Naval Station Mayport (NSM) is located 15 miles east of Jacksonville, Florida. It contains 3,514 acres. NSM was established in December 1942, just after the start of World War II and has almost quadrupled its size since then. It is one of the largest U.S. naval bases and currently holds the third largest fleet concentration in the United States. With nearly a full mile of beachfront and 4.5 miles of shoreline, it provides access to open water and inland waterways. The harbor at NSM can hold up to 34 ships and its 8,000-foot runway can handle any aircraft now in use by the Department of Defense. Currently docked at NSM are AEGIS guided-missile cruisers, destroyers and guided-missile frigates. The decommissioned “U.S.S. John F. Kennedy” was homeported there for several years as well.
Naval Station Mayport is a very large employer in the region, with a large economic impact annually. As a carrier base for the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet, NSM’s primary role is to support naval and aviation activities of operating forces and units. NSM prides itself on providing “the Finest Service to the Finest Fleet.”
NSM provides jobs for 650 military and 710 civilian employees and serves more than 17,000 active duty and civilian personnel at 58 tenant commands, as well as over 50,000 family members and over 40,000 retired Navy veterans in the area. Operational tenant commands include three battle group staffs, an aircraft carrier, three destroyer squadrons, five helicopter squadrons and 23 ships. NSM also hosts training and repair commands, which include two commercial shipyards and the training facilities for the Atlantic Fleet. State government considers the base a key in anti-terrorism and narcotics enforcement efforts.
NSM provides base members with medical, dental and counseling services, as well as child care programs. The base has its own fire and police departments and provides housing and utility services for those stationed there.
The Navy categorizes NSM as a dry dock facility and one of its main functions is ship repair. Vessels are able to berth at three primary carrier piers or there are several other piers for smaller ships. There are several base locations for ship repair, including Jacksonville Shipyards, JSI Bellinger Shipyard Division, Atlantic Marine, Inc. and Atlantic Dry Dock.
Because of the leadership and innovative techniques it has used, NSM was designated as the East Coast’s “Navy Environmental Leadership Program” (NELP) site. NELP focuses on reducing the environmental impact of naval facilities and promoting responsible stewardship. Approved NELP practices put into place by NSM will be disseminated to all Navy and Marine forces.
NSM has several environmental challenges of its own. Currently, to maintain operations, over 600,000 cubic yards of sediment must be dredged every 18 months. Unfortunately, existing soil capacity for the dredged material is exhausted and new disposal methods must be explored. NSM has proposed two methods of reusing the dredged material: creating construction building blocks from the material or producing an artificial reef substance from it. These ideas are currently under consideration by the EPA. Locally, NSM became a partner in a historic charter that formally established an environmental compliance team with state environmental and water management agencies in 2002.
As with all World War II era shipyards, NSM also faces issues concerning the removal and disposal of asbestos, a mineral that, when inhaled, can lead to severe health issues including a number of diseases, such as asbestosis and pleural plaques, as well as a number of deadly forms of asbestos cancer, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Additionally, NSM faces issues with petroleum contaminated soil and lead paint. However, NSM has put into place a hazardous materials minimization program. This centralized system has reportedly helped them avoid over $2.6 million in hazardous waste disposal and hazardous material purchase costs over a two-year period.