Naval Support Activity Charleston, also known as NSA Charleston, was originally designated as Naval Weapons Station Charleston. Located on the west bank of the Cooper River, in the cities of Goose Creek and Hanahan, South Carolina, the installation encompasses more than 17,000 acres of land with 10,000 acres of forest and wetlands, more than 16 miles of waterfront, four deep-water piers, 38.2 miles of railroad and 292 miles of road. The current workforce (military/civilian/contractor) numbers more than 11,000, with an additional 3,600 people in on-base family housing. Under the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) plan, the Air Force jointly manages Naval Weapons Station Charleston and Charleston Air Force Base as Joint Base Charleston.
Commissioned on Nov. 5, 1941 as the United States Naval Ammunition Depot (NAD), the installation consisted of 6,368 acres that is now the NSA Charleston's southside area, including the Cooper River waterfront. The facility was used as an ammunition collection and distribution point during World War II. Ammunition manufactured throughout the country was sent to the installation and then used to supply ordnance to Atlantic fleet vessels. Following World War II, the depot was charged with the removal of ordnance from ships being deactivated and was used as a weapons storage site. The NAD’s status changed from caretaker to inactive, to maintenance, and to active from 1947 through 1952.
During the mid-1950s, the installation was expanded. The northside area, another 5,219 acres, was acquired by the Navy in January 1954 and called the Naval Weapons Station Annex. It was charged with new duties that included the handling of guided missiles and the docking, servicing, and loading of submarines. Installation personnel were tasked with arming submarines with the UGM-27 Polaris missile.
In 1960, the Polaris Missile Facility Atlantic (POMFLANT) was constructed within the installation to enable the handling of Terrier, Tarter, and Hawk missiles. Buildings were added in 1969 for the Standard and Red Eye missiles. The installation continued to grow through the 1970s when the Marrington area, an additional 2,894 acres located between Red Bank Road and Foster Creek, was added. The Navy designated the eastern half as the Marrington Plantation Outdoor Recreation Area and used the western half for the construction of MenRiv Housing and the adjacent support facilities.
On Sept. 30, 1981, the installation acquired the nearby Charleston Army Depot. The station's name was then changed to Naval Weapons Station South. In 1995, POMFLANT was decommissioned and the fleet ballistic missile operations moved to Kings Bay, Georgia.
The Naval Nuclear Power Training Command (NNPTC) school opened in 1998 and occupies more than 50 acres in the central part of the original Marrington tract.
Under the 2005 BRAC, the Naval Weapons Station was combined with the Air Base Charleston to create Joint Base Charleston.
Naval Support Activity Charleston has expanded its mission and Department of Defense support role with more than 40 tenant commands, including the NNPTC, Nuclear Power Training Unit, Propulsion Facility, and Border Patrol satellite academy; Naval Consolidated Brig Charleston; Navy Munitions Command Unit Charleston; Explosive Ordnance Detachments; Marine Corps Reserve Center; and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center engineering complex (SPAWAR), the largest employer in the Charleston area.The installation also houses 269 above-ground ammunition magazines, performs maintenance and storage of military ordnance including mines, and serves as an Army logistics hub. It is also the busiest continental United States surface port in the defense transportation system.
The installation also contains more than 1,800 on-base houses for Navy enlisted and officer dependents as well as Coast Guard dependents. NSA Charleston also has a child care facility, plus elementary and middle schools. A large medical clinic near NNPTC in Goose Creek was added in 2008.