Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Corona Division
The Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Corona Division - a Naval Sea Systems Command activity, is the Navy's only independent analysis and assessment center. The mission of the NSWC Corona Division is to "Gauge the warfighting capacity of ships and aircraft, from unit to battlegroup level, by assessing the suitability of design, the performance of weapons and equipment, and the adequacy of training."
In order to carry out this mission, NSWC Corona Division possesses a number of unique capabilities. Foremost among these is the Warfare Assessment Laboratory - the cornerstone of an integrated approach to warfare assessment and the focal point of internal and external interconnectivity.
NSWC Corona Division is comprised of three Centers of Excellence, four departments, and more than 950 scientists and engineers, 700 contractors, and one of the Navy's largest scientific and engineering computer operations. More than 180 critical programs are assigned to the Center with about $180 million dollars of annual expenditures.
The site of the NSWC Corona Division was once a playground for the rich and famous. A 700-acre luxury resort once operated here in Norco, built by Rex Clark in 1928. Frequented by silent-screen stars, the complex sported a gambling casino, golf course, 55 acre lake, a hot sulfur spring spa, an airport, and a magnificent, 5-story hotel. Sitting atop a knoll, the hotel had a commanding view of Lake Norconian and the surrounding countryside. With the stock market crash of 1929, the resort plunged into a 12-year decline culminating in Clark agreeing to sell the complex to the Navy for 1.6 million dollars December 6th, 1941, one day before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Navy quickly began to convert the complex into a hospital. Behind the ornate facade of the main building, murals were removed from the walls, chandeliers were taken down, furniture was stored, draperies and Persian rugs were removed, and soon the elegant hotel was turned into an aseptic, strictly functional hospital. Even the sulfur baths were converted to functional hydrotherapy mineral baths. By 1944, there were 100 officers, 184 nurses, and 1200 corpsmen at the hospital, and that year alone, they cared for almost 12,000 patients.
Under the direction of Dr. Robert D. Huntoon, most of the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) Missile Development Division began to move to the west coast and Unit II was formally designated as the NBS Corona Laboratories. Under Dr. Huntoon's leadership, the organization rapidly expanded to 250 scientists, technicians, and necessary support personnel. This staff continued to concentrate on missiles and improving methods of guiding and fusing them.
In 1952, there occurred a key event in the evolution of the NSWC Corona Division. By that year, the Navy's Terrier guided missile had completed development and was considered ready for full-scale shipboard firing tests. Recognizing the need for accurate and objective evaluation of these firings, the Navy assigned responsibility for this task to the government group whose work on guided missiles it had been sponsoring for more than a decade-the NBS Corona Laboratories.
By 1953, the NBS Corona laboratories were in full operation with a staff of more than 400. On 24 July of that year, following a decision that weapons research and development were more properly a function of the military than NBS, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Commerce jointly announced plans to transfer seventeen NBS technical divisions to the Department of Defense. As part of that transfer, the NBS activity at Corona was transferred to the Department of the Navy, redesignated the Naval Ordnance Laboratory, Corona (NOLC) and assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance, thus becoming an official part of the Bureau it had served since 1941.
The Naval Warfare Assessment Division of the Naval Ordnance Center dedicated a new 48,000 square-foot Warfare Assessment building April 6th, 1994. The $9,425,532 Warfare Assessment Laboratory provides a consolidated secure facility to analyze fleet readiness and capability during world-wide multi-service training exercises.
Secretary of Defense Recommendation: Close Naval Support Activity Corona, CA. Relocate Naval Surface Warfare Center Division Corona, CA, to Naval Base Ventura County (Naval Air Station Point Mugu), CA.
Secretary of Defense Justification: The Naval Surface Warfare Center Division Corona performs three required missions for Department of the Navy
(Independent Assessment Capability, Metrology and Calibration Laboratories, and Tactical Aircrew Combat Training
System Ranges). It was analyzed under 11 Research, Development & Acquisition, and Test & Evaluation functions (Air
Platforms Development & Acquisition; Air Platforms Test & Evaluation; Ground Vehicles Test and Evaluation;
Information Systems Technology Development & Acquisition; Information Systems Technology Test & Evaluation; Sea
Vehicles Development & Acquisition; Sea Vehicles Test & Evaluation; Sensors, Electronics, and Electronic Warfare
Development & Acquisition; Sensors, Electronics, and Electronic Warfare Test & Evaluation; Weapons Technology
Development & Acquisition; and Weapons Technology Test & Evaluation). In each functional area, Naval Surface Warfare
Center Division Corona's quantitative military value scores fell in the bottom half of facilities performing the same function
and thus were reviewed for relocation and/or consolidation with like functions. The Department of the Navy determined it
would lose a critical capability if the 11 functions were relocated to a variety of locations, since this would fracture the full -
spectrum warfare center and independent assessment capability. Considering the overall military value and the fact that
Naval Support Activity Corona was a single function facility, the Department reviewed the possibility of relocating the Naval
Surface Warfare Center functions to a multi-functional location with the capability to host these functions. Relocation of
Naval Surface Warfare Center Division Corona to Naval Air Station Point Mugu collocates it with other Research,
Development & Acquisition, and Test & Evaluation activities and with fleet assets at Naval Air Station Point Mugu. This
consolidation of space will provide a more efficient organization with greater synergies and increased effectiveness.
Relocation of Naval Surface Warfare Center Division Corona Research, Development & Acquisition, and Test &
Evaluation functions to Naval Air Station Point Mugu removes the primary mission from Naval Support Activity Corona
and eliminates or moves the entirety of the workforce at Naval Support Activity Corona except for those personnel
associated with the base operations support function. As a result, retention of Naval Support Activity Corona is no longer
The total estimated one-time cost to the Department of Defense to implement this recommendation would be $80.2M. The net of all costs and savings to the Department during the implementation period would be a cost of $65.5M. Annual recurring savings to the Department after implementation are $6.0M with a payback expected in 15 years. The net present value of the costs and savings to the Department over 20 years would be a savings of $0.4M. Assuming no economic recovery, DoD estimated that this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 1,796 jobs (892 direct jobs and 904 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which would be 0.1 percent of economic area employment.
Community Concerns: Community advocates focused on three primary issues. First, DoD's proposal would result in a brain drain, with fewer than 20 percent of existing employees likely to move. As evidence, they cited: (a) the large percentage of retirement eligible
employees, (b) recent hiring almost exclusively from nearby universities, (c) Ventura County housing costs, twice those near
Norco/Corona, and (d) projected three-to-six fold increases in Naval Base Ventura County area property taxes. Second,
NSA's mission critical independence would be threatened by status as a tenant or subordinate command. Third, the
community believes DoD's proposal will cost significantly more than projected, making an already thin net present value of
savings ($360,000 after 20 years and one-time costs of $80.2 million) even less worthwhile. Last, DoD's figures do not
include the cost of training about 650 new employees at a cost in excess of $70K per employee.
Commission Findings: The Commission carefully considered all of the concerns voiced by the community, as well as the justification provided by the Secretary of Defense. The Commission's analysis found that from a cost perspective, the proposed move was not advisable because even if the DoD estimates were correct, the $360,000 in anticipated savings over a 20-year period were
minuscule in comparison to the plan's likely risks and implementation challenges. Furthermore, the Commission shared
community concerns regarding the likelihood that a large percentage of the employees were unlikely to make the proposed
move, creating program-related disruptions and increasing cost. Finally, the Commission found substantial issues regarding
the feasibility of constructing the needed specialized facilities, including the fact that a major and respected contractor
estimate for construction of two key buildings was $40 million more than DoD's military construction projections.
Commission Recommendations: The Commission found that the Secretary of Defense deviated substantially from final selection criteria 1 and 4, and the Force Structure Plan. Therefore, the Commission has rejected the recommendation of the Secretary.
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list