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NAF Washington History

By NAF Washington Public Affairs

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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- On September 25, 1917, the Secretary of the Navy, Mr. Josephus Daniels, petitioned the Secretary of War, Mr. Newton D. Baker, Jr., for the use of a parcel of Army land at the junction of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. It was to be used as a test area for the Navy's new seaplanes. Permission was obtained on October 6, 1917 and $500 was initially allocated to build a supply shack and wooden hangar. From this start, Naval Air Station (NAS) Anacostia was commissioned on January 1, 1919, with a complement of nine seaplanes.

Naval Reservists flew and maintained a large variety of aircraft over the next 43 years, including early biplanes, dirigibles, and piston engine patrol and fighter aircraft. Historically knows as a Naval Air Reserve Base, NAS Anacostia also served as the Flight Test Center for primary flight training of Naval Aviation Cadets. The station's mission throughout the 1940s and 1950s was to provide aircraft training for the Proficiency Flying Program. In July 1946, Naval Air Reserve Training Unit (NARTU) Anacostia was commissioned as a reserve facility and began operations to manage and conduct training for approximately 1,700 Selected Reserve officers and enlisted personnel. The newly formed command had an aircraft inventory including F6F "Hellcat" fighters, F4U "Corsairs," F8F "Bearcats," TBF "Avengers," SBN "Navigators," SX2C "Helldivers," PBY-54 "Catalinas," SNJ "Texans,",R4D-6 "Skytrains," and PV2 "Harpoons".

When airspace became too crowded in the 1950's and Anacostia's runways were deemed too short, the Naval Air Station was moved to Andrews Air Force Base in 1958 in order to facilitate jet operations with a detachment of TV-2 "Sea Star" jet trainers. An A-4 "Skyhawk" became the last jet aircraft to fly out of NAS Anacostia on January 25, 1962 with the transfer to Andrews AFB being complete in December 1961. Captain Frank D. Heyer transferred his command from Anacostia to Andrews, concurrent with the commissioning of the new Naval Air Facility (NAF), Washington D.C.

Throughout the 1960's and into the early 1970's, Navy and Marine Reservists flew the AD-5 "Skyraider," FJ-4B "Fury," F-8U "Crusader," RF-8G "Photo Crusader," C-54 and C-118 cargo aircraft, SP-2E and SP-2F "Neptune" aircraft and a variety of others. Tenant squadrons to the NAF at that time included VR-661/662, VF-661/662, VP-661/662/663, and VS-661/662.

Prior to 1970, NAF Washington was custodian to all aircraft at the facility. This 'aircraft custodian' practice, common throughout the Naval Air Reserve, required tenant squadrons to "rent" the aircraft from the NAF on their respective drill weekends. Maintenance and flying responsibilities of NAF aircraft were shared by all Reserve squadrons (including Marine units).

In April 1972, the Naval Air Reserve was reorganized into two tactical carrier wings (CVW-20 and CVW-30) with supporting transport and patrol squadrons. With this reorganization, squadrons became custodians of their own aircraft and the NAF was assigned aircraft for utility and training purposes with their primary mission of training Selected Reservists. NAF became home to VFP-206, VFP-306, VR-52, VP-68 and 20 other tactical and non-tactical units. Since 1976, the logistics support mission of NAF Washington has included administrative transport flight operations and transient service support of arriving aircraft.

On May 1, 1978, NAF Washington was transferred to Commander, Navy Reserve Force. It accepted its first UC-12B aircraft on July 25, 1981. In 1989, the Secretary of the Navy signed a new 25 year permit granting NAF Washington continued use of land on Andrews AFB. In 1991, for the first time since the Vietnam conflict, NAF Reservists were recalled to active duty in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

At the start of 1993, NAF Washington D.C. Air Reservists continued to build upon their proud heritage with VMFA-321 flying the F/A-18 "Hornet," VP-68 flying the P-3C "Orion," VAQ-209 flying the EA-6B "Prowler," CFLSW Det flying the Gulfstream C-20 and T-39 "Sabreliner," VR-48 flying the C-130 "Hercules" and the NAF flying the UC-12B for the transportation of VIPs and light cargo.

October 2006, Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Anacostia merged with NAF Washington. With this merger, NAF assumed the additional title of Naval District Washington Reserve Component Command. In September 2007, NOSC Adelphi was disestablished and was merged with the Reserve center on NAF Washington, creating the largest NOSC in the country.

October 1, 2009, Andrews Air Force Base, along with Naval Air Facility Washington, became a joint base known as Joint Base Andrews-Naval Air Facility Washington, or Joint Base Andrews for short.

Effective June 1, 2014, NAF Washington was realigned to report to the Commander Naval Air Force Reserve (CNAFR), and NOSC Washington was established to report to Region Mid-Atlantic, Reserve Component Command (RCC).

 

Today, NAF Washington’s tenant commands include VR-1, VR-53, VMR Andrews, FRC Mid-Atlantic, Information Dominance Corps Region HQ, Naval Communications Security Material System, Fleet Logistics Center Washington, Aviation Support Detachment Washington, Naval Branch Health Clinic, Kennedy Irregular Warfare Center, Navy Recruiting Station Andrews, and NOSC Washington.