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Naval Air Station Pensacola

NAS Pensacola, known as the "Cradle of Naval Aviation," serves as the launching point for the flight training of every Naval Aviator, Naval Flight Officer (NFO), and Enlisted Aircrewman. In 1997, about 15,000 aviation personnel in aeronautical technical phases of naval operations were trained there. The traditional home of naval aviation and naval flight training, NAS Pensacola still plays a major role in that process. NAS Pensacola's primary flying organization, Training Wing Six (TRAWING 6) includes three jointly manned (Air Force and Navy personnel) US Navy training squadrons, VT-4, VT-10, and VT-86, with the mission of training USN and other services' Naval Flight Officers and Navigators. These units fly a variety of aircraft, including the T-34C, T-2C, T-1A, and T-39. NAS Pensacola also serves as the home station and primary practice site for the Navy's Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels.

Pensacola is located in extreme Northwest Florida, 60 minutes east of Mobile, Al, 45 minutes west of Ft Walton Beach, Fl, and 500 miles from Orlando, FL.(home of Disney World). Altitude ranges from sea level to 120 feet above sea level. Escambia County is 661 square miles. Santa Rosa County 1,024 square miles and the City of Pensacola is 25.09 square miles.

In 1971 NAS was picked as the headquarters site for Chief of Naval Education and Training [CNET], a new command which combined direction and control of all Navy education and training. The Naval Air Basic Training Command was absorbed by the Naval Air Training Command, which moved to Corpus Christi. Today, the Pensacola Naval Complex in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties employs more than 9,600 military and 6,800 civilian personnel.

The training aircraft carrier USS LEXINGTON (AVT 16) operated out of Pensacola, providing deck-landing and takeoff experience for Naval aviation cadets for over 20 years prior to being decommissioned on 08 November 1991. As of 1989 Navy plans called for moving the operational carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) to Pensacola, but Kitty Hawk remained homeported in San Diego, California, and eventually departed in July 1998 for Yokosuka, Japan. In February 1992 the USS Forrestal [CV-59] changed her homeport from Mayport, FL, to Pensacola, to become the US Navy's training carrier for naval aviators and support personnel. However, prior to the actual move the overhaul was discontinued in March 1993 when the Forrestal was designated for decommissioning in response to the decision to accelerate the closure of the Pennsylvania Naval Shipyard. USS Forrestal was decommissioned on 11 September 1993.

The Port of Pensacola is located on the north side of Pensacola Bay in the far west of Florida. The bay is about 13 miles long and 3 miles wide with depths of 20 to 50 ft. The bay is separated from the Gulf of Mexico by Santa Rosa Island, a long and narrow strip of white-sand beach and dunes. Although some of the dunes reach a height of about 15 ft the elevation of the barrier beach generally is less than 10 ft. Santa Rosa Sound, part of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, lies between Santa Rosa Island and the Gulf Breeze Peninsula which extends westward into Pensacola Bay. The entrance to Pensacola Bay lies between Fort Pickens on the western tip of Santa Rosa Island and Fort McRee on the eastern tip of Perdido Key. The entrance is approached by Caucus Channel, a 37 ft deep cut dredged through shoals to the south of the coast. Beyond Caucus Channel lies a large turning basin 33 ft in depth.

Facilities at the Naval Air Station (NAS) are located along the northwest edge of the tuning basin. Pier 302 has an alongside depth of not less than 25 ft to the southwest, and Wharf 303, otherwise known as Allegheny Pier, has an alongside depth of not less than 35 ft; the deck height in either case is 11 to 12 ft. For small boats there is a wet slip a little to the west of Wharf 303. The US Navy maintains 6 tugs, usually tied up in the basin formed by Piers 302 and 303A for servicing the aircraft carrier and destroyer normally based at NAS Pensacola. The aircraft carrier uses Allegheny Pier and the destroyer uses Pier 302.

The Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC), located at Chevalier Hall, which is also known as the Mega Building, re-opened Jan. 27, 2005, after having been closed to repair damages caused by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. The re-opening ceremony was the culmination of a $37.6 million project to restore the building, which was damaged so severely that it forced classes and offices to be moved to other buildings. The nearly 1-million-square-foot building, which was the main training facility for 4,000 students, was soaked with approximately six feet of seawater and mud. Reconstruction began toward the end of September, and included repairs to the roof, interior and exterior maintenance, slight building modifications and replacement of destroyed furniture. The Mega Building, which earned its nickname because of its massive size, is the largest consolidated training building aboard the Naval Air Station Pensacola complex and one of the largest buildings in northwest Florida. Besides offices, the building includes hangars, classrooms and laboratories used in training aviation specialists for the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Army, Coast Guard and allied nations.

NAS Pensacola is a valued and cherished part of the Pensacola community's heritage. Nevertheless, the rapid growth of Pensacola, as in all of Florida, has added to encroachment concerns at the installation. In particular, some operating procedures at the field have been modified to limit noise impacts, at some impact to optimum operational flexibility and efficiency. Recent encroachment on the southwest perimeter of NAS Pensacola, including the construction of high density housing in the Accident Prevention Zone - II (APZ II), has led to a spirited debate in the community and to intervention by DoD to ensure the continued viability of the facility.

Access to overwater airspace is not a current area of high concern for Pensacola area users. However, two long term challenges are seen. First, although the state of Florida has traditionally resisted entreaties towards offshore oil exploration, it is possible that rising prices and future shortages will overcome that political and cultural reluctance. Should shallow water drilling be undertaken on a large scale, it could create substantial impediments to USN operations in the Gulf, especially the movement of aircraft carriers and the testing of weapons systems aboard surface vessels in and through coastal waters.

Equally dependent on events outside DoN control is the potential for future travel to Cuba. Four decades of Communist rule have not overcome the combination of emotional and economic factors that continue to affect the Cuban-American community, and which could be expected to arise on the departure of the present Cuban leadership from the scene. Trade and vacation traffic to Cuba could challenge the capabilities of both the Cuban and some portions of the American ATC system, and could compete to the detriment of DoD access to airspace off the West Coast and the Panhandle of Florida.

The site now occupied by Naval Air Station Pensacola has a colorful historical background dating back to the 16th century when Spanish explorer Don Tristan de Luna founded a colony here on the bluff where Fort Barrancas is now situated. Realizing the advantages of the Pensacola harbor and the large timber reserves nearby for shipbuilding, President John Quincy Adams and Secretary of the Navy Samuel Southard, in 1825, made arrangements to build a Navy yard on the Southern tip of Escambia County, where the air station is today. Navy Captains William Bainbridge, Lewis Warrington, and James Biddle selected the site on Pensacola Bay. Construction began in April 1826, and the Pensacola Navy Yard became one of the best equipped naval stations in the country. In its early years the base dealt mainly with the suppression of slave trade and piracy in the Gulf and Caribbean.

When New Orleans was captured by Union forces in 1862, Confederate troops, fearing attack from the west, retreated from the Navy Yard and reduced most of the facilities to rubble. After the war, the ruins at the yard were cleared away and work was begun to rebuild the base. Many of the present structures on the air station were built during this period, including the stately two and three-story houses on North Avenue. In 1906, many of these newly rebuilt structures were destroyed by a great hurricane and tidal wave.

Meanwhile, great strides were being made in aviation. The Wright Brothers and especially Glenn Curtiss were trying to prove to the Navy that the airplane had a place in the fleet. The first aircraft carrier was built in January 1911, and a few weeks later, the seaplane made its first appearance. Then, civilian pilot Eugene Ely landed a frail craft aboard USS Pennsylvania in San Francisco Bay, and the value of the airplane to the Navy had been demonstrated.

The Navy Dept., now awakened to the possibilities of Naval Aviation through the efforts of Capt. W. I. Chambers, prevailed upon congress to include in the Naval Appropriation Act enacted in 1911-12 a provision for aeronautical development. Chambers was ordered to devote all of his time to naval aviation.

In October 1913, Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, appointed a board, with Capt. Chambers as chairman, to make a survey of aeronautical needs and to establish a policy to guide future development. One of the board's most important recommendations was the establishment of an aviation training station in Pensacola. In 1914 the Navy expanded its role in Pensacola development by establishing the US Naval Aeronautical Station. As the Navy expanded, so did support businesses and services- bringing more jobs and workers to the area. The military installations have been a major force in Pensacola's growth.

Upon entry into World War I, Pensacola, still the only naval air station, had 38 naval aviators, 163 enlisted men trained in aviation, and 54 airplanes. Two years later, by the signing of the armistice in November 1918, the air station, with 438 officers and 5538 enlisted men, had trained 1,000 naval aviators. At war's end, seaplanes, dirigibles, and free kite balloons were housed in steel and wooden hangars stretching a mile down the air station beach.

In the years following World War I, aviation training slowed down. From the 12-month flight course, an average of 100 pliots were graduating yearly. This was before the day of aviation cadets, and the majority of the students included in the flight training program were Annapolis graduates. A few enlisted men also graduated. Thus, Naval Air Station Pensacola became known as the "Annapolis of the Air."

With the inaugration of 1935 of the cadet training program, activity at Pensacola again expanded. When Pensacola's training facilities could no longer accomodate the ever increasing number of cadets accepted by the Navy, two more naval air stations were created - one in Jacksonville, Florida, and the other in Corpus Christi, Texas. In August 1940, a larger auxiliary base, Saufley Field, named for LT R. C. Saufley, Naval Aviator 14, was added to Pensacola's activities. In October 1941, a third field, named after LT T.G. Allicin, was commissioned.

As the nations of the world moved toward World War II, NAS Pensacola once again became the hub of air training activities. NAS expanded again, training 1,100 cadets a month, 11 times the amount trained annually in the '20s. The growth of NAS from 10 tents to the world's greatest naval aviation center was emphasized by then Senator Owen Brewster's statement: :The growth of naval aviation during World War II is one of the wonders of the modern world."

War in Korea presented problems as the military was caught in the midst of transition from propellers to jets, and the air station revised its courses and training techniques. Nonetheless, NAS produced 6,000 aviators from 1950 to 1953. Pilot training requirements shifted upward to meet the demands for the Vietnam War which occupied much of the 1960s and 1970s. Pilot production was as high as 2,552 (1968) and as low as 1,413 (1962).

Pensacola is often called "The City Of Five Flags" because of the five nations that have governed it, Pensacola preserves its heritage through its many museums, historical districts and varieties of architecture.

On Aug. 14, 1559 after an accidental overshoot into Mobile Bay, Don Tristan de Luna sailed into what he christened Bahia Filipina del Puerto de Santa Maria. His expedition of 500 soldiers and 1,000 colonists settled near what is now the Pensacola Naval Air Station, six years before the city of St. Augustine was founded. De Luna had been instructed by King Phillip II of Spain to establish a trade and defense post as the first in a string of such colonies that would extend all the way to what later became Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The attempt was foiled by a hurricane that sunk the supply boats leaving the ill-equipped newcomers to live off the land. Starvation, fever, mutiny plagued the dwindling group for two years before survivors were rescued in 1561, at which time de Luna was relieved of his command.

For 125 years the bay and surrounding area remained untouched by European events. Then on Feb. 6, 1686, Juan Jordan de Reina re-discovered the harbor while exploring the eastern Gulf Coast. His journal reports, "about 11 o'clock I saw a bay, the best I have ever seen in my life...the Indians call this bay Panzacola...With the Indian pilot we went in the longboat to the village of Panzacola." Captain de Reina's enthusiasm for Panzacola never wavered in the years that followed. He was an eager participant in the next colonization attempt in 1698 led by Don Andres de Arriola, the expedition of 350 soldiers escorted a bevy of convicts, beggars and other undesirables pressed into service as colonists. Together they constructed the first permanent post, Fort San Carlos, on the same site de Luna had chosen 140 years earlier.

In 1719, war broke out between France and Spain which saw the fledgling fort change hands back and forth like a juggler's ball. The French eventually razed everything and took control, but forfeited the area to the Spanish after the War of the Quadruple Alliance. The Spanish relocated the settlement to Santa Rosa Island because of the superior defense posture, but hurricanes destroyed the colony. Further attempts to settle the area failed until 1752, when a small stockade was built at the present site of the Seville Square Historical District.

Pensacola was not proving profitable for the Spanish, and it was transferred to the British in 1763 as part of the Treaty of Paris. The British retained possession of West Florida and its capital of Pensacola until 1781. During their rule the British made plans for a proper city with carefully mapped streets, a public water well, and other improvements. British Pensacola entered the world of commerce with brisk trade in lumber, furs and naval stores.

Britain lost its prosperous settlement when 1783 Treaty of Paris gave the 13 colonies their freedom and returned Florida to the Spanish.

In 1821 Pensacola was signed over to the United States, and the Florida Territory was established a year later. Over the next 30 years, a navy yard was constructed along Fort Pickens, Fort Mcree and Barrancas. Florida was admitted to the Union in 1845.

During the Civil War, the Pensacola area was divided by forces loyal to both sides. In May 1862, confederate forces were driven from the area and most residents fled to Mobile. In July 1863 only 82 people were recorded as living in Pensacola.

The post-Civil War era brought a lumber boom to Pensacola. Yellow pine from area forests were shipped through the port to markets around the world. People poured into northwest Florida for jobs with the lumber companies, railroads and shipping lines. The boom lasted until World War I, which closed major markets in England and Germany. By this time the forests had been severely depleted. In 1886 Pensacola realized the value of a tourist attraction when Geronimo and his wives were imprisoned at Fort Pickens. Throngs of sightseers arrived by rail from New Orleans and other major Southern cities, while yachts circled the water around the fort hoping to catch a glimpse of the famous warrior.

The abundance of tasty red snapper brought another surge of prosperity to the growing city. When existing commercial fisherman could not supply the nationwide demand for snapper, new boats arrived daily to help with the harvest until Pensacola became the leading fishery in the country. Modern fishing techniques and over fishing eventually diminished the take, but commercial fishing remains a steady influence on Pensacola's economy.

In 1914 the Navy expanded its role in Pensacola development by establishing the U.S. Naval Aeronautical Station. As the Navy expanded, so did support businesses and services- bringing more jobs and workers to the area. The military installations have been a major force in Pensacola's growth. Onboard the Naval Air Station is an aura of mystery and splendor on "Admiral's Row." Significant on Johnson Street is Quarters "A," a stately home where the air station's most senior officer, the Chief of Naval Education and Training, and his\her family resides. When this area was built in 1874, the commandant of the old Navy yard lived here. As the story goes, Commodore Melanchton B. Woolsey was the first commandant to live here. He was terrified of contracting yellow fever, since an epidemic had already claimed thousands of lives and he didn't want to be the disease's next victim. He erroneously believed, as others did also, that disease carrying mosquitoes could only fly a few feet high. So, Woolsey moved into the third-story cupola. He got his meals, rum (which he claimed was a "tonic" against the fever) and tobacco for his pipe by lowering a basket on a rope from one of the cupola's windows. One day his servant forgot the rum! Woolsey died soon thereafter. Yet, as residents know, his spirit stayed on in the house. Perhaps to stay with a lovely lady, transparent and clad in white, who also resides in Quarters "A" forever.

BRAC 2005

Secretary of Defense Recommendations: In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to close Naval Submarine Base New London, CT. As a result, the Naval Undersea Medical Institute Groton, CT would be relocated to both the Naval Air Station Pensacola and Fort Sam Houston, TX. Naval Air Station Pensacola was in Attainment when DoD made its recommendations, which could assess environmental costs of the reloction. There could also be potential impacts to cultural, archeological, tribal resources; waste management; and wetlands.

Another recommendation made by DoD was to realign Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL by relocating Officer Training Command Pensacola, FL to Naval Station Newport, RI, and consolidating with Officer Training Command Newport, RI.

The total estimated one-time cost to the Department of Defense to implement this recommendation would be $3.6M. The net of all costs and savings to the Department during the implementation period would be a savings of $1.4M. Annual recurring savings to the Department after implementation would be $0.9M with a payback expected in 4 years. The net present value of the costs and savings to the Department over 20 years would be a savings of $10.0M. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 675 jobs (295 direct jobs and 380 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which would be 0.3 percent of economic area employment.

In another recommendation, DoD recommended to realign Naval Air Station Pensacola by consolidating Navy Region Gulf Coast with Navy Region Southeast at NAS Jacksonville, FL. In conjunction with other recommendations that would consolidate Navy Region Commands, this recommendation would reduce the number of Installation Management regions from twelve to eight, streamlining the regional management structure and allowing for opportunities to collocate other regional entities to further align management concepts and efficiencies. Consolidating Navy Regions would allow for more consistency in span of responsibility and would better enable Commander, Navy Installations, a position this recommendation would help to create, to provide operational forces support, community support, base support, and mission support to enhance the Navy's combat power. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 65 jobs (24 direct jobs and 41 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which would be less than 0.1 percent of economic area employment.

DoD also recommended to realign NAS Pensacola by relocating to Eglin AFB, FL, a sufficient number of front-line and instructor-qualified maintenance technicians and logistics support personnel to stand up the Department of the Navy's portion of the Joint Strike Fighter Initial Joint Training Site hereby established at Eglin AFB, FL. This recommendation would establish Eglin Air Force Base, FL as an Initial Joint Training Site that would teach entry-level aviators and maintenance technicians how to safely operate and maintain the new Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) (F-35) aircraft. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 888 jobs (392 direct jobs and 496 indirect jobs) over 2008-2011 in the Pensacola-Ferry, Pass-Brent, FL, Metropolitan Statistical Area (0.4 percent).

In another recommendation, DoD would also realign Randolph AFB, TX, by relocating Undergraduate Navigator Training to NAS, Pensacola, FL. This recommendation would realign and consolidate USAF's primary phase of undergraduate flight training functions to reduce excess/unused basing capacity to eliminate redundancy, enhance jointness for UNT/Naval Flight Officer (NFO) training, reduce excess capacity, and improve military value. The basing arrangement that flows from this recommendation would allow the Inter-service Training Review Organization (ITRO) process to establish a DoD baseline program in UNT/NFO with curricula that would permit services latitude to preserve service-unique culture and a faculty and staff thatwould bring a "Train as we fight; jointly" national perspective to the learning process. Environmentally, DoD would need to re-evaluate noise contours for Pensacola.

In another Recommendation, DoD would realign NAS Pensacola, FL, by relocating Navy Education and Training Command to Naval Support Activity Millington, TN. Realignment of Navy Education and Training Command (NETC) and Navy Education and Training Professional Development & Technology Center (NETPDTC) to Naval Support Activity Millington would collocate these activities with common functions (Bureau of Naval Personnel, Navy Manpower Analysis Center, and Navy Personnel Research and Development Center) and facilitate the creation of a Navy Human Resources Center of Excellence. By relocating NETC and NETPDTC within the hub of naval personnel activities, this recommendation would eliminates personnel redundancies and excess infrastructure capacity.Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 1,878 jobs (738 direct jobs and 1,140 indirect jobs) in the Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area (0.9 percent).

DoD also recommended to realign NAS Pensacola by relocating the Space Warfare Systems Center Charleston, SC, detachment Pensacola, FL, to Naval Weapons Station Charleston, SC. 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. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 278 jobs (102 direct jobs and 176 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL, Metropolitan Statistical Area (0.1 percent).

Secretary of Defense Justification: Navy Officer Accession Training is currently conducted at three installations: (1) US Naval Academy Annapolis, MD, hosts Midshipman Training; (2) Naval Station Newport, RI, hosts Naval Academy Preparatory School and Officer Training Command Newport, which includes Officer Indoctrination School and Seaman to Admiral-21 Program courses; and (3) Naval Air Station Pensacola hosts Officer Training Command Pensacola, which includes Navy Officer Candidate School, Limited Duty Officer Course, Chief Warrant Officer Course, and the Direct Commissioning Program. Consolidation of Officer Training Command Pensacola and Officer Training Command Newport will reduce inefficiencies inherent in maintaining two sites for similar training courses through reductions in facilities requirements, personnel requirements (including administrative and instructional staff), and excess capacity. This action also supports the Department of the Navy initiative to create a center for officer training at Naval Station Newport.

Community Concerns: The Pensacola, FL, community argued that thorough analysis of military value and COBRA data, in combination with clarification of inconsistent and often incorrect data provided by the Navy, proved that OTC Pensacola should remain in place. They claimed that OTC Newport, RI, should have been consolidated at Pensacola. The community presented information contending there were no cost savings from moving OTC Pensacola to OTC Newport.

For example, they claim differing responses to environmental data-call questions to the competing installations resulted in significant and inexplicable differences in military value scores. Also, the Navy's use of June Average on Board (AOB) figures to measure surge capacity distorted the comparison since June was the only month when there were more AOB at OTC Newport. In every other month of the year OTC Pensacola had more AOB than OTC Newport by at least 100 and in one case over 300.

Community advocates claimed OTC Pensacola had more than enough capacity, both classroom and otherwise, to accommodate OTC Newport's workload. In addition, the cost savings for moving OTC Newport to OTC Pensacola would be at least $13.5 million over twenty years and most likely much higher than that. Even after factoring in a new $1.14 million fire and rescue training facility, Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) savings would reduce to 10 years from "never" the period needed to achieve a positive Return on Investment (ROI) for consolidating OTC Newport at OTC Pensacola.

The community believed the Secretary of Defense deviated substantially from the BRAC Criteria in the areas of capacity analysis, cost of operations, and potential costs and savings as stated above

Commission Findings: The Commission found no reason to disagree with the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense. The Commission found that while the realignment was not cost effective, it produced an improvement to military value, and therefore it supported the Department of the Navy's initiative to create a center for officer training at Naval Station Newport.

Commission Recommendations: The Commission found the Secretary's recommendation consistent with the final selection criteria and the Force Structure Plan. Therefore, the Commission approves the recommendation of the Secretary.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:55:18 ZULU