Naval Ammunition Depot
The Naval Ammunition Depot (NAD) near Hastings, Nebraska was the largest United States World War II naval munitions plant operating from 1942 to 1946. Construction began in July 1942 on 49,000 acres (200 km2) and was completed in early 1943 with over 2000 structures including buildings, bunkers, and various other types of structures built just for this operation.
The cost of construction was over $71 million and at one point during World War II the facility was producing over 40% of the U.S. Navy's munitions. The Navy built in this location due the proximity to the area's three railroads, the abundance of underground water, cheap natural gas and electricity, the stable work force and the distance from either coast (being beyond the range of Japanese or German bombers).
Three smaller NAD plants were located in Burns City, Indiana, McAlester, Oklahoma and the Hawthorne Naval Ammunition Depot in Hawthorne, Nevada. The Nebraska facility produced 40mm shells, 16 inch projectiles, rockets, bombs, depth charges, mines and torpedoes. Production peaked in June–July 1945, when the depot employed 125 officers, 1,800 enlisted men, and 6,692 civilians.
While the NAD had an excellent safety record considering the 24/7 operations and 60 hour work weeks, there were four explosions (only two were officially reported) during the War. All accidents occurred in 1944 and resulted in the deaths of 22 people. The most severe accidental blast killed nine people and injured fifty-three on September 15, 1944. It was caused by human error while a train was being loaded. The loading depot and the train were totally destroyed. Part of the roof at a school in Harvard, approximately 15 miles (24 km) east of Hastings, collapsed as a result of the explosion; injuring 10 children.
After World War II
In April 1945, the work week was reduced from 60 to 54 hours, and in August it was reduced to 40 hours and the number of employees was reduced to 3,000. By 1949, personnel numbered 1,189. The outbreak of the Korean War brought about reactivation of the depot in August 1950. Peak employment during the Korean War occurred in January 1954 when 2,946 civilians were employed.
Air Force presence
During the Vietnam War, a portion of the NAD was turned over to the Air Force. This became a radar bomb scoring detachment that helped train pilots in electronic bombing techniques that were used in southeast Asia.
Closure and transfer of site
Closure of the site was ordered in December 1958 to be concluded no later than June 1966. The land is now occupied by Central Community College, which uses some of the former buildings, Hastings East Industrial Park (HEIP), a golf course, the Greenlief Training Facility for National Guardsmen and Reservists, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat Animal Research Center, which was granted part of the site in 1964.
- "The Naval Ammunition Depot" – Adams County (Nebraska) Historical Society
- Naval Ammunition Depot - Virtual Driving Tour
- Building Bombs on the Plains