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Home : Home : Warfare Centers : NSWC Corona : Who We Are : Command History

Early Guided Missile Development

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.

Development programs were carried out on a number of weapons. The best known of these was the Navy's BAT, which was the world's first operational missile to be employed into combat. It homed automatically on pre-selected targets and is credited with sinking several ships in the Pacific during the closing months of World War II. According to an official history of BUORD (Bureau of Ordnance) activities in World War II, BAT "ranked with the atom bomb and the proximity fuse as one of the few entirely new weapons in World War II." With these successes, the Navy continued to support missile development work after the war and with the easing of security, the NBS group was officially designated the Missile Development Division. 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.

NBS Corona Laboratories

Under the direction of Dr. Robert D. Huntoon, most of 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.

Initial Missile Evaluation

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. Starting with a six-man staff in June 1952, the NBS missile evaluation organization grew rapidly to a group of 60 in 1953. The early work of this group included the establishment of an operational data processing capability to handle data from the Terrier firings, the processing of the firing data, and the subsequent performance analysis of individual missile flights. The first data were received from Terrier firings by the USS Mississippi and USS Norton Sound.

Naval Ordnance Laboratory Corona

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.

During the 1950's, the NOLC missile systems and research programs were to be surpassed in size by the missile evaluation program, which had begun in 1952 as the activity's smallest program and by 1957 had become its largest.

NOLC Missile Evaluation Department

The missile evaluation group was formally established as the Missile Evaluation Department in 1954. By that time, experience-gained in performing early flight analyses of Terrier missiles-led to a more encompassing analysis and evaluation effort involving the determination of overall weapon system performance (including the shipboard system and the missile) and also the system pre-firing readiness reporting. With the expansion of the Navy's missile programs, the Department's demonstrated capabilities led to the assignment of responsibilities for the evaluation of each new Navy missile as it was introduced to the Fleet.

In addition to the evaluation of missile firings, the Department rapidly expanded to two related areas vital to the production and overall evaluation of weapons. The first area involved production quality including the appraisal of a manufacturer's ability to produce a weapon and the development of acceptance inspection procedures, production proof test firing plans, simulated test programs, calibration programs, and test equipment compatibility studies. The origin of the technical concepts for the Navy's Metrology and Calibration Program was part of this area. The second area was that of missile quality surveillance involving the design and management of surveillance programs on missile systems, their components and related equipment to determine the nature of any deterioration occurring, both in storage and in use by the Fleet. The Department pioneered the use of the new large-scale digital computers in the processing of factory, field test, and performance data to support the Navy's growing need for integrated and accurate information on its weapons.

The Establishment of FMSAEG

Early in the 1960's, Captain (later Vice Admiral) Eli T. Reich, Commanding Officer of the Navy's second operational guided missile cruiser, the USS Canberra, discovered that the ship's missile systems could not be counted on to function properly and different systems elements gave conflicting tactical information. With this background, along with his World War II experience with faulty ordnance, RADM Reich founded "Code G" in the Bureau of Weapons to focus on the development, production, and improving the overall effectiveness of surface missile systems. RADM Reich also initiated full operational test programs with the goals to: ensure that the total missile system (missile, ship's systems, and people) performed effectively against real targets; and, demonstrate the effectiveness of a battle group in war-gaming type exercises. In the key effort to resolve the problems associated with determining missile systems performance and describing the performance in a consistent fashion, RADM Reich recognized the need for a sound analytical model and data base, and an unbiased, independent analysis agent to use the model and data.

RADM Reich also recognized that the NOLC Missile Evaluation Department had the technical expertise, models, and data bases to perform the analysis, but lacked the direct reporting relationship required to provide the truly independent and unbiased reports needed. Under RADM Reich's leadership, the Missile Evaluation Department was separated from NOLC and established as the Fleet Missile System Analysis and Evaluation Group (FMSAEG), a separate command at the Corona site. The establishment was officially authorized by the Secretary of the Navy on February 24, 1964. The mission assigned to FMSAEG was "To provide the Navy Department, the Operating Forces, and appropriate organizations of the Shore Establishment with evaluation of performance, reliability, readiness, and effectiveness of missile weapon systems, subsystems and assemblies, and associated test equipment and checkout systems."

Fleet Analysis Center

Work on missile programs continued to expand for FMSAEG with major assignments in the surface and air launched missile systems areas and the Fleet Ballistic Missile Weapon Systems Program. Work in the component reliability survey project led to the establishment of the Inter-service Data Exchange Program (now GIDEP) and the Failure Rate Data program. Both of these programs had significant effects on the cost and reliability of emerging weapons systems.

In the first steps of the consolidation of related Navy activities in the Los Angeles area, FMSAEG became an Annex of the Naval Weapons Station, Seal Beach on 1 July 1971. With the continuing expansion of assignment and capabilities, FMSAEG was renamed the Fleet Analysis Center (FLTAC) in January 1976 to better recognize its evolving role.

Naval Warfare Assessment Center

During the 1980s, the NWS Seal Beach Technical Directorate was formed, incorporating FLTAC, the Navy's Metrology Engineering Center, Gage and Standards Center and the Weapons Quality Evaluation Center. On October 9, 1987, VADM William H. Rowden formally established the Naval Ordnance Centers of Excellence at ordnance shore activities. This action formally recognized the Technical Directorate's Centers of Excellence for: Measurement Science; Missile and Combat Systems Performance Assessment; and Product Quality Assurance as the major technical business components managed overall at the FLTAC location. On 1 April 1989, the Technical Directorate became the Naval Warfare Assessment Center, Corona (NWAC) to better reflect the overall purpose of the consolidated scientific and technical organization.

Joint Warfare Assessment Lab

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. With completion of the three-year construction project, the Naval Warfare Assessment Station of the Naval Surface Warfare Center will provide improved integrated analytical support to Naval fleet and shore organizations. Additionally, the laboratory is used to conduct detailed evaluations of Defense Department weapons systems performance assessment, readiness and effectiveness. The assessment results are used to enhance force readiness, and as source data to improve the development, test and evaluation, and in-service support of the Navy's weapons and combat systems.

At the center of the Laboratory is an integrated operations center with 12 large screen displays and capacity to seat more than 200 people. Naval Warfare Assessment Station employees will use state-of-the-art technology including: scientific graphical analysis workstations, multi-dimensional analytical models, parallel computer processing, large screen displays, and video teleconferencing facilities to assess combat systems performance. This assessment is integrated using hyper-speed computer networks and coupled to Fleet commands and program offices to provide near real-time assessments of the exercise from overall battle group and squadron performance to individual unit, weapon or combat system effectiveness.

Building and operating the Warfare Assessment Laboratory demonstrates the long-term commitment by the Navy to improve Fleet and Marine Force readiness as the Defense Department restructures the Armed Forces to meet the challenges of tomorrow in a dynamic and fast-changing world.

Measurement Science and Technology Laboratory

Another significant building project was completed and opened on August 26, 2002, as the 39,000 square-foot Measurement Science and Technology Laboratory provided 21st century technology, where metrologists are able to take measurements as minute as 50 millionths of an inch.

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division

From the period of 1993 to 2001, multiple reorganizations and name changes occurred. On September 14, 1993, NWAC was realigned under the Naval Ordnance Center, and became the Naval Warfare Assessment Division (NWAD). On February 15, 1998, NWAD transferred from the Naval Ordnance Center to the Naval Surface Warfare Center, and was renamed Naval Warfare Assessment Station. Though the mission was unchanged, the realignment allowed greater technical synergy and more effective relations with the Naval Surface Warfare Center engineering agents. Naval Sea Systems Command's new logo was unveiled in 2000, and in March 2001 the center's name changed to Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division.

Daugherty Memorial Assessment Center Laboratory

On May 28, 2009, Corona dedicated the Daugherty Memorial Assessment Center, another center devoted to analysis, in honor of fallen Petty Officer 1st Class Steven P. Daugherty of Barstow who died in combat.

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