Saturday, October 11, 2008

What is the Navy doing in Norco? And why do they say they're doing it in Corona?

I was out of town for a few days - my nephew was graduating from Marine boot camp in San Diego, which is well outside of the Inland Empire. But on the drive back, we got to talking about military installations that are in the Inland Empire. No, not all of them were closed.

But this one is the oddest.

NSWC Corona

Hold it right there.

For the record, NSWC stands for Naval Surface Warfare Center. And it isn't in Corona, it's in Norco. In fact, the street address is 2300 Fifth Street in Norco.

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Now bear in mind that this is a Navy installation, but the nearest water is the Santa Ana River. Oh, and Lake Norconian. Perhaps it's just me, but it strikes me as a little funny that there's a U.S. Navy installation that is not near a significant body of water.

OK, let's continue.

NSWC Corona is the Navy's only independent analysis and assessment center, with more than 1,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff, and more than 800 contractors. As a field Command of the Naval Sea Systems Command’s Naval Surface Warfare Center, NSWC Corona has achieved a world-class reputation for quality engineering and analytical capabilities. NSWC Corona is sponsored by more than 120 Navy, Marine Corps, Army, and Air Force Program Offices, as well as a number of United States and foreign government agencies, and more than 3,500 government and industry customers regularly use its products and services.

NSWC Corona is home to two world-class laboratories that are vital to ensuring the best measurement and analytical capability for the Armed Services. The Joint Warfare Assessment Laboratory (JWAL) is a high tech 48,000 square-foot, highly secure facility with satellite connectivity that allows the integration and merging of Navy test exercise data needed to assess the performance of Navy ships, aircraft, and combat systems. The Measure Science and Technology Laboratory (MSTL) is a newly constructed metrology and gage laboratory used to conduct super-precise measurements in support of sophisticated Navy systems.

In conjunction with the extensive experience of its unmatched personnel, these two national assets allow NSWC Corona to provide independent assessment not only to our Navy, but to our entire Armed Services. It is a key instrument for the Navy to have the best trained men and women, with highly capable weapons systems, ready and able to do their jobs.

Now this is pretty techie stuff, but it's recognized by pretty techie sources:

When Navy pilots use night-vision goggles, they trust that the goggles will provide the proper sensitivity. When Navy personnel use radios, they expect the radios to operate on the correct frequency. And everyone aboard a Naval ship relies on instrument gauges to accurately indicate quantities such as temperature and pressure.

Arman Hovakemian manages the measurement science department, which provides measurement assessment and calibration procedures to Navy and Marine Corps calibration labs.
To ensure that these and other weapons systems perform as expected, defense contractors develop specialized test and measurement equipment. But who tests the testers?

The answer is the Navy itself. Technicians on land-based and ship-based calibration labs test and calibrate the Navy’s more than 1.7 million pieces of test equipment, performing more than 525,000 calibrations per year.

The Navy has more than 5000 active calibration procedures in use around the world. All calibration procedures (manual and automated), test-equipment evaluations, and measurement analysis, as well as some calibration standards, originate in the Measurement Science Department at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division (NSWC Corona,

But let's return to one of our original questions - if the facility is located in Norco (a city north of Corona), then why is the facility called NSWC Corona? Well, it's because the predecessor organization was known as NBS Corona Laboratories. This was back when the National Institute of Standards and Technology was known as the National Bureau of Standards. Here's some history:

In the years immediately preceding World War II, a concerned Federal Government established the National Research Defense Committee to develop new and more-sophisticated weapons. The committee's Division 5 was charged with the development of guided weapons, a category that included everything from radio-controlled bombs to pilotless aircraft. The National Bureau of Standards (NBS) in Washington was chosen to become Division 5's principal laboratory for this secret work. By 1940, NBS had assembled a distinguished corps of scientists and technicians and the development of guided weapons and bombs was underway. As the war worsened, the Navy's strong interest in the new weapons intensified and a naval ordnance detachment, directed by Captain (later Rear Admiral) Dundas P. Tucker, was established at NBS to provide increased manpower and to conduct test, evaluation, and training functions....

As the missile development efforts continued to expand, additional space was needed. This space was finally provided by the area known as "Unit II" of the Naval Hospital at this site.

The referenced hospital was opened on December 8, 1941 and was known as the Naval Hospital in Corona, on the site of the Norconian Resort, which had closed in November 1941. While "Norco" stands for "North Corona," the area had been known as Norco since 1923.

So why wasn't the hospital called the "Naval Hospital in Norco"? Probably because, while the area was known as Norco as early as 1923, the city of Norco wasn't incorporated until 1964 - long after the Navy moved in.

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