Navy Bases

Sugar Grove Naval Operations Command, West Virginia

NIOC Sugar Grove is located in picturesque Pendleton County, West Virginia, in the Potomac Highlands or eastern portion of the state, approximately 170 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. Also close enough for a day-trip are Winchester, VA at 110 miles, Richmond, VA at little over 110 miles, Arlington, VA just 165 miles and Baltimore, MD located a bit over 200 miles away.

Base housing consists of 80 two, three and four bedroom family housing units. Limited private rental housing available in Sugar Grove, Brandywine, Franklin. Housing also available 40 miles away in Harrisonburg, VA.

The Admiral Boorda Bachelor Housing Facility is a new "1+1" style building that houses 70 enlisted personnel. This style allows E-4 and below members to share a two-bedroom suite, each having their own bedroom with a shared kitchen and bathroom. E-5 and above members enjoy a suite with a bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom. No Bachelor Officer or Transient Bachelor Housing exists.

The Navy's presence in Sugar Grove, West Virginia began in 1955 when the site was selected by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) for constructing a 600-foot parabolic antenna for advanced communications research. The natural mountain shielding and very low man-made noise made this an ideal location for this project. Initially, NRL constructed a 60-foot parabolic dish, which became operational in 1959. It was the first directive antenna system automatically steered by digital computer control and served as a model for solving many design problems associated with larger antennae.

In July 1962, the Navy Department abandoned construction of the 600-foot diameter "Big Dish" for the naval Radio Telescope Laboratory at Sugar Grove due to unforeseen technological advances in the other areas. In response to this development, Senator Robert C. Byrd spoke with President Kennedy on July 23, 1962 to see if a new use could be found for the Sugar Grove installation. Later that year, the Department of Defense decided to use Sugar Grove as a radio receiving station due, in part, to its being located with the National Radio Quiet Zone. In 1963, the navy Radio Stations (NRS) was established in a developmental status. A 150-foot diameter parabolic antenna was completed in early 1968 and the Naval Security Group took over mission operations of both parabolic antennae.

NRS Sugar Grove was formally commissioned on May 10, 1969. The new station was called "the Navy's ear" gathering communications from Navy planes, ships and stations around the world. Two huge, circular antenna arrays or Wullenwebers, each 1,000 feet in diameter, once served as the station's main receiving antennae.

The TIMBERLINE II project in 1984 provided requir3ed upgrades to mission systems, emergency power and air conditioning systems in the Underground Building (UGB), which supported both naval Security Group Detachment and NRS Operations. The Linn Operations Center (LOC), formerly used by the naval Security Group before they moved into the UGB, now houses the Supply and Training departments. The LOC is dedicated to Chief Communications Technician Raymond E. Linn, who gave his life serving his country aboard USS LIBERTY (AGTR 5) in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on June 8, 1967.

Due to increased automation in Naval communications, NRS Sugar Grove's mission was merged at another station's location. On October 1, 1992, the NRS closed and naval Security Group Activity (NSGA, Sugar Grove was commissioned. On October 1, 2005, NSGA was changed to Navy Information Operations Command.

The mission of NIOC Sugar Grove is to conduct communications research and development for the Department of Defense. Since its establishment, the command has continued to build upon the strong relationship the Navy has enjoyed since 1955 with the citizens of West Virginia and Virginia. The command has earned numerous awards for excellence in operations, retention of quality Sailors, base management, environmental stewardship, energy conservation, fire fighting, community service as well as other areas.

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