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Naval Air Warfare Center, Lakehurst
Lakehurst, NJ

Navy Lakehurst, as it is collectively known, occupies 7,412 acres in the million-acre Pinelands National Reserve in central New Jersey. Here, the Naval Air Engineering Station provides the facilities and services to support the people and programs of Navy Lakehurst as well as other activities, units, and tenants on the base. The Station is also home to the Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC), Lakehurst. As the largest occupant of the base, NAWC, Lakehurst operates as the Aircraft Platform Interface Group for technical mission support. This specialized niche of Naval Aviation pertains to the equipment, services, and processes needed to assure that fixed and rotary wing aircraft can operate from aircraft carriers, other air capable ships, and Marine Corps expeditionary sites. Navy Lakehurst is responsible for the catapults that launch the aircraft; the landing aids that guide them back to the ship; the arresting gear that recovers them on the deck; and all of the support equipment to move, service, and maintain aircraft. The base employs 1,898 civilians, 251 contractors, and 218 military personnel, and had a fiscal budget of $469 million in FY97.

Lakehurst began as a remote ammunition proving ground for the Russian Imperial Government in 1915. Acquired two years later by the U.S. Army, Lakehurst continued in this function until 1921 when it was commissioned as an air station for the U.S. Navy.

The Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst dates back to 1917 when the command came into existence as the Naval Aircraft Factory. The Navy Department, because aircraft manufacturers were too busy building airplanes for the Army, decided to build and operate the only aircraft factory ever to be completely owned and operated by the U.S. Government. Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, authorized the establishment of the Naval Aircraft Factory at Philadelphia, PA on July 27, 1917: ground was broken on August 10, 1917, and less than eight months later the first airplane, an H-16 Flying Boat, flew off to war. By the end of World War I, aircraft were coming off the line at the rate of two airplanes per day. The total production at that time was 150 twin-engine H-16 Flying Boats and 33F5L Patrol Planes.

Between 1921 and 1961, Lakehurst operated as a Lighter Than Air Center for rigid airships, and became the Nation's first trans-Atlantic international airport. At one time or another, all of the Navy's rigid airships were housed in Hangar One, as well as Germany's two most famous ones ' the Hindenburg and the Graf Zeppelin. Today, Hangar One is a registered historical landmark, and the home of the Carrier Aircraft Launch and Support Systems Equipment Simulator, a one-quarter scale model carrier deck used for training Navy personnel. Nearby is the Hindenburg Memorial which marks the site of the 1937 crash. With the demise of dirigibles, Lakehurst turned its focus to aircraft carriers, helicopters, and airplanes. These innovations enabled air power to be interwoven with sea power, eventually leading the base to its current mission.

Experimental research and development of new types of airplanes was the thrust after the war. Nearly 1000 of the famed N3N "Yellow Peril" airplanes were built before and during World War II. A total of 1,407 airplanes of six types, including large flying boats (PBN), were produced during World War II, as were 1,300 aircraft engines.

In 1953 the organization was changed and the activity renamed Naval Air Material Center. In 1962 the center became, more appropriately with its mission of research and development, the Naval Air Engineering Center (in Philadelphia). In 1967 the Naval Air Engineering Center was completely reorganized. Aeronautical structures and aeronautical crew equipment labs went to the Naval Air Development Center (NADC), Warminster, PA. Aeronautical engine labs were sent to the Naval Air Propulsion Test Center (NAPTC) Trenton. In April 1973 the decision was made to transfer NAEC to Naval Air Station Lakehurst. Two Lakehurst-based commands, the Naval Air Station Lakehurst (NASL) and Naval Air Test Facility (NATF) were disestablished and consolidated with NAEC on March 10, 1977, and NAEC became the host command. NAEC existed until January 1, 1992, when it was disestablished and became the Naval Air Engineering Station, Lakehurst, NJ.

Lakehurst features many unique facilities such as a 12,000-foot dedicated test runway, a catapult launch test site with deadload launch capability, a runway arrested landing site, an elevated fixed platform, a jet blast deflector area, a jet car track site, and a manufacturing complex.

Navy Lakehurst is the critical link between air Navy and sea Navy. In addition to supporting this vital mission, Lakehurst provides outstanding community outreach programs; partners with local businesses and academia; and pioneers environmental and energy conservation efforts. The base has received numerous awards including the Quality Improvement Prototype Award (equivalent to the Malcolm Baldridge Award); the Environmental Showcase Installation Award; the Silver Gull Award; the Gold Nugget Award; and the Aviation Week Quality Center Award.

The runway, which is dedicated solely to testing, is approximately 12,000 feet long with a mark length of 10,160 feet. It's equipped with landing aids and a runway lighting system. There are steam catapults at the approach end; shipboard arresting gear at the mid-section; shorebased arresting gear at various locations; and a Mk 8 Mod 0 Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System (FSOLS).

The Test Catapult Complex is composed of the TC13 Mod 0 and TC13 Mod 2 Steam Catapults, and a high pressure steam plant, located at the threshold of a 12,000 foot long runway. This test facility is used to simulate the launching of naval aircraft from the flight deck of US Navy aircraft carriers. These test catapults are capable of launching both aircraft and deadloads, thus allowing both manned and unmanned testing. Both catapults at the test complex are capable of launching weights up to 100,000 pounds and producing endspeeds up to 185 knots. The steam plant is capable of 138,000 pounds per hour. A unique feature of the test site is the capability of launching deadloads. Recessed guide slots are used to maintain stability of the four wheeled vehicles, and a friction brake brings the vehicle to a stop after release at the end of the power stroke. Although used primarily for testing catapult performance, the site can be used as a linear acceleration/ deceleration force platform for testing such things as drop tanks, cargo slings, aircraft fuel tanks, and fuel cells. The object under test can be oriented to obtain programmed forces in the X, Y or Z axis, and loads up to 15 G's when required.

The Runway Arresting Landing Site (RALS) site is unique in its ability to make both high speed ground roll-in arrestments and fly-in arrestments on either the Mk 7 Mod 2 or Mk 7 Mod 3 arresting gear. Over 3,000 feet of runway are available to build up speed while the aircraft remains on the runway with over 8,000 feet after the arresting equipment. The runway arrested landing site includes an underground complex located on a 12,000 foot dedicated runway. MK-7 Mod 2, Mod 3, and Mod 3+ arresting gear are located under the runway, and accurately simulate a fleet aircraft carrier installation. It provides a place to test changes to aircraft recovery equipment and aircraft under safe controlled conditions prior to introduction to the fleet. The RALS is the only facility in the world capable of making both high speed ground roll-in and fly-in arrests on all types of recovery systems used in the fleet. The roll-in procedure is especially useful because it allows safe, repeatable test conditions. If the aircraft should bolter (miss the arresting gear wire), there is 7,000 feet of runway in which the aircraft can either takeoff or come to a safe stop.

The three operational tracks range in length from 7,500 to 9,150 feet. In-ground catapults identical to those aboard the carriers are used for troubleshooting and developmental evaluation of catapult improvements. They are also used to evaluate compatibility of aircraft systems and components prior to shipboard introduction.

Hangars #5 and #6 are the largest free-standing single arch structures in the world, built entirely of wood - each has 241,000 square feet of floor space. The interior dimensions of each hangar are 1,025' X 235'.

The parachute jump circle is a large 4000 foot diameter (approximately 290 acre) open circular field in the north central portion of NAES, used for the practice of parachute landing. NAES employees reported that the entire parachute jump circle was used to discharge used fuel. It was reported that the fuel truck driver would open the tank valve and drive around the parachute circle to spread the fuel and sometimes he would park the truck and discharge at one spot. According to personnel interviews and fuel handling records, used fuel was discharged at the circle from 1950 to 1970 at a rate of about 100,00 gallons per year. Therefore, up to 2 million gallons of fuel may have been discharged there. Monitoring wells were placed around the perimeter and within the circle to investigate possible groundwater contamination in 1985. In 1988 a soil gas and groundwater screening survey was conducted which identified very low levels of petroleum hydrocarbons in two groundwater samples. During the phase II remedial investigation two additional wells were installed at these locations. Samples from these wells did not confirm the presence of contaminants. The inability to locate contamination at the site indicates that most of the fuel may have volatilized on the ground surface before seeping into the soil or groundwater. A public meeting was held on June 26, 1991 to present the No Further Action plan for the site. The ROD was completed in September 16, 1991.

Top Navy officials recommended downsizing Lakehurst during the 1995 round of military base closings. A federal base closing panel rejected that move, after hearing arguments it would endanger the safety of Navy pilots who depend on the aircraft launch and recovery equipment manufactured at Lakehurst. In the 1995 base realignment proposal, Navy planners proposed splitting Lakehurst's work force among three other Navy bases in Maryland and Florida, leaving 542 behind to run test tracks and catapults that test aircraft carrier gear. Base advocates successfully argued that safety problems would result. Navy workers familiar with the various bases say the objections raised back in 1995, such as a lack of space at the would-be receiving bases, would still apply if the downsizing proposal is ever resurrected. Rumors that Lakehurst again could be at risk continue to alarm civilian political leaders and their constituents who work at the base. Lakehurst is Ocean County's largest employer with more than 2,600 civilian workers. The Lakehurst base payroll and other spending generates $296 million a year for New Jersey's economy.

In an effort to inoculate the Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Center from future Pentagon base closings, in 1999 state lawmakers proposed spending $2.1 million on studies and other preliminary work leading to construction of a major new National Guard installation near the Lakehurst base's boundary with Fort Dix. The project, a complex of storage and other facilities, would bolster the guard's tank training at Dix, and serve as an equipment depot for other military branches. The proposed Mobilization and Training Equipment Site -- MATES for short -- would cover 130 acres on the east side of Route 539 in the Pinelands of Jackson, on the western edge of the Lakehurst Navy property. It would hold up to 600 tanks and wheeled vehicles, and employ 125 full-time workers with an annual payroll around $5.6 million. The National Guard Bureau in Washington was prepared to commit to paying for the equipment center within three or four years. The state would be reimbursed for its investment in the site preparation work when the federal government builds the center.

The MATES complex would be the largest joint-services facility of its kind on the East Coast. In addition to armored vehicles and trucks, it would store artillery, self-propelled guns and helicopters. Establishing the complex would complement talks going onby the Navy and National Guard about the future use of Lakehurst's two 5,000-foot runways for guard helicopter and flight training, said Capt. Michael Dougherty, Lakehurst commander. Up to 6,000 National Guard troops a month would use the MATES site.

On June 7, 1960, an explosion and fire occurred at the BOMARC site located in Fort Dix Military Reservation, bordering the western boundary of NAES. The missile was located in a launcher shelter approximately 1800 feet northwest of the extreme corner of NAES. NAES investigated the area and analyzed groundwater, surface water and sediment on its side of the fence for radioactive contamination. There was no indication of significant levels of radiological contamination on NAES property. A public meeting was held on June 26, 1991 and the No Further Action ROD was completed in September 16, 1991.

The Borough of Lakehurst was incorporated in 1921 and has a land area of 0.95 sq. mi. As of 1990, the population was 3,078. The base, however, occupies 7,412 acres and is the largest employer in Ocean County. This is a resort area with an abundance of shore recreational opportunities such as beaches, camping, fishing, golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools, lakes, streams, outdoor and indoor recreational facilities; amusement parks within fifteen minutes drive, casino's in Atlantic City an hour away, etc.

BRAC 2005

In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD would realign Fort Dix, NJ, and Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst, NJ, by relocating the installation management functions to McGuire AFB, NJ, establishing Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

All installations employed military, civilian, and contractor personnel to perform common functions in support of installation facilities and personnel. All installations executed these functions using similar or near similar processes. Because these installations shared a common boundary with minimal distance between the major facilities or are in near proximity, there was significant opportunity to reduce duplication of efforts with resulting reduction of overall manpower and facilities requirements capable of generating savings, which would be realized by paring unnecessary management personnel and achieving greater efficiencies through economies of scale. Intangible savings would be expected to result from opportunities to consolidate and optimize existing and future service contract requirements. Additional opportunities for savings would also be expected to result from establishment of a single space management authority capable of generating greater overall utilization of facilities and infrastructure. Further savings would be expected to result from opportunities to reduce and correctly size both owned and contracted commercial fleets of base support vehicles and equipment consistent with the size of the combined facilities and supported populations. Regional efficiencies achieved as a result of Service regionalization of installation management would provide additional opportunities for overall savings as the designated installations are consolidated under regional management structures. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 182 jobs (89 direct jobs and 93 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Camden, NJ Metropolitan Division (less than 0.1 percent). Environmentally, Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst was in severe non-attainment for ozone (1hr). Some permit changes would be possible.

DoD would also realign the Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst by relocating activities in rotary wing air platform development, acquisition, test and evaluation to Patuxent River, MD. This Air Land Sea & Space (ALSS) recommendation would realign and consolidate activities that were primarily focused on Rotary Wing Air Platform activities in Development, Acquisition, Test and Evaluation (DAT&E). This action would enhance the Joint Center at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), Patuxent River. The end state of this recommendation would build upon existing rotary wing air platform technical expertise and facilities in place at the two principal sites and provides focused support for future aviation technological advances in rotorcraft development. The planned component moves would enhance synergy by consolidating rotary wing work to major sites, preserving healthy competition, and leveraging climatic/geographic conditions and existing infrastructure, minimize environmental impact. These consolidations would co-locate aircraft and aircraft support systems with development and acquisition personnel to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of rotary wing air platform design and development activities. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 24 jobs (13 direct jobs and 11 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period, in the Edison, NJ, Metropolitan Division (less than 0.1 percent).

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:51:57 ZULU