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Naval Weapons Station Charleston is a base of the United States Navy located on the west bank of the Cooper River, in the cities of Goose Creek and Hanahan South Carolina. The base encompasses more than 17,000 acres (69 km²) of land with 10,000 acres (40 km²) of forest and wetlands, 16-plus miles of waterfront, four deep-water piers, 38.2 miles (61.5 km) of railroad and 292 miles (470 km) of road. The current workforce (military/civil service/contractor) numbers more than 11,000 with an additional 3,600 people in on-base family housing.
Commissioned on November 5, 1941 as the United States Naval Ammunition Depot, the facility was used as an ammunition collection and distribution point during World War II. Ammunition manufactured throughout the country was sent to the base and then loaded onto ships being built at the Charleston Naval Shipyard. After the war, the station oversaw the removal of ordnance from deactivated ships. There was minimal activity at the base for the next several years.
In the mid-1950s, the station experienced renewed activity when its mission was expanded to include the handling of guided missiles. Base personnel were tasked with arming submarines with the UGM-27 Polaris missile, and in 1960 the Polaris Missile Facility Atlantic (POMFLANT) was constructed within the base. More land was acquired and facilities were built in 1965 to accommodate the handling of Terrier, Tartar, and Hawk missiles. Buildings were added again in 1969 for the Standard and Red Eye missiles. The base continued to grow through the 1970s and, on September 30, 1981, acquired the nearby Charleston Army Depot. The station's name was then changed to Naval Weapons Station South.
The Weapons Station has expanded its mission and Department of Defense support role with over 40 tenant commands, and today is a training center, with the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command (NNPTC), Nuclear Power Training Unit, Propulsion Facility, and Border Patrol satellite academy; Naval Consolidated Brig, Charleston; Navy Munitions Command Unit Charleston; Explosive Ordnance Detachments; Marine Corps Reserve Center; an engineering complex, with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR, this is the largest employer in the Charleston area) and is close to the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast; 269 above-ground ammunition magazines, maintenance and storage of military ordnance including mines, and serves as an Army logistics hub, the busiest continental United States surface port in the defense transportation system. In addition, NWS Charleston contains more than 1,800 on-base houses for Navy enlisted and officer dependents as well as Coast Guard dependents, and has a child care facility, elementary and middle schools.