Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek
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|Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek|
|Part of Joint Expeditionary Base East|
|Virginia Beach, Virginia|
NAB Little Creek insignia
|Controlled by||United States Navy|
|In use||1942 – present|
|CAPT Frank E. Hughlett USN (Commander)
MCPO Andrew Desmond Thompson (Command Master Chief)
The Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek is the major operating base for the Amphibious Forces in the United States Navy's Atlantic Fleet. The base comprises four locations in three states, including almost 12,000 acres (4,900 ha) of real estate. Its Little Creek location in Virginia Beach, Virginia totals 2,120 acres (860 ha) acres of land. Outlying facilities include 350 acres (140 ha) located just north of Training Support Center Hampton Roads in Virginia Beach, and 21 acres (8.5 ha) known as Radio Island at Morehead City, North Carolina, used as an amphibious embarkation/debarkation area for U.S. Marine Corps units at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
The mission of the Naval Amphibious Base is to provide required support services to over 15,000 personnel of the 27 homeported ships and 78 resident and/or supported activities. The base's combination of operational, support, and training facilities are geared predominantly to amphibious operations, making the base unique among bases of the United States and Allied Navies.
The Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek is the largest base of its kind in the world.
World War II
On July 16, 1942, a U.S. Navy truck drove off Shore Drive, the scenic highway along the south shore of the Chesapeake Bay between the resort areas of Ocean View in the City of Norfolk and the small town of Virginia Beach in Princess Anne County. The resort town was located on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean several miles south of Cape Henry, at the entrance to the bay.
Near an inlet called "Little Creek" the truck stopped in a waterlogged bean field of the Whitehurst family's farm. For days thereafter, trucks loaded with lumber and equipment rolled into the area in almost continuous succession. The reason for this mass assault in a bean field 12 miles (19 km) northeast of Norfolk was that, early in World War II, Navy planners saw a necessity for landing large numbers of American troops on foreign shores in the face of enemy gunfire. That such operations would be difficult was also evident. New methods and techniques in landing troops would have to be developed. Training would be needed before sufficient men were proficient in the complicated art of the amphibious assault, which would enable U.S. troops to drive to the heart of the enemy.
The base was initially established in the farmland of Princess Anne County. During the early phases of World War II the base was literally a combination of farmland and swamps. Four bases were constructed on this area: Camp Bradford, Camp Shelton, U.S. Naval Frontier Base, and Amphibious Training Base. Camps Bradford and Shelton were named for the former owners of the land.
- At first Camp Bradford was a training base for Navy Seabees, but in 1943 it was changed into a training center for the crews of LSTs (Landing Ship Tank).
- Camp Shelton was an armed guard training center for bluejackets serving on board merchant ships as gun crews. At the end of World War II it served as a separation center.
- The Frontier Base was the forwarding center for Amphibious Force personnel and equipment destined for the European Theater.
- The Amphibious Training Base (also known as "Little Creek") was the center for all types of amphibious training and the training of ship's crews for LSM (landing ship medium), LCI (landing craft infantry), and LCU (landing craft utility); LCM (landing craft mechanized), and LCVP (landing craft vehicle, personnel) boat crews were also trained at Little Creek.
At the new bases, the techniques of training had to be developed from scratch. Facilities for the upkeep of equipment as well as living facilities for personnel were primitive. The newcomers found few buildings and practically no roads or utilities. Just bean vines. After various improvisations along came temporary buildings that were later to give the site some resemblance to a naval base.
In a few months the trained men who were to land fighting forces from Africa to Normandy were ready for sea. During World War II over 200,000 Naval personnel and 160,000 Army and Marine Corps personnel trained at Little Creek.
Post-World War II
The four bases were partially inactivated at the end of hostilities of World War II. Shortly thereafter, however, the bases at Little Creek, because of their central location on the Atlantic coast, excellent and varied beach conditions, proximity to the naval facilities of Norfolk, berthing facilities for amphibious ships through the size of LSTs, and other advantages, were consolidated into the present installation and renamed the Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek with a commissioning date of August 10, 1945. It was designated a permanent base in 1946.
In 1963, the growing county was consolidated with its tiny resort city neighbor, forming the "new" City of Virginia Beach, one of Virginia's largest.
Growing over the years to meet the needs of the Amphibious Force, the base has developed into one of the most modern in the Navy. Thousands of men and women from all branches of the Armed Forces, as well as military students from foreign nations, now pass through the gates of the Naval Amphibious Base yearly for training in amphibious warfare.
Amphibious warfare adds a crucial measure of leverage to conducting a maritime campaign successfully. National maritime strategy seeks to deter war if at all possible, but if deterrence fails, to destroy enemy maritime forces, protect allied sea lines of communication, support the land campaign, and secure favorable leverage for termination of hostilities. It is a truly global strategy, requiring the ability to dominate the world's oceans and the flexibility of force employment that only naval forces can provide. Naval forces are viewed as central elements of American military strategy. The Navy/Marine Corps team provides an effective amphibious striking arm in support of the national military strategy. Today nearly 13,000 Sailors, Marines, and civilian employees are assigned to the various stations or attend schools at the Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek in support of the Navy/Marine Corps team.
(As of June 2015)
- USS Whidbey Island (LSD-41)
- USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43)
- USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44)
- USS Tortuga (LSD-46)
- USS Carter Hall (LSD-50)
- USS Oak Hill (LSD-51)
- USS Hurricane (PC-3)
- USS Zephyr (PC-8)
- USCGC Dependable (WMEC-626)
- USCGC Vigorous (WMEC-627)
Major shore commands
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group Two
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Expeditionary Support Unit Two
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Two
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Six
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Twelve
- Naval Beach Group Two
- Naval Construction Force
- 1st Naval Construction Division
- Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 202
- Naval Special Warfare Group Two
- Naval Special Warfare Group Four
- Special Boat Team 20
- Naval Special Warfare Development Group
- Tactical Air Control Group Two
- Tactical Air Control Squadron Twenty One
- Tactical Air Control Squadron Twenty Two
- Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Two
- Underwater Construction Team One
- Board of Inspection and Survey
- U.S. Armed Forces School of Music, which trains professional musicians for service with the U.S. military bands of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps
The base remains bisected by a finger of land not part of the base. The land includes Ferry Road, a rail line, and the docks serving current cross-bay rail barge traffic of Bay Coast Railroad, formerly the Eastern Shore Railroad, to Cape Charles, Virginia.
Ferry Road, crossed by the base's Guam Road-Amphibious Drive bridge, once served the now defunct Little Creek-Cape Charles Ferry which transported passengers and motor vehicles across the mouth of the bay to Cape Charles and Kiptopeke until replacement in 1964 by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.
This article incorporates material from Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek’s History, a United States Government web page whose contents are in the public domain.
- NAB Little Creek website
- Navy Lodge JEB Little Creek - Fort Story
- globalsecurity.org: Little Creek
- NAB Little Creek Installation Overview from NavyUSA.org
- DoD Lodging Worldwide