Rank: No. 12
Nuclear Warheads: 160
NAVAL WEAPONS STATION
VIRGINIA ranks 12th (tie) in number of nuclear warheads deployed, a drop
from 9th place in 1992. Its single nuclear storage site, the Naval Weapons
Station Yorktown, serves attack submarines deployed in the Norfolk area and
the Atlantic Fleet. In September 1991 President Bush announced that all tactical
nuclear weapons would be removed from ships and submarines. For a time the
Naval Weapons Station were filled with several thousand weapons. Later decisions
lead to the retirement of most of them leaving only the W80/Tomahawk SLCM.
We estimate that the Special Weapons Department at Yorktown now stores half
of the inventory of some 320 W80 Tomahawk SLCM warheads.
The Naval Weapons Station was established first as the Naval Mine Depot during
World War I. At the time it covered an area of 20 square miles. During World
War II the Depot developed mines, depth charges, and new ordnance devices.
The former nuclear weapons storage area (WSA) at Yorktown was initially
constructed by the AEC between 1951 and 1953 as one of 13 original facilities
built for storage, maintenance, and operational readiness of the nuclear
stockpile. The transition to nuclear weapons came with the commissioning
of Skiffes Creek Annex in July 1953, a storage area separate from the main
NWS. The first nuclear weapons arrived in 1954. The complex included two
storage buildings with vaults (A structures), a maintenance building
(C structure), one other assembly/maintenance building, storage
igloos, and a dry low-level radioactive waste disposal area. The name was
changed in 1958 to Naval Weapons Station. Throughout the 1950s and
1960s the numbers and types of naval nuclear weapons grew to supply
the Atlantic Fleet.