NAVSTA Mayport is located within the corporate limits of the City of Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida, approximately 12 miles to the northeast of downtown Jacksonville. The Station complex is located on the northern end of a peninsula bound by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the St. Johns River to the north and west. NAVSTA Mayport occupies the entire northern portion of the peninsula except for the town of Mayport, which is located to the west between the Station and the St. Johns River.
NAVSTA Mayport was commissioned in 1942 on approximately 700 acres of land. The Station initially consisted of a harbor and airfield located near the mouth of the St. Johns River. The harbor and airfield were constructed from the dredging and filling of Ribault Bay. The harbor was initially dredged to a depth of 29 feet below mean sea level and is referred to as the Mayport Turning Basin. The Mayport Turning Basis is surrounded on three sides by six ship/wharves (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, and Foxtrot).
The original mission of NAVSTA Mayport included use by patrol craft, target boats, and rescue boats. The Station was placed in caretaker status from 1946 to 1948. In 1948, NAVSTA Mayport reopened, and in 1952, an aircraft carrier was assigned to the Station. The turning basis was dredged to a depth of 40 feet to allow aircraft carriers and other large ships to berth within the basis.
Since its commissioning in December 1942, NS Mayport has grown to become the third largest naval surface fleet concentration area in the United States. Mayport's operational composition is unique, with a busy harbor capable of accommodating 34 ships and an 8,001-foot (2,439 m) runway capable of handling most any aircraft in the Department of Defense inventory.
Naval Station Mayport is also home to the Navy's United States Fourth Fleet, reactivated in 2008 after being deactivated in 1950.
The base has historically served as the homeport to various conventionally powered aircraft carriers of the Atlantic Fleet, including the Shangri-La, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Forrestal (September 1977-January 1983), Saratoga and, most recently, the John F. Kennedy. With the decommissioning of all conventionally powered aircraft carriers by the Navy, no carriers are presently assigned to Mayport. However, both houses of Congress have passed legislation authorizing about US $75 million for dredging and upgrades at Mayport to accommodate a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
On 1 April 1944, the air facility at Mayport was commissioned a Naval Auxiliary Air Station Mayport. Following the Second World War, both the NAAS was decommissioned and placed in a caretaker status. The United States Coast Guard took over the base and operated a small “Boot Camp” there for several years, but they vacated Mayport in late 1947 due to budget cuts. Mayport was reactivated again in June, 1948 as a Naval Outlying Landing Field under the cognizance of the Commanding Officer, Naval Air Station Jacksonville. As helicopter aviation evolved during the Cold War, Mayport became the East Coast home for the Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) MK III squadrons. As a reflection of growth, Mayport Naval Air Facility was re-designated as a naval air station in 1988.