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NSWC Crane History

Throughout Crane’s 80-year history, change has been a constant.

In 1941, Crane was commissioned under the Bureau of Ordnance as the Naval Ammunition Depot for production, testing and storage of ordnance – military weaponry – under the first supplemental Defense Appropriation Act. In the late 1940s, the Bureau added an ammunition quality evaluation unit to expand its quality control system. As the complexity and sophistication of weapons increased through the 1950s and 1960s, Crane’s activities, capabilities and expertise expanded in scope under the newly formed Bureau of Weapons to include small arms, sonobuoy surveillance, microwave tubes, POLARIS missiles and other scientific and engineering support to the Bureau. 

In the 1960s, Crane came under the command of the newly established Naval Ordnance Systems Command and began providing technical support for weapons systems, including logistics, in-service engineering, repair, overhaul and design. Then, in the 1970s, Crane’s support began to include batteries, rotating components, electronic components, failure analysis and standard hardware and new technologies related to night vision systems. 

Crane became part of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), established in 1974 from the merger of the Naval Ordnance Systems Command and Naval Ship Systems Command. Shortly after, Crane’s name was changed to the Naval Weapons Support Center to more accurately reflect the true function of the installation.

In 1977, Crane Army Ammunition Activity (CAAA) became a neighbor to the Naval Weapons Support Center. With the subsequent designation of the Army as the single-service manager of conventional ammunition, CAAA was established as a tenant at Crane, and took over the loading, assembly and storage of ammunition at the installation. CAAA and NSWC Crane’s strong partnership continues today as two of the major tenants aboard the Naval Support Activity Crane (NSA Crane). 

Crane’s name was changed in 1992 to Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane). Today, the name is synonymous worldwide with modern, sophisticated leadership in diverse and highly technical product lines.

The most recent changes at NSWC Crane have been in progress since October 2003, when it began a national realignment and regional reorganization. The national realignment was a part of NAVSEA’s effort to be more efficient and respond more quickly and effectively to the Fleet. As a result of the regional reorganization, command operating functions are now located at Great Lakes, Ill., under a new command structure of the Navy Region Midwest.

Today, NSWC Crane’s 3,700 employees provide comprehensive support for complex military systems spanning development, deployment and sustainment in three mission areas: Electronic Warfare, Expeditionary Warfare and Strategic Missions. NSWC Crane leverages its unique technical capabilities with those of its industry partners to provide rapid response technical solutions to meet the mission needs of the Warfighter.