The Naval Support Facility Dahlgren (NSFDL) is located on the western shore of the Potomac River in King George County, Virginia, approximately 25 miles east of Fredericksburg, Virginia and 40 miles south of Washington, D.C. The NSFDL is bounded on the north by US Highway 301 and on the east by the Potomac River. Upper Machodoc Creek flows in a general west-to-east direction through the NSFDL, dividing it into two principal areas, the Mainside to the north, consisting of 2,678 acres, and the Explosive Experimental Area (EEA) to the south, consisting of 1,641 acres. The EEA, located on Tetotum Flats, is more commonly referred to as Pumpkin Neck. Gambo Creek flows in a general north-to-south direction through the Mainside.
Facilities on the Mainside are mainly used for administration, research and development, housing, as well as community support activities and areas. The EEA is used for the testing of naval ordnance.
Approximately 40 percent of the Mainside is composed of residential/developed areas located on the southern portion of the site. The northern and western portions of the Mainside contain large blocks of forest. Developed areas comprise approximately 8 percent of the EEA. Over 60 percent of the EEA is hardwood and pine forest. Marshland is also common over portions of this area. Two large open field test areas are located in the central portion of the EEA.
The installation was established in 1918 with the primary mission of testing all naval ordnance materials. In 1946, Dahlgren began work in computation, which remains one of its major projects. Dahlgren’s mission has changed several times over the years, and today it mainly operates as a research and development center for the Navy.
Installation management of the Dahlgren Navy Base transferred to Commander Navy Installation Command (CNIC) in 2003 with the standup of Echelon II command, charged with providing shore installation management services to all Navy activities. All naval installations within the National Capital Region were aligned with Naval District Washington (NDW). On November 3, 2005, the Dahlgren base was renamed as Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren with the commissioning of Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP) as the installation’s host command.
At present, the installation is under the jurisdiction of the Naval Support Activity, South Potomac and hosts multiple tenant commands.