NS Newport, RI Image 1
    NS Newport, RI Image 2

    NS Newport, RI History

    NS Newport is in Newport, Rhode Island, one of the USA's best and most historic seaports. The full military history of Newport is too long to explain here. The Naval Station was founded in 1883, the result of an idea by Commodore Stephen Luce, who as a lieutenant during the Civil War had observed that the Navy would benefit from the professional and detached study of war. This thinking was parallel to the European, mainly Prussian, concept of the staff college. Several wars in the 18th and 19th Century had pointed out that gaps in general and command officer's in many branches education led to shortcomings in the performance of command duties.

    Commodore Luce's argument, that war is the profession of arms, and professions required professional training, swayed the Admirals and Navy Department, the Navy then as now being a forward thinking service. This led to the creation of Naval Station Newport to host the college in 1883, and the actual Naval War College in 1884. The College's first superintendent was Commodore, later Rear Admiral Luce, who retired in 1889 after a 48 year naval career. The Rear Admiral then returned as faculty from 1901 to 1910, until final retirement. He lived to see his professionally trained graduates fight World War One.

    Forward thinking though the Navy was, the graduates of the War College were met at first with some suspicion by captains and commanders used to conducting education aboard ship, and not until most of the old salts had retired were the newfangled ideas emerging from the college accepted. Students of the Navy War College studied the laws of war, professional management, history (with a watch eye on maritime history), social sciences and politics, and other academic disciplines intended to exercise and train the bright minds who would someday conduct wartime and peacetime naval operations around the world. The most radical, and suspicious, innovation of the War College was the use of abstract war games as far back as 1887. This was not the first serious military use of wargames (the Germans had been doing in as far back as 1811) but it was still a radical idea and unproven tool. Nevertheless, wargaming became a useful tool for planning and practicing war plans for World Wars One and Two. The color plans of World War Two came out of the Naval War College; a scenario predicting the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor was one of many scenarios gamed at Norfolk, although it was not considered a serious threat.

    Both World Wars saw a tremendous growth in NS Norfolk's population, as the station was used for less academic, more immediately demanded training during those wars. Rhode Island in general has a very high population density, and the mass of trainees and other Navy personnel strained Navy housing. Tent camps sprang up, but these would not stand to a Rhode Island winter. Civilian housing was desired, and an "Adopt A Sailor" movement was started, in which local civilians were asked to host a sailor as they trained.

    In the Second World War this voluntary civilian housing program declined as temporary shelters were built. Many of these temporary shelters were Quonset Huts, named for local Quonset Point; the shelter was first built in a Quonset factory, and shipped around the world. The practical side of the War College and NS Newport showed its brain in the creation of the Naval Construction Battalions, the Fighting Seabees, which were activated here in December 1941; these Navy combat engineers paved the road across the Pacific, creating runways, shore facilities, docks, shelters, and all other possible buildings for the surface, submarine, and aviation arms of the US Navy. The port also homeported some 100 ships as part of the Atlantic Campaign.

    The Cold War, development of the Nuclear Navy, and the development of the ballistic submarine, created a whole new series of mental challenges for the War College, and much of the US's Cold War Naval strategy was influenced by the professionals at the War College. NS Newport became a primary technical and theoretical development center from the 1960s. The population of the station was much lower than in the war, but still higher than before, and various facilities, including permanent housing, were built.

    From 1951 to 1994 NS Newport hosted the Officer Training School, which was relocated in 1995, and in 2007 relocated again to Newport.

    The 1970s saw the refocusing of the War College on Strategy and Policy, National Security and Decision-Making, and Joint Military Operations. This focus continues to this day. The 1980s and 1990s saw a general decline in porting at NS Newport, (today the port hosts only three Coast Guard Cutters) and a shift to various technical, advanced technical, and professional training programs. The station currently hosts the Naval Justice School, Supply Corps School (logistics being the lifeblood of the Navy), the Academy Preparatory School, Senior Enlisted School, Naval Underwater Warfare Center, and Surface Warfare Officer's School.

    Graduates of the Naval War College include Fleet Admirals Ernest J. King, Chester W. Nimitz, and William F. Halsey, Rear Admiral Alan Shepard, and a long list of Admirals, Captains, and other Navy officers, as well as some very smart Marine generals, Coast Guard admirals, Army generals, and Air Force generals.