New Orleans Naval Support Activity, Louisiana
The land which most of Naval Support Activity (NSA) New Orleans calls home dates back to the beginning days of French Louisiana.
It forms part of an immense land concession given to Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, founder of New Orleans, in 1719 by the Company of the Indies. The land changed hands numerous times before it was purchased by the United States on February 14, 1849 for the site of a proposed Navy Yard, however it wasn't built and the land was leased for farming. In May of that year, additional ground was purchased by the Navy to enlarge the original site.
For more than 100 years, NSA New Orleans has served the American military and civic organizations in a multitude of roles.
In November 1901, the Naval Dry Dock (YFD#2) arrived and the U.S. Naval Station was formally established. In 1902, the Commandant, 8th Naval District received almost $4 million for new buildings and improvements to the station. Additional property was obtained in 1903 giving the Navy almost three fourths of a mile of valuable river frontage.
The original buildings, some of which still stand, were completed in 1903. Also located on the grounds is the LeBeuf-Ott country retreat which dates back to 1840. Today that home is known simply as Quarters "A" and is occupied by the area's senior Navy or Marine Corps flag officer.
The Naval Station remained open until September 1911. Following four years of inactivity, it was reopened in 1915 as an industrial Navy Yard for vessel repair. The station continued in full operation until June 1933 when it was placed in a maintenance status.
In December 1939, the station was reactivated and eventually became a base to handle transient naval personnel.
In September 1944, the station was designated as a U.S. Naval Repair Base. Three years later it was designated as a U.S. Naval Station and held that name until January 1962 when it became Headquarters, Support Activity, New Orleans. The latter name came about to reflect the fact that the Headquarters, Eighth Naval District was aboard the station as a regular tenant.
NSA New Orleans maintains a peculiar geography because it's split by the Mississippi River. Located across from the older side of the base, in New Orleans' Bywater District, are the three largest buildings at NSA New Orleans. They tower six floors above the river and each contain more than 500,000 square feet of floor space and house a major part of NSA tenant community.
The 30 acres of land and three buildings have a history that began in June of 1919 when the buildings were constructed for the U.S. Army Quartermaster (QM) Corps for use as a general depot during World War I.
These buildings were used by the QM Corps after completion until February 1931 when two of them (Bldgs. 601 & 602) were leased to the Port of New Orleans.
With the advent of World War II, the lease was canceled and the installation reverted to complete use by the military.
After the Great War, the QM Corps gave up the buildings and the official title of the Eastbank facility became the New Orleans Port of Embarkation. In 1955, the tract of land was known as the New Orleans Army Terminal, and in 1965 the name was changed to the New Orleans Army Base.
There was an expanding naval presence in the lower Mississippi Delta in the mid-Sixties so in June 1966, the New Orleans Army Base transferred to the Navy.
July of 1966 saw the disestablishment of the Headquarters, Support Activity and the establishment of the "Naval Support Activity" designation to reflect the changing mission of the station. With this change in mission and designation, both sides of the river began serving as the Naval Support Activity for the first time.
Today, NSA New Orleans is home to the Navy Reserve's Staff Headquarters and Marine Forces Reserve's headquarters, along with almost 30 commands, serving all aspects of military life.