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Natsios Young Architects

15 June 2002


Naval Weapons Station Charleston:

From John Pike's Global Security:

Charleston Naval Weapon Station

Sixty W-80-0 Tomahawk SLCM munitions and 85 nuclear aerial bombs for deck-based aircraft are stored at Charleston Naval Weapons Station, located on the west bank of the Cooper River, 40 km from Charleston, South Carolina.

The mission of the Naval Weapons Station Charleston is to maintain and operate facilities and provide, as appropriate, services and material to support operations of commands of the operating forces of the Navy, and other organizations designated by the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), and to perform such other functions and tasks as may be directed by higher authority. The facility also supports the Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) Program; and serves as homeport for ships as directed by the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), and Commander, Military Sealift Command (MSC).

Naval Weapons Station, Charleston (NAVWPNSTA CHASN) was commissioned as the US Naval Ammunition Depot on 5 November 1941. The 6,701 acre original site was purchased when it became apparent that ammunition could no longer be safely handled in large quantities at the Naval Station. One year later, an additional 5,187 acre tract was purchased. During World War II the mission of the depot was to receive ammunition from inland plants and issue it to ships being built at the Charleston Naval Shipyard. Following the war, the depot was tasked with handling the removal of ammunition from some 370 ships being deactivated. In 1947 the depot was nearly deactivated and returned to private ownership; however, in 1948 it was placed in standby status. Only those operations required to store ammunition for ships undergoing overhaul at the shipyard were conducted. This condition continued until the mid 1950s. The mission was then expanded to include handling of guided missiles and loading new Polaris submarines.

By 1960, the first Polaris Missile Facility Atlantic (POMFLANT) was constructed. During this same period, facilities were built at the NAVSPNSTA CHASN for handling the first surface launched Terrier guided missile. During the 1960s, both NAVWPNSTA CHASN and its major tenant, POMFLANT, continued to expand their missions with NAVWPNSTA CHASN acquiring an additional 1,656 acres of land in leases, easements, and through civil actions. Facilities were added at NAVWPNSTA CHASN for the new Terrier, Tartar, and Hawk missiles in 1965 and the Standard and Red Eye missiles in 1969. In the 1970s, over 2,730 acres of additional land was acquired. NAVWPNSTA CHASN continued to improve its torpedo and mine capability during this time. In September 1980 NAVWPNSTA CHASN assumed coordination responsibilities of Charleston Army Depot for Anniston Army Depot, Anniston, Alabama. By Memorandum of Understanding, Commanding Officer, NAVWPNSTA CHASN, agreed to manage maintenance, utilities, supply, and security services at Charleston Army Depot until the formal turnover from the Department of the Army to the Department of the Navy. Acquisition rights to the real estate and buildings at the Charleston Army Depot were transferred to NAVWPNSTA CHASN on 30 September 1981. At that time the name changed to NAVWPNSTA South.

NAVWPNSTA CHASN is located on the west bank of the Cooper River in the southeast portion of Berkeley County, 25 miles from Charleston and 13 river miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

Jose Padilla, alleged dirty bomber terrorist, may be imprisoned at the Charleston Naval Weapons Station.


About 2/3 thirds of this facility is enclosed with the double-fenced security system seen at other
nuclear weapons storage facilties. The other 1/3 has a single fence system. It is possible the
single fence system is later and has more advanced features than the double fence.A feature of
both systems is that the fence segments are straight lines, perhaps indicating the fencing is in
tension as a vibration sensor of tampering. The straight runs may also indicate presence of laser
or other direct beam sensors. Visual or other biometric surveillance may be eased by the straight
runs as well. Other sensors are likely placed below and on the surface of the cleared fence land.
A guardhouse is located at the limited penetrations of the fence system except where it adjoins
the single fenced area.

Charleston WSA Coordinates:

33N 00' 28", 79W 58' 36"

3,652,600.0, 595,600.0