It all started with finding the best ways to blow up battleships 125 years ago. Now, Naval Support Facility at Indian Head spends most of its effort protecting the U.S. homeland from terrorist threats and providing the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Army with operational support programs.
Whether it entails ordnance testing and development, experimentation and production of propellants, or research and disposal of recovered enemy or friendly ordnance, the goal of the base for the past 125 years has always been to supply the warfighter with the most effective and reliable equipment needed to win the fight.
“Naval Support Facility Indian Head is responsible for a number of different missions,” said Jeron Hayes, a public affairs officer for the Naval Support Activity South Potomac. “The biggest mission is they will [provide services for the NAVSEA Warfare Centers Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division].”
The Indian Head EODTD is tasked with providing command support for energetic materials and technologies.
“For EOD, we are the command that provides the tools, the information, the technologies that the EOD warfighter needs when they face that ordnance in the field,” said EODTD Public Affairs Officer Monica McCoy. “So we keep all the publications for things they might run into [and] we develop new technologies for them to use. On the energetic [materials] side, we develop the [cartridge actuated devices or propellant actuated devices] CAD/PADs [for aircraft ejection technology].”
According to the Naval Air Systems Command website, the Navy and Marine Corps use about 684 types of CAD/PADs. Both CADs and PADs contain energetic material along with a mechanical or electronic actuating component that helps power the ejection or safety system for all fixed wing and rotary wing platforms, missile systems, personnel gear and shipboard fire suppression systems.
“[There are] hundreds of CAD/PADs these days,” McCoy said. “[CAD/PAD] is a pretty big program for our command. … We [also] do packaging, handling, shipping and transportation of ordnance. If you think about ordnance items, explosive items [or] things that are dangerous that our warfighters use … they have to be packaged so they can be on a ship where sailors are living with this stuff. So, a big part of our mission also [involves] transporting those types of materials safely so if they get jolted, they don’t go off. … We have to protect the ordnance, the ships, our people, all of that. … If you want to sum it all up, our mission is to fly farther, hit harder, save lives.”
On Sept. 26, Naval Support Facility Indian Head hosted a celebration at the Village Green Pavilion in honor of its 125th anniversary of service to the warfigher. The free event featured live music from Navy band Country Current, a performance from the Naval District Washington Ceremonial Drill Team, a moonbounce, games, a water tank display with Navy divers and other exhibits including EOD robotics.
Capt. Mary Feinberg, commanding officer of Naval Support Activity South Potomac, which manages the Indian Head and Dahlgren, Va., bases, said she is honored to be the commander of a base with such a storied history.
“For 125 years, Naval Support Facility Indian Head has been tasked with providing a unique mission to the Navy and they succeeded beyond expectations,” said Feinberg as she addressed a small crowd from a stage outside. “Generations of employees have served their country on this base, [including] the town and its residents [who] have been here to support our efforts. … We are truly grateful to have such wonderful neighbors.”
In addition, Feinberg said she is delighted to have witnessed an important milestone in the base’s history.
“To know what it [NSF Indian Head] has done historically from when it started in 1890 to how it’s actually working to help protect our servicemen and -women that are over in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s even more vibrant than what I imagined. … It’s just a unique responsibility and I will never see that again. I’ll never see this kind of milestone on another base that I serve on.”
Charles County Commissioner Debra M. Davis (D) said it was a great day for a celebration, as NSF Indian Head contributes a great deal to the economy as the second largest employer in the county.
“I’m especially excited not just because of the role that this base serves in supporting our service people across the country and the safety in protecting our country, but also [because it is] the [second] largest employer in Charles County,” Davis said. “We work together to make sure that we respect each other’s needs. I remain committed to revitalizing this western part of the county so that it can remain a good place, a great place for our citizens and for our Naval Support service people to live, work and play.”
For workers at NSF Indian Head, playing a prominent role in the community is just as important as fulfilling the base’s mission.
“NSWC Indian Head EOD Technology Division is proud to be the leader in ordnance and energetics and EOD solutions,” said EOD Technical Director Ashley Johnson. “We’ve been doing it for 125 years and it’s just another instance of us being able to celebrate our impact to the Navy and the United States. We’re really excited about that … and that we’ve got that kind of endurance and that kind of staying power and relevance. We want to continue that for as long as we possibly can. …This is a great example of that.”
EODTD Commanding Officer Capt. Vincent Martinez said he is optimistic of NSF Indian Head’s future.
“1890 was a long time ago, but it seems like yesterday,” Martinez said.
“Our mission has always been national security and supporting the warfighter. Whatever tomorrow brings, I guarantee you and I am confident that the men and women of Naval Support Facility Indian Head and the Warfare Center will continue to make history with their advancements in the fields of energetics at EOD.”