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NEWS | March 12, 2010

Naval Air Facility Washington's history at Andrews

By Capt. Timothy Fox Naval Air Facility Washington

Navy and Air Force servicemembers have served together at Andrews for more than 50 years. While we serve every day together on this base and jointly cooperate for operational successes, I know that many Airmen and Sailors are not familiar with the background of the Navy's presence alongside our Air Force partners at this installation. To be sure, much of the Navy's mission priority "onboard" Andrews is aviation related. But, in addition to Naval Aviation, there are many elements of our record that portray a diverse and accomplished story for Naval Air Facility Washington.

Naval Air Facility Washington's history dates back to the early 1900s. Shortly after America's first seaplane flight Jan. 26, 1911, the secretary of the Navy petitioned the secretary of War for the use of a parcel of Army land at the junction of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers for use as a test area for the Navy's new seaplanes. Permission was quickly granted and construction began almost immediately. The new Naval Air Station at Anacostia was commissioned Jan. 1, 1919.

In 1940, Naval Reserve Aviation Base Anacostia began primary flight training of Naval Aviation Cadets. The station's mission through the late 1940s and 1950s was to provide aircraft for the Proficiency Flying Program. In July 1946, Naval Air Reserve Training Unit 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. NARTU Aircraft inventory included F6F "Hellcat" fighters, F4U "Corsairs," F8F "Bearcats," TBF "Avengers," SBN" Navigators," SX2C 'Helldivers," PBY-54 "Catalinas," SJN "Texans," R4D-6 "Skytrains" and PV2 "Harpoons."

Due to Anacostia's short runways, the Naval Air Station moved to Andrews Air Force Base in 1958 to facilitate jet operations. The transfer to Andrews AFB was complete by December 1961, concurrent with the commissioning of the new Naval Air Facility.

In April 1972, NARTU Washington became Naval Air Reserve Unit Washington with the primary mission of training Selected Reservists. NARU included VFP-206, VFP-306, VR-42 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 to arriving aircraft.

NAF Washington was transferred to Commander, Naval Reserve Force May 1, 1978, and support of Navy Selected Reservist continues to be one of our primary missions. Presently, hundreds of Selected Reservists from NAF Washington are mobilized and directly supporting military operations around the globe.

NAF Washington's excellence has been recognized by numerous awards including the Conway Trophy in 1982 and 1987, the Edward F. Ney Memorial Award in 1993, and the Robert S. Gray Award in 1995. Most recently, NAF Washington was selected as the 2009 CNO Small Shore Command Personal Excellence Partnership Flagship Award.

In October 1998, NAF Washington was regionalized under Naval District Washington for all Base Operating Support functions. In October 2006, Navy Operational Support Center Anacostia merged with NAF Washington and the Commanding Officer assumed the diverse title and increased responsibilities of Commanding Officer of NAF Washington, Reserve Component Commander Naval District Washington, and Commanding Officer of NOSC Washington.

Today, NAF Washington supports over 6,000 Navy Reservists in more than 160 Navy Reserve augment units and commands, providing direct support to active Navy and Joint commands in the National Capital region and throughout the fleet. NAF Washington's major tenant air commands include VR-53, VR-48, VAQ-209, VR-1, as well as a CFLSW C-12 and Marine Corp VMR Detachment. Aircraft presently located aboard NAF Washington include the C-37B and C-20D/G Gulfstream, EA-6B Prowler, C-130T Hercules, UC-12B Huron and UC-35 Citation.

Hopefully this glimpse of NAF Washington's past and present will give you a brief understanding of who we are, where we have been, and what we do now. Without question, Naval Air Facility Washington has experienced a dynamic history in the National Capital Region and proudly continues to serve with all our Team-Mates "onboard" Joint Base Andrews!