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Washington Navy Yard
Naval Support Activity Washington
"Quarterdeck of the Navy"

The Washington Navy Yard, part of the Naval Support Activity Washington, is the oldest U.S. Navy shore facility. Founded in 1799 on land set aside by George Washington and authorized by the first Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddert, the Navy Yard first served as a shipbuilding facility. The Navy Yard is located on 66.3 acres in southeast Washington, District of Columbia, and is bordered on the north by residential housing, on the south by the Anacostia River, on the west by the General Services Administration, and on the east by an industrial area. The Yard provides administrative support for many Naval services in Washington and includes office space and a museum. The Navy Yard is home to a variety of activities including the Headquarters, Naval District Washington (NDW). NDW functions as the military coordinator for most of the navy units in the Washington, Northern Virginia and Maryland areas. The Navy Yard has been designated a National Historical Landmark by the National Park Service and features the Navy Museum, the homeport for Navy History.

Washington Navy Yard's original boundaries that were established in 1800, along 9th and M Streets Southest in Washington, District of Columbia, and were marked by a white brick wall, built in 1809, along with a guardhouse. During its early years, the Navy Yard became the Navy's largest shipbuilding and shipfitting facility. Twenty-two vessels were constructed on the Yard, ranging from small 70-foot gunboats to the USS Minnesota, a 246-foot steam frigate. In 1812, the USS Constitution came to the Yard to refit and prepare for combat action.

The War of 1812 found the Navy Yard a vital strategic link in the defense of the young capital city. On 14 August 1814, the British, under Admiral Sir George Cockburn and Major General Robert Ross, landed at Marlboro on the Patuxent River. Ten days later they brushed aside a hastily gathered American force at Bladensburg and marched into Washington. It became clear the Washington Navy Yard could not be defended and Captain Thomas Tingey, the Yard's Commandant, with the concurrence of the President and the Secretary of the Navy, ordered the Yard burned. All the stores that could not be evacuated, the unfinished ships Columbia and Argus, and most of the Yard's buildings were consumed in the flames. Only the Latrobe gate, Tingey's own quarters, which subsequently became Quarters A, the home of the second in command, adjoining offices, the barracks, and the small schooner USS Lynx escaped the fire. After the fire, looting by the local populace took its toll and Commodore Tingey recommended that the height of the eastern wall be increased to 10 feet.

In May 1815, the Board of Naval Commissioners decided it was a disadvantage to have the Yard as a base and recommended it be limited to shipbuilding. Thus began a shift to what was to be the character of the Yard for more than a century: ordnance and technology. The Yard boasted one of the earliest steam engines in the United States, which was used to manufacture anchors, chains and steam engines for vessels of war. By the 1850s, the Yard's primary function had evolved into ordnance production. The engineering genius of Lieutenant John Dahlgren (who was to serve as the commandant of the Yard twice) nurtured this development.

With the start of the Civil War, the Washington Navy Yard would once again become an important player in the defense of the Nation's Capital. Commandant Franklin Buchanan resigned his commission to join the Confederacy, leaving the Yard to Commander John Dahlgren, who assumed command of the Yard on 22 April 1861. Holding Commander Dahlgren in the highest esteem, President Abraham Lincoln became a frequent visitor. Dahlgren's long attachment to the Yard and his role in its development were recognized in 1863 by the naming of the new foundry in his honor and the burial in its wall of the leg lost by his son, Colonel Ulric Dahlgren, following the Battle of Gettysburg.

The Yard also played a small but significant role in the events following the assassination of President Lincoln on 15 April 1865. Following the capture of 8 of the conspirators, they were brought to the Yard and held on vessels anchored on the Anacostia River prior to their trials. The body of John Wilkes Booth was examined and identified on the monitor Saugus, moored at the Yard.

Following the Civil War, the Navy Yard continued to be the scene of technological advances. In 1886, the Yard was designated the manufacturing center for all ordnance in the Navy. Continuing ordnance production, the yard manufactured armament for the Great White Fleet and the World War I Navy, including the 14-inch naval railway guns used in France during World War I.

World War II found the Navy Yard as the largest naval ordnance plant in the world, with the weapons designed and built there used in every war in which the United States fought until the 1960s. Small components for optical systems and enormous 16-inch battleship guns were manufactured there. The Navy Yard was renamed the US Naval Gun Factory in December 1945, and ordnance work was finally phased out in 1961. In 1961, Admiral Arleigh Burke, Chief of Naval Operations, recognizing that the Washington Navy Yard was the Navy's oldest and one of its most historic sites, persuaded Secretary of the Navy John B. Connally to establish the US Naval Historical Display Center (later the U.S. Navy Memorial Museum, then the Navy Museum). On 1 July 1964, the activity was redesignated the Washington Navy Yard, and the deserted factory buildings began to be converted to office spaces.

The Yard's previous history of military industrial activities has left behind old contaminated waste sites. Studies conducted from 1995 to 1997 identified a number of sites that have resulted in potential releases into the environment. The Washington Navy Yard was located adjacent to the Anacostia River in Washington, DC about 15 city blocks from the United States Capital. The Anacostia River was a tributary to the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. It encompassed 170 square miles of watershed in Maryland and Washington. Many organizations including the Anacostia River Watershed Restoration Committee, Sierra Club, and federal agencies such as the US Army Corp of Engineers, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service were involved in restoration of the Anacostia. Ongoing studies by several organizations raised concerns about the presence of PCBs in the river and its sediments. Since PCBs were a group of 209 different compounds (congeners) and the toxic characteristics of each of these chemicals varies, a measure of total PCBs might not be a clear comparison of the hazards associated with PCB contamination of portions of the Anacostia.

In March 1997, the Navy and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) negotiated a Consent Order under section 7003 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for the Washington Navy Yard. The RCRA Consent Order directed the process that the Navy would follow to conduct a RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI) and a Corrective Measures Study (CMS).

In April 1998, the Navy, the Department of Justice, and the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund negotiated a Consent Decree, to settle a civil suit. The suit was filed because of concerns that the Washington Navy Yard and the Southeast Federal Center (formerly part of the Navy Yard during its industrial period) could be contributing to pollution in the Anacostia River through contaminated stormwater discharges, and that contamination at these properties could be a risk to human health and the environment. Under the Consent Decree, the Navy (and the Justice Department, for the Southeast Federal Center) agreed to accelerated timetables for specific cleanup actions.

The largest Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) project to be performed at the Washington Navy Yard was completed in 2001. The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) was relocated to the Washington Navy Yard from its former location in Crystal City, Virginia as part of a decision made following the 1995 BRAC recommendations. The NAVSEA Headquarters BRAC project included renovation of 2 historic buildings, demolition of 5 buildings, and construction of one new building and a new eight-level parking garage. The newly completed NAVSEA BRAC project provided office space for 4,100 people, parking for 1,500 cars, and upgraded roads and utilities at the Navy Yard. The estimated cost for this design/build project was about $130 million.

During an earlier BRAC project, the headquarters of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command and Office of the Judge Advocate General were relocated to the Washington Navy Yard from Alexandria, Virginia. This construction project, also a product of the 1995 BRAC recommendations, involved the renovation and adaptive reuse of 4 historic buildings to provide space for about 500 Navy personnel. Another new facility at the Navy Yard was a 5-level parking garage that was built to support some of the personnel who arrived under the various BRAC actions. The new garage was built on the site of a former parking lot and could accommodate 1,000 cars.

In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, the Department of Defense recommended to realign Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island, and the Washington Navy Yard by consolidating Naval Reserve Readiness Command Northeast with Naval Reserve Readiness Command Mid-Atlantic and relocating the consolidated commands to Naval Station, Norfolk, Virginia. This recommendation would enhance the Navy's long-standing initiative to accomplish common management and support on a regionalized basis, by consolidating and collocating reserve readiness commands with the installation management Regions. This collocation would also align management concepts and efficiencies and would ensure a reserve voice at each region as well as enable future savings through consolidation of like functions. This recommendation would result in an increase in the average military value for the remaining Naval Reserve Readiness Commands and would ensure that each of the installation management Regions had an organization to manage reserve matters within the region. Assuming no economic recovery, the Department of Defense estimated that this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 62 jobs (37 direct jobs and 25 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, Metropolitan Division (less than 0.1 percent).

In another recommendation, the Department of Defense would realign Washington Navy Yard and 2 other installations by relocating all mobilization functions to Fort Dix, New Jersey, designating it as Joint Pre-Deployment/Mobilization Site Dix/McGuire/Lakehurst. This recommendation was part of a larger recommendation to consolidate mobilization functions at several other sites. This recommendation would realign 8 lower threshold mobilization sites to 4 existing large capacity sites and transform them into Joint Pre-Deployment/ Mobilization Platforms. This action would be expected to have the long-term effect of creating pre-deployment/mobilization centers of excellence, leverage economies of scale, reduce costs, and improve service to mobilized service members. These joint platforms would not effect any of the services units that a have specific unit personnel/equipment requirements necessitating their mobilization from a specified installation. The realigned, lower thresholds mobilization sites would have significantly less capacity and many less mobilizations.

In another recommendations, the Department of Defense would realign Bolling Air Force Base, District of Columbia, by relocating the installation management functions to Naval District Washington at the Washington Navy Yard, DC, establishing Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling-Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), DC.

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. The quantitative military value score validated by military judgment was the primary basis for determining which installation was designated as the receiving location.

In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, the Department of Defense recommended to realign Washington Navy Yard, DC, by disestablishing the Space Warfare Systems Center Charleston, South Carolina, Detachment Washington Navy Yard and assign functions to the new Space Warfare Systems Command Atlantic Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, Virginia. 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 302 jobs (172 direct jobs and 130 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, Metropolitan Division (less than 0.1 percent).

In another recommendation, the Department of Defense recommended to realign Detroit Arsenal, Michigan, by relocating Program Management and Direction of Sea Vehicle Development and Acquisition to Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, DC. This recommendation would position technical sites for jointness through co-location with functions at the receiving locations. It would also increase efficiency by consolidating program management of Sea Vehicle Development and Acquisition (D&A) from three sites to two principal sites. The consolidation and co-location would leverage existing concentration of research, design and development, and acquisition support capabilities residing within the US Navy Headquarters and Warfare Center RD&A infrastructure. Program management for D&A would be at the Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard. In support of joint and transformational initiatives, this recommendation would relocate management and direction of Theater Support Vessels (TSV) and other Sea Vehicle/Watercraft programs for US Army to the Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard. Consolidation of all program management of Sea Vehicle Programs at the Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard would co-locate these functions and align with related program offices supporting Sea Vehicle Weapons and Combat systems, Hull Mechanical and Electrical, C4I integration and related sea vehicle equipment and support functions. This would also place it near the principal technical direction and development agent for sea vehicles located at Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division in Bethesda, Maryland.

This recommendation would be consistent with the existing partnership collaboration between the USA and the USN on Theater Support Vessels as reflected in a Memorandum of Understanding between the US Army Program Executive Office (PEO) for Combat Support and Combat Service Support (PEO CS & CSS) and the US Navy PEO for Ships Systems. The recommendation would enhance synergy by consolidating Sea Vehicle functions to major sites, preserve healthy competition, leverage existing infrastructure, minimize environmental impact, and effect reasonable homeland security risk dispersal. The recommendation would increase efficiency by making a robust acquisition organization available to all DoD Sea Vehicle and watercraft program requirements and will increase efficiency by reducing overall manpower requirements.

On 1 July 2005, the Marine Corps Historical Center was closed at the Washington Navy Yard, DC. In its place, a National Museum of the Marine Corps was opened in Triangle, Virginia. This new museum consolidated the Marine Corps Historical Center with the Marine Corps Air-Ground Museum, which had been at Quantico, Virginia and was also subsequently closed.

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