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Home : Home : Warfare Centers : NSWC Dahlgren : What We Do
About Dahlgren Division

NSWCDD’s mission is to provide research, development, test and evaluation, analysis, systems engineering, integration and certification of complex naval warfare systems. Through the years, Dahlgren established itself as the major testing area for naval guns and ammunition. Today, it continues to provide the military with testing and certification by utilizing its Potomac River Test Range in Dahlgren, VA, and provides Fleet support at NSWC Dahlgren Division Dam Neck Activity, overlooking the Virginia Capes Fleet Operations Area, Virginia Beach, VA.

  NSWC Dahlgren 

            NSWCDD Dam Neck Activity

NSWCDD conducts basic research in all systems-related areas and pursues scientific disciplines including physics, mathematics, laser and computer technology, software, mechanical, electrical and systems engineering, and biotechnology and chemistry. 


As a premier naval scientific and engineering institution, Dahlgren technology is critical to new design concepts for current ships and for systems integration and interoperability for the U.S. Navy. 


USS Ponce

USS Ponce 

In support of the Office of Naval Research, NSWCDD scientists and engineers are developing and testing the Electromagnetic Railgun, bringing the Navy closer to a promising new Naval gun system capable of extended ranges against surface, air and ground targets. NSWCDD is also home to the Naval Directed Energy Office, the Navy's top facility for research and development of pulsed power, microwave, and laser technologies. In 2014, an NSWCDD-developed laser weapon system, brought significant new capabilities to America's Sailors and Marines, and was successfully deployed and operated aboard a naval vessel in the Arabian Gulf. The deployment aboard USS Ponce (AFSB (I)-15) demonstrated a laser weapon working aboard a deployed U.S. Navy ship operating seamlessly with existing ship defense systems.

In keeping with its legacy of test and evaluation of naval ordnance, NSWCDD was a key player with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in developing the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) gun mission module.  NSWCDD engineers actively support the LCS program. 

At its Dam Neck location, NSWCDD scientists and engineers modernize and sustain systems on nearly every combatant and capital ship in the Fleet – systems such as Battle Force Tactical Training or BFTT; SQQ-89 Undersea Warfare Combat System, the Ship Self Defense System (SSDS) Mk 2, radar data distribution and display systems; and special sensors. Hardware design supporting SSDS produced a savings of over $12 million dollars in hardware procurement costs alone over the previous baseline.  The Navy’s modernization of the LSD 41/49 class and LHD 2 through 6 ships would not be affordable without those savings.

NSWCDD also supports munition and mortar systems for U.S. Marine Corps sponsors and provides technical support to troops in theater.

Among its many assets is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) runway, which gives NSWCDD an organic and effective in-house capability to research, develop and test UAVs with new sensors, payloads, weapons and engagement systems.

NSWCDD supports operations other-than-war, homeland defense, chemical-biological warfare protection, counter-terrorism, and counter-narcoterrorism.  NSWCDD is a specialty site for human systems integration in ship systems design and home to the Navy’s premier chemical, biological and radiological defense lab.

Our Mission
The Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division's mission is to provide research, development, test and evaluation, analysis, systems engineering, integration and certification of complex naval warfare systems related to surface warfare, strategic systems, combat and weapons systems associated with surface warfare. Provide system integration and certification for weapons, combat systems and warfare systems. Execute other responsibilities as assigned by the Commander, Naval Surface Warfare Center.

Our Vision
Our vision is to be the Department of the Navy's leading warfare system architect and systems engineer, recognized as the technical leader in delivering innovative, cost effective, and effective solutions for the Navy, Joint Forces, and the Nation.

Our Guiding Principles
Our decisions and actions are guided by the following principles:

  • We are a unified Navy Laboratory that is part of the larger Department of Defense (DoD) team.
  • Our people and their competence are fundamental to our success.
  • Quality and affordable products and services are the foundation for customer satisfaction.
  • Our processes and products are developed from a systems perspective.
  • We are responsible stewards of personnel, information and environmental resources.