What began in 1918 as a proving ground for the testing of naval gunnery is today the Dahlgren site of the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD). NSWCDD is host to three tenant commands: Naval Space Command; AEGIS Training and Readiness Center; and the Joint Warfare Analysis Center.
The host command, Dahlgren Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWCDD) grew from a tiny proving ground for testing naval guns into being among the largest research and development (R&D) centers in the United States. NSWCDD provides research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for surface warfare systems, surface ship combat systems, strategic systems, ordnance, mines, amphibious warfare systems, mine countermeasures, and special warfare systems.
The Naval Space Command (SPACOM), commissioned in October 1983, brings together several activities under a single command to strengthen operational control, provide a central focal point for naval space matters and more effectively guide future operational uses of space. Naval Space Command provides space support to day-to-day operations of the fleet and fleet Marine forces worldwide, whether for routine deployments, exercises, or actions in response to a crisis situation. This space support can be categorized across a broad spectrum of activities that encompass communications, space surveillance and indication and warning, intelligence, navigation and remote sensing.
The AEGIS Training and Readiness Center (ATRC) is staffed and maintained by a team of professional military and civilian instructors and technicians who provide training to both enlisted and officer personnel in the skills they will need to operate the United States Navy's most sophisticated warships, the Ticonderoga class cruiser and the Arleigh Burke class destroyer, both equipped with the AEGIS Combat System and the AEGIS Weapons System.
The Joint Warfare Analysis Center (JWAC) is a Navy-sponsored joint command under the Director of Operations (J3), Joint Staff, was officially established in May 1994. The Command is instrumental in assisting the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and commanders of unified commands in preparation and analysis of joint operational plans.
This facility, approximately 50 miles down the Potomac River from Washington, DC, has operated for over 80 years. Originally established for the testing of major naval ordnance (including battleship main battery armament of 16" and larger caliber), its mission has evolved to include a wide variety of weapons related T&E functions. NSWC Dahlgren, however, retains its "gun line", associated downrange impact area (a 20 mile long test firing area is available), and Restricted Areas R-6611, R-6612 and R-6613 to accommodate this mission. The airspace is now activated infrequently, following DoN/FAA discussions held to reduce its impact on civil traffic flows, especially around the Washington/Baltimore terminal complexes. In recognition of the overlapping areas of geographic interest and the limited aviation focus of NSWC Dahlgren, FACSFAC VACAPES now serves as the RAC for the installation.
Like virtually every other Navy facility, NSWC Dahlgren faces encroachment concerns that were not envisioned when the facility was established. Rural Virginia is a much different region from 1918; in fact a much different region from 1980. The downstream Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay are prized as vacation and retirement destinations, rather than the isolated commercial and military areas they were in earlier decades. For NSWC Dahlgren, this change in the region's character challenges the installation's flexibility in testing large weapons. The installation, along with the US Army Aberdeen Proving Ground, has underwritten innovative research into the nature and management of short duration high level sound impacts (i.e. noise impacts from ordnance testing).
Dahlgren was established in 1918 as the Naval Proving Ground, and named Dahlgren in honor of Rear Admiral John Adolphus Dahlgren, who is considered the father of modern naval ordnance. Prior to 1918, the Navy had operated a proving ground at Indian Head, Maryland, which became inadequate with advances in ordnance during World War I. A range of 90,000 yards down the Potomac River was provided by the move to Dahlgren. Dahlgren was then an extremely remote area. Thus, to recruit and retain the highly specialized work force required, the Navy provided housing, food and medical services, schools and recreational facilities, and many other community services.
Until World War II, the principal work at Dahlgren was to proof and test every major naval gun, along with the rounds they deliver, for fleet use. This was done at the Main Range Gun Line which faces down the Potomac River. While the Gun Line still performs that vital role, the scope and depth of work at Dahlgren has grown tremendously. Reflecting this expanded mission, and Dahlgren's transition to a broad-based R&D capability, the name was changed in 1959 to Naval Weapons Laboratory. Dahlgren now has a land area of 4,300 acres that includes several miles of Potomac shoreline and a 20-mile downriver range for projectile testing.
Equally as great as the history of this area is the promising future of the NSWCDD mission: to provide research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for surface warfare systems, ordnance, mines, amphibious warfare systems, mine countermeasures, special warfare systems and strategic systems.
Dahlgren is located in Virginia's historic Northern Neck, approximately 23 miles east of Fredericksburg, Virginia; 68 miles south of Washington D.C.; and 55 miles north of Richmond,Virginia between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers.
Bounded on the north by the Potomac River and on the South by the Rappahannock River, the county was formed from Richmond County in 1720 and renamed in honor of King George 1. Dahlgren, in King George County, bridges the Colonial past with the high-tech future. A home to both bald eagles and the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, the area features diversity at its best. Strategically located within a 90 minute drive of Washington DC; Baltimore, MD; and Richmond, VA; Dahlgren offers the charm of country living conveniently located near the Eastern Seaboard's most exciting cities.
The community of Dahlgren is nestled in Virginia's historic Northern Neck. Surrounded by the expanding Virginia counties of King George, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Caroline and Westmoreland, the area is linked to the history of this nation by the names of those who at one time in their lives called this area their home: Presidents Washington, Madison, and Monroe; General Robert E. Lee,and Francis Scott Key, National Anthem author.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Naval Weapons Station Charleston, SC by relocating Surface Maritime Sensors, Electronic Warfare, and Electronics Research, Development & Acquisition, and Test & Evaluation of the Space Warfare Center to Naval Surface Warfare Center Division, Dahlgren. DoD also recommended to realign Naval Surface Warfare Center Division, Dahlgren and two other installations by relocating Maritime Information Systems Research, Development & Acquisition, and Test & Evaluation to Naval Submarine Base Point Loma, San Diego, CA, and consolidating with the Space Warfare Center to create the new Space Warfare Systems Command Pacific, Naval Submarine Base Point Loma, San Diego, CA. DoD would also realign Naval Submarine Base Point Loma, San Diego, CA, by relocating Surface Maritime Sensors, Electronic Warfare, and Electronics Research, Development & Acquisition, and Test & Evaluation of the Space Warfare Center to Naval Surface Warfare Center Division, Dahlgren.
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 Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren, VA, was in attainment for all criteria pollutants with the exception of 8 hour and 1 hour O3 and Pb, which were Unclassifiable. Archeological and historical sites had been identified on Dahlgren that might impact current construction or current operations. There would be a potential impact regarding the bald eagle at Dahlgren. This recommendation would have the potential to impact the hazardous waste and solid waste program at Dahlgren. Dahlgren also discharged to impaired waterways, and groundwater and surface water contamination were reported.
DoD recommended to realign Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren, VA, by relocating all Weapons & Armaments Research, Development & Acquisition, and Test & Evaluation, except guns/ammo and weapon systems integration to Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, CA. DoD also recommended to realign Fleet Combat Training Center, CA (Port Hueneme Detachment, San Diego, CA), by relocating all Weapons and Armaments weapon system integration Research, Development & Acquisition, and Test & Evaluation to Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren, VA.
These actions would relocate technical facilities with lower overall quantitative Military Value (across Research, Development & Acquisition and Test & Evaluation) into the Integrated RDAT&E center and other receiver sites with greater quantitative Military Value. Consolidating the Navy's air-to-air, air-to-ground, and surface launched missile RD&A, and T&E activities at China Lake, CA, would create an efficient integrated RDAT&E center. China Lake would be able to accommodate with minor modification/addition both mission and lifecycle/ sustainment functions to create synergies between these traditionally independent communities. This recommendation would enable technical synergy, and position the Department of Defense to exploit center-of-mass scientific, technical and acquisition expertise with weapons and armament Research, Development & Acquisition that resided at 10 locations into the one Integrated RDAT&E site, one specialty site, and an energetics site. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren, VA, would be a receiver specialty site for Naval surface weapons systems integration and receive a west coast site for consolidation. This construct would consolidate Navy surface weapons system integration at Dahlgren, VA. During the other large scale movements of W&A capabilities noted above, Weapon System Integration was specifically addressed to preserve the synergies between large highly integrated control system developments (Weapon Systems Integration) and the weapon system developments themselves. A specialty site for Naval Surface Warfare was identified at Dahlgren, VA, that was unique to the services and a centroid for Navy surface ship developments. Environmentally, archeological and historical sites exist on NSWC Dahlgren, which might impact current construction and operations.
DoD would also realign Naval Surface Warfare Center Division Dahlgren by relocating gun and ammunition 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 202 jobs (93 direct jobs and 109 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 periods in the King George County, VA, economic area (1.4 percent).
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