The Navy in Corona....
Yes I said the Navy.....What's the US Navy doing in Corona California?.....Testing new Weapons is what the Navy is doing in Corona....And just try driving onto the base uninvited or not knowing where you are supposed to be going.....Several Angry looking Marines with machine guns will greet you before you have a chance to turn around....I know, I was supposed to be there and I took the wrong turn....Boy was I embarrassed.
So why is the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) located in Corona....Well it all started back in 1928 with a Luxury hotel and ended in 1929 with the stock market crash.....The Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Corona Division, a Naval Sea Systems Command activity, is the Navy's only independent analysis and assessment center.....The mission of the NSWC Corona Division is to "Gauge the warfighting capacity of ships and aircraft, from unit to battlegroup level, by assessing the suitability of design, the performance of weapons and equipment, and the adequacy of training.".....In order to carry out this mission, NSWC Corona Division possesses a number of unique capabilities......Foremost among these is the Warfare Assessment Laboratory, the cornerstone of an integrated approach to warfare assessment and the focal point of internal and external interconnectivity.
NSWC Corona Division is comprised of three Centers of Excellence, four departments, and more than 950 scientists and engineers, 700 contractors, and one of the Navy's largest scientific and engineering computer operations......More than 180 critical programs are assigned to the Center with about $180 million dollars of annual expenditures.
The site of the NSWC Corona Division was once a playground for the rich and famous......A 700-acre luxury resort once operated here in Norco, built by Rex Clark in 1928. Frequented by silent-screen stars, the complex sported a gambling casino, golf course, 55 acre lake, a hot sulfur spring spa, an airport, and a magnificent, 5-story hotel.....Sitting atop a knoll, the hotel had a commanding view of Lake Norconian and the surrounding countryside.....With the stock market crash of 1929, the resort plunged into a 12-year decline culminating in Clark agreeing to sell the complex to the Navy for 1.6 million dollars December 6th, 1941, one day before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Navy quickly began to convert the complex into a hospital......Behind the ornate facade of the main building, murals were removed from the walls, chandeliers were taken down, furniture was stored, draperies and Persian rugs were removed, and soon the elegant hotel was turned into an aseptic, strictly functional hospital.....Even the sulfur baths were converted to functional hydrotherapy mineral baths......By 1944, there were 100 officers, 184 nurses, and 1200 corpsmen at the hospital, and that year alone, they cared for almost 12,000 patients, all casualties of the Pacific battlefields.
Under the direction of Dr. Robert D. Huntoon, most of the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) Missile Development Division began to move to the west coast and Unit II was formally designated as the NBS Corona Laboratories.....Under Dr. Huntoon's leadership, the organization rapidly expanded to 250 scientists, technicians, and necessary support personnel.....This staff continued to concentrate on missiles and improving methods of guiding and fusing them.
In 1952, there occurred a key event in the evolution of the NSWC Corona Division......By that year, the Navy's Terrier guided missile had completed development and was considered ready for full-scale shipboard firing tests......Recognizing the need for accurate and objective evaluation of these firings, the Navy assigned responsibility for this task to the government group whose work on guided missiles it had been sponsoring for more than a decade-the NBS Corona Laboratories.
By 1953, the NBS Corona laboratories were in full operation with a staff of more than 400......On 24 July of that year, following a decision that weapons research and development were more properly a function of the military than NBS, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Commerce jointly announced plans to transfer seventeen NBS technical divisions to the Department of Defense......As part of that transfer, the NBS activity at Corona was transferred to the Department of the Navy, redesignated the Naval Ordnance Laboratory, Corona (NOLC) and assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance, thus becoming an official part of the Bureau it had served since 1941.
The Naval Warfare Assessment Division of the Naval Ordnance Center dedicated a new 48,000 square-foot Warfare Assessment building April 6th, 1994......The $9,425,532 Warfare Assessment Laboratory provides a consolidated secure facility to analyze fleet readiness and capability during world-wide multi-service training exercises.
In 2005, due to defense cutbacks it was recommended that the Naval Support Activity in Corona, be closed and relocated to the Naval Base Ventura County (Naval Air Station Point Mugu).....But after review, it was found that the move would only save a little more than $360,000, and cost over $40 million in the first year alone because of new buildings that needed to be built, after the current buildings in /corona were Torn down.....Also almost 80% of the personal would refuse to move out of the Inland Empire, so the retraining alone would add another $80 million in costs.
So in the end, the US Navy will stay in Corona, easing hundreds of peoples minds and the cities money coffers.
Gary Hall, the ghostpainter.