Military


Naval Station (NS) Norfolk Chambers Field
[ ex Naval Air Station Norfolk]

As of February 1998, there is no more NAS Norfolk. Under "regionalization" NAS Norfolk was absorbed by Naval Station Norfolk. Naval Station (NS) Norfolk Chambers Field is a new entity created by a recent consolidation of several facilities and functions in Hampton Roads. Airfield operations conducted at the former NAS Norfolk are now controlled by the Commanding Officer of NAS Oceana. Chambers Field, which consists of two heliports, six helipads, and an 8,400-foot runway, is the primary flight surface of the former NAS Norfolk.

Air Operations conducts over 100,000 flight operations each year, an average of 275 flights per day or one every 6 minutes. Over 150,000 passengers and 264,000 tons of mail and cargo depart annually on Air Mobility Command (AMC) aircraft and other chartered flights from our airfield. It is the hub for Navy logistics going to the European and Central Command theaters of operations, and to the Caribbean. It is home to C-2, C-9, C-12 and E-2 fixed wing aircraft, and H-3, H-46, H-53, and H-60 helicopters.

Chambers Field was commissioned in 1918 at the forefront of Naval aviation and has supported transport, surveillance, and attack aircraft through its history. Its current inventory includes squadrons of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, including: the E-2C Hawkeye, the C-9 Skytrain, the C-12 Super King Air, the C-2 Greyhound, the CH-46 Sea Knight, the CH-53E Super Stallion, the H-3 Sea King, and the H-60 Seahawk. Additionally, Chambers Field is home to the Air Mobility Command (AMC) Passenger and Air Cargo Terminal located on the south side of the airfield. The AMC Terminal processes 12,000 passengers and more than 800 tons of cargo each month for military missions worldwide. The passengers and cargo are transported on L-1011, 747, C-5, C-17 and C-141 aircraft. Pilots perform approximately 100,000 to 120,000 flight operations annually at Chambers Field.

Both Naval Auxiliary Landing Field (NALF) Fentress in Chesapeake, VA and Naval Station (NS) Norfolk Chambers Field in Norfolk, VA are under the command of NAS Oceana.

Over the modern battlefield, an increasing percentage of operations are conducted at night. Night flying is an integral part of an aviator's training program. In particular, night Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) - the simulated carrier landing practice conducted at Chambers Field, NALF Fentress and NAS Oceana - is crucial training for maintaining the proficiency of aircrews. To be effective, night flight training must occur in sufficient conditions of darkness, which necessitates later hours of operations during summer months, when sunset occurs after 8:30 p.m. This situation may be aggravated, such as when operations pick up prior to carrier deployment, resulting in a higher number of scheduled night operations. NAS Norfolk has been considered for conducting FCLP, but encroachment and the variety of transient traffic using the field limit that option.

Naval pilots are required to comply with noise abatement procedures. Procedures used to reduce noise upon takeoff include securing afterburners no later than the airfield boundary and climbing rapidly on departure, taking the noise away from the community. Flight crews are periodically briefed on the existing patterns and the need to maintain the published patterns. Night operations are limited to those that are necessary and essential.

Airspace and facility restrictions preclude NAS Norfolk from serving as the home station for tactical air units, and in the 1950s NAS Oceana was expanded to Master Jet Base status to serve that purpose. NAS Norfolk current tenants include E-2C Hawkeye air surveillance and MH-53 Sea Dragon heavy minesweeping helicopter squadrons, and the administrative and logistics missions associated with the headquarters of the US Joint Forces Command and NATO Atlantic Command, and the US Atlantic Fleet.

NAS Norfolk units' SUA requirements are limited. However, the installation has indicated that its assigned E-2C aircraft were constrained by lack of access to a suitable carrier landing practice field. The E-2C can use NALF Fentress, about eight miles southwest of NAS Oceana, but saturation by Oceana based F/A-18 and F-14 squadrons, incompatible performance characteristics, and limited availability due to noise restrictions make this a marginal asset for the E-2C.

COMNAVAIRLANT is evaluating options, including development of an additional field outside the heavily developed Tidewater region [either from scratch or by developing an existing low-activity civil facility], to accommodate the required training for both NAS Oceana and NAS Norfolk based units. As of May 2001, DoN evaluation of sites and options in North Carolina had been reported in at least one newspaper.

Concerns for effective airspace and ATC interaction with nearby Norfolk International Airport, noted in the 1994 Blue Air report, have been resolved. An anecdotal comment indicated that the combination of reduced airfield operating hours and equipment status/casualties might have contributed to at least one emergency recovery situation in recent years; this issue was not raised in formal discussions. An F-14 is alleged to have made a low-visibility emergency landing at Langley AFB after airfield closure and ground equipment casualties precluded its recovery at NAS Oceana or NAS Norfolk. The date or specific circumstances were not stated.

The Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Detachment (AIMD) provides the first line of component repair support to the Atlantic Fleet's Airborne Early Warning Wing, Helicopter Tactical Wing, USMC helicopter squadrons, USN reserve squadrons, and other operating units both afloat and ashore. Because of its proximity to the operating units and focused repair mission, AIMD is the most responsive and least costly sourcing alternative for aviation repairable components to meet fleet requirements. AIMD also provides timely supply of Supply Department and aircraft carrier supply assets as well as a contingency source of quick turnaround repair for components not immediately available in the base or ship inventories. Supporting the ashore operating environment, AIMD is an important contributor to meeting training and exercise flying requirements and to the overall peace time readiness. AIMD has nine (9) officers and 650 enlisted personnel in 9 separate buildings that cover over 150,000 square feet of enclosed shop areas.

After the Second World War, the air side of the station continued to operate at near peak levels as well. It served as operational headquarters for the Fleet Air Command, and with the emergence of NAS Oceania as a "master jet airfield" in the late 1950's, the tandem formed the nucleus of the biggest air base on the East Coast. The air station would be known as Naval Air Station Norfolk throughout the postwar period. In 1967 it came under the control of Command Naval Air Force, Atlantic.

The Norfolk facility remained the chief supplier of aircraft parts and a major rework plant. Classified as "industrial," the station employed about 7,500 civilians in 1946. In one postwar year the Navy invested $36 million in the overhaul and repair plant alone. The Average annual payroll in the last had of the 1950's came to nearly $45 million. By 1976, the air rework plant covered 174 acres and included 175 buildings. In the 1970's and 1980's its workers restored or repaired, among other craft, F-14 Tomcats, A-6 Intruders, and F-8 Crusaders. From June 1980 until June 1981, the air station handled over 135,478 aircraft operations, 29,832 tons of air cargo, and 132,000 passengers. In 1996, as part of the Congressional "Base Realignment and Closure" (BRAC) process this plant, known by this time as the Naval Aviation Depot Norfolk, closed its doors.

The air station, at one time, was host to more than 70 tenant commands, including several carrier groups, carrier airborne early warning wings, helicopter sea control wings, and Naval Air Reserve units. In addition, the station rendered support in photography, meteorology, and electronics to the fleet commands of the Hampton Roads naval community.







 Number and Type of Annual Operations
 Chambers Field (1995)
Aircraft Type Operation Day Nighta Total
E/2C - C/2 Departures 7,442 260 7,702
Arrivals 10,635 260 10,895
Pattern Operations 12,250 0 12,250
 

TOTAL

30,327 520 30,847
C-9 Departures 1,062 37 1,099
Arrivals 1,062 37 1,099
Pattern Operations 364 0 364
 

TOTAL

2,488 74 2,562
CH-46 Departures 5,638 197 5,835
Arrivals 5,638 197 5,835
Pattern Operations 14,473 0 14,473
 

TOTAL

25,749 394 26,143
CH-53E Departures 2,879 67 2,946
Arrivals 2,879 67 2,946
Pattern Operations 943 0 943
 

TOTAL

6,701 134 6,835
H-3 Departures 1,424 51 1,475
Arrivals 1,424 51 1,475
Pattern Operations 515 0 515
 

TOTAL

3,363 102 3,465
H-60 Departures 1,041 36 1,077
Arrivals 1,041 36 1,077
Pattern Operations 599 0 599
 

TOTAL

2,681 72 2,753
Transient Aircraft Departures 4,709 160 4,869
  Arrivals 4,589 160 4,749
  Pattern Operations 436 0 436
 

TOTAL

9,734 320 10,054
Otherb Departures 5,061 165 5,226
  Arrivals 5,061 165 5,226
  Pattern Operations 5,069 0 5,069
 

TOTAL

15,191 330 15,521
 

AIRFIELD TOTAL

96,234 1,946 98,180

Note: A takeoff or a landing each count as one operation. A pattern such as FCLP or touch and go counts as two operations.

a  For purposes of modeling, nighttime is defined as the time between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

b  Other includes C-12 aircraft.



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