Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek
The Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, the largest base of its kind in the world, is the major operating station for the amphibious forces of the United States Atlantic Fleet. The base's location totals 2,120 acres of land and is sited at the extreme northwest corner of Virginia Beach. Little Creek's mission is to provide continuously improving support and services to operating forces and shore commands.
Little Creek is a small inlet on the southern shore of Chesapeake Bay approximately midway between Cape Henry and NAVSTA Norfolk. Ships of the U.S. Navy Amphibious Forces, such as LSDs, LPDs and LSTs routinely use the pier facilities at Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek. Pier integrity at the Amphibious Base varies from pier to pier. Piers 11 through 19 on the west side of the harbor are thought to be the strongest. They are the only piers at the facility, except for the quay wall and "dogleg" on Little Creek Cove, that can be used by large ships. Some pier work has recently been completed, but consisted mainly of replacing faulty concrete decking.
The entrance channel to the Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek has a project depth of 22 ft. It passes between two jetties into Little Creek Harbor on a bearing of 177.5°. Ships entering Little Creek Harbor should not exceed 20 ft draft.
Commissioned in 1945, the Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek grew out of four bases constructed during World War II--the Amphibious Training Base, the Naval Frontier Base, and Camps Bradford and Shelton. It consisted of three annexes named for the former owners of the property--Shelton on the east, Bradford in the center, and Whitehurst to the west. Camp Bradford was named by the U. S. for a Confederate Army officer. During World War II, Camp Bradford was about half of the present Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base. On March 16, 1943 Camp Bradford changed its identity from a SeaBee Training Base to an Amphibious Training Base. Between May 1943 and January 1944, over 100,000 troops were amphibiously polished at Bradford. Day and night, men, tanks and guns poured in and out of the holds of LSTs, LCIs, LCTs, LCVP; Bradford's beaches were alive with activity. Early in January 1944 with the end of Army training in sight, Bradford took a deep breath and plunged into the vital LST program. Hundreds and hundreds of LSTs [Landing Ship, Tank] were manned by the thousands of men trained at Camp Bradford. Bradford's training staff was comprised of Mediterranean assault veterans giving trainees the benefit of their earlier combat experience. Many training time-savers were ingeniously put to work. One was the Mock-Up. This was the creation of the top deck and bridge of an LST on dry land. It was exactly the same size in every way. Its only difference was that this mock ship, known as the USS NEVERSAIL, was made of wood and concrete rather than steel.
A Secretary of the Navy letter in July 1945 disestablished the separate bases and established the Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek with a commissioning date of July 30, 1945. In 1946 Little Creek was designated a permanent base.
Today the facility is comprised of four locations in three states, including almost 9,000 acres of real estate within which 15,000 military and civilian employees work together. Outlying facilities of the Amphibious Base include a 6,013-acre Naval Gunfire Support Range located at Bloodsworth Island, Maryland, 80 miles north in the Chesapeake Bay. Approximately 350 acres at Camp Pendleton, sandwiched between Dam Neck and the commercial section of Virginia Beach, make up Little Creek's only property with direct access to the open ocean. Twenty-one acres known as Radio Island at Morehead City, North Carolina, are used as an amphibious embarkation/debarkation area for United States Marine Corps units at Camp Lejeune, NC. Port facilities are leased at the Commercial Terminal in Morehead City, NC, near Radio Island.
The 61 piers surrounding Little Creek Channel provide docking facilities for approximately 30 Navy ships homeported at Little Creek.
The Little Creek site includes woodland training areas in support of amphibious operation. Sandy beaches and mudflats provide a realistic scenario for other hands-on training. Also included are three miles of beach on the Chesapeake Bay and 3/4 of a mile of beach on the Atlantic Ocean.
Navy, Army, and Marine Corps reserve personnel have use of the training facilities. Their training is coordinated through the Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Readiness Center at Little Creek. Some 4,500 reservists train here yearly.
More than 75 tenant and/or supported activities live here, most of which are directly involved in amphibious operation. The base has three primary training commands. The Fleet Training Unit is responsible for refresher and underway training of Navy and Coast Guard ships. The mission of Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Atlantic is to provide instruction and training for personnel and units of the US Atlantic Fleet, reserve components, and allied military personnel in order to achieve and maintain an optimum state of readiness for amphibious operations; to provide training in shipboard engineering, naval gunfire support, naval science, and seamanship, conduct training for the total force in the doctrine, tactics and techniques of amphibious, Maritime Prepositioned Forces (MPF), and waterborne operations, with emphasis on landing forces matters for the Atlantic Fleet.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Washington Navy Yard, DC, by disestablishing the Space Warfare Systems Center Charleston, SC, detachment Washington Navy Yard and assign functions to the new Space Warfare Systems Command Atlantic Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, VA. DoD also recommended to realign Naval Station, Norfolk, VA, by disestablishing the Space Warfare Systems Center Norfolk, VA, and the Space Warfare Systems Center Charleston, SC, detachment Norfolk, VA, and assign functions to the new Space Warfare Systems Command Atlantic Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, VA. DoD recommended to realign Naval Weapons Station Charleston, SC, by relocating the Command Structure of the Space Warfare Center to Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, VA, and consolidating it with billets from Space Warfare Systems Command San Diego to create the Space Warfare Systems Command Atlantic, Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek. The remaining Maritime Information Systems Research, Development & Acquisition, and Test & Evaluation functions at Naval Weapons Station Charleston would be assigned to Space Warfare Systems Command Atlantic, Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek. DoD would also realign Naval Submarine Base Point Loma, San Diego, CA, by disestablishing Space Warfare Systems Command San Diego, CA, detachment Norfolk, VA, and assignign functions to the new Space Warfare Systems Command Atlantic, Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek.
These recommended realignments and consolidations would provide for multifunctional and multidisciplinary Centers of Excellence in Maritime C4ISR. This recommendation would also reduce the number of technical facilities engaged in Maritime Sensors, Electronic Warfare, & Electronics and Information Systems RDAT&E from twelve to five. This, in turn, would reduce overlapping infrastructure increase the efficiency of operations and support an integrated approach to RDAT&E for maritime C4ISR. Another result would also be reduced cycle time for fielding systems to the warfighter. Environmentally, Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek was in attainment for all Criteria Pollutants. Little Creek also discharged to impaired waterways, and groundwater and surface water contamination were reported.
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