Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest naval station, occupies 4,300 acres of Hampton Roads real estate in a peninsula known as Sewell’s Point. When the 64 ships, 187 aircraft, 18 aircraft squadrons, and 326 tenant commands who call Naval Station Norfolk home are not deployed, they are alongside one of the 13 piers or inside one of the 16 aircraft hangars for repair, refit and training.

The land on which Naval Station Norfolk is located was originally the site of the 1907 Jamestown Exposition. During this exposition, high-ranking naval officers agreed that this site was ideal for a naval activity. A bill was passed in 1908 proposing Congress allow $1 million for the purchase of the property and buildings, but it died when the Assistant Secretary of the Navy was given a choice between this property and a new coal ship. He replied that a new ship was an absolute necessity. However, immediately after the United States entered World War I in April 1917, the Secretary of the Navy was persuaded to buy the property.

A bill was passed for the purchase of 474 acres; it set aside the sum of $1.2 million as payment for the property and an additional $1.6 million for the development of the base, including piers, aviation facilities, a recruit training station, a submarine base and recreation grounds for fleet personnel.

Naval Air Station Norfolk started its roots training aviators at Naval Air Detachment, Curtiss Field, Newport News, nearly a decade later. In August 1917, with a staff increasing to five officers, three aviators, ten enlisted Sailors and seven aircraft, the detachment was renamed Naval Air Detachment, Naval Operating Base, Hampton Roads. When the United States became involved in World War I, the size of the Navy’s air component was eagerly expanded. During the 19 months of U.S. participation, a force of 6,716 officers and 30,693 enlisted members served in naval aviation. The training of mechanics to support the aircraft began in January 1918 at the Norfolk detachment and the first patrol was conducted five months later.


A Glimpse at the Year 1917
How Much Things Cost Popular Movies Popular Music
Dodge Touring Car: $785.00
Dozen Eggs: 39 cents
Pound of Butter: 43 cents
Can of Peas: 9 cents
Average Weekly Wages: $15.13
The Poor Little Rich Girl
The Immigrant
The Butcher Boy
Wild and Woolly
The Adventurer
Al Jolson
Marion Harris
John McCormack
Nora Bayes
American Quartet
• The Russian Revolution begins, leading to the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and establishment of Communist rule.
• The United States officially enters the first World War.
• The Jones-Shafroth Act gives United States citizenship to Puerto Ricans born after 1898.
• Woodrow Wilson is inaugurated for his second term as U.S. President.
• The Selective Service Act is passed and the U.S. starts conscription.
• The first Pulitzer Prize is awarded.
• Famous dancer Mata Hari is executed as a German spy.
Vice Admiral Joseph K. Taussig
President Woodrow Wilson 28th President of the United States of America In office: March 4, 1913 – March 4, 1921
Sailors in formation on Gilbert Street, 1917
Sailors practicing knot tying, 1918
Morning Colors, 1919
Colors at the Commissioning of the USS Electrician, August 23, 1919 Naval Operating Base, Hampton Roads, Virginia
NAVAL OPERATING BASE, HAMPTON ROADS, VIRGINIA, c. 1920 Naval recruits march in front of USS Electrician.
Electrican School Grads, NSN, USS Electrician, 1921

Junior Naval Aviators, 1925

Bi-Planes Over NAS, October 27, 1933 Navy Day. Good aerial view of NAS. We are flying above Hampton Boulevard towards downtown Norfolk. The Standard Oil Piers are directly below the Aircraft. If you look closely you may see the Newport News News, C&O RR, Coal Piers just above the wing of the a/c on the right.

As World War I came to an end, the Naval Air Station grew to nearly 167 officers, 1,227 enlisted men and 65 planes. With the end of the war came the threat of demobilization and the end of naval aviation. However, the expansion of shipboard aviation in the 1930’s brought renewed emphasis to Naval Air Station Norfolk.

President Roosevelt’s response to the start of the war in Europe resulted in growth for all Navy activities in the Norfolk area. By the summer of 1940 the Station employed some 8,000 personnel, a number larger than any time since the end of World War I. With the increase in personnel came an increase in construction. Hangars, a new dispensary, three runways, magazine areas, warehouses, barracks and docking areas were patterned after similar existing airfields.

In June 1941, the personnel count at Naval Station Norfolk increased once again. There were approximately 10,000 new recruits at the Naval Training Station, 15,500 officers and enlisted on station, and 14,400 Sailors assigned to ships homeported in Norfolk.

The increased pace of operations made it necessary to further extend runways and provide more parking areas. To accommodate this requirement, an additional 400 acres was acquired. By 1943, the Naval Air Station had become the hub for a series of outlying air-fields. As such, Naval Air Station Norfolk’s biggest contribution to the winning of World War II was in the training it provided to a wide variety of allied naval air units.

USS Yorktown (CV-5) October 1937
USS Yorktown (CV-5) View of the ship’s U.S. Marine Detachment, October 1937, at Norfolk, Virginia, on the flight deck during commissioning ceremonies.
Base Filling Station, 1939
USS RANGER (CV-4) Pierside scene at NOB Norfolk, 20 September 1941, showing Ranger hoisting aboard a Grumman J2F-5 “Duck” from the ship’s utility unit.
NAS Norfolk, servicing a Grumman F4F Wildcat, 1942
A Glimpse at the Year 1942
How Much Things Cost Popular Movies Popular Music
Average New House: $ 3,770.00
Average Yearly Income:$1,880.00
Average New Car: $920.00
Gallon of Gas: 15 cents
Bottle of Coca-Cola: 5 cents
Yankee Doodle Dandy
To Be or Not to Be
Holiday Inn
Kay Kaser
Benny Goodman
Glenn Miller
Dinah Shore
Woody Herman
• The minimum draft age is lowered from 21 to 18.
• War Bonds raise $13 billion.
• Car manufacturers switch from making cars to making war materials.
• Thirty members of the Duquene Spy Ring were jailed for 300 years.
• The K9 corps begin training dogs for use in warfare.
• US gas rationing goes into effect, allowing three gallons per week.
• Executive Order 9066 is signed into law which authorized physical removal of all Japanese-Americans into internment camps.
• The Battle of Midway is won by US Forces against Japan.
NAS Norfolk fighters parked on the tarmac, 1943
NAS Norfolk, Mariner is towed to a hangar for repairs, 1945
Building Z-86, 1945

Gate 2, Naval Station Norfolk, 1950s

Known officially as Naval Operating Base until January 1, 1953, the name of the installation was changed to Naval Station Norfolk.

Following World War II, the “air side” of the Naval Station continued to operate at near peak levels, serving as operational headquarters for the Fleet Air Command. With the establishment of Naval Air Station Oceana in the late 1950’s, the tandem formed the nucleus of the biggest air base on the East Coast.

Aerial view of Bachelor’s Quarters, 1952
Welcome home celebration on Pier 20 at Naval Station Norfolk, 1965

In 1968, Naval Air Station Norfolk assumed a major role in putting a man on the moon. The air station became Recovery Control Center Atlantic, providing command, control and communications with all the ships and aircraft involved in the recovery operations of Apollo 7.

A Glimpse at the Year 1967
How Much Things Cost Popular Movies Popular Music
Average New House: $14,250.00
Average Yearly Income: $7,300.00
Average New Car: $2,750.00
Gallon of Gas: 33 cents
GE Ultra Color TV: $410.00
The Graduate
Valley of the Dolls
The Dirty Dozen
The Jungle Book
Cool Hand Luke
Arethea Franklin
Smokey Robinson
Frankie Valli
Jimi Hendrix
The Beatles
• Thurgood Marshall becomes the first black Justice on the Supreme Court.
• The musical Hair has its premier.
• Interracial marriage is declared constitutional by the Supreme Court in the Loving vs Virginia case.
• The first Rolling Stone magazine is published.
• The first Super Bowl is played between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs.
• The Suez Canal closes until 1975.
• Muhammad Ali is stripped of his heavyweight title for refusing induction into the U.S. army.
• The world’s first heart transplant takes place.
• The Six Day War takes place.
• The 25th Amendment is ratified, dealing with succession to the presidency.
Aerial view of Naval Station Norfolk, 1967

As part of the Navy’s response to the post-Cold War drawdown of the 1990’s, many new initiatives were implemented at Navy shore installations to reduce their operating cost, improve efficiency and better match their capacity to the reduced size of the Navy. One of the biggest steps and efficiencies in this process was the merger of separate Naval Station and Naval Air Station (which were directly adjacent to each other) into a single installation to be called Naval Station Norfolk. This consolidation became official on February 5, 1999.

Following the October 12, 2000, attack on USS Cole (DDG 67) and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, security gate upgrades began, culminating in more than $12.5 million worth of upgrades.

Sailors who call Naval Station Norfolk home continue to support missions abroad, such as the Global War on Terror, and those hitting closer to home as with Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Haiti earthquake in 2010.

Sailors operate, train and prepare to increase their readiness and provide significant combat power when and where it’s needed.

A Glimpse at the Year 1992
How Much Things Cost Popular Movies Popular Music
Average New House: $122,500.00
Average Rent: $519.00
Average Yearly Income: $30,030.00
Gallon of Gas: $1.05
Electric Blender $89.99
My Cousin Vinny
A Few Good Men
Batman Returns
Wayne’s World
Mariah Carey
Eric Clapton
Amy Grant
Whitney Houston
Boyz II Men
• McDonald’s opens its first restaurant in China.
• Bill Clinton elected President of U.S.
• Euro-Disney opens in France.
• First nicotine patch is introduced.
• Minnesota’s Mall of America is constructed
and spans 78+ acres.
• Summer Olympics held in Barcelona, Spain.
• The U.S. and U.N. intervene in Somalia with
Operation Restore Hope to end famine and civil war there.
• TWA declares bankruptcy.
• Prince Charles and Princess Diana separate.
• The Maastrict treaty creates the European Union.