Naval Weapons Station Earle
Monmouth County, New Jersey
The Earle Naval Weapons Station, Earle/Leonardo Pier complex, is located along the northern New Jersey shore in the south end of Sandy Hook Bay. It is located 4 miles west of Sandy Hook and 7 miles southeast of Staten Island. The command's name was changed in 1974 from Naval Ammunition Depot to Naval Weapons Station. The waterfront complex is the homeport to USS Seattle (AOE 3), USS Detroit (AOE 4), USS Supply (AOE 6), USS Arctic (AOE 8), and Combat Logistics Group 2. Effective June 1, 1997 the USS Supply moved to Earle. Earle provides logistical, technical and material support to the fleet in a variety of areas ranging from combat subsystems and retail ammunition management to ordnance packaging, handling and storage.
Since Earle is a weapons station, it handles, stores, transports, renovates and issues all types of weapons and ammunition. The USS Arctic moved in June 1998. As a result of these decisions, the use of this important facility greatly increased. The Congress noted in 1996 that a parking facility for 60 ordnance loaded trucks is the minimum needed for loading an AOE class ship. Both of the ships subsequently moved to Earle are AOE class ships. Construction was needed to make the facilities at Earle safer and more efficient through the construction of an Explosive Truck Holding Yards along the waterfront and main side parking facilities. This project (P-245) was originally included in the FY 1994 appropriations bill. in 1996 year the Appropriations Committee included language in its bill that approved a reprogramming request and indicated its support for the construction of these holding yards. Despite the growth of Earle's mission and the support from the Appropriations Committee, this project kept getting pushed back. The Navy budgeted this for FY 1999.
The station - named after RADM Ralph Earle, the Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance during WWI - was opened in 1943 to help with the war effort. When a pressing need developed during World War II for an ammunition depot in the greater New York area, a site in Monmouth County, New Jersey was chosen. The location provided two distinct areas. A waterfront location provided ships with a safe and operationally advantageous port to take on ammunition, while an inland storage area, safe from possible submarine bombardment, provided access to commercial rail facilities with lines coming from the west, where the majority of ammunition shipments originated. On August 2, 1943, construction began and in a short time, storage bunkers, a road and rail network, numerous buildings, and a pier complex were built. Named after Rear Admiral Ralph Earle, Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance during World War I, the Station was commissioned on December 13, 1943 as the Naval Ammunition Depot Earle. Earle continued to develop after World War II, keeping pace with the changing needs of the Navy.
The Sandy Hook Channel entrance leads to Terminal Channel and Earle/Leonardo Pier. Terminal Channel, entered from Sandy Hook Channel about 1 mile west-southwest of the northern tip of Sandy Hook, leads to a turning basin, and two deepwater ammunition handling piers of the U. S. Naval Ammunition Depot at Earle/Leonardo. Federal project depth is 35 feet in the channel and turning basin. The deepwater piers and barge pier are connected to the shore by a trestle that extends nearly two miles across the mud flats from Earle/Leonardo.
The pier stretches 2.2 miles into the Sandy Hook bay and comprises 2.9 miles of pier/trestle surface area. The Station is divided into two sections: Main-side, located in Colts Neck, and the Waterfront Area, on Sandy Hook Bay, located in the Leonardo section of Middletown. Both areas are connected by Normandy road, a 15-mile military road and rail line.
Trestle 1 is the 2 mile long rail and road causeway that leads to Trestles 2, 3 and 4. There are no docking or berthing facilities on Trestle 1.
Trestle 2 leads to Pier 2, and berths 2N1 on the west side and 2N2 on the east side. Berth lengths on Pier 2 are 600 ft with a 500 ft long elevated loading platform on each side of the pier. Pier deck height is 13 ft above MLW, loading platform height is 18 ft above MLW, and the alongside depth is 35 ft at MLW. Pier 2 is not currently used for cargo loading.
Trestle 3 leads to Pier 3 and berths 3A3 and 3A1 (west side), and 3A4 and 3A2 (east side). Total berth length is 1200 ft long with two 500 ft elevated loading platforms on each side of the pier. Pier deck height is 12 ft above MLW, loading platform height is 17 ft above MLW, and the alongside depth is 35 ft at MLW. A small boat mooring area is located in the southeast end of Trestle 3. Tugs and yard craft are moored in this location.
Trestle 4 leads to Pier 4 and berths 4W (west side) and 4E (east side). Berth length is 800 ft with a 600 ft long elevated loading platform on each side of the pier. Pier deck height is 13 ft above MLW, loading platform height is 18 ft above MLW, and the alongside depth is 45 ft at MLW. Pier 4 is the primary cargo-loading pier. A project to improve fendering on Pier 4 was completed by 2001.
The Mainside area, which is located mainly in Colts Neck, is more than 10,000 acres which contains ordnance storage areas and the majority of Earle's departments and facilities. Mainside is in many ways like a small town with its own police and fire departments, homes, office buildings, restaurants, and recreational facilities.
The Waterfront area is located on Sandy Hook Bay in Leonardo. The trident-shaped pier complex extends 2.2 miles into Sandy Hook Bay and comprises 2.9 miles of pier/trestle area. Four Fast Combat Support ships, USS Seattle (AOE 3), USS Detroit (AOE 4), USS Supply (AOE 6), and USS Arctic (AOE 8), are homeported at the pier complex. The pier is fully capable of providing ammunition to nearly every class of ship operated by the United States Navy and Coast Guard.
Naval Weapons Station Earle is also home to many tenant organizations. These tenants include Combat Logistics Group Two, Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activity, Mobile Mine Assembly Unit Three, Superintendent of Shipbuilding Portsmouth Detachment Earle, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Two Detachment Earle, Atlantic Ordnance Command Detachment Earle, Public Works Center Site Earle, and the Packaging, Handling, Storage, and Transportation Center. So, in actuality, there is no such place as Earle, New Jersey. But there is a key Naval installation located in Monmouth County named after Rear Admiral Earle.
The station is divided into two sections: Mainside, located in Colts Neck, and the Waterfront Area, on Sandy Hook Bay, adjacent to the town of Leonardo. Both areas are connected by Normandy Road, a 15 mile military road and rail line.
The 10,000 acres which comprise Mainside, house the majority of Earle's departments and facilities. The Ordnance Detachment performs the station's primary mission - providing ammunition to the fleet. An integrated work force of military and civilian personnel operate the inland storage, renovation, transshipment and demilitarization facilities.
The Public Works Detachment runs the railroad, consisting of 130 miles of track, nine locomotives and 520 pieces of rolling stock. The station also manages handling equipment and containers for the fleet and shore stations, including design, testing, acquisition, in-service engineering and logistical support. Earle is in many ways like a small town, with homes, office buildings, factories, restaurants, cars and trucks.
At the Waterfront, the Ordnance Department provides ammunition for nearly every class of ship operated by the United States Navy and Coast Guard as well as commercial vessels from other countries. The Port Services Division, located on the Pier Complex, provides a full range of services for visiting and homeported ships.
Although most of the station's departments and divisions are located in the administrative area Mainside, the majority of military personnel are located at the Waterfront. Combat Logistics Group Two Detachment Earle and the two homeported Fast Combat Support Ships, USS Seattle and Detroit homeported there in 1990 - are located there. In preparing for the arrival of the Seattle and Detroit, a multi-million dollar expansion began. A fourth pier was completed in 1990. It is the permanent home of the Seattle and Detroit.
Many other projects are well underway or already completed. 500 new housing units have been constructed to meet the needs of the Sailors stationed there. At the Waterfront, the Medical and Dental Clinics as well as the Navy Retail Exchange Store have moved to larger quarters and a Ships Intermediate Maintenance Facility has been added. A 20,000 square foot transit shed and a new Bowling Center were also opened.
The station's Pier Complex is one of the longest "finger piers" in the world. It is presently comprised of a two mile long trestle which connects to three finger piers - which are Piers 2, 3, and 4. These piers stretch nearly three miles into the Sandy Hook Bay. One mile from the shore the trestle branches off to Pier 1. At the junction of Piers 2, 3, and 4, a concrete platform exits which supports a forklift/battery recharging shop and the port operations building. This area is known as the "wye". All of the existing structures, with the exception of Pier 4 and the "wye", were constructed in the early 1940s. The "wye" was constructed in 1981 and Pier 4 was completed in 1990.
The original pier and trestle were constructed of reinforced concrete slabs approximately two inches to 24 inches thick, and overlaid with an asphalt wearing surface. The docks are supported by more than 41,000 timber piles. Elevated loading platforms line both sides of each pier. Pier and Trestle 4 are constructed of pre-stressed concrete box girders topped by a cast-in-place reinforced concrete deck, supported on precast concrete pile caps and steel pipe piles. A unique feature on Pier 4 is the double deck utility galley/loading platform.
Currently Pier 1 serves as a temporary holding yard for trailers; Pier 2 is vacant; Pier 3 is the ordnance handling pier, and Pier 4 is a homeport pier for the USS Seattle (AOE 3) and the USS Detroit (AOE 4). In support of the larger Seattle and Detroit, the water depth at the pier complex was dredged to 47 feet.
Since World War II the pier complex has provided ammunition services to almost every class of vessel operated by the Navy and Coast Guard as well as commercially owned vessels from a multitude of nations.
Over the years, the station has taken on many important functions. It has become the engineering agent for the Naval Sea Systems and Naval Air Systems Command in the field of packaging, handling, stowage and transportability of weapons systems. A new facility mainside houses the departments involved in weapons handling and container design, test and acquisition. The Naval Packaging, Handling, Storage, and Transportation (PHST) Center is responsible for the design, development, prototype fabrication, testing, production acquisition, and documentation of ordnance containers and handling equipment for the US Navy. The Center is recognized as the largest organization for such work in the United States, and has the facilities, equipment, and professional staff necessary to accomplish the required work.
Naval Weapons Station Earle (NWSE) covers 11,134 acres in Colts Neck. Twenty-seven (27) areas of concern at NWSE were identified for potential cleanup under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), and three (3) areas are being permitted under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Wastes generated from weapons maintenance activities include: grit and paint chips from sandblasting; paint scrapings; solvent and paint sludges; lead bullets from small arms ranges; and metals including lead, zinc, and chromium. NWSE lies over an important drinking water aquifer. Approximately 1,900 residents live within a 3-mile radius of the station, and there are 500 homes on the base. An estimated 320 private and municipal wells serve 1,200 people within a 3-mile radius, and groundwater also is used for irrigation. Local surface water is used for recreation and crop irrigation. The headwaters and drainage basins of three major Coastal Plain rivers (the Swimming, the Manasquan, and the Shark), are present on the Main Base.
NWSE is being addressed through the performance of a base-wide Remedial Investigation focusing on contamination at individual sites as well as the additive effects of contamination on each watershed at the facility. Cleanup activities are fast tracked at those areas of more immediate concern. Sites have been grouped together for remediation in a phased approach.
The Navy has completed removal actions at sites 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 27. This cleanup work generally consisted of the excavation and off-site disposal of contaminated soil. At site 20, the work was completed in 1995. Work at the other Sites was completed in 1996. In total, approximately 1,189 tons of soil was removed from NWSE. In addition, 2 tons of lead (bullets and residue) was removed.
From 1990 through 1995, the Navy conducted a Remedial Investigation (RI) at twenty-seven (27) separate areas of environmental concern. The investigations consisted of several rounds of groundwater, soil and sediment sampling. The objective was to determine the nature and the extent of contamination in these areas. The decisions to conduct the above-mentioned removal actions were based on these findings. Additionally, EPA and the Navy agreed, based upon the RI data, that seven (7) sites (3, 6, 12, 13, 16/F, 17, and 26) required additional sampling in order to develop feasibility study alternatives. The additional sampling work was conducted between October 1996 and January 1997.
NWSE is participating in the Installation Restoration program, a specially funded program established by the Department of Defense (DoD) in 1978 to identify, investigate, and cleanup of hazardous contaminants at military and other DoD facilities. Under a CERCLA Section 120 Interagency Agreement with EPA, the Navy has agreed to deadlines, timetables, and EPA review of decisions involving cleanup technologies.
Based on the information found in the Remedial Investigation phase, the Navy fast-tracked cleanup activities at various sites. At sites 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27 contaminated soil was excavated and removed; all such work was completed by December, 1996. Sites 4, 5, 19, and 26 were targeted for the first Records of Decision at NWSE. Records of Decision for sites 4, 5, and 19 were signed on September 25, 1997. The Record of Decision for site 26 was signed on September 29, 1998. The design of the air sparging system for site 26 has been completed and implementation of a full scale system began in January, 2001. A "No Further Action" ROD was signed on September 28, 1999, for sites 14, 20, 22, 23, 24, 24, 27 and 29.
EPA has reviewed and commented on the Record of Decision for sites 3 and 10. The remedy is landfill caps for both sites. Construction on the sites should begin in April, 2002.
The final design plans and specifications for the landfill caps at sites 4 and 5 were submitted in December, 1997. Site clearing work commenced in February, 1998 and the cap construction was completed in June, 1998. The work plan for the excavation and remediation at site 19 was submitted in December, 1997. The work commenced in January 1998 and was completed in March, 1998.
EPA has determined that the Naval Weapons Station site does not pose an imminent threat to the surrounding population or the environment while the investigations and remediations are taking place.
Environmental studies completed at Earle Naval Weapons Station in FY83 identified four sites requiring further investigation. The sites include landfills, production areas, storage areas, maintenance areas, and disposal areas. Releases of VOCs and heavy metals from landfills and production areas have contaminated groundwater and soil at the installation.
In FY87, a Site Inspection (SI) identified additional sites. The SI identified high concentrations of contaminants in a landfill, a stream near the scrap metal landfill, and at a paint chip and sludge disposal area. The SI recommended additional characterization involving monitoring wells, soil borings, and surface water sampling. No further action was recommended for two sites.
In FY91, the installation began conducting Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) activities. An interim draft RI report submitted in FY92 recommended cleanup for all sites, including capping, removal, or Long-Term Monitoring. The first round of RI/FS activities was completed in late FY93. Decisions on the sites were deferred until adequate background and watershed data were obtained as part of the second round RI/FS activities conducted in FY94 for the remaining sites.
Removal Actions for several Underground Storage Tank (UST) sites were completed in FY93. One UST site was investigated in FY91 and subsequently closed in FY92. Spills and overfills at two UST sites contaminated surrounding soils, which were excavated and disposed of in FY93.
In FY94, the installation completed a work plan, an Action Memorandum, and an Engineering Evaluation and Cost Analysis for a Removal Action at Site 20.
In FY94, the installation also began preparing a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) for UST 8. In addition, heating oil USTs were removed, and a number of leaking USTs were identified.
In FY90, the installation formed a Technical Review Committee (TRC) and completed its Community Relations Plan (CRP).
The installation also initiated a partnering effort with the Monmouth County Health Department to provide the department with Geographic Information System maps of the installation to improve decision making and promote public involvement.
The TRC was converted to a Restoration Advisory Board (RAB). A public meeting was held in February with the Monmouth County Health Department to discuss the cleanup program at the installation and the formation of the RAB. The first formal RAB meeting was held in May 1995; a site visit was provided for the 20 RAB members in June 1995.
The installation also completed an RI work plan for 27 sites. Field work was performed at 21 of the sites. Work at the other six sites was deferred due to funding cutbacks. EPA approved the no further action recommendations for 14 sites. Remedial Design (RD) activities for selected landfill sites were also deferred due to funding cutbacks.
A Removal Action was completed at Site 20. The removed soils were taken to an asphalt plant for recycling. In addition, no further action was recommended for seven UST sites.
Site A consists of 18 waste areas. Wastes generated in Site A include ordnance materials, grit and paint, paint scrapings, solvent/paint sludges, ammonium picrate, lead bullets from small arms ranges, zinc, lead, titanium, and small amounts of other constituents. The Navy detected contaminants in a limited number of sediment and surface water samples, but further background samples are necessary.
In 1986, a Navy contractor detected pentachlorophenol in two monitoring wells in Site A, which overlies the Cohansey Sand, Kirkwood Formation, and Vincentown Formation aquifers. All are hydraulically connected, so that water can move among them. An estimated 620 people within 3 miles of Site A are served by these aquifers. A waste area is within 200 feet of a wetland where a branch of Mingamahone Brook originates.
The station is participating in the Installation Restoration Program, established in 1978. Under this program, the Department of Defense seeks to identify, investigate, and clean up contamination from hazardous materials. The Navy has completed Phase I (records search). Phase II (preliminary survey) is underway.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Naval Surface Warfare Center Division Earle, NJ, by relocating weapon and armament packaging Research and Development & Acquisition to Picatinny Arsenal, NJ. This recommendation would realign and consolidate those gun and ammunition facilities working in Weapons and Armaments (W&A) Research (R), Development & Acquisition (D&A). This realignment would result in a more robust joint center for gun and ammunition Research, Development & Acquisition at Picatinny Arsenal. This location was already the greatest concentration of military value in gun and ammunition W&A RD&A. This recommendation would include Research, Development & Acquisition activities in the Army and Navy. It would promote jointness, enable technical synergy, and position the Department of Defense to exploit center-of-mass scientific, technical, and acquisition expertise within the weapons and armament Research, Development & Acquisition community that resided at this DoD specialty location. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 126 jobs (67 direct jobs and 59 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 periods in the Edison, NJ, Metropolitan Division (less than 0.1 percent).
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