NS Norfolk, VA HistoryNaval Station Norfolk was purchased in 1917 when the US entered World War I and had millions of dollars set aside to develop aviation facilities, storehouses, recruit training facilities and a submarine base. Located along 4 miles of waterfront and 7 miles of piers and wharfs, Sewell's Point peninsula would soon be home to the world's largest naval station.
World War I saw the expansion of the station's aircraft mechanics training and by 1918 the air detachment had become an important part of the war effort. It became its own station known as Naval Air Station Hampton Roads under Lt. Cmdr. Patrick N. L. Bellinger. Though the station's activity dropped greatly after the war, the air detachment continued at a fairly steady pace. Finally a major reconstruction in 1939 saw the station gearing up for war once again thanks to the expansion of shipboard aviation and a new focus on development and testing of catapult and arresting gear systems.
In 1941, the station had plans to expand even more. By the time it looked like the US would enter WWII, plans for growth more than quadrupled. Where there were around 2000 active military members in 1940, by 1943 the number had jumped significantly to over 16,000. One of Norfolk's biggest contributions to the war effort is considered to be the sheer number of recruits trained in its air units, requiring amazing feats of organization, training, housing, and transport in the hectic war years.
Norfolk became the Recovery Control Center Atlantic for Apollo 7 in 1968. After the Cold War ended, the Naval Air Station and Naval Station were officially merged in 1999. The air station became a part of Air Department of NAVSTA Norfolk. NS Norfolk continues to support the operational readiness of the US Atlantic Fleet.