operations. In 2012, USFLTFORCOM also became the naval component commander for U.S. Northern Command, responsible for all U.S. Navy operational and training matters under Commander, U.S. Northern Command. Can you give a sense of the size and scale of the Navy presence in Hampton Roads? Out of 272 deployable ships and submarines in the Navy, 65 are


homeported in Hampton Roads, with a total of 72 ships when you factor in new construction and maintenance. There are 39 squadrons and over 400 aircraft. There are 127,141 Navy and Marine Corps active-duty and Reserve military, civilian, and contractors in the Hampton Roads area. If we include retired, survivors, military family members, and other military service members stationed on Navy installations in the region, that number grows to 290,925 for our Total Navy “Family.” How important is Naval Station Norfolk to the Navy and the nation at large? Naval Station Norfolk itself is home for the Navy’s largest concentration of naval forces. There are 57 ships alongside 14 piers and with 181 aircraft and 11 aircraft hangars at the

Adm. Phil Davidson, Commander Fleet Forces Command, enters the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) through side boys.

adjacently operated Chambers Field. Port Services controls more than 3,100 ships’ movements annually as they arrive and depart their berths. Air Operations conducts over 100,000 flight operations each year, an average of 275 flights per day, or one every six minutes. The installation occupies about 4 miles of waterfront space and 11 miles of pier and wharf space of the Hampton Roads peninsula known as Sewell’s Point. At Naval Station Norfolk, the Navy’s ships are in safe harbor, but have easy access to the Atlantic Ocean and can go anywhere in the world to defend America’s national interests.


Why do you think it has endured and prospered when other military installations have been closed? Naval Station Norfolk has endured through the years, because it has continuously reinvented itself and remained relevant to the defense of this country. It has served as a major training and embarkation point during both world wars. In 1968, the air station became Recovery Control Center Atlantic, which provided command, control, and communications for the ships and aircraft that participated in the NASA recovery operations of Apollo 7. At the end of the Cold War, the air station and the naval station merged into a single installation to reduce installation and operating costs. Today, we send ships from Naval Station Norfolk to the other side of the world to ensure that we can fight and win today and tomorrow.

Picture U.S. Navy credit photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tyler Preston

1917 - 2017

Picture U.S. Navy credit photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Benjamin Dobbs

You’ve served in a wide range of commands afloat and ashore. Would you consider the Hampton Roads area a good place to be stationed? For my wife Tracy and I, Norfolk is our favorite homeport. Because of the size of the Fleet here in Hampton Roads, a Sailor has the opportunity to experience a variety of assignments. There are shore and sea commands; ship, submarine, air, expeditionary, and special forces units; and many staff and support commands. How would you characterize the relationship between the community, businesses, and the services in the area? The Navy’s impact here in Hampton Roads is “big business.” We have 65 ships and more than 400 aircraft stationed here. Our community extends from the county line with York-

Adm. Phil Davidson, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, greets Sailors on the pier at Naval Station Norfolk during the homecoming of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3).

town, Virginia, to the state line with North Carolina, and is comprised of service members, civilians, contractors, veterans, and their families. They are the center of an extended network of millions of people ranging from business relationships to close friendships. Who are some of the partners in the community who work to make military personnel welcome and improve their lives? Hampton Roads businesses support an expansive military enterprise. There are five naval bases in Hamp-


ton Roads, supported by seven civilian-owned and -operated shipyards. U.S. Fleet Forces is responsible for an $11.3 billion budget for ship depot maintenance, flying hours, ship operations, cyber operations, and other expenses. The Navy also brings $10.7 billion to the Hampton Roads region. Our economic impact in this region will continue to be significant. Most of the work done to maintain and modernize our force will be done locally. When looking at the Navy’s economic impact in Hampton Roads, we’re referring to the amount of direct capital infused into the local economies as a result of salaries, expenditures, and contractual payment for services rendered in support of installation activities. Our Navy family lives, works, and plays out in town amongst the community. We are as much as part of it as they are a part of the Navy.

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CAPT. RICH McDANIEL C o m m a n d e r, N a v a l S t a t i o n N o r f o l k


Destroyer Squadron Six (CDS 6), and combat system officer on USS O’Bannon (DD 987), first lieutenant and strike officer on USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), and communications officer on USS England (CG 22). McDaniel’s shore duty assignments include officer manpower requirements analyst at the Naval Manpower Analysis Center, Millington, Tennessee, and as Atlantic Fleet placement officer and surface warfare lieutenant commander and commander detailer, Pers-41, Navy Personnel Command. He was the 20122013 Federal Executive Fellow at the Brookings Institute where he wrote, No Plan B: U.S. Strategic Access and the Question of Bahrain. He served as the strategy plans integration branch chief within the Joint Staff J5, Deputy Directorate for Joint Strategic Planning (DD JSP). He was also selected to be the working group lead for the inaugural “Breakfast Club” O-6 Advanced Capability Deterrence Panel, a deputy secretary of defense initiative. He reported to Naval Station Norfolk as executive officer in August 2015 and assumed command in March 2017. McDaniel has been awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards), and the Navy Achievement Medal (three awards).

apt. Rich McDaniel is a native of Memphis, Tennessee, where he attended the University of Memphis, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and was subsequently commissioned in 1992. He is a 2006 distinguished graduate and Halsey Group participant of the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in national security affairs and strategic studies. He is also a 2013 graduate of the Joint Forces Staff College, where he completed Joint Professional Military Education, Phase II. Additionally, he earned a Certificate in Public Leadership from Washington University in St. Louis and the Brookings Executive Education program. At sea, McDaniel completed his command tour aboard the USS Sterett (DDG 104). He completed her maiden deployment and deployed again to 5th Fleet with the Abraham Lincoln Strike Group following a condensed training cycle. During his tenure, Sterett earned two consecutive Battle-E awards. Throughout his career, he has served at sea on five U.S. Navy combatants and two afloat staffs. He has 23 years of naval service and has deployed multiple times to the Arabian Gulf, Western Pacific – Eastern Pacific, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, and Caribbean. He also served as executive officer aboard USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), and assistant maritime operations officer for Carrier Strike Group Twelve, operations officer for

Naval Station Norfolk: Celebrating a Century 1917 - 2017: What are your feelings as commander of Naval Station Norfolk on the hundredth anniversary of the establishment? Capt. Rich McDaniel, Commander, Naval Station Norfolk: I am very proud to be here as the CO [commanding officer]. The base has immense history that really needs to be celebrated, and we need to remind ourselves of the rich

contributions that the base has made, not only to the area, but to the Navy. When you look at the history of the base, the Navy began to emerge as a world power when Norfolk Naval Station came into its own. In 1917, after it had been identified as a place for a great port, the U.S. bought the 474 acres of the former Jamestown Exposition, and from that point the base grew. It became a hub for naval aviation. We


had Chambers Field at the time, and many of the pioneers in naval aviation perfected their craft right in Willoughby Bay. And then you had the base also as a training center. So as we set up the headquarters here, we trained many of our recruits in this area. From that point it grew into what it is today, with 59 ships, the 18 aircraft squadrons, 65,000 sailors and civilians – a hub of the Atlantic Fleet. So I think the history

is something that we want to profile and celebrate as we look back and also as we look to exciting times ahead.

U.S. Navy photo

Why do you think Naval Station Norfolk has endured and prospered when other installations have been closed? How important is it to the Navy and the nation? Well, No. 1, it’s a strategic location. This is a port, in terms of its value to the Navy, that doesn’t freeze. There are no bridges that ships must pass under to arrive. It’s centrally located on the East Coast. It’s ideal in terms of its ability for assets to have quick reach to many parts of the world where we operate. We have grown together with the Hampton Roads community. Norfolk is an outstanding Navy town, and we’re tied in terms of what we do together. For instance, right now we’re partnering with the city of Norfolk in how we can operate many of our facilities and make purchases more efficiently. So we’re looking at more efficient ways to operate. When you have that kind of healthy relationship with the surrounding municipalities, it helps. It’s a combination of support from the community, support from the city, the strategic location, and the amount of Navy assets stationed here since that resulted in the Navy emerging as a global power. Could you characterize that relationship between the community and the businesses and the various armed forces in the area? I don’t know if I can do it in a short sentence, but the relationship is strong. It is collegial. There is great support and understanding of the community in terms of what military members and their families need. And the city is striving to meet those needs. So they understand Navy life. You know, the Navy draws a readiness link between how well we operate abroad and how ready our families are back home. So

the readiness back home is facilitated greatly by the city of Norfolk; for example, the school programs the schools put in place. All those things are complementary to family readiness and our mission, and we really couldn’t do it without the support of the community. I ought to mention other things, too, the comradery, the support, and people’s gratitude when they see you.


I think this area is so rich, and I don’t have the numbers, but you’re hardpressed to find someone who doesn’t have some connection to either a family member or themselves personally that has served or someone that works on one of the military installations in Hampton Roads. There is a huge connection to the military community. So you can’t divide it. The businesses that

are in the city – they support the Navy. They reach out to the Navy; they provide services to the Navy. So, across the board, it’s a very cooperative, collegial, and complementary environment. It’s hard to characterize in one word. But hopefully, I’m describing it accurately. You go downtown and you see the Norfolk banners on almost every business. The centennial – people relate to it. The Navy League – we met with them today, and they try to think of everything they can to encourage businesses and government to support the Navy. So it’s just a great area in terms of support. It’s the best place I’ve been during my 25 years in the Navy. I haven’t been to a better area where I feel more support from the surrounding community. As far as your job goes, can you give some idea of the scale of your responsibilities? Sure. There are 65,000 people that live and work on the installation, depending on port loading, but on average about 40,000 to 45,000 people travel to and from the base from the surrounding community every day. So the scope of my duties includes supporting the base population in various ways. First and foremost in my mind is security. Additionally, traffic is one of my biggest challenges. It’s getting those people on and off the installation safely. It is properly vetting the people that come on the installation to ensure, particularly in the world that we live in today, that people are properly vetted, that we do so thoroughly but also efficiently so we don’t have traffic backups to Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. That’s a huge responsibility. To run the base day to day, internal to the base with security and operations is quite a challenge. We have fire and emergency services onboard. Like I said, we’re like a small city. We have three fire departments. We have child development centers, and they operate 24 hours a day. When sailors go to

sea, many of these sailors are single parents. What do they do with their children? So there is an infrastructure that is behind that sailor supporting their family when they go to sea. We have world-class fitness facilities. We have restaurants onboard the installations. We must upkeep all of our buildings and our roads. The main thing focus we keep is supporting the fleet. So we put ships to sea, and the port operations that we run for 59 homeported ships is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operation, 365 days a year. It’s constantly busy at the waterfront. It will slow down in the evening, but it’s always, always humming with activity. Our airfield – we have 18 squadrons. We have the largest Navy-run Air Mobility Command [air terminal] in the Navy on our installation. So it’s a massive operation. Our real estate value of buildings alone here is $4.9 billion. So the real estate properties and upkeep alone are significant. It’s a big operation. I’ve come from running ships, and if you do well on your ship, they put you in a large installation. It’s a whole new business, but it’s a lot of fun. So you have to be a military commander, a mayor, a logistician – you have to wear several hats. That’s right. And there is also the dynamic where you go to activities downtown and you try and foster support and build relationships with your community partners. I’ve probably given 12 to 15 speeches just since I’ve taken command of the base in March. That’s a lot of fun. It’s a pretty neat experience to do that. You probably have a lot of extra events and activities ongoing because of the anniversary as well, I suppose. You do. There are events that we host onboard the installation and there are events that the community is host-


ing where they will request your presence, or at least some type of Navy representation. Obviously with the CO and the XO [executive officer] of the installation, you get called to quite a few of them. You’ve talked about the size of the naval station and a lot of the aspects of it. Could you provide an idea of the range of different commands and tenant units on the station? I know you can’t possibly go through all of them. For a total, there are 329 tenant activities. Not all of those are huge commands. But a sampling of some, we have Commander of Naval Surface Forces Atlantic, which is the commander in charge of all the ships in the Atlantic Fleet. We have the Commander of Naval Region Mid-Atlantic, my boss. He’s right next door, and he runs all the installations in the Mid-Atlantic Region. SUBLANT [Submarine Forces Atlantic] – a three-star admiral who runs the Submarine Forces for the Atlantic Fleet. Military Sealift Command – a huge command. They moved down from the Navy yard three or four years ago and they are now onboard the installation. They run all the logistics ships for the Navy. They enable us to stay deployed for the duration, you know, seven or eight months at a time. They support us while we’re at sea. The hub for those ships is right here on our installation. NAVSUP [Naval Supply Systems Command] – there are quite a few really large tenants onboard the installation. What would you say are the biggest challenges you have to face in your job? I would say the biggest one is security. And traffic, which I talked to you about a little bit earlier – at least that’s the one I’ll get the most emails on, because people deal with that daily. The other one is, our base is 100 years old, and much of our infrastructure 5269 Cleveland St n Suite 204 Virginia Beach, VA 23462 (757) 248-8802 n Fax (757) 248-8804



CoNgRatuLatioNs Naval Station Norfolk for 100 years of excellence! Here’s to another 100 years of military history. Lumos Networks is proud to support all of the men and women in uniform that protect this great country, and to be investing in the future of Hampton Roads.

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John C. Dellinger

Enterprise Sales Manager


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is aging. So whether you’re talking of the material condition of some of the piers in the waterfront or some of the buildings that need to be overhauled, that’s one of the biggest challenges, because we operate in a fiscally constrained environment, and have to prioritize funding to put it where it is absolutely essential. Everyone that has a challenge with a facility won’t necessarily get a solution right away. To find a way through each year to year, can be a challenge, because if you’re in a building and you have an issue – let’s say with mold – you obviously want to get it corrected right away, as it’s a safety issue. So a safety issue might trump something that has been going on, where someone just wanted their windows painted, you know what I mean? So you have to prioritize items that come up in such a way where you make the customer – the fleet – the tenants happy. And that can be a challenge. That was one of my questions: What sort of infrastructure projects are underway to improve or expand or maintain the installation? I know they are looking at building quite a few new things. I don’t have the installation development plan right in front of me, but I know there are some waterfront projects where we’re looking at overhaul of our piers. Some of the piers on the waterfront were constructed in the ’30s and they are still in operation. They’ve been upgraded over the years, but it’s time to do further upgrades on them. We have buildings and a communications center we’re looking at constructing. With the naval station and port being such a strategic hub … the I-564 intermodal connector that is being constructed – that’s a huge project. With that project, there is an additional gate being built, and a commercial vehicle inspection station [CVIS]. So that will help alleviate the volume of trucks on Hampton Boulevard that service the

installation and ships. That will help with the traffic in the future. I believe the fall of next year is the estimate for completion right now for the commercial vehicle inspection station and Gate Six. And then the intermodal – the I-564 connector – I believe it finishes early ’19. That’s a huge undertaking that the commonwealth and VDOT [Virginia Department of Transportation] have done and partnered with the Navy to complete. I understand that some time in the future, hopefully there will be some light rail connection, but that it’s just in the very early planning and negotiation stages now, right? Yes, I’ve heard it discussed. If you just ask my personal opinion, I’m a big fan. I would love to see it come here. If you’ve ever been to the Pentagon and you see how the Pentagon serves as a transportation hub, a hub for the Metro, a hub for commuter buses. It serves as a hub for Metro buses from the city. And also it’s a drop-off point for many of the people that slug in the HOV [high-occupancy vehicle] lanes. So I can see something very similar occurring here. You could put some type of hub and have light rail line ending right outside the base. When I say right outside the base, you can build a transportation hub. It would only help, because everything we do to take a car off the road and out of the gate would be very helpful to the Norfolk traffic problem. I saw a number of 75,000 cars a day? Depending on the port loading, we have about 65,000 people that live and work on the installation and more – around 45,000 to 50,000 on a high day – of people that come on, because not everyone has a vehicle. There are people obviously that come on the installation that don’t work here permanently but are only servicing the installation, bringing some type of product and goods into the installation. That obviously adds to that traffic amount.


What is the best part of your job? I personally enjoy interfacing with the sailors. I enjoy interfacing with the commands and the people that I’ve gotten to meet in this job. It’s been very rewarding to be in the seat and to work with the people. I’m part of the Civic Leadership Institute out of town. I’m involved with the Navy League. Interacting with those groups is very satisfying. The other piece that is satisfying is helping people figure out a solution that will better equip a sailor or a unit when it comes to preparing for deployment. I was a destroyer CO, and you were so focused on getting your ship ready and crew ready to deploy so you can operate safely and effectively. But if I can ever help a ship or squadron in any manner to achieve operational readiness, that’s very satisfying as well. So I think there are two dynamics: working with the people here on the installation, the sailors, the civic organizations downtown, and then helping the ships, squadrons, and subs prepare to deploy. Is there anything I should have asked you that I didn’t ask or that you wanted to say that I didn’t give you the opportunity to say? This is a celebration not just for the Navy focused inwardly on the Navy. It’s a celebration of what the Navy and this area mean to one another. We really are hoping that many of our public events, the airshow on July 15th and Fleet Fest on Oct. 21st, that we are able to bring in the public and show them what we’re doing – let them share in the celebration. It’s very meaningful, the relationship that we have with the surrounding community at large. And we want this to be a celebration where they experience it with us. We just don’t want to be locked behind a citadel and say, “Hey, we’ve got a birthday in here.” We’re very excited about it and we’re excited about bringing the public in.

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HAMPTON ROADS: THE FIRST 300 YEARS By Dwight Jon Zimmerman


rom the beginning of its discovery in the early 17th century by English colonists, the Hampton Roads region of Virginia’s Tidewater was recognized as one of the world’s great natural harbors. Over the years, ports and shipyards were founded and expanded on its shores, making the region today the largest concentration of naval facilities in the world. In 1606, a group of English entrepreneurs obtained a charter from the Virginia Company of London (or London Company) to establish a colony in the New World. Late that year, a three-ship convoy under the overall command of Capt. Christopher Newport set sail west. After a long voyage, they made landfall on the southern mouth of Chesapeake Bay at a site they named Fort Henry (now the U.S. Army’s training base, Fort Story). After determining that Fort Henry was too exposed to the vagaries of the Atlantic Ocean, the ships began exploring the local waterways. What they found was one of the world’s largest, sheltered, natural deep-water harbors, where three major rivers and several smaller ones converged to flow into the bay. The ships traveled up one of the rivers, which they named James River in honor of King James I of England, and on May 14, 1607, established England’s first permanent colony at Jamestown. The location, 40 miles upriver, was picked because it met the requirements of the charter, which had designated the colony a military settlement (the ships’ cargo included four cannon with sufficient gunpowder and ammunition for defense). The site was surrounded by water on three sides, its deep-water coast allowed their ships to tie right at the shoreline, it was not inhabited by any local tribe, and it was easily defended from attack by England’s biggest threat at the time: the Spanish.


The 1781 engagement between the British and French fleet known as the Battle of the Chesapeake sealed the fate of the British forces in America and guaranteed American

Naval History and Heritage Command painting by V. Zveg



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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Matthew Bookwalter

ABOVE: A landing party makes its way to shore from replicas of the ships Discovery, Godspeed, and Susan Constant during a re-enactment ceremony on the 400th anniversary of the first landing of settlers to the “New World.” The ships carried the settlers of the Jamestown Colony. LEFT: An 1820 painting depicts Norfolk, as seen New York Public Library image

from Gosport, along a bustling Tidewater.

The colony got off to a rocky start. Chronic conflicts with the local Native American tribes and repeated outbreaks of disease devastated the settlement. By 1610, about 80 percent of the colonists had died. A desperate reorganization and influx of new colonists possessing much-needed agricultural and trade skills, and a change in the charter that allowed for women to arrive, narrowly stabilized the colony. By 1616, the settlement became the budding Virginia colony’s capital, a distinction it held until 1699, when Williamsburg became the colonial capital. Meanwhile, downriver at Hampton Roads, a sheltered deep-water harbor and ready access to thick stands of timber made the Elizabeth River and its branches irresistible for shipbuilders. John Wood became the first to build a port there when he obtained a land patent in 1620. Others quickly followed, and soon the shorelines were dotted


with wharves, warehouses, docks, and sailing ships of all sizes. The most important shipyard owner during this time was probably Andrew Sprowle. Sprowle, a Scot, came to Virginia in 1735 and set up business in Norfolk Borough. Thirty-two years later, he acquired a 16-acre tract of land on the western shore of the Elizabeth River’s southern branch. His friend, Col. William Crawford, had earlier established a town north of Sprowle’s settlement that he named Portsmouth. Sprowle, in turn, decided to name his

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1917 - 2017

ABOVE: A sketch of the ironclad CSS Virginia (ex-USS Merrimack) being rebuilt in the Gosport Navy Yard’s Drydock No. 1 after the yard’s seizure by the Confederates early in the Civil War. RIGHT: Officers standing on the deck of the Monitor observe the damage caused to the turret by projectiles fired by CSS Virginia during the

town Gosport, completing local homage to England’s two great naval ports. With its founding in 1767, 31 years before the United States became a nation, the Gosport Shipyard would go on to become the oldest continuous port in North America and the foundation of what would eventually become the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. As Gosport prospered, Sprowle’s wealth and influence in the colony grew. However, that all started crashing down around him in 1775. By 1775, relations between the British government and its 13 colonies on the North American Atlantic coast had deteriorated to the point of rebellion. Shots exchanged in April of that year at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts were bookended with battles at Hampton Roads later that year in what amounted to the most significant naval action to occur in the region during the war. In October 1775, Virginia’s royal governor, Lord Dunmore, ordered British naval forces to crush an outbreak of rebellion at Norfolk. Fighting began at Hampton Creek on Oct. 24 with a British ship bombardment and the landing of troops. Patriot forces led by Col. William Woodford arrived the next day.

Devastating gunfire from his frontier marksmen cleared the decks and rigging of the British ships so effectively that two sloops drifted out of control and were captured. Five other British ships were sunk in the action. Amazingly, not a single rebel soldier was killed or wounded. Dunmore soon found the rebellion in Virginia getting out of control. He evacuated Williamsburg and took refuge in Norfolk.


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Battle of Hampton Roads, March 9, 1862.

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With its large Loyalist population, he was hoping to use it as a base to regain control of the colony. But defeat in the Battle of Great Bridge and subsequent occupation of Norfolk by Woodford’s troops forced Dunmore to abandon the colony. In a parting gesture on Jan. 1, 1776, he ordered his ships to bombard the town. The resultant fire destroyed Norfolk. Dunmore and his fleet then left, ending British rule in Virginia. Sprowle remained loyal to the crown, and the Virginia government confiscated all his land and property. He died while in exile on Gwynn’s Island, Virginia, in May 1776. Now in possession of the shipyards at Hampton Roads, Virginia served the revolution by building the largest navy among the rebelling colonies, with Gosport Shipyard being the largest and most important of the facilities. For three years, the region was untouched by British attack. That dramatically came to an end in 1779. In May 1779, the Royal Navy staged its first raid, attacking the ports of Portsmouth, Norfolk, Gosport, and Suffolk. This

The ruins of Gosport Navy Yard after the Confederates burned the facilities ahead of the arrival of advancing Union forces.

resulted in the capture of vast stores, the destruction of more than 130 vessels, and damage estimated in value at £2 million. Adm. Sir George Collier, who wanted to hold the facilities and make use of them, tried but failed to stop the destruction. Just a few months later, the Battle of the Chesapeake sealed the fate of the British in America. In September 1781, the French navy and Royal Navy clashed in the waters near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. While the battle itself was tactically indecisive, the French fleet managed to keep the British from either reinforcing or evacuating the forces of Lord Cornwallis, who was besieged at Yorktown. It also allowed the French to bring in reinforcements and artillery to continue the siege. Cornwallis’ surrender heralded





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the independence of the 13 colonies, and the United States. In December 1781, Benedict Arnold, now in British service, led another raid on Hampton Roads, going upriver as far as Richmond before finally being driven off, but it changed little. American independence had been secured at sea. Following the successful conclusion of the American Revolution, Virginia and the new United States disbanded its navies and sold its fleets, the government believing them to be too expensive to maintain. American merchant ship construction flourished, however, and soon fleets of fast, well-built ships sailed forth from Hampton Roads and other American ports loaded with profitable cargo and bound for the four corners of the world. The young nation’s focus on its merchant marine at the expense of its Navy quickly exposed it to the harsh truth of realpolitik, first with its ally in the revolution in a dust-up known as the Quasi-War with France, and later, more seriously, with the Barbary States of North Africa. With no American-flagged warships to protect them, and England not interested in supporting the competition with its Royal Navy soon to be fighting French Emperor Napoleon’s fleets, the

Gosport Navy Shipyard built the protected cruiser USS Raleigh, commissioned in 1892, which fired the first shots of the Battle of Manila Bay in the Spanish-American War.

rich American merchant ships entering the Mediterranean Sea were helpless prey for Barbary pirates. Enraged by repeated acts of piracy that confiscated ships and cargo and held crews for humiliating ransom, the American public demanded that its federal government act. On March 27, 1794, Congress passed legislation authorizing construction of six frigates. Contracts were distributed among the major shipyards, with Gosport given the contract to build the Chesapeake, whose keel was laid down in 1795. After many delays, it was commissioned in 1800. Originally designed to carry 44 guns, it went into service armed with 38 cannon. The federal government decided its interests were better served by owning the Gosport Shipyard, and in 1801, it bought it from Virginia. The transition from civilian to military control


Secretary of the Navy George von Lengerke Meyer with Claudia Lyon, daughter of Texas Republican leader Cecil Lyon, at the launching ceremony of USS Texas (BB 35), May 18, 1912, at Newport News, Virginia. Texas was built by the Chesapeake Dry Dock and

became the flagship of the U.S. Navy’s fleet in the Mediterranean and eventually protected American merchantmen transiting the South American coast before being decommissioned in 1844. When the American Civil War broke out, the Delaware lay in ordinary at Gosport and was among the ships burned when federal forces evacuated. Before the U.S. Naval Academy was established at Annapolis, Gosport served as a training center for midshipmen. In addition, it served as the main supply base for other naval bases, providing them with timber, cordage, and other naval stores. The most significant development at Gosport in the pre-Civil War years was the construction of its first drydock. Construction of Drydock No. 1 began in 1827. Made of Massachusetts granite and at the unprecedented cost of almost $1 million, it was an immense source of local and national pride, celebrated as a naval coming-of-age event for the nation when it went into service in 1834. Appropriately, the first ship to use it was the Delaware. Less celebrated was Norfolk’s role as a port of embarkation during the American Colonization Society’s short-lived attempt to “repatriate” free blacks and free slaves as colonists in Liberia, Africa. South Carolina’s secession from the United States in 1861 made it more a question of “when” rather than “if” Virginia would join the new Confederate States of America. In jeopardy was the U.S. Army arsenal at Harper’s Ferry and the Gosport Navy Yard. Of the two, Gosport was the real prize. It was the nation’s premier naval base and largest shipbuilding and repair facility in the South. When the Virginia legislature passed its ordinance of secession on April 17, 1861, there were 1,200 cannon and 10 ships at Gosport, including the modern 40-gun steam frigate Merrimack. Commodore Charles McCauley was the 68-year-old commander of Gosport. When he heard that Virginia militiamen were advancing to seize Gosport, he panicked, ordering facilities burned, ships scuttled, and cannon spiked. Attempts to do so were haphazard and bungled, with most buildings, including Drydock No. 1, as well as the cannon remaining intact. The partially scuttled Merrimack was raised, repaired, and rebuilt in the drydock, renamed, and returned to sea. On March 8, 1861, while on a test run, the former Merrimack entered the history books as the ironclad CSS Virginia in the Battle of Hampton Roads. It attacked and sank the wooden-hulled USS Cumberland and USS Congress and caused the USS Minnesota to run aground. In doing so, it delivered the

commenced with the construction of barracks, magazines, a commandant’s house, and other structures. Post-Revolutionary War tensions with England finally exploded into war in 1812. Though it eventually emerged victorious, the War of 1812 was predominantly a military disaster for the United States. One of the few bright spots was the Battle of Craney Island in 1813. In early 1813, the commanders of the British fleet blockading Chesapeake Bay organized an attack of the Gosport Shipyard, intending to capture the frigate Constellation. British troops planned to strike from the north, through Craney Island. Despite being outnumbered by more than 2 to 1, Virginia militia led by Brig. Gen. Robert Taylor successfully drove off the British forces, inflicting heavy losses and saving the Navy yard. Expansion and improvement of the shipyard surged after the War of 1812. In 1817, Gosport laid the keel of its first ship of the line, the 74-gun USS Delaware. Launched in 1820, she later


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Construction Company, now known as Newport News Shipbuilding.

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U.S. Navy the worst defeat in its 86-year history, one not to be surpassed until Dec. 7, 1941. The next day the Virginia added another historic chapter when it went into battle against the ironclad USS Monitor. The two ironclads traded shot for shot, with neither able to sink the other before retiring. The fact that the second day’s engagement at Hampton Roads ended in a draw is insignificant compared to the impact of what happened on March 9. When those two ironclads squared off, their action announced to the world that wooden-hulled naval fleets were obsolete. The revolution in naval warfare that had begun with the implementation of steam power on warships was now complete. As the London Times commented, despite the Royal Navy having 149 firstclass warships, “There is not now a ship in the English navy apart from [two experimental ironclads] that it would not be madness to trust to an engagement with that little Monitor.” On May 10, 1862, it was the Confederacy’s turn to put Gosport to the torch, doing so ahead of approaching federal forces.

Virginia-class battleships of the Great White Fleet in Hampton Roads before departing for the cruise around the world.

The years following the end of the Civil War saw a precipitous decline of the U.S. Navy and of the Gosport Shipyard. In 1865, with 471 ships on its roster, the U.S. Navy was one of the world’s largest. Within a decade, it was one of the world’s smallest. Despite their obsolescence, budget-minded Congress favored wooden-hulled sailing warships over steam-powered steel-hulled ones because they were cheaper to operate and maintain. The few monitors left in service were kept in drydock for lengthy repairs primarily to give shipyards something to do. In the late 1880s, the Navy embarked on a modernization program following Congress’s authorization of construction of three steel cruisers. More orders soon followed and this rapid expansion of the fleet caused the Chesapeake Dry Dock and




The The Shape Shape ofof Free Fr

AsAs America’s America’s largest largest military military shipbuilding shipbuilding company company and and aa provider provider ofof professional professional services services toto partners partners infreedom in government government and and the the shape shape ofemploys offreedom industry, industry, Huntington Huntington Ingalls Ingalls Industries Industries employs nearly nearly 37,000 37,000 people people operating operating both both domestically domestically and and internationally. internationally. From From top top left:left: Helen Helen Gault, Gault, Non-destructive Non-destructive TestTest Inspector, Inspector, Newport Newport News News Shipbuilding, Shipbuilding, Newport Newport News, News, VA; VA; Ali Harkous, Ali Harkous, Surface Surface PMOPMO Manager, Manager, Technical Technical Solutions, Solutions, SanSan Diego, Diego, CA; CA; Dianna Dianna Genton, Genton, Naval Naval Architect, Architect, Ingalls Ingalls Shipbuilding, Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Pascagoula, MS;MS; W.T.W.T. Williams, Williams, Project Project Engineer, Engineer, Ingalls Ingalls Shipbuilding, Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Pascagoula, MS;MS; Proteus Proteus DiveDive Team Team Engineers: Engineers: Josh Josh Hill,Hill, KarlKarl Lindman, Lindman, Chloe Chloe Mallet, Mallet, David David Farris, Farris, Technical Technical Solutions, Solutions, Panama Panama CityCity Beach, Beach, FL FL

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USS Kearsarge (BB 5) bedecked with flags. Part of the Great White Fleet, Kearsarge was built by the company that would become New-

Picture of Library credit Congress photo

port News Shipbuilding.

In 1907, two events occurred that would have important impact on the future of the U.S. Navy, one immediate and the other delayed. The one with delayed impact was the Jamestown Exposition, a World’s Fair that celebrated the 300th anniversary of the colony’s founding. The immediate impact event was the globe-spanning voyage of the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic Squadron, better known as the Great White Fleet. President Theodore Roosevelt, a former assistant secretary of the Navy and long a staunch advocate of American naval power, wanted to flex the nation’s new naval muscle on the world stage and he picked the powerful Atlantic Fleet to do it. The Great White Fleet, so-named because of the ships’ distinctive paint scheme, was composed of 16 battleships and their escorts and support ships. Its official purpose was a goodwill tour. The itinerary of its ports of call sent another message: that the United States was now a peer among the world naval powers. The Great White Fleet embarked with great fanfare from Hampton Roads on Dec. 16, 1907. It returned to the country about six months later, arriving at San Francisco on May 6, 1908, a great success for the Navy and the nation. Unfortunately for its promoters, the Jamestown Exposition, despite extensive publicity, was a failure. The exhibition lost money – less than half the projected 6 million people attended. Within a month of closing in November, the company declared bankruptcy. Senior naval officers who had visited the exhibition agreed, however, that the location, together with an infrastructure largely in place, would make an ideal naval facility – and thanks to the bankruptcy, a site that could be had for pennies on the dollar. The admirals succeeded in convincing Congress to appropriate $1 million in 1908 that could be used to purchase exhibition land and buildings. Instead, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy determined that the money was better spent on a new collier. Virtually overnight, what had been a center of national attention in 1907 was, in 1908, an abandoned backwater that would languish unused and undeveloped for almost 10 years. War changed all that. On April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I on the side of the Allies. Suddenly the all-but-forgotten site again became a much-desired property for the Navy. On June 28, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson authorized the Navy to spend $2.8 million to purchase 474 acres on Sewell’s Point and begin construction of what eventually would become the largest naval base in the world: the Naval Station Norfolk.

Construction Company to join Gosport as a shipyard serving the Navy. Founded in 1886 at Newport News, Virginia, it received orders to build pre-dreadnaught battleships Kearsarge, Virginia, Minnesota, Kentucky, Louisiana, and the Maine-class battleship Missouri. In 1904, Chesapeake Dry Dock and Construction received its first submarine contract from the Navy. Based on the design of Simon Lake, the main submarine competitor to John Holland, the USS G1, later christened the USS Seal (SS-19½), was commissioned in 1912. The shipyard would receive orders for seven more submarines before shifting production to surface warships. It would not return to submarine production until World War II. Now known as Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, it is the U.S. Navy’s sole contractor for its nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, and one of two contractors providing nuclear-powered submarines. In 1889, Gosport received orders to build the protected cruiser USS Raleigh, commissioned in 1892, and the second-class battleship USS Texas, the navy’s first battleship, commissioned in 1895. Both would see action in the Spanish-American War in 1898, with the Raleigh being credited with firing the first shot in the Battle of Manila Bay and the Texas instrumental in defeating the Spanish fleet in Cuba.


1917 - 2017



Norfolk Naval Yard,” said Greg Hansard, of the Virginia Historical Society. Whar would become Naval Station Norfolk was on its way to becoming the world’s most important naval base.

ften in life we’re so close to our own affairs, so liable to taking for granted the people and things around us, that it takes someone else – perhaps an acquaintance, perhaps a stranger – to highlight the obvious. Something like that happened in April 1915 at the corner of City Hall Avenue and Granby Street in the Monticello Hotel. There, Korvettenkapitän Max T. Thierichens of the Imperial German Navy was the guest of Norfolk Collector of Customs Norman R. Hamilton and a number of prominent businessmen from around the United States. Thierichens hadn’t planned on visiting the Monticello Hotel. His ship and crew were interned at Norfolk Navy Yard. The Prinz Eitel Friedrich was an ocean liner that the Germans had converted to an armed commerce raider after World War I began. From August 1914 to March 1915, she succeeded in sinking 11 merchant ships, including an American vessel, before being forced into neutral American waters at Newport News by British cruisers and dwindling fuel. As unwitting guests of the still-neutral United States, Thierichens and his crew observed many things about Hampton Roads, among them the features of the place at which they were forced to moor. At the Monticello, Thierichens told the assembled dignitaries, including New York Congressman Homer P. Snyder, of the unmistakable importance of the Norfolk Navy Yard to American national interests. The geography of Hampton Roads was strategically vital, he observed. “You have such a magnificent harbor here.” In so saying, the German captain articulated aloud what many in southeastern Virginia and in Washington, D.C., had long known but had not translated to reality. Hampton Roads and Norfolk Navy Yard could become the linchpin of American naval and national power in the coming century. “Upon Congressman Snyder’s departure from Norfolk, he explained that he would go back to Congress and push for both the improvement of the local harbor and the betterment of the

PRIME PROPERTY As far back as 1806, the geography of Hampton Roads had been recognized as ideally suited to maritime power and commerce. Post-Revolutionary War naval hero Commodore Stephen Decatur commanded a squadron of gunboats on the Chesapeake Bay at the time. He was also courting the beautiful debutante Susan Wheeler, daughter of Luke Wheeler, the mayor of Norfolk. When not wooing his future wife, Decatur toured the Hampton Roads region with an eye toward recommending certain areas to the Navy for development. Joe Judge, curator of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum (HRNM), says Decatur put his finger on the prime property that would become Norfolk Naval Station. “He had a map drawn which [highlighted] Sewell’s Point as an area for development,” Judge said. A century later, Sewell’s Point had yet to become a hotbed of development, but the greater Norfolk community was pushing for it, ironically, by looking back. The 300th anniversary of the landing at Jamestown, establishing the first English settlement in the United States, was at hand, and Norfolk’s community and business leaders sought to use it to promote the city and the region by holding a sort of World’s Fair to recognize Jamestown’s tricentennial. It was called the Jamestown Exposition. The exposition placed buildings from 21 states on the grounds at Sewell’s, each offering specific exhibits on the history and industry of the state in question, serving as a state embassy of sorts. The state houses were joined by exhibits and activities ranging from a relief model of the Panama Canal and a Wild West show to a re-creation of the clash between


ABOVE: Warships of the Great White Fleet salute President Theodore Roosevelt, on board the presidential yacht Mayflower (center right). The fleet sailed from Hampton Roads on Dec. 16, 1907, after being reviewed by Roosevelt. LEFT: The Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Missouri, and Ohio State Buildings depicted during the Jamestown Exposition of 1907. While the exposition was in some respects a failure, the buildings themselves and the property on which they were erected later became the core of Naval Operating

Library of Congress

Base Hampton Roads.

the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (ex-Merrimack) at the Battle of Hampton Roads. Perhaps the most important aspect of the exposition was the infrastructure it brought to the previously isolated Sewell’s Point, linking it to greater Norfolk via new roads, streetcar lines, and rail. Simultaneously, President Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet had gotten underway with ships from Philadelphia, Boston, Brooklyn, and other east coast Navy yards rendezvousing in Hampton Roads for review by the president before setting off on a world-girdling 14-month cruise. The attention drawn to Hampton Roads and Sewell’s Point, from whence the last

exposition attendees looked on, was reciprocated by the fleet, many of whose best senior and junior officers rode aboard the 16 white warships. But for all the combined attention – the crowds, the media, the visiting president – the Jamestown Exposition failed to achieve its aims. Financially, it was a bust, and after it closed in December 1907, efforts to develop the site commercially failed. Norfolk leaders shifted their gaze to the


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U.S. Navy photo

ABOVE: The “wooden battleship” USS Electrician at Naval Operating Base Hampton Roads, in 1921, with a class of freshly graduated Navy electricians posing in front. The school at NOB Hampton Roads built a 3/4-scale model of a Pennsylvania-class battleship out of wood to help meet the exploding demand for electricians in Library of Congress

a modernizing U.S. Navy. LEFT: Sailors stand at attention for the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner” at Naval Training Station, Hampton Roads, 1918-19.

it. The story goes that the appropriations committee chairman told Assistant Secretary of the Navy Truman Newberry that it would fund only one of two projects: purchase of the Jamestown Exposition property or purchase of a new collier. Newberry chose the collier.

institution that had brought the Great White Fleet there, calling on the Navy. Theodore Wool, Norfolk attorney and general counsel to the Jamestown Exposition Company, enthusiastically advocated for the Navy taking over Sewell’s Point, even authoring a pamphlet entitled “Reasons.” Therein he enumerated the points that would make Norfolk an ideal naval base, citing the deep, typically ice-free anchorages of the Chesapeake and Willoughby bays, the availability of adjacent land for expansion, and the rail and maritime transport infrastructure that the exposition had inspired. Congress heard Wool’s arguments, and introduced a bill in 1908 to appropriate $1 million for the purchase of the old Jamestown Exposition property. However, the bill never made

THE GREAT WAR AND GREAT EXPANSION As the “war to end all wars” sparked off in 1914, Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels reflected on the disposition of America’s fleet. Daniels hailed from North Carolina, and as Judge points out, he had long known “that a naval station at Sewell’s Point would be beneficial to eastern North Carolina.”




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ABOVE: USS New York leads other ships of the battlefleet in the waters of Hampton Roads, 1917. World War I saw the Naval Operating Base grow at high speed. RIGHT: Twenty years after World War I, the battle line was being supplanted by the aircraft carrier. Here, USS Yorktown (CV 5) is tied up at Pier 7, Naval Operating Base Norfolk, Virginia, during her commissioning on Sept. 30, 1937. The destroyer

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command photo

Library of Congress

USS Jacob Jones (DD 130) is on the opposite side of the pier.

But the political will to create a naval station was not yet there, as Daniels told Wool in a 1915 letter: “The desirability of this tract of land for a naval training station and other purposes connected with the Navy is unquestioned, but at this time there are so many more pressing needs. …” That changed abruptly with the United States’ entry into the war in April 1917. A naval base at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay was now viewed as essential. Secretary Daniels requested that Congress appropriate $1.2 million to acquire the land at Sewell’s Point, along with an additional $1.6 million to fund development of Naval Operating Base Hampton Roads. President Woodrow Wilson signed the speedily approved appropriations bill in June, allowing the Navy to purchase 474 acres that would be the core of the nation’s most important naval installation. Naval Operating Base Hampton Roads (or NOB Hampton Roads, also referred to as Naval Operating Base Norfolk) would serve as an operational base, hosting the Fifth Naval Headquarters. It would have its own naval air detachment and it would also be an induction and training center. “The impulse for the Naval Station was training, first and foremost,” Judge said. “It’s always had four main

functions: training, air operations, a submarine base, and supply.” While construction at Sewell’s Point began, a wave of naval recruits was already overwhelming nearby training camp St. Helena. Founded in 1908 in the Berkley section of Norfolk, it had gone from an intended population of 500 men in small buildings to a veritable tent city of several thousand by the summer of 1917. As soon as the Naval Operating Base became functional in October 1917, it began to take over induction of recruits from St. Helena, training some 17,000 new sailors in its first six months. The influx of recruits not only created a wave of activity at the NOB, it also created illness. The lethal Spanish Flu hit Sewell’s Point in September 1918, taking the lives of 175 sailors. Mumps and measles were persistent problems as well. None of it slowed ongoing construction on the base. In addition to an expansion of and improvements to the anchorage for Navy vessels, training schools for everything from


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LEFT: On the eve of America’s entry into World War II, the Atlantic Fleet aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV 4) hoists aboard Grumman F4F Wildcats and a Grumman J2F-5 from the pier at Naval Operating Base Norfolk, Sept. 20, 1941. ABOVE:

National Archives

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command photo

Destroyers alongside one of Naval Operating Base Norfolk’s

radio communication to medical service were stood up. The Navy constructed a wooden battleship on the grounds, the USS Electrician, a classroom facility for training electricians with all the features of a Pennsylvania-class battleship – the most advanced battleship class in the fleet. Within a month of commencing construction, the Navy built barracks, utilities, mess halls, and road systems for 7,500 men. By November 1918, more than 34,000 enlisted men were aboard the NOB. And the new operating base was indeed operational, its ships securing the waters of Hampton Roads and the Atlantic coast via regular patrols. By August 1918, the newly designated naval air station located at Sewell’s Point alongside the rest of the base sent up daily air patrols to watch for enemy surface vessels, especially submarines. A dirigible and balloon school, a flight school, and a school for mechanics all operated on the air station. Securing the waters from U-boat predation took on heightened importance as Hampton Roads complemented New York as one of only two U.S. locations for gathering convoys of supply and troopships headed to the European theater. The Naval Operating Base faced other challenges, including shortages of labor, friction with the greater Norfolk community over housing, control of fresh water, and the value of the property it occupied. Additional purchases of adjacent land for the air station and the reclamation of more land, via 8 million cubic yards of dredging and filling, made it an enormous landholder. “The main property disputes with Sewell’s Point and the Navy came from the original land owners of the Jamestown Exposition sites,” Hampton Roads Naval Museum’s curator acknowledged. “Theodore Wool represented them. The Navy allocated $1.6 million to buy the land, and this particular group

piers during the spring or early summer of 1943. They are (from left to right) USS Edison (DD 439), USS Schroeder (DD 501), USS Spence (DD 512), and USS Foote (DD 511).

of landowners of course came up with a figure that was a lot more than that [Wool had asked for $3 million]. This dragged on into the 1930s. It was finally resolved that they were going to get what the Navy offered. The big land purchases for the air station were on what we’d call wetlands today, not really inhabited by anybody.” Nonetheless, what emerged from the war effort of 1917-18 was the world’s most extensive naval base, surrounded by complementary installations, from Newport News Shipbuilding and the Norfolk Naval Shipyard to the Portsmouth Naval Hospital, Fort Monroe, and Langley Field. There was enormous momentum. And then it ebbed. A RECEDING TIDE On Aug. 23, 1933, the great Chesapeake-Potomac hurricane set a record high tide for the Hampton Roads area, cresting 9.69 feet above mean low water. It was a literal “high water mark” for the NOB, which the hurricane swamped. But for more than a decade, the tide of activity at the naval base had been out. “The same things were going on at the base, there were just less ships and less airplanes,” Judge said. By mid-1919, Navy manpower had fallen to less than half its wartime highs. The following year, Congress cut


U.S. Navy submarines at Naval Station Norfolk, in the 1950s, alongside the submarine tender USS Orion (AS 18). The submarines appear to be (from rear): USS Sailfish (SSR 572), USS Cutlass (SS 478), USS Runner (SS 476), USS Cobbler (SS 344), USS Argonaut (SS 475), unidentified, USS Requin (SSR 481), and USS Barbero (SSG 317).

crewmember, Master Sgt. Harry A. Chapman, was thrown clear of the airship but rushed back into the flames, cutting through the aircraft’s silken bag to rescue eight other crewmen. Thirty-four of the crew perished. The early 1920s saw the battleships Virginia (BB 13), Alabama (BB 8), and New Jersey (BB 16) used as target ships for Gen. Billy Mitchell’s bombing tests. The ships, which had sailed past Sewell’s Point as part of the Great White Fleet and sallied from Hampton Roads for operational and training cruises prior to and during World War I, were the first to receive the melancholy message that their day was over. The 1921-23 tests proved that bombers could sink such ships, heralding the end of the preeminence of the dreadnought. The Navy’s annual Fleet Problem exercises, conducted between 1923 and 1940, incorporated ships, aircraft, and men from the NOB, though most of the interwar period saw much diminished training. By 1927, the 12 service schools training new recruits at the base trained just 560 recruits despite having triple that capacity. But the quietude that characterized operations in the 1920s and early 1930s wouldn’t last. The gathering clouds of another war saw construction and manpower begin to increase again in the late ’30s. The naval base’s classical headquarters, building K-BB, the galley, and many barracks were built. April 1939 saw a serious test of the NOB when it refueled, restocked, and returned to service 25 ships in one week. This test was prelude to the arrival of approximately 100 ships converging on Norfolk at the time. Battleships, carriers, and more were gathering to fight again in Europe and in the Pacific.

naval appropriations by 20 percent. The terms of the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty mandated significant cuts in naval strength, with many ships being retired or transferred out of the fleet. Aircraft carriers authorized and put under construction during the war could not be sufficiently manned, such was the drawdown. While maritime activity slowed significantly, the naval air detachment stayed somewhat busier, with lighter-than-air offshore patrols continuing to 1924. In July 1921, the detachment was redesignated, under the command of Capt. S.H.R. Doyle, as Naval Air Station Norfolk. The naval air station was under pressure, nevertheless, with pending closure of its Assembly and Repair Department (forerunner of the former Naval Air Depot) successfully countered by its civilian staff and the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce. Though funding dried up for the NOB as a whole, a 1923 study of naval capacity ordered by the Secretary of the Navy concluded that Hampton Roads met the service’s requirements better than other shore establishments. So, open it stayed, and in the news. In February 1922, an Italian-built airship called the Roma, operated by the Army’s 19th Airship Company, alighted from Langley Field in a trip across Hampton Roads. Over the NOB, the hydrogen-filled Roma began to collapse, igniting and exploding at what is now Norfolk International Terminals. One

The sense of inertia at Naval Operating Base Hampton Roads and a sense of strain with the greater Norfolk community of the interwar years had begun to change as investment began to flow back to the NOB in the late 1930s. “It didn’t take long for people in the city to realize that the economic impact of this was going to be much more beneficial than haggling about property or labor,” Judge observed. “Plus, I think that people could sense that the war was coming.” The base saw not only new buildings erected, but the construction of three new 1,000-foot piers, new runways, hangars,


U.S. Navy photo


LEFT: The U.S. Navy cruisers USS Boston (CAG 1), left, and USS Newport News (CA 148) at Naval Station Norfolk, circa 1966. ABOVE: USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (R 09) tied up at piers at Naval Station Norfolk

U.S. Navy photos

in August 1978.

priation for the housing, and went on to become the father of the Seabees as well. “It’s odd,” Judge remarked. “These problems of transportation, labor, and housing occurred in World War I and they occurred in almost the same fashion in World War II.” Still more development was needed. Planners in Washington determined the NOB must have sufficient facilities to operate five aircraft carrier air groups, seven to nine patrol squadrons, the fighter director school, and the Atlantic Fleet operational training program for 200 pilots prior to their fleet assignment. Such capacity required more people, and by June 1941, 10,000 new recruits gathered at the Naval Training Station. There were 15,559 officers and enlisted on the base, and 14,426 sailors assigned to ships homeported in Norfolk. The attack on Pearl Harbor spurred additional growth of the receiving station, a plan to double existing hospital capacity, and construction of a new auditorium and athletic facilities. NOB Norfolk played a vital part in curbing the effectiveness of the U-boat threat and in eventually eliminating it. Ships and aircraft patrolled the East Coast and the entrance to the Chesapeake and provided escorts for coastal convoys. Training continued to be a vital activity, but in December 1942, basic training was discontinued in favor of focusing on advanced training for men going directly to the fleet.

and ramps. In December 1939, the Navy had more than $4 million in projects underway. By the following summer, 8,000 personnel were at work on the base, returning employment there to a level not seen since the end of World War I. A board led by Adm. Arthur J. Hepburn recommended doubling the size of the NOB to Congress in 1940. With aviation activity at Chambers and West Fields encroaching on the training and supply functions of Naval Base Norfolk, it was decided to expand to the east. That expansion took in East Camp, a 1,000-acre tract between the east side of the naval station and Granby Street, which had been sold by the Army at the end of World War I. Congress authorized its repurchase in early 1940 as well as funding for its development, which would grow to more than $72 million. With it, the new expansion brought thousands of sailors and civilians who needed services, and especially housing. The shortage was alleviated in early 1941 when 1,300 apartments opened off of Hampton Boulevard. The complex was called Moreell Housing after Adm. Ben Moreell, commander of the Navy Bureau of Yards and Docks. Moreell secured the appro-


Congratulations, Naval Station Norfolk! University of Maryland University College (UMUC) would like to congratulate the men and women of Naval Station Norfolk on the base’s 100th anniversary. You inspire us with your commitment, dedication and service to our great nation—today and every day. UMUC is proud to have served the higher education needs of our servicemembers and veterans since 1947. Today, we continue that tradition at more than 140 classroom and service locations throughout the world, including at military installations in the Hampton Roads area. At UMUC, serving the military is in our DNA.

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While Much Has Changed in the Past Century,

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LEFT: Naval Station Norfolk destroyer and submarine piers 22 and 23. The submarine tenders USS Emory S. Land (AS 39), center, and USS L. Y. Spear (AS 36), right, with a group of subs, dominate the view. The destroyer tender USS Shenandoah (AD 44) is prominent among the ships at the left. RIGHT: U.S. Navy guided missile destroyers (from left to right) USS Coontz (DDG 40), USS King (DDG 41), and USS Farragut (DDG 37) docked at the destroyer and submarine piers of Naval Station Norfolk in 1988. In the background are the guided missile cruiser USS Ticonderoga (CG 47) and

U.S. Navy photos

the masts of various other ships.

counterpoint to the work of war and drew even more attention to Norfolk. That attention would not fade after America prevailed in World War II.

Training was particularly important for the expanded naval air station, which furnished combat-ready carrier air groups, patrol squadrons, and battleship and cruiser aviation units for both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. British, French, and Russian pilots trained there as well. In the two years from 1943 to the war’s end, 326 aviation units trained at NAS Norfolk, including most all of the Navy squadrons to see combat. But NOB Norfolk could boast of more than just Atlantic Fleet operations and training – it was home to the best baseball in the country. The advent of war halted the World Series after 1941 and stripped Major League Baseball of its star players as they enlisted in the military. Many of the best, including Cleveland Indians pitcher Bob Feller, Fred Hutchinson of the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees’ Phil Rizutto, and many more came to Norfolk Naval Training Station aboard the NOB to play for the NTS Bluejackets, better known as “NTS Nine.” Still more played for the Naval Air Station team, the NAS Flyers. Though its games were off limits to the public, NTS Nine became a sensation, drawing sellout crowds of sailors to the NOB’s McClure Field stadium to watch the stars play. The team beat almost everybody, including MLB teams like the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Senators, whom they played in a 1943 war bond game in Washington, D.C. Baseball provided a

THE NAVY’S CAPITAL While other U.S. naval stations may certainly quibble, it’s nonetheless true that in the years since World War II many have referred to Naval Station Norfolk as “the Navy’s Capital.” While the Navy as a whole didn’t experience the contraction that befell it after World War I, due to the rise of American global influence and the Cold War, the naval station at Sewell’s Point remained intensely active, and even expanded further. Among the most meaningful changes in the postwar period was the arrival of the headquarters of the Atlantic Fleet. Previously, Atlantic Fleet headquarters had been afloat aboard ships – from the Victorian-era wooden frigate USS Constellation to the USS Vixen (PG 53) and USS Pocono (AGC 16). In 1948, the headquarters moved into the former naval hospital on base and has remained there ever since. In January 1953, Naval Operating Base Norfolk was renamed Naval Station Norfolk (NSN) as part of a Navy effort to standardize base names. While these organizational changes were underway,


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force. The most significant modern structural change came to Norfolk in 1999 with the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process that merged the separate Naval Station and Naval Air Station into a single installation, redesignating the former NAS as Chambers Field. BRAC also stipulated closure of the base’s main industrial activity, Naval Aviation Depot Norfolk (NADEP), which employed thousands of civilians and occupied more than 170 acres of the NAS. Until that time, the commander of Naval Station Norfolk had been a figurative “Navy’s mayor,” but with the end of the Navy’s district system (NSN was part of the Fifth Naval District), the role of the base commander changed, Judge acknowledged. “At the same time that BRAC was closing NADEP, the Navy decided to reorganize, and the Commander Naval Base became the Commander of the Navy Region, Mid-Atlantic,” Judge said. “But old-timers still refer to it as COM FIVE.” Today, Naval Station Norfolk remains a foundational installation for the Navy. Some of the most visible changes to the base have come in the form of increased security in the wake of 9/11 and the War on Terrorism. With tighter security on-base, parking has emerged as a seminal contemporary problem. But if you walk out to the end of one of the piers at Sewell’s Point, you can still feel the weight of history. You can sense the passage of some of the most notable names in naval annals, from Admirals Albert Dillingham, Ernest J. King, and Patrick Bellinger, to Marc Mitscher, Hyman Rickover, and many more. And if you look across Hampton Roads, you can see that it is still a magnificent harbor.

The aircraft carriers USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), USS Enterprise (CVN 65), USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in port at

U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Ryan J. Courtade

Naval Station Norfolk, along with four amphibious assault ships.

structural social change arrived in 1948-49 with racial integration of the military following President Harry S Truman’s directive. Integration wouldn’t fully take hold until the 1960s, by which time ships and aircraft operating from the naval station were operating off the coast of Vietnam at Yankee and Dixie Stations. Units from NSN have participated in nearly every conflict since World War II, and its global influence was further solidified by the establishment of NATO headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) aboard the station in 1952. SACLANT was reorganized after NATO’s restructuring in 2003 to Allied Command Transformation, which remains headquartered just north of Terminal Boulevard on the southern end of the base. The Atlantic Fleet continues as United States Fleet Forces Command (USFLTFORCOM) at Norfolk, which is likewise home to the Norfolk Field Office of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). The station also hosts personnel from the Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard, and supports a variety of joint missions. Change has been a constant, from the end of the draft in the early 1970s to the increasing role of women in the volunteer


1917 - 2017


Audience members listen to remarks during the commissioning ceremony for the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. Ship commissionings are among the most visible activities undertaken by the Navy League.


U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric S. Garst


any Navy League councils get involved in commissioning ships, especially in namesake cities and states. Because of its proximity to the Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipyard and Norfolk Naval Station, the Hampton Roads Council is especially experienced in helping make the commissioning a special event. “This is our 25th commissioning,” said Maryellen Baldwin, president and chief executive officer of the Hampton Roads Council of the Navy League of the United States (NLUS). Baldwin said the Navy League is in a unique position to help with events such as the upcoming commissioning of the Gerald R. Ford. The Navy League has a long history of supporting commissionings of Navy ships. The Hampton Roads Council is one of 200 Navy League councils in the United States, with another 26 councils overseas. The Navy League has been able to raise a considerable amount of funding – more than $6 million – to help make enhancements to quality-of-life programs on the ship. One example is that, working with the Navy Exchange System’s Ships Store Office and the ship’s supply department,


See the sights before you even leave your room We’re not named Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel for nothing. No other hotel in this great, longtime Navy town sits directly on the water, offering sweeping views of the Elizabeth River. Whether you’re in town for a vacation, reunion, family event or a business meeting, our location and amenities will make your stay a success. And downtown Norfolk, with diverse shopping, dining, entertainment and culture is all around us. You’re not just in the middle of it all here, you’re right on the water, too.

Congratulations on 100 years. Navy Proud.


U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Elliott Fabrizio

the Navy League helped the ship obtain a Starbucks® coffee shop on the ship. Taxpayer dollars do not fund the ship enhancements or activities surrounding ship commissioning ceremonies. They are funded through contributions from individuals and corporations. One of the enhancements is the “Tribute Room,” which will honor Ford’s life of service, and can be used by the ship for ceremonies and to welcome distinguished visitors. Artifacts from his life will be on display in the Tribute Room, from his youth as an Eagle Scout and college football player to his days in the House of Representatives, as vice president, and ultimately as president of the United States. “President Ford was a man of integrity,” said Baldwin. “Hence the ship’s motto: ‘Integrity at the Helm.’ “President Ford lived his life with core values that he learned at an early age, and that guided him through his life,” she said. “The Tribute Room exemplifies his legacy to the crew, many of whom were not even born when he was president.” The Tribute Room will also recognize the president’s wife, Betty Ford. “They were quite the leadership team,” Baldwin said. Representing the family legacy today is daughter Susan Ford Bales, who is the ship’s sponsor.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson delivers remarks at a Cohen Group breakfast event during the 2017 Sea-Air-Space Exposition. The Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition was founded in 1965 as a means to bring the U.S. defense industrial base, U.S. private-sector companies, and key military decision-makers together for an annual innovative, educational, professional, and maritime-based event.


events, Navy and Marine Corps birthday celebrations, the Navy Warrior Games, and contributing to scholarship funds such as the Dolphin Scholarship, Anchor Scholarship, and Wings over America Scholarships that benefit the dependent family members of past and present Navy men and women serving in submarines, surface ships, and naval aviation respectively. The council has also created an endowment in the amount of $125,000 to create a USS Gerald R. Ford Endowed Scholarship Fund. Altogether, the Navy League of the United States has awarded more than $380,000 in college scholarships since 2011 to high school seniors who are children or grandchildren of former members or active members of the sea services, or who are members of the Naval Sea Cadet Corps.

Program officers and scientists from the Office of Naval Research and the Naval Research Laboratory prepare for the opening of the 2017 Sea-Air-Space Exposition. Sea-Air-Space is the largest maritime exposition in the United States and continues to be an invaluable extension of the Navy League’s mission of maritime policy education and sea service support.

SERVING THE NAVY COMMUNITY The Hampton Roads Council has many ongoing programs, investing in the success of the annual Sailor of the Year


U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Donnelly

The Navy League at the national level and in councils like Hampton Roads also supports youth programs, such as the Naval Sea Cadet Corps, Navy Junior ROTC, Scout units, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs. Baldwin said that Navy League members regularly meet with representatives in the Congress to explain the importance of the sea services for the peace and prosperity of the nation, and how they impact U.S. national security and the global economy. Altogether, Navy Leaguers have met with more than 28 members of Congress and have sent more than 10,000 emails to Congress so far in 2017. “As a membership-based organization, the more members we have, the greater the voice we have on Capitol Hill,” Baldwin said.

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Tinisha Franklin, stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), is awarded by Adm. Philip Davidson, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, as the Fleet Sea Sailor of the Year during an announcement ceremony hosted by the Hampton Roads Navy League.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT The Navy and the military are a huge part of the local community and economy. The Navy Region Mid-Atlantic (NRMA) fiscal year (FY) 2015 “Economic Impact Report” for the Hampton Roads area tabulates manpower and pay-


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on the Hampton Roads area was approximately $10.75 billion in 2015. The Navy is very supportive of its host communities in the Hampton Roads area, and the communities are supportive of the Navy, said retired Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, director of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance. Hampton Roads has a large footprint for all of the armed services, including the largest concentration of Coast Guard men and women anywhere. The area was named one of eight 2017 “Great American Defense Communities” by the Association of Defense Communities (ADC). Hampton Roads was recognized because of the tremendous support it provides to military-connected children. “Through innovative school programs and community-based support organizations, Hampton Roads exemplifies what it means to be a Great American Defense Community.” “The Navy League is the central actor in all things involving the sea services in the region,” Quigley said. A common misconception is that the Navy League mainly raises money for commissioning events. “They certainly do that,” Quigley said, “but are so much more.”

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson poses for a photo with fellow 1982 graduates of the United States Naval Academy

Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Nathan Laird

during a dinner hosted by the Navy League.

roll data on all active-duty and Reserve Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, and U.S. Coast Guard personnel assigned to NRMA installations located in Hampton Roads. The report captures the amount of direct capital infused into the local economies as a result of salaries, expenditures, and contractual payment for services rendered in support of installation activities. Manpower and payroll data are also collected for civilian personnel as well as civilian contractors working at installations located in the Hampton Roads area. The report states that there is a military-related population of 187,289 in the area, including active duty, retirees, Department of Defense civilian, and non-appropriated-fund employees and contractors (but not dependents). The Navy’s direct economic impact


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“Eugene B. Ely’s successful flight in a biplane … from the deck of the scout cruiser Birmingham through a fog five miles to shore will have the effect, it is said here today, of interesting the Secretary of the Navy in the aircraft as a valuable and practical addition to the Navy.”

Like his rival Thaddeus Lowe, John LaMountain was an experienced balloonist when the American Civil War broke out. When Lowe was made chief aeronaut in the Union Army instead of him, a disappointed LaMountain offered his services to Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler, the commandant of Fort Monroe. On July 31, 1861, LaMountain ascended in his own balloon, the Atlantic, and conducted reconnaissance of Confederate positions along Hampton Roads. The next day he went higher, 3,000 feet, and identified large Confederate forces on the banks of the James River, 8 miles upstream from Newport News Point. Three days later, on Aug. 3, LaMountain again went aloft, this time to do reconnaissance for the Union Navy. His Atlantic was loaded onto the armed steamer Fanny. His mission was to conduct reconnaissance along Sewell’s Point, Craney Island, and Pig Point. After making sure his balloon was secured to the Fanny’s deck, LaMountain went aloft. Upon reaching the height of 2,000 feet, he began taking notes as the Fanny steamed along the assigned route. He made a second aerial reconnaissance from the Fanny on Aug. 10. Though these, and other reports from land-based balloons were acknowledged as valuable, internecine bureaucratic struggles doomed the program, and it was disbanded in 1863. As naval historian and former U.S. Naval Academy professor Craig L. Symonds has puckishly suggested, the Fanny and barge George Washington Parke Custis, which also launched reconnaissance balloons, could be considered the U.S. Navy’s first aircraft carriers. Eleven years would pass from when Ely landed on the Pennsylvania before the U.S. Navy would commission its first purpose-built aircraft carrier. But those intervening years were anything but idle and boring ones for naval aviation, and aviation in general. The technological frontier that the Wright brothers

– The New York Times, Nov. 16, 1910


he Hampton Roads region of Virginia has a long and colorful association with aviation and naval aviation history. When that association actually began is a matter of fun conjecture. If you said Nov. 14, 1910, you wouldn’t be wrong. On that day 24-year-old Eugene Ely flew his rickety 50 horsepower Curtiss Model D pusher biplane off the temporary wooden flight deck of the anchored cruiser Birmingham. Though he almost crashed into the water after clearing the flight deck, he recovered and landed his damaged plane at Willoughby Spit near the Hampton Roads Yacht Club after a flight of about 2.5 miles. The following year in San Francisco Bay, Ely successfully landed an aircraft on the similarly modified cruiser Pennsylvania. But, you also wouldn’t be wrong if you said July 31, 1861, or Aug. 3, 1861. The first refers to an operation in support of the Union Army and the latter in support of the Union Navy. Some explanation is obviously necessary.


ABOVE: Eugene Ely and his flying machine make the first takeoff from the USS Birmingham, Nov. 14, 1910. RIGHT: Ely after landing aboard USS Pennsylvania, with his improvised “Mae West” of

Library of Congress photos

bicycle inner tubes.

made possible in 1903 with the first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, was an exciting and innovative time for aviation engineers and designers, pilots, and spectators. Seizing the moment in the wake of Ely’s success, Curtiss tried to convince the Navy to establish a flight training and aircraft proving station in Norfolk that he would manage. When this was rebuffed, on Nov. 29, 1910, Curtiss wrote to Secretary of the Navy George von Lengerke Meyer and offered to provide pilot training to one naval officer free of charge as a means of “developing the adaptability of the aeroplane to military purposes.” The offer was accepted, and on Dec. 23, 1910, Lt. T. Gordon “Spuds” Ellyson reported to Curtiss’ pilot training camp in San Diego, becoming Naval Aviator No. 1 on April 12, 1911.






ABOVE: Glenn Curtiss, seated in a Curtiss A-1. Seated on the grass in front of the A-1 are (left to right) John Rodgers, John Towers, and Theodore “Spuds” Ellyson. RIGHT: Capt. Washington Irving Chambers, the officer in the Bureau of Navigation assigned to handle aviation matters and under

U.S. Navy photos

whose signature the Navy’s first aircraft requisitions appeared.

While Ellyson worked to earn his wings, the Navy was working to give him a “home.” On Feb. 17, 1911, Glenn Curtiss himself piloted a “hydroplane” (then the popular designation for aircraft that could take off from and land on water) to the Pennsylvania, taxied it alongside the ship’s hull, and was hoisted aboard by crane. The crane then lowered Curtiss and plane back to the water, where Curtiss detached his aircraft and flew off. Senior naval officers had the demonstration they needed to make integration of aviation with surface fleet operations something that could happen sooner rather than later – as seaplanes for use in reconnaissance. On May 8, 1911, Capt. Washington Irving Chambers, possibly naval aviation’s most passionate senior officer advocate and responsible for the nascent program, requisitioned the purchase of two Curtiss pusher floatplanes. On that day, naval aviation was born.


small dollies. When launched from the beachfront into Hampton Roads, the flying boat was pushed by hand along a wooden ramp that extended past the low tide mark. Upon returning, the process was reversed. So many people flocked to see pilots train that the Newport News and Hampton Railway had to add extra trolleys to run from the shipyard to the small boat harbor, and hundreds more crowded the weekend ferries from Norfolk. In late 1916, the Army and the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics purchased a large Hampton tract. Originally named the Aviation Experimental Station and Proving Grounds, after the conclusion of World War I it was transformed and renamed Langley Field, and it became the postwar center of U.S. Army air power. The following year, 1917, marked the establishment of Naval Air Station Norfolk. Navy aviators who completed their flying boat training at Newport News would jump into the cockpits of their Curtiss F-boats and fly across Hampton Roads to their new station. The postwar years saw a decline in people wanting to be pilots, and with the military’s training programs now well in place, Curtiss closed his school in 1922. Today, the only indication of the school’s existence is a historical marker located near Newport News Point. In 1914, the Navy’s Board of Aeronautics designated Pensacola, Florida, with its long stretches of good flying weather, as the primary location for naval aviation. Upon Congress’ declaration of war against the Central Powers in World War I, 17 additional naval aviation stations were designated. One, an experimental and patrol station, was to be established at Hampton Roads.

Both Army and Navy pilots trained at Glenn Curtiss’ Curtiss Field in Hampton Roads. These trainees are from the Army National Guard.

Demand for pilots, both civilian and military, skyrocketed in those early years. Curtiss’ four pilot training schools were overflowing. In 1914, Curtiss purchased 20 acres of land at the small boat harbor in Newport News on the lower end of the Virginia Peninsula. Nationally famous as a racer, aviation pioneer, and locally famous for his role in Ely’s test flight, news of his new flight school created a sensation in the area. Curtiss chose his site, which jutted into Hampton Roads, because it allowed him to train seaplane (flying boat and floatplane) pilots as well as land-based ones. The U.S. Navy officers trained by flying boat instructors were designated “Naval Air Detachment, Curtiss Field, Newport News,” and would later become the founders of Naval Air Station Norfolk. The school used two types of aircraft for training, the landbased JN-3 or JN-4, the famous “Jennies,” and the Model F flying boat. Both were biplanes. Aside from the obvious differences to accommodate land or water takeoffs and landings, specifications for both were similar. The only other major difference was pilot configuration. The Jenny had the instructor in the front cockpit and the student in the rear. The Model F had the instructor and student sitting side by side. Whenever the flying boats had to be moved about on land, for instance for going to and from hangars for storage or maintenance and repairs, the planes had to be wheeled about on


U.S. Navy photo

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U.S. Navy photo

In early 1918, the chief of naval operations received a report detailing the imminent arrival of six powerful new long-range German U-boats capable of operating along America’s Atlantic coast. Provisions for anti-submarine warfare (ASW), already in place, were stepped up. Ten ASW seaplane stations were established, with particular emphasis placed on protecting the approaches to New York harbor and Chesapeake Bay. The first seaplanes deployed were single-engined HS-1 and HS-2 flying boats, with a range of approximately 1,500 miles. These were soon followed by larger twin-engined H-12, H-16, and F-5L flying boats, with a range of 3,000 miles. In general two aircraft, flying at 1,000 feet, were assigned to each convoy. The flying boats were equipped with bombs, machine guns, signal flares, and radios. A postwar analysis of the effectiveness of the patrols was disheartening. All six U-boats were successful, sinking a total of 79 ships (42 of them American) by gunfire (in other words, in surface action), 14 (two American) by torpedoes, and 7 (five American) by submarine laid mines – at no cost to the U-boats. Only one U-boat was sighted by the aircraft and attacked. Though it took place well outside Virginia’s Tidewater, near Nausett Harbor, Massachusetts, the action is instructive regarding the problems plaguing naval aviation in those early years. The surfaced U-156 was discovered attacking some tugs just 5 miles away from Naval Air Station (NAS) Chatham. Repeated attacks by Curtiss HS flying boats and Curtiss R-9 floatplanes were unsuccessful, because their Mark IV depth charges failed to detonate. Capt. Philip Eaton, commander of NAS Chatham and a Coast Guardsman, became so frustrated that he reportedly flew in low and threw a monkey wrench at the submarine. After acknowledging the only direct hit on his U-boat, the submarine captain kept the seaplanes at bay with his machine gun, completed the sinking of the tug and four barges, then departed.

A rare photograph of the Navy- and Coast Guard-crewed NC-4 during flight operations. NC-4 drew fame as the first successful trans-Atlantic flight.

Elmer F. “Archie” Stone, a naval aviation pioneer who made important contributions to the advancement of naval aviation, was born in New York in 1887. In 1890, his family moved to Norfolk. There he applied to the Coast Guard (then the Revenue Cutter Service), graduating and receiving his commission in 1913. He was a crewmember on the cutter Onondaga that operated out of Hampton Roads, and distinguished himself during a storm rescue off the Virginia coast in 1915. When Curtiss established his flying school at Norfolk, Stone convinced his superiors of the Coast Guard’s need for an air arm for search and rescue. Stone got his wings in 1917, becoming Naval Aviator No. 38. During World War I, the Coast Guard was transferred to the Navy Department, and Stone was assigned to the aviation detail aboard the cruiser Huntington, built by the Newport News Drydock and Shipbuilding Company, commissioned in 1905, and then one of only two U.S. Navy warships outfitted to conduct operations with balloons and seaplanes. After the war, Stone returned to the Coast Guard. Perhaps his greatest fame came as pilot of the Navy flying boat NC-4 in 1919. Stone, along with Chief Machinist’s Mate Eugene S. Rhoads, USN; Lt. James L. Breese, USN; Lt. J.g. Walter Hinton, USN; Lt. Cmdr. A.C. Read; and Ensign Herbert C. Rodd, USN, made the first successful trans-Atlantic flight. In 1922, the Navy requested his services as a test pilot and technical expert on naval aviation, working on catapult systems and arresting gear, and it was in that capacity that he would make his mark. The Navy’s pneumatic catapult


ABOVE: A U.S. Navy Douglas DT-2 torpedo bomber taking off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Langley (CV 1) in a test to determine the feasibility of using flush-deck catapults to launch wheeled aircraft from ships. LEFT: This Martin MD-1 aboard USS Mississippi was used to carry out tests on the catapult system designed, in part, by Coast Guard

U.S. Navy photos

aviator Elmer F. Stone.

on to make important contributions to the development of its air arm. He died of a heart attack in 1936. On Dec. 12, 1919, the collier USS Jupiter entered Norfolk Navy Yard, where she was decommissioned on March 24, 1920. When she emerged from dry dock and recommissioned on March 20, 1922, she had both a new name and a historic new designation. Named in honor of Samuel P. Langley, a former assistant professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, and a contemporary aircraft design competitor of the Wright brothers, the USS Langley (CV 1) was the U.S. Navy’s first aircraft carrier, and the first of many aircraft carriers to be built by Newport News Shipbuilding. If Norfolk was the cradle of naval aviation, Newport News Shipbuilding was the cradle of aircraft carriers. Aboard Langley as her first executive officer was Cmdr. Kenneth Whiting, the last pilot trained by Orville Wright and

system then in use was proving inefficient and unreliable. Together with Coast Guard Lt. W.M. Fellers and civilian Carl F. Jeansen, Stone designed a new system based on an explosive charge, an amount contained in a 5-inch shell casing. Following bench test trials, the system was installed on the battleship USS Mississippi, and on Dec. 14, 1924, a Martin MO-1 observation plane carrying Fellers as a passenger was successfully launched off the battleship’s forward turret. The new catapults were soon installed on other ships. Stone returned to the Coast Guard and would go


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LEFT: First lady Eleanor Roosevelt at the launch of USS Yorktown at Newport News Shipbuilding. ABOVE: A U.S. Navy Vought SB2U Vindicator (42-S-17) of scouting squadron VS-42, Ranger Air Group, returning to its parent carrier USS Ranger (CV 4) on Dec. 4,

National Archives photos

1941. Ranger was escorting a convoy in the Atlantic.

Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and became part of Allied command there. Heavily damaged by Japanese warplanes on Feb. 27, 1942, she was sunk by her escorts to prevent her capture. The USS Ranger (CV 4) was the first U.S. Navy carrier to be designed from the hull up as an aircraft carrier – the big Lexington (CV 2) and Saratoga (CV 3) were originally designed as battlecruisers. The Navy gave the order for the Ranger to Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock on Nov. 1, 1930. Smaller and slower than the Lexington and Saratoga, the Ranger saw service as part of the Atlantic Fleet during World War II. In 1933, the Newport News Shipyard and Drydock Company received orders to construct the USS Yorktown (CV 5), USS Enterprise (CV 6), and USS Hornet (CV 8). These carriers would join the Lexington and Saratoga as part of the Pacific Fleet and fight in all the key early battles of the war, holding the line until the nation could fully arm for war. Newport News would also build the first seven ships of the Essex-class carriers, which helped turn the tide and carried the war to the enemy. In 28 short years, naval aviation had gone from an improvised leap of faith to a powerful weapon that would soon change how war would be waged. And Hampton Roads had the distinction of being there from the beginning.

who would go on to become known as the “Father of the Aircraft Carrier.” The Langley immediately became a test bed, and a number of “firsts” were made on its deck. On Oct. 17, 1922, with the Langley anchored in the York River, Lt. V.C. Griffin, flying a Vought VE-7SF, made the first takeoff from a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. On Oct. 26, 1922, Lt. Cmdr. Godfrey de Courcelles Chevalier, piloting an Aeromarine 39B, made the first landing aboard Langley while she was underway off Cape Henry, Virginia. Sadly, he would also be the Langley’s first pilot fatality, dying from injuries suffered when his plane crashed at Lochhaven, near Norfolk, in November of that year. On Nov. 18, 1922, with the Langley again at anchor in the York River, Whiting, piloting a PT seaplane, made the first catapult launch. After two years as an experimental platform, on Nov. 17, 1924, the Langley reported for duty, and on Dec. 1, she became the flagship for aircraft squadrons, battle fleet. In 1936, the Langley was converted into a seaplane tender. She was in the Philippines when the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. She departed for the


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erected on the liner Kaiserin Auguste Victoria. A pilot named J.A.D. McCurdy, who frequently worked for Glenn Curtiss, was to make the attempt. Meanwhile, Chambers was searching for a pilot to make a flight from a platform built ahead of the bridge on the 3,750ton light cruiser USS Birmingham. At an air meet in Halethorpe, Maryland, early that month, Chambers sought unsuccessfully to persuade Wilbur Wright to make the flight. Eugene Ely, a 24-yearold exhibition pilot who worked for Curtiss, was also on hand. Upon encountering him, Chambers explained his project to the young flyer, who reportedly responded, “Let me fly off your ship!” Thus it was that Ely became the first man to fly from a ship, at 3:16 p.m. on Nov. 14, 1910, at the controls of a Curtiss Model D “pusher” biplane. The airplane sank as it left the deck, the propeller damaged when it touched the water, but Ely still managed a flight of 2.5 miles, landing at Willoughby Spit, less than a mile from the site of Chambers Field. Chambers, Curtiss, and Ely made the next step in naval aviation just two months later, when Ely successfully landed his Curtiss Model D on a 120-foot-long platform on the stern of the USS Pennsylvania. Chambers had secured the 13,680-ton armored cruiser for the experiment in San Francisco Bay, and the trio’s success assured the foundation of carrier aviation. Meanwhile, Curtiss had begun training the USN’s first pilot – Lt. Theodore G.“Spuds” Ellyson – at his North Island airfield near San Diego. In turn, Ellyson kept Chambers abreast of developments with Curtiss’ new “hydro-aeroplane,” the world’s first seaplane. This led to the Navy Department’s first appropriation for aviation: the purchase of a Curtiss hydro-aeroplane, the “Triad.” Ellyson went on to fly the Triad, and kept Chambers informed of progress on Curtiss’ land-based aircraft. Chambers also worked with the Wright brothers, sending Lt. John Rodgers to the Wright flying school at Dayton, Ohio. There he became naval aviator No. 2 in mid-1911, and the use of early aircraft manufacturers to train the Navy’s first aviators was established. At about the same time, Chambers was ordered to report to the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, Maryland,

aval aviation was just shy of seven years old when an improvised facility for seaplanes was established at the Naval Operating Base (NOB) Hampton Roads. Initially known as “Naval Air Detachment, Naval Operating Base, Hampton Roads,” the site occupied a small part of the 474 acres Congress had authorized the U.S. Navy to purchase at Sewell’s Point shortly after the United States entered World War I in April 1917. But it wasn’t until 1938 that the installation was dedicated as Chambers Field – a name that would become familiar to generations of naval aviators, air station personnel, and civilian workers. The designation couldn’t have been more appropriate, honoring one of the men who gave birth to naval aviation: Capt. Washington Irving Chambers. Chambers had oversight of the Navy’s aviation program before the Navy even had a program. In September 1910, Chambers – as assistant to the Secretary of the Navy’s Aide for Materiel – was tasked with “keeping informed of the progress of aeronautics with a view to advising the department concerning the adaptability of such material for naval use … and to gradually provide the Navy with suitable equipment for aerial navigation and to instruct the Navy personnel in its use.” It was in this role that he would help launch naval aviation, and by extension, the airfield that bears his name. The men and events that led to the modest collection of personnel, seaplanes, and canvas hangars that formed the Naval Air Detachment at Hampton Roads in 1917 are all connected by Chambers. CHAMBERS TO ELY TO CURTISS TO BELLINGER In November 1910, little more than two months after his previous tour of duty as commanding officer of the battleship Louisiana, Chambers was pushing hard for the world’s first flight from a ship. The U.S. Navy was in a race. A similar effort was underway by the Hamburg-American Steamship Line, with sponsorship from the World newspaper, to fly an airplane from a platform


ABOVE: Pioneering U.S. aviators Cmdr. John H. Towers, Cmdr. Holden C. Richardson, Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Nieson Lynch Bellinger, Maj. Bernard L. Smith, Lt. Cmdr. Godfrey de Courcelles Chevalier, Lt. Cmdr. Richard E. Byrd, unidentified. RIGHT: Naval aviators Theodore

Library of Congress

“Spuds” Ellyson and John Towers in a Curtiss A-1.

for the purpose of establishing it as naval aviation’s first base. It was there that Ellyson, Rodgers, and Lt. John Towers (trained by Ellyson at Curtiss’ field in Hammondsport, New York) reported to the superintendent of the Naval Academy for “duty … in connection with the test of gasoline engines and other experimental work in the development of aviation.” Landplanes and seaplanes flew from the USNA’s Greenbury Point, setting records for distance and flight duration. The base was also the site where naval aviators No. 4 through 9 were trained. Among them was Lt. j.g. Patrick N.L. Bellinger, naval aviator No. 8. Bellinger, who in 1914 flew the maiden combat missions in U.S. military history over Veracruz, Mexico, had risen to the


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With this act, the circle from Chambers to the facility that would become Chambers Field was complete. But it was really just the beginning for the Navy’s new air station.

Naval aviators from NAS Hampton Roads moor their flying boat at Rockaway, New York.

Library of Congress

WORLD WAR I In the wake of congressional authorization for the purchase and development of the land that would become Naval Operating Base Norfolk, resources started pouring into the installation. Six months and $1.6 million went into the construction of the new naval base. Piers, storehouses, facilities for fuel and oil storage, a recruit training station, a submarine base, and recreation grounds for fleet personnel were erected. Meanwhile, the Naval Air Detachment boasted a staff of five officers, three aviators, 10 enlisted sailors, and a few F-boats. Led by Bellinger, the small group occupied an area on the northeast corner of the NOB. The location offered sheltered water in an ice-free harbor. The protected area was perfect for seaplane landings and had good anchorage for aircraft on its beach front. Supplies and support from the NOB were readily accessible and there was room for expansion. The Air Detachment’s mission was multi-faceted. It would continue and expand on the training of naval aviators that had taken place at the Curtiss Flying School and train mechanics to support the aircraft. The latter role, initiated in January 1918, would become one of the air station’s most enduring missions. At the beginning of 1918, the Navy added to the detachment’s inventory. Two Curtiss H-12s, one Curtiss H-16,

rank of lieutenant commander by December 1917, when he assumed command of the fledgling Naval Air Detachment at Hampton Roads. Curtiss added a crucial element in 1914 when he purchased 20 acres of flat, undeveloped land in Newport News on the shores of Hampton Roads. The field was known as the Curtiss Flying School at Newport News, and it became a renowned flight training center for American and Canadian pilots during World War I. U.S. Navy and Army pilots learned to fly at Curtiss’ school, piloting Curtiss JN-3 and JN-4 “Jennys” and Curtiss Model F seaplanes. Famed aviators who earned their wings at Newport News included Eddie Rickenbacker, Billy Mitchell, Victor Carlstrom, and Vernon Castle. The Navy was quick to appreciate the value of Curtiss’ Flying School, and dubbed the naval officers training there “Naval Air Detachment, Curtiss Field, Newport News.” It was this group of men who would found the Naval Air Detachment at Hampton Roads in late 1917. The newly made naval aviators flew their Curtiss “F-boats” across Hampton Roads, mooring them to stakes driven into the bottom, until hangars and headquarters at newly constructed Naval Operating Base Norfolk were finished.


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the west and north of Sewell’s Point by dredging the Elizabeth River. In late 1917, nearly 8 million cubic yards were dredged and the shoreline of the NOB expanded north from Dillingham Boulevard close to its present location. By the end of World War I, NAS Hampton Roads consisted of approximately 167 officers, 1,227 enlisted men, and 65 planes. Growth at the air station reflected the growth of naval aviation in general. Over the 19 months of U.S. participation in World War I, a force of 6,716 officers and 30,693 enlisted members served in naval aviation.

Aerial view of aircraft hangars and other buildings at the U.S. Naval Air Station, Hampton Roads, Virginia, in 1924. Aircraft visible include

Picture credit

Naval Aircraft Factory PN flying boats and Douglas DT floatplanes.

and one Sopwith scout joined the unit. Other aircraft assigned included Curtiss R-6 and R-9 seaplanes, and Curtiss’ HS-2 flying boat. Beginning in early summer 1918, the Naval Air Detachment began flying anti-submarine patrols, effectively contributing to a trend seen on both sides of the Atlantic. During 1918, no convoy escorted by aerial patrol lost a ship. Lighter-than-air (LTA) units also contributed to the effort. Non-rigid B-class airships and kite balloons were used on patrols from Naval Air Station (NAS) Hampton Roads during the war. Mammoth LTA hangars were constructed for airship storage and maintenance. In recognition of the detachment’s importance as a source of trained naval aviators and an operational unit, the rapidly growing organization was redesignated Naval Air Station Hampton Roads in August 1918. Additional acreage for NAS Hampton Roads was gained when the Navy decided it would fill a large part of the flats on

THE INTERWAR YEARS Following World War I and demobilization of the U.S. Army and Navy forces that had been so rapidly assembled in the previous two years, NAS Hampton Roads had an uncertain future. Naval aviation, still in its infancy, faced the fiscal austerity that came with the war’s end. Congress slashed naval appropriations by 20 percent and manpower was cut back to half its wartime peak. But the aviation station that had been built on NOB Norfolk was now regarded as a key component of the Navy’s aviation infrastructure. With that recognition came a new identifier for the station, renamed NAS Norfolk under the command of Capt. Stafford H.R. Doyle. Doyle had taken over the air station’s helm in November 1919 after commanding two troop transports


She was truly an experimental ship, a role that dovetailed nicely with NAS Norfolk’s status as an experimental facility. Experiments with arresting gear to be employed on Langley had begun in the summer of 1921, using a revolving circular platform with a network of reconfigurable wires that had been built on the air station. When commissioned, Langley featured an arresting gear arrangement nearly identical to that which had been tested at the air station.

during the war (USS Huron, USS Great Northern) and earning a Navy Cross. His duties at NAS Norfolk were expanded in March 1922 when he was assigned to fit out the USS Langley, America’s first aircraft carrier. Commissioned at Norfolk Navy Yard on March 20, Langley was actually a converted collier (Jupiter), transformed by the addition of a 534-foot-long flight deck over her cargo holds and bridge. Doyle assumed command of the Langley on June 16, 1922.


Picture U.S. Navy credit photo

1917 - 2017

LEFT: AM-1s in Building V-60 of Overhaul and Repair at Naval Air Station (NAS) Norfolk. RIGHT: A Douglas SBD Dauntless assigned to NAS Norfolk flies above the base.

On Oct. 26, 1922 Lt. Cmdr. Godfrey de Courcelles Chevalier, flying an Aeromarine 39B off Cape Henry, made the first arrested landing on Langley. He had helped design and test the arresting gear at NAS Norfolk. Following this success, air station personnel began development of a catapult for launching aircraft from carriers. Lighter-than-air operations, which began at the air station soon after it was established, were suspended in 1924. Further contraction at NAS Norfolk was staved off in the mid-1920s when civilian employees of the station’s Assembly and Repair Department (the predecessor to the facility’s long standing Naval Air Depot) successfully partnered with Norfolk’s Chamber of Commerce to fight planned cessation of aircraft overhaul work. The training of naval aviators and additional research and development was carried out through the rest of the decade and into the 1930s, but the tempo at NAS Norfolk was much reduced. It wasn’t until the drums of war began to beat in the late 1930s that the air station would undergo its greatest expansion.

U.S. Navy photo

WORLD WAR II By 1938, when Bellinger returned to command the air station he helped establish 20 years earlier, NAS Norfolk was also known as Chambers Field, dedicated as such the month before his arrival. Having attained the rank of captain, Bellinger was in place to oversee the early phases of the greatest expansion in the air station’s history. But the pace had already picked up at NAS Norfolk. Advanced training in navigation, gunnery, and bombing was conducted from the air station to support air wings forming in the late 1930s as the carriers Ranger, Yorktown, Enterprise, and Wasp joined the Saratoga and Lexington in the Navy’s fleet by 1937. NAS Norfolk encompassed 236 acres at this point, including Chambers Field and West Landing Field. Both were overcrowded and encroaching on NOB activities, but relief was on the way. Following the outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939,


President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted the National Emergency Program. Defense spending soared. Deemed vital to national security, Naval Station Norfolk and NAS Norfolk were to become the Navy’s largest installation and the biggest naval base on the planet. One of the first major moves was construction of a third airfield within the confines of the NOB. In early 1940, Congress authorized the purchase of 1,000 acres of land between the naval station’s eastern limit and Granby Street. Formerly known as East Camp, the tract had been sold by the Army at the conclusion of World War I. More than $72 million went into the construction of the new “East Field” facility. Bellinger revised and approved a plan to construct a multitude of hangars, three runways, magazine areas, warehouses, barracks, a new dispensary, and docking areas. Dredging in Willoughby Bay began in 1940 and the NAS Norfolk seaplane operating area at Breezy Point, Virginia, was constructed from reclaimed marshlands at the mouth of Mason Creek, Virginia. Two large hangars, ramps for seaplanes, barracks, officers’ quarters, and family housing were built. After the United States entered World War II in December 1941, expansion activities were redoubled. Naval planners directed that facilities be developed to operate five aircraft carrier air groups, seven to nine patrol squadrons, a fighter director school, and the Atlantic Fleet operational training program for 200 pilots prior to their fleet assignment. Requests were also made to provide training and maintenance facilities for British aircrew from HMS Illustrious and Formidable. NAS Norfolk would provide training for a wide range of allied naval air units throughout the war. As 1942 and 1943 wore on, runways were extended, parking areas were enlarged, and additional acreage was added to East Field.

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Martin P5M-1 Marlin flying boats of Patrol Squadron (VP) 56 “Dragons.” Seaplane operations from the air station’s Breezy Point facility

U.S. Navy photo

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Personnel growth at NAS Norfolk skyrocketed, from just over 2,000 officers and enlisted in December 1940 to nearly 17,000 active duty in December 1943. Over the first six months of 1943, the flight operations department reported an average of 21,073 flights per month and an average of 700 flights per day – equivalent to a takeoff or landing every two minutes, 24 hours a day. Training was supported by a growing network of outlying fields in southern/eastern Virginia including Chincoteague, Whitehurst, Reservoir, Oceana, Pungo, Fentress, Monogram, and Creeds. Facilities in neighboring North Carolina included Elizabeth City, Edenton, Manteo, and Harvey Point. Work also exploded at the air station’s assembly and repair (A&R) facilities. Shortly after Bellinger took over in 1938, A&R employed 213 enlisted men and 573 civilians overhauling aircraft in four World War I-era hangars and a collection of small workshops. In support of production targets specified by the naval aircraft program in 1940, A&R activities went around the clock in two 10-hour shifts seven days a week. By the war’s end, A&R was a “Class A” industrial plant, with an integrated apprentice school providing training in nine trades. Peak employment reached 3,561 civilians and 4,852 military workers. The April 1, 1945, issue of Naval Aviation News featured this quip about growth of the NOB and NAS Norfolk: The tallest of all tales is circulating around this station. It seems the CO was conducting an inspection when he was attracted by an unusual insignia on the chest of one sailor. Dangling from one of the boy’s three campaign ribbons was a Norfolk streetcar token. “What’s that?” the CO asked. “A campaign medal sir,” was the reply. “It’s given to a sailor by other sailors for the battles of Norfolk, sir. When a sailor has boarded a streetcar downtown and gained a seat three times in succession, he is entitled to wear this medal.” New command structures, including Commander Naval Air Force Atlantic Fleet (AIRLANT), were put into effect at NAS Norfolk. After leaving the air station in 1940 to command Patrol Wing Two at Pearl Harbor, followed by duty as Commander Patrol Wings, Pacific Fleet, now-Rear Adm. Bellinger was designated COMNAVAIRLANT in March 1943. Fleet Air Wing 5 (FAW-5) units flew operationally from NAS Norfolk under command of the 5th Naval District. Wing 5 units included scouting and patrol squadrons flying Vought OS2U Kingfishers and Consolidated PBY-5A Catalinas. By 1942, NAS Norfolk was home to 24 fleet units.

In 1943, FAW-5 aligned its activities with those of AIRLANT, providing the training that furnished combat-ready carrier air groups, patrol squadrons and battleship and cruiser aviation units to both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. Training for aviation maintenance and repair work was also part of the AIRLANT/ FAW-5 mission, carried out by the air station’s huge aviation service school. This was complemented by the training and maintenance activities of NAS Norfolk’s Carrier Air Service Unit. From 1943 to the end of the war, a total of 326 U.S. units were commissioned and trained at NAS Norfolk under the control of AIRLANT. Nearly all of the naval air units that fought in World War II received advanced training at the air station. NAS NORFOLK DURING THE COLD WAR “The air station was very active but nowhere near as busy as it had been during the war,” Wayne Rogers recalls. Rogers served two tours at Norfolk (1948-1953 and 19601965) as an enlisted personnelman, both at periods of heightened tensions during the Cold War. Like most military facilities, NAS Norfolk experienced a significant decrease in operational tempo following World War II. But the air station – co-located with the NOB, Atlantic Fleet Command, and AIRLANT – stayed busier than most. Advanced training for air wing and patrol squadrons deploying for service during the Korean War continued. More significant change came with the transformation of NAS Oceana from a small, outlying field that had served as an adjunct


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“There was a fair amount of aviation activity, and the seaplane base was still operating, but the main activity of the air station seemed to be O&R,” Rogers said. By the mid-1960s, aircraft “rework” occupied a large percentage of the military and civilian workforce at NAS Norfolk. In 1967, the Overhaul and Repair plant was redesignated as the Naval Air Rework Facility (NARF). A decade later, the air rework plant encompassed 174 acres at the air station and included 175 buildings. In the 1970s and 1980s, its workers restored and repaired types including F-14 Tomcats, A-6 Intruders, and F-8 Crusaders. Another name change came in 1987, when the organization was renamed the Naval Aviation Depot (NADEP). Operational squadrons assigned to NAS Norfolk in the 1970s and 1980s included active and Reserve fixed-wing units flying Grumman E-2 Hawkeyes, C-1 Traders, and C-2 Greyhounds, and McDonnell Douglas C-9 Skytrains. Rotary-wing units operated the Sikorsky RH-53D Sea Stallion, SH-3 Sea King, and Boeing-Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight. Between June 1980 and June 1981, the station’s air terminal handled 29,832 tons of air cargo and transported 132,000 passengers. “It was really to acquire flight hours in the 1970s,” Lee Duckworth remembers. First stationed at NAS Norfolk between 1977 and 1980 as a mid-grade lieutenant, Duckworth was flying the RH-53D with HM-14. “The H-53 was a maintenance-intensive helicopter and money for flying was in short supply. We scrambled to meet our annual 100 flying hours minimum requirement. It was a challenging time. The NARF was the prime employer on base.” Duckworth would return to NAS Norfolk for three additional tours. His last came in 1992, as Commander NAS Norfolk.

Five MH-60S Seahawks from the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22 in formation over Chambers Field at Naval Station Norfolk. HSC-22 can perform vertical replenishments, search and rescue, and anti-surface warfare as part of a mobile

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David Danals

detachment for expeditionary strike groups.

training area for NAS Norfolk during World War II to a master jet base in the late 1950s. The move siphoned off the tactical air units that had once operated from the air station for good. NAS Norfolk’s commemorative 50th Anniversary of Naval Aviation publication from 1961 nevertheless paints a vibrant picture of the air station. “In sharp contrast to the Norfolk Naval Air Station of 43 years ago, the present station spans more than 2,100 acres, contains more than 15 types of aircraft and has a population of more than 14,000 military civilian personnel. The annual payroll amounts to more than $70,000,000. In addition, U.S.N.A.S. currently operates the only major seadrome for flying boats on the Atlantic Seaboard.” Seaplane operations at the air station’s Breezy Point facility ceased in the early 1960s, closing another chapter in the base’s history as patrol squadrons that had been flying Martin P5M Marlin flying boats transitioned to the Lockheed P2V Neptune and P-3 Orion. Rogers’ lasting memory of life aboard the air station as a chief personnelman in the early 1960s was the hustle and bustle of the Overhaul and Repair facility. “O&R” had succeeded “A&R” in 1948 as the designation for the extensive overhaul and heavy maintenance facilities that had grown steadily since the air station’s inception.


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Together with the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) process, consolidation and closure of naval installations significantly reduced the size of the Navy. Today, Duckworth is the director of education at Hampton Roads Naval Museum. Back in 1994, it gradually dawned on him that NAS Norfolk was reaching the end of an era. “You could see what was coming. Shortly before I left command, I realized that the air station was really going to contract.” A major component of NAS Norfolk vanished in September 1996 when the depot shut its doors. The facility, Hampton Road’s largest employer, had been a fixture of the air station since its inception and a part of the Norfolk community for more than 70 years. Less than three years later, the air station itself would be subsumed. On Feb. 5, 1999, NAS Norfolk was folded into the merged (naval station/naval air station) installation now known as Naval Station Norfolk. From 1999 until January 2012, a somewhat confusing organizational structure was established wherein the former air station became Naval Air Station Oceana, Air Detachment Norfolk. In 2012, the field became the Air Department of Naval Station Norfolk and reemphasized its historic title as Naval Station Norfolk Chambers Field. Chambers Field remains a hub for naval aviation and fleet logistics today. The Navy-Air Mobility Command (AMC) Terminal Norfolk hums with arriving and departing Lockheed C-5s and C-130s, Boeing C-17s, and a variety of civilian aircraft. Operational squadrons flying from the field include active-duty E-2C/E-2D Hawkeye, C-2A, MH-53E, and MH-60S units.

An E-2D Hawkeye assigned to the “Tigertails” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125 flies over Naval Station Norfolk. VAW-125 provides airborne early warning and command and control to Carrier Air Wing 1.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ernest R. Scott

POST-COLD WAR, REGIONALIZATION, AND CHAMBERS FIELD IN THE 21st CENTURY With the Cold War in the rearview mirror, NAS Norfolk began the 1990s supporting the operations in Kuwait and Iraq during the Gulf War. To that point, the air station had hosted more than 70 tenant commands, including carrier air groups, a carrier airborne early warning wing and associated squadrons, a helicopter sea control wing and associated squadrons, and various Naval Air Reserve units. Duckworth arrived back at NAS Norfolk in the wake of the Gulf War as the third rotary-wing aviator to take the reins at the air station. During his tenure as air station commander (19921994), big changes loomed for NAS Norfolk. Looking back, he remembers talk of “regionalization” as the Cold War drawdown of the 1990s took hold. “Most of us could see it coming, but thought it was very unlikely that the naval station and naval air station would be combined,” he said. “We were proven wrong!” Regionalization resulted in a major realignment of shore command organizations and processes throughout the Navy.




reater Hampton Roads and the American military have been intertwined for at least 150 years. The destiny of one has largely been the destiny of the other, from economics to community relations and culture. It’s a feature of life in southeastern Virginia that holds just as fast today.


The region is home to nine military installations, including three joint-base complexes that span multiple locations, bringing the total number of military bases to 15. All five branches of the military (Navy/Army/Air Force/Marines/Coast Guard) are present, and collectively they station approximately 78,000 active-duty officers and enlisted personnel in the area. Add in Reservists, family members, and the retired military community, and you have about 300,000 people with a direct connection to the armed forces. Of course, there’s also a large cohort of civilian employees of the military (civil service/contractors/non-appropriated fund) standing at more than 50,000. It’s a combined group that lives and works within the broader community, a population of about 1.6 million, according to a 2013 population estimate by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia. Altogether, more than 1 in 5 people in Hampton Roads owe their livelihood to the services. The web of connections is a large one, and with the various centennial anniversaries that attend World War I, go anniversaries for the regional military installations formed

to address America’s entry into the Great War. Along with Naval Station Norfolk, Langley Field (now Joint Base Langley-Eustis) is celebrating its 100th and Fort Eustis (originally Camp Abraham Eustis) is nearly 100 as well. The various centennials provide an excellent opportunity to highlight and reinforce the connections between greater Hampton Roads and the military, whether they be economic, community, or cultural.

The Nauticus Campus, incorporating the Hampton Roads Naval Museum and the battleship USS Wisconsin.

Mid-Atlantic economic impact report for fiscal year 2015 (the most recent report) for the Hampton Roads area. The Department of the Navy puts the total direct economic impact of its activities in the area in FY 15 at $10.75 billion, an increase of approximately $770 million over FY 14. That’s an impressive number, and one that grew during the fiscal year. Annual payroll (military and civilian) saw an increase from $8.4 billion to $8.9 billion from FY 14 to FY 15. In addition, the procurement of goods and services saw an increase of nearly $208 million, from $1.46 billion in FY 14 to $1.67 billion in FY 15. The Joint Base Langley-Eustis economic impact analysis for 2016 reports that the installation generated $2.1 billion in economic impact, including more than $470 million of annual job-creation value. These numbers do fluctuate – for example, the Navy’s economic impact was nearly $15 billion in 2011

Photo courtesy of Nauticus

ECONOMIC INTERPLAY There’s no doubt that the federal presence in the form of the armed forces has provided an economic foundation for the region for the last century. It hasn’t always been consistent, but since the post-World War II period it has been at the very least substantial. During the 20th century and since, wry observers have repeated the witticism that if you wanted to know what the Hampton Roads region might look like without the military, have a look at northeastern North Carolina. For an idea of the scope of the federal underpinnings of economic activity, let’s consider the Commander, Navy Region


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– but they illustrate just two components of federal spending in Hampton Roads. The most comprehensive recent assessment from the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance placed total direct federal expenditures in Hampton Roads at just under $21 billion in fiscal year 2010. According to the study, the federal presence in Hampton Roads was responsible for more than 47 percent of the region’s gross product. The nearly 50-50 mix of public and private sector economic activity has historically drawn the local business community and military firmly together, but it has inevitably created concerns from time to time, acknowledged Joe Judge, curator of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum (HRNM). “There’s always been a certain amount of tension in that you have the equivalent of an $8 billion or $10 billion corporation sitting on a big stretch of land that doesn’t pay any taxes and seems to demand a lot from the community. On the flip side, you have tremendous, stable employment, military personnel putting money into the economy, and many private businesses that provide services to the Navy. We’re not a diverse economy here. We’re really tied to a huge federal presence which touches everything.” It’s a feature of the economy acknowledged by Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance (HREDA) President Rick L. Weddle, who pointed out in a February 2017 HREDA blog that the region’s “over-dependence on military facilities and federal spending” has presented a serious diversification challenge. “The Great Recession compounded our problems, and our cities began to lose jobs and primary employers. Sequestration added further injury and created a major drag on economic performance overall. From July of 2007 to mid-2010,

LEFT: More than 30 shipbuilders assist with the placement of the upper-level structure that was part of USS Abraham Lincoln’s (CVN 72) refueling and complex overhaul. Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding is one of the area’s largest employers. RIGHT: The Port of Virginia’s Norfolk International Terminals (NIT). The Port of Virginia, incorporating four different terminals, is the third busiest port on the East Coast, and has room to expand.

Hampton Roads lost 47,800 jobs, or over 6 percent of our total employment.” Thankfully, the numbers have rebounded, but HREDA’s president points to the need to redouble economic development and diversification efforts. The alliance’s Five-Year Higher Wage Job Growth Strategy and Plan calls for the creation of 70,000 new jobs over the next five years. The drive to diversify is being embraced in the city of Norfolk as well. In 2016, the city announced that it had attracted payroll services and human resources firm Automatic Data Processing (ADP) to establish a large regional office in the downtown district at 2 Commercial Place. The ADP office will fully open in 2017, bringing 1,800-plus jobs to the city, approximately $1 million in direct new taxes, and an estimated $158 million in economic activity to the region annually. ADP’s arrival joins new development at 1 Commercial Place, where luxury condominiums and retail will complement further renewal at Norfolk’s new Waterside District development. The construction of a new hotel and conference center (The Main) at the corner of Main and Granby streets will capitalize


A statue of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in front of the General Douglas MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia.

held a variety of educational programs offsite, including STEM (science, technology, engineering & mathematics) training via a LEGO event that saw 3,000 children and adults gather to build Navy ships (designed by the museum staff) from the legendary building blocks that have fascinated generations. The museum’s location – not by the massive Navy base but rather in downtown Norfolk – creates a connection in itself. The same holds true for its neighbors. “If you look at the great ports around the world, you realize that they’re a launchpad but they’re also a crossroads,” Christopher Kolakowski said. Kolakowski is director of the MacArthur Memorial just a few blocks away from HRNM, by MacArthur Square on Bank Street. “Norfolk is not just a gateway from North America,” Kolakowski added, “but a gateway into it. We’ve been that way since 1607.” Since 1964, the MacArthur Memorial has welcomed visitors wishing to learn about Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s life and career. Though MacArthur had never lived in Norfolk, it was the site of the family estate of his mother, Mary Pinkney Hardy, located next to Colonna’s Shipyard. Following his military career, MacArthur settled in Norfolk in the 1950s. Though the general

ACROSS THE DECK – INSTITUTIONS AND PEOPLE “We consider ourselves part of the cultural landscape of the region,” John Pentangelo said. He’s the director of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, perhaps the public institution most closely connected with Naval Station Norfolk. HRNM is an official Department of the Navy museum, and part of its vision, Pentangelo explained, is “that every sailor will connect with us during their career.” The museum’s reach is designed to be wider, however. “We have a very positive relationship with the community here,” HRNM’s director said. Part of that comes naturally, he pointed out. Hampton Roads is home to the second-largest retired naval community outside of San Diego. But he stressed that the area’s non-military audience is one that the museum actively seeks out. “We’re introducing naval history to people who might not otherwise have thought about it,” he said. How? By both welcoming the public to the museum and its exhibits and by going out to the people. In 2017, HRNM


Picture credit Nyttend via Wikimedia Commons

on the new developments and draw additional business and pleasure visitors to the downtown district as well. Such development on shore dovetails with ongoing efforts by the Port of Virginia – which includes Newport News Marine Terminal (NNMT), Virginia International Gateway (VIG), Norfolk International Terminals (NIT), Portsmouth Marine Terminal (PMT), and the future Craney Island Maritime Terminal – to grow and attract additional tonnage. The combined facilities make Hampton Roads the third busiest port on the East Coast after the port of New York/New Jersey and Savannah, Georgia. Like other East Coast ports, the Port of Virginia has recently deepened its channel to accommodate larger draft ships now able to go through the widened Panama Canal. The Port of Virginia may enjoy a long-term advantage in that it has room to expand within the Hampton Roads area, a luxury the ports with which it competes generally do not have. Of course, the commercial ships that sail into Hampton Roads are connected with Navy and foreign military vessels by the channel they share. It’s an economic connection that occurs naturally. Connecting the Navy and other services to the people of Hampton Roads requires effort, and a number of local institutions work to reinforce and build community and cultural links every day.

as well as a museum and memorial. MacArthur always viewed it that way.” Among the ways the memorial connects the community and the services is by hosting professional development conferences, with MacArthur’s example as a tool for learning. “Some of that is using the materials in our museum and our archives to teach concepts of leadership and management,” Kolakowski said. In 2016, the memorial welcomed groups from the Joint Forces Staff College, the USS Bataan, and the NATO Defense Planning Committee. MacArthur’s employment of psychological warfare, lessons from his management of the occupation of Japan, lessons from the Korean alliance, and lessons from the general’s political entanglement with civilian and presidential power all served as points of discussion and perspective for the professional groups. The same issues and ideas are there for museum visitors to ponder. Back toward the Elizabeth River and next door to HRNM, the Nauticus Foundation allows visitors to do more than ponder what it might be like to serve in the Navy – it provides the opportunity to tour and walk the decks of the last battleship built for the United States, the USS Wisconsin.

Participants of a press conference launching Blue Star Museums gather with military family members to enjoy exhibits at Hampton Roads Naval Museum. Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to the nation’s active-duty military

U.S. Navy photo

members and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

is a seminal figure in American history, his memorial exists to foster connections between the military and the broader community, Kolakowski said. “Douglas MacArthur always believed this place was not just about him. It was also about the men and women who fought in the world wars and Korea. When you come here, you’ll see the people who worked and fought with MacArthur.” You’ll also see the memorial as the focal point of a public space whose importance, its director said, is as powerful and routine “as people coming out and having lunch in MacArthur Square when the weather’s nice. This is a community space


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Ayden Oxley, from Norfolk, builds the USS Cumberland at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum’s fourth annual Brick by Brick:

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Drae Parker

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“We’re always trying to introduce the ship to different audiences,” said Nauticus Executive Director Stephen Kirkland. “Being a maritime museum in Norfolk means that a large part of our exhibits – and certainly the battleship Wisconsin – pay tribute the United States Navy. In fact, I’d say that the battleship is the No. 1 reason people come to Nauticus.” The Wisconsin is a platform to tell the story of the men – from Hampton Roads and all over the country – who sailed aboard her. For Navy veterans, or those who serve today, the simple act of stepping aboard the battleship gives rise to powerful sensations, Nauticus’ director said. “Just the smell of diesel fuel, lubricants, and other aromas links them to the ships they are on or have been on.” The immediacy of that reaction validates the sense of connection civilians get when going aboard a Navy ship for the first time, Kirkland said. It’s an effect and a tool the museum uses for other groups, including those who partake of its overnight program. Nauticus hosts groups of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for overnight stays on Wisconsin, ushering young people into a world they’ve often never considered. “They come aboard the battleship and they get a chance to sleep in a ‘rack’ that Navy sailors used to sleep in. You can imagine that for a young boy who’s never been on a ship before, being able to sleep on the last battleship built by the U.S. Navy is a huge experience.” Today, the idea of personal experience to bind the military and civilian communities is a crucial one, the museum directors agree. Despite their location in the midst of Hampton Roads, its resident military installations are effectively removed from the public. “Prior to 2001, it was much easier to gain access to a military base,” Kirkland said. “You might have been able to walk the deck of [an active] Navy ship. You can’t do that now.” It’s a conundrum brought on by the legitimate security concerns of the present day. It’s simply difficult for the military to welcome its neighbors on a day-to-day basis. The figurative distance this creates makes institutions like those mentioned here even more important. “The opportunities here are vast,” said Pentangelo, who came to HRNM from the Naval War College Museum in Rhode Island. “The Naval War College Museum was actually on Naval Station Newport, so it was behind the security fence. Here we have such rich possibilities because we’re accessible to the public.” Overcoming the obstacle presented by a security perimeter is crucial, the MacArthur Memorial’s Kolakowski agrees.

“A few years ago I read that one of the arguments for supporting the Navy’s historic ships is that they are a way for people to interact with the U.S. Navy. The same is true here at the memorial. We are a way for people to interact with and get a sense of what the military has done and what it means.” Its location right next to the Wisconsin is just as important to the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, Pentangelo said. “The value of a historic ship is that when there are land battles, people can visit the site, they can go see Gettysburg. They can’t see the Battle of Midway. They can’t see the Battle of the Atlantic. They can’t go aboard an active vessel at the naval station every day. The only way they can get that visceral connection is to visit a historic ship. They’re critical to people’s understanding of our maritime and naval heritage.” Highlighting that heritage is always important to Nauticus, HRNM and the memorial, but in this centennial year it takes on still more significance. “We’re extremely supportive of the naval station’s centennial,” Kolakowski said. “We’ve been working on First World War centennial events since 2012, so it’s been easy to partner with the naval station.” In early April, the MacArthur Memorial partnered with the Hampton Roads Naval Museum on a World War I symposium and the launch of an exhibit titled “Over Here and Over There.” The joint exhibit within a split gallery addresses World War I from the perspective of the home front, highlighting local stories and locations including the naval station, Langley Field, and the Newport News port of embarkation. The other side of the gallery details the transport and convoying of American Expeditionary Forces troops to France and the battles they fought there. “We’ve actually got a great picture that the Navy provided captioned ‘Return of The Mayflower,’” Kolakowski said. “It’s a photo


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The color guard of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) parades the colors during the retirement ceremony for Navy Counselor 1st Class Zach Schwarting at the USS Wisconsin (BB 64) and Nauticus

U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jessica Gomez


of the first American destroyers headed to Europe in 1917 to help with convoy escort. Even though people think of World War I as a land war, we don’t get to France without the Navy.” In October, the memorial will recognize the 75th anniversary of Operation Torch, the launch of the American campaign in North Africa during World War II and the longest amphibious invasion in history, led by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. The joint forces operation landed forces at Casablanca, Oran, and Algiers. “That’s one of the things that most people forget about when thinking of Naval Station Norfolk,” Kolakowski observed. Also in April, Nauticus welcomed the “Wall That Heals” traveling Vietnam memorial, allowing people to connect with that bit of history without making the trek to Washington, D.C. The foundation will also, after much effort, open the engine room of Wisconsin in 2017. HRNM will host a commemorative symposium on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway this year. It is also hosting teacher workshops in company with the MacArthur Memorial on the two world wars, giving Hampton Roads’ public school teachers perspective, information, and food for thought to share with their respective students. All of the events serve the purpose of honoring history and the military locally while connecting the community and bringing visitors and dignitaries to Hampton Roads. All three of the museums offer public space for conferences and private meetings. “We drive tourism. We bring overnight stays to Norfolk,” the MacArthur Memorial’s director said.

“People know this region for its Navy heritage, and we’re proud to say that the Wisconsin gives them access to the Navy,” Nauticus’ Kirkland added. “We try to give families from Ohio or Pennsylvania who come to Virginia Beach for a summer stay an experience that’s hard to find elsewhere. The intersection between the community and the military hasn’t always been smooth, with installations like the naval station sometimes giving rise to businesses and streetscapes at odds with conventional community values, Judge said. “That was one of the pressure points between the city and the Navy [during World War II]. The areas outside the gates became kind of notorious for a while. You had the influx of sailors and you had the tattoo parlors, the bars, other businesses. This caused discomfort to the Navy, and it really wasn’t addressed until the 1960s, when all these things were cleared out.” By contrast, one of the most frequently discussed problems today is traffic congestion and parking around the naval station. “It has become a big problem,” Judge acknowledged. “There wasn’t too much comment about that back in the 20th century because in general there were fewer automobiles. In World War II, you had gas rationing and there was also better public transportation. Most sailors didn’t have cars.” Of course, they do now, and the upside is that they and other military personnel consequently live and play all over the Hampton Roads area, branching out of some of the more familiar military enclaves and mixing with the community more easily than ever. “Having lived in other places,” Kirkland said, “it’s extraordinary to me how closely everyone works together – the port, the Navy, the city. It’s a partnership. We all want the same thing. We’re proud of this region.” It’s simply a geographical, historical, and economic fact that the Hampton Roads community and the armed forces are in the same boat – a vessel with local ties but global reach. It’s a fact recognized in the tagline for the Hampton Roads Naval Museum: “Local History, World Events.”


1917 - 2017



the Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea, and the Persian Gulf. In addition, the command’s Naval Beach Group (Amphibious Seabees, a Beachmaster unit, and assault craft units) provide essential pre- and post-landing support to U.S. Navy amphibious forces. To highlight the Norfolk-based units that operate under the command of Naval Surface Force Atlantic, here are five ships from the destroyer, cruiser, amphibious assault, amphibious transport dock, and dock landing ship communities. USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) – Commissioned in 2010, the Dunham is one of the newest guided missile destroyers in the Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) class. Homeported in Norfolk, her roughly 380 officers and enlisted crew are multimission capable, conducting anti-air warfare (AAW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and anti-surface warfare (ASUW) as part of Destroyer Squadron 28 and Carrier Strike Group 8. USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) – Commissioned in 1993, the USS Vella Gulf is the penultimate Ticonderoga-class Aegis-guided missile cruiser. Manned by up to 400 Norfolk-based officers and enlisted, CG 72 is a multimission, AAW, ASW, naval surface fire support (NSFS), and anti-surface warfare (ASUW) surface combatant capable of supporting carrier battle groups, amphibious forces or operating independently and as flagships of surface action groups. USS Vella Gulf is part of Carrier Strike Group 12. USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) – Homeported at NAVSTA Norfolk, USS Kearsarge is the third ship of the Wasp-class multipurpose amphibious assault ships. Her primary mission is the embarkation, deployment, landing, and support of a Marine landing force. Commissioned in 1993, Kearsarge is designed to accommodate Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) for fast troop movement over the beach and a mix of AV-8B Harriers, MV-22 Ospreys, and MH-60 Seahawks that provide troop transport, logistics, and close-in air support for the assault force. She is a component of Amphibious Squadron 6 (AS 6). USS Arlington (LPD 24) – LPD 24 is a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship stationed at Naval Station Norfolk.

he world’s largest naval installation is constantly in motion. Spanning more than 6,200 acres with a combined workforce of nearly 70,000 military and government/civilian employees, Naval Station Norfolk is home to 326 tenant activities. They run the gamut, from training and education to logistics, communications, intelligence, maintenance, and much more. But the overarching mission of Naval Station Norfolk (NAVSTA Norfolk) is to project U.S. naval power. Central to that objective are some 60 ships, submarines, and aircraft carriers (plus USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), new construction), and 190plus aircraft and attached warfighters who call Norfolk home. Organized under five major commands – Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic (COMNAVSURFLANT); Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic (COMNAVAIRLANT); Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic (COMSUBLANT); Military Sealift Command; and Marine Forces Command (MARFORCOM) – these operational units provide forward presence above, below, and on the sea around the globe. As Naval Station Norfolk celebrates its 100th anniversary, we present a sampling of the Norfolk-based units that are currently at the tip of the spear – a snapshot of those who answer the call to ship out and project U.S. Navy power in defense of freedom. COMNAVSURFLANT

Established in 1975 to consolidate the cruiser-destroyer, amphibious, and service force of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic is one of the six U.S. naval-type commands. Headquartered at NAVSTA Norfolk, SURFLANT boasts more than 60 ships and special mission and fleet support units that make up the more than 29 commands of the force. More than 25,000 personnel man and support SURFLANT cruisers, destroyers, and amphibious ships, from the continental United States to the Atlantic and Indian oceans,


and works hand in hand with the other AS6 amphibious ships, all of which are stationed at NAVSTA Norfolk. Whidbey Island is the first ship of the Whidbey Island-class of dock landing ship. Commissioned in 1985, LSD 41 and the four sister LSDs in her class were designed specifically to transport and launch LCAC vessels. The ship’s company of 22 officers and more than 390 enlisted work in tandem with a 400-plus detachment of embarked Marines to deploy LCACs in amphibious assault operations. The class has the largest capacity for these landing craft (four) of any U.S. Navy amphibious platform. It also provides docking and repair services for LCACs and for other conventional landing craft.

Sailors man the rails as the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17) departs Naval Station Norfolk in 2016 for a deployment with the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group to support maritime security operations and theater security coopU.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam Austin

eration efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation.

Her mission is to transport and land Marines, their equipment, and supplies by embarked LCAC or conventional landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles augmented by CH-53 helicopters and/or vertical takeoff and landing MV-22 Ospreys. With a crew of approximately 365 and the capacity to embark 700 personnel and 14 expeditionary force vehicles, Arlington supports amphibious assault, special operations, or expeditionary warfare missions, and can serve as a secondary aviation platform for amphibious ready groups. Arlington is also an Amphibious Squadron 6 asset. USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) – LSD 41 is based at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. We include her here because she is another component of Amphibious Squadron 6

COMSUBLANT As Naval Station Norfolk celebrates a century of service, Hampton Roads submariners are also marking 117 years of heritage dating back to 1900, when John Holland sold the submersible Holland VI to the U.S. Navy, giving birth to the U.S. Submarine Force. Decommissioned in 1905, USS





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Sailors from the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Norfolk (SSN 714) moor lines during the boat’s homecoming ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk in 2013. Norfolk returned from a six-month deployment to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kim Williams

during which the boat traveled more than 30,000 nautical miles.

Holland (SS 1) remained in reserve at Norfolk between 1905 and 1910. Today, Commander, Submarine Forces and Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic (SUBLANT) are headquartered at Norfolk. SUBLANT’s 32 submarines and more than 15,000 officer, enlisted, and civilian personnel provide submarine support from three East Coast stations to the Atlantic, Arctic, Eastern Pacific and Indian oceans, and the Mediterranean Sea. A combined five Los Angeles-class and Virginia-class submarines from Commander, Submarine Squadron 6 are homeported at NAVSTA Norfolk. COMSUBLANT’s principal responsibility remains the operation, maintenance, training, and equipping of submarines in support of fleet and national tasking. USS Boise (SSN 764) – SSN 764 is a Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered fast attack submarine based at Norfolk. Operated with roughly 140 crewmembers, she performs a range of missions, from strike and strategic deterrence to

anti-submarine/anti-surface warfare, mine warfare, and counter-drug operations. Boise is one of 41 active Los Angeles-class submarines, still the backbone of the U.S. Navy’s submarine force. USS John Warner (SSN 785) – Warner is a nuclear-powered Virginia-class fast attack submarine. Conceived as a less expensive alternative to the Seawolf-class attack submarines designed during the Cold War era, Virginia-class boats are replacing the Los Angeles class. Based at NAVSTA Norfolk, she’s operated by a crew of 135 officers and enlisted, and performs a similar range of missions as Boise. COMNAVAIRLANT Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic is also headquartered aboard Naval Station Norfolk. AIRLANT is the aviation type commander for Atlantic Fleet naval aviation units, responsible for the material readiness, administration, training, and inspection of units/squadrons under their command, and for providing operationally ready air squadrons and aircraft carriers to the fleet. The command has five aircraft carriers assigned to carry out the mission of Commander, Atlantic Fleet and other commanders. These include USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS George Washington (CVN 73) – currently in


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The Norfolk-based guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) transits in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility in 2013. Jason Dunham was deployed with the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security coopera-

Picture U.S. Navy credit photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Deven B. King

tion efforts, and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom.

long-term maintenance – USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), and USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), currently deployed. USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) has been delivered to the Navy and is awaiting commissioning. Four carrier air wings are also assigned to AIRLANT, including CVW-1, CVW-3, CVW-7, and CVW-8. Aircraft assigned to the Air Department of Naval Station Norfolk at Chambers Field are among those that make up these air wings. Both fixed-wing and helicopter units operate from Chambers Field, including carrier airborne early warning squadrons flying the Grumman E-2C/D Hawkeye and a fleet logistics support squadron flying the Grumman C-2 Greyhound. Rotary-wing units include helicopter sea combat squadrons flying the Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawk and helicopter mine countermeasures squadrons operating the Sikorsky MH-53E Sea Dragon. USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) – Deployed as of this writing to the Middle East in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the USS George H.W. Bush and her 3,000-plus-strong ship’s company call Naval Station Norfolk home. As flagship of Carrier

Strike Group 2 (CSG-2), CVN 77 is sailing with Carrier Air Wing 8 embarked. In March and April 2017, CVW-8 aircraft from Bush struck Daesh, also know as ISIS, targets in Iraq. Among the approximately 1,500 personnel of CVW-8 are aviators based at Chambers Field including members of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 124 (VAW-124) and VRC-40. VAW-124 is one of five carrier early warning squadrons aboard Naval Station Norfolk. The “Bear Aces” fly the Grumman E-2C Hawkeye, providing all-weather airborne early warning, airborne battle management, and command and control functions for the carrier strike group and joint force commander. The twin-engine Hawkeye is a high-wing turboprop aircraft with a 24-foot diameter radar rotodome attached to the upper fuselage. It operates with a crew of five. Continually updated, the E-2C performs additional missions, including surface surveillance coordination, air interdiction, offensive and defensive counter air control, close air support coordination, time-critical strike coordination, search and rescue airborne coordination, and communications relay. An integral component of the carrier strike group air wing, the E-2C uses computerized radar, identification friend-or-foe system and electronic surveillance sensors to provide early warning and threat analysis against potentially hostile air and surface targets. Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 40 (VRC-40) – The “Rawhides” are one of only two fleet logistics support squadrons, which provide rapid airborne logistics capability to the carrier strike force across a full range of sea-based military operations. VRC-40 is the East Coast logistics support squadron, providing support for ships and bases as far north as Norway, down the


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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Gaines

Eastern Seaboard and Gulf Coast, throughout the Caribbean, in Central and South America, and all over the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern theaters. VRC-30 is its West Coast counterpart. The Rawhides fly the high-wing, twin-engine C-2A Greyhound Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) aircraft, operating both from shore and aircraft carriers with a crew of four. The squadron’s nearly 400 enlisted and 40-plus officers maintain and fly 14 C-2s. VRC-40 doesn’t deploy as a unit, instead fielding five sea-going detachments. Every year, VRC-40 carries more than 3 million pounds of mail and cargo and makes more than 1,000 arrested landings. A VRC-40 detachment is currently aboard CVN 77. Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15 – HM-15 is one of three units that fly the MH-53 Sea Dragon from Naval Station Norfolk in the airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM) role. MH-53s can operate from carriers and other warships and are capable of towing a variety of mine hunting/sweeping countermeasures systems, including the Mk 105 magnetic minesweeping sled, the AQS-14A side-scan sonar and the Mk 103 mechanical minesweeping system. When performing the assault support mission, the MH-53E can be fitted with the GAU-21 .50-caliber machine gun ramp-mounted weapon system. The “Blackhawks” maintain a worldwide 72-hour AMCM rapid deployment posture, with four aircraft forward deployed for AMCM and vertical on-load delivery capability in the Arabian Gulf. A crew of three (pilot, copilot, aircrewman) fly the 73-footlong, 36,000 pound-plus MH-53. A fatigue life extension program has been completed, extending the aircraft service life to 10,000 hours, enabling the Navy to maintain a dedicated AMCM capability through the 2025 time frame. Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22 (HSC-22) – The “Sea Knights” have been at Chambers Field since their establishment in 2006. One of the smallest aviation units in the Navy, the 37 pilots and 177 sailors of HSC-22 fly the Sikorsky MH-60S

An E-2C Hawkeye early warning and control aircraft assigned to the “Bear Aces” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 124 prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). Both Bush and VAW-124 are based at Naval Station Norfolk.

in multiple roles, including naval special warfare, amphibious search and rescue, theater security cooperation, strike coordination and reconnaissance, anti-surface warfare, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and utility missions in support of the fleet and national defense. Sea Knight detachments fly from a range of platforms, including littoral combat ships, amphibious assault ships, and combat logistics ships. The unit is one of eight helicopter sea combat squadrons that operate from Naval Station Norfolk. MARFORCOM U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command is also part of Naval Station Norfolk, located aboard Naval Support Activity Norfolk adjacent to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Allied Command Transformation. MARFORCOM provides a robust, U.S. Marine Corps presence in Norfolk, Virginia. The headquarters’ proximity to the Joint Staff J31, Joint and Coalition Warfare Center, and the Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces (COMUSFLTFORCOM), enables the Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command (COMMARFORCOM) to conduct authoritative day-to-day liaison for both operational and programmatic issues as well as being engaged in joint force provider, joint training, and naval integration. MARFORCOM’s most notable operational presence at NAVSTA Norfolk is VMM-774.


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Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 774 – VMM-774 is a Marine Corps Forces Reserve unit that flies the Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey from Chambers Field. Under direct control of Marine Air Group 49 (MAG-49), the “Wild Goose” is a component of the 4th Marine Air Wing (4th MAW). The squadron provides assault support transport of combat troops, supplies, and equipment, day or night, under all weather conditions during expeditionary, joint, or combined operations. VMM-774, formerly HMM-774, transitioned to the MV-22 from the venerable CH-46E Sea Knight in 2016. The Wild Goose was the last Marine Corps squadron to fly the CH-46 and the unit has been continuously stationed aboard NAVTSA Norfolk since being activated in 1969. MILITARY SEALIFT COMMAND (MSC) Naval Station Norfolk is also home to Military Sealift Command and 14 MSC ships operated primarily by a large force of civil service mariners (CIVMARs). MSC supports the joint warfighter across the full spectrum of military operations, providing on-time logistics and strategic sealift, as well as specialized missions anywhere in the world, under any condition, 24/7, 365 days a year. CIVMARs are federal government employees who pursue a civil service, Navy career while assigned aboard U.S. government-owned ships that support the Navy’s warfighters and warfighting platforms around the world. They account for 80 percent of the MSC workforce and play a vital role in the Navy’s ability to operate forward every day. Norfolk-based MSC platforms include fleet replenishment oilers (T-AO), dry cargo/ammunition ships (T-AK/AKE), a hospital ship (T-AH), cable laying/repair ship (T-ARC), and an expeditionary mobile base (T-ESB).

The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) comes alongside the USNS Robert E. Peary (T-AKE 5), a dry cargo and ammunition ship, in port at Naval Station Norfolk.

USNS Leroy Grumman (T-AO 195) – Named for famed test pilot and engineer Leroy Grumman, the founder of the aeronautical giant that became Northrop Grumman, T-AO 195 is a Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler. The government-owned 41,000-ton Grumman is typical of fleet oilers and provides underway replenishment of fuel, fleet cargo, and stores to ships at sea. She is operated by a crew of five military and 74 to 89 CIVMARs. USNS Robert E. Peary (T-AKE 5) – USNS Peary is a Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo/ammunition ship based at NAVSTA Norfolk. T-AKE 5 handles a range of tasks in support of Navy ships at sea, delivering ammunition, food, repair parts, stores, and small quantities of fuel. Displacing 41,000 tons, Peary is operated by a crew of 129 CIVMARs. Two of her sister-ships – USNS McLean (T-AKE 12) and USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE 13) are also homeported at Norfolk. USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) – USNS Comfort is a Mercy-class hospital ship. Displacing almost 70,000 tons, she and her twin sister Mercy are the world’s largest hospital ships, and names familiar to people worldwide. Comfort is operated by a crew of 71 CIVMARs and up to 1,200 military personnel. She provides rapid, flexible afloat, mobile, acute surgical medical facilities when called upon to support Marine Corps Air/Ground Task Forces deployed ashore, Army and Air Force units deployed ashore, and naval amphibious task forces and battle forces afloat. Her secondary mission is to provide hospital services to


U.S. Navy photograph by Bill Mesta

Sailors assigned to Military Sealift Command’s expeditionary mobile base USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB 3) remove chocks from a Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15 (HM-15) “Blackhawks” MH-53 Sea Dragon prior to takeoff, during a four-day airborne mine countermeasure deployment training exercise in 2016.

support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide. USNS Zeus (T-ARC 7) – USNS Zeus is the only cable ship specifically built for the Navy. Capable of laying 1,000 miles of cable at depths of up to 9,000 feet, Zeus transports, deploys, retrieves, and repairs submarine cables. She also tests underwater sound devices, with a secondary mission of conducting acoustic, hydrographic, and bathymetric surveys. Displacing 15,174 tons, she is operated by a crew of 58 CIVMARs. USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB 3) – USNS Puller is the Navy’s first expeditionary mobile base – one of two ESB variants of the Navy’s planned fleet of expeditionary transfer dock vessels. Operated by a hybrid Navy/CIVMAR crew, she serves as an afloat forward staging base-variant of the mobile landing platform designed to provide dedicated support for air mine countermeasures and special warfare missions. The ship is capable of executing additional missions, including counter-piracy, maritime security, and humanitarian and disaster relief. The platform supports a variety of rotary-wing aircraft. Able to embark up to four MH-53 helicopters, Puller has already done extensive training with HM-15 and is considered the “future of expeditionary mine hunting.”

USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1) – Another of the MSC ships that interacts with NAVSTA Norfolk-based platforms and personnel is USNS Spearhead, the lead ship of the Spearhead class of expeditionary fast transport ships. Launched into service in 2012, she is one of three of the new 338-foot aluminum twin-hull catamaran ships based at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. Manned by a crew of 22 CIVMARs often augmented by Navy personnel, Spearhead and the other ships in this class provide intra theater personnel and cargo lift, bridging the gap between low-speed sealift and high-speed airlift. EPFs transport personnel, equipment, and supplies over operational distances with access to littoral offload points including austere, minor, and degraded ports in support of the Global War on Terrorism/theater security cooperation program, intra-theater operational/ littoral maneuver, and sustainment and seabasing. USNS Apache (T-ATF 172) – No Norfolk-based surface ship or submarine ever wants to have to call on the services of USNS Apache. Stationed at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, the 2,260-ton Apache is a Powhatan-class fleet ocean tug. Operated by a mixed crew of four Navy personnel (divers) and 18 CIVMARs, T-ATF 172 provides towing, diving, and standby submarine rescue services, and salvage operations for the Navy’s numbered fleet commanders. In service since 1981, Apache has towed vessels ranging from the USS Iowa (BB 61) to the decommissioned destroyer USS Barry (DD 933). In 2015, she located the missing cargo ship SS El Faro, which was lost with all hands during Hurricane Joaquin east of the Bahamas. Apache deployed CURV-21, a deep-ocean remotely operated vehicle, to survey and confirm the identity of the wreckage in 15,000 feet of water.


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