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Naval Support Facility Indian Head

Environmental Restoration Program Public Website


Naval Support Facility Indian Head is located in northwestern Charles County, Maryland, approximately 25 miles southwest of Washington, DC. Naval Support Facility Indian Head is a Navy facility consisting of the Main Installation on Cornwallis Neck Peninsula and the Stump Neck Annex on Stump Neck Peninsula. The Main Installation encompasses approximately 2,500 acres and is bounded by the Potomac River to the northwest, west, and south; Mattawoman Creek to the south and east; and the town of Indian Head to the northeast. Included as part of the Main Installation are Marsh Island and Thoroughfare Island, which are located in Mattawoman Creek.

Naval Support Facility Indian Head was established in 1890 and is the Navy’s oldest continuously operating ordnance station. At various times during its operation, the installation has served as a gun and armor proving ground, a powder factory, a propellant plant, and a research facility. Stump Neck Annex, which was acquired in 1901, provided a safety buffer for testing larger naval guns that were tested by firing projectiles into the Potomac River, and at Stump Neck. The production of gunpowder and development of new explosives during the onset of World War II resulted in the construction of several new facilities at Indian Head, as well as the construction of Route 210 as a Defense Access Road in 1943. Development and improvements at Indian Head continued throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and in 1966, the installation was renamed the Naval Ordnance Station.

After the Vietnam conflict, the mission of the installation shifted from primarily a production facility to a highly technical engineering support operation. In 1987, the Naval Ordnance Station was established as a Center for Excellence to promote technological excellence in the following specialized fields: energetic chemicals; guns, rockets and missile propulsion; ordnance devices; explosives; safety and environmental protection; and simulators and training. Current Navy land uses are operations and training; production; maintenance and utilities; research, development, testing, and evaluation; explosive storage; supply and non-explosive storage; administration; community facilities and services; housing; and open space.

Installation management of the Navy base at Indian Head transferred to Commander Navy Installation Command (CNIC) in 2003 with the stand up of this new Echelon II command, charged with providing shore installation management (SIM) services to all Navy activities. As part of CNIC, all naval installations within the National Capital Region aligned with Naval District Washington (NDW), and on Nov. 3, 2005, the Indian Head base was renamed as Naval Support Facility Indian Head with the commissioning of Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP). 

As a component of NDW, NSASP is responsible for shore installation management for Naval Support Facility Indian Head, Maryland, and Naval Support Facility Dahlgren, Virginia.  Today, Naval Support Facility Indian Head is home to six major commands.  The military community on board the installation represents a diverse and strategically important mix of research and development activities, alongside operational support programs that are protecting the U.S. homeland from terrorist threats as well as serving U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Army forces deployed worldwide on a daily basis.

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