Naval Air Station Key West, is a naval air station and military airport located on Boca Chica Key, four miles (6 km) east of the central business district of Key West, Florida, United States.
Naval Air Station Key West’s national security mission supports operational and readiness requirements for Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, National Guard units, federal agencies, and allied forces. The air station is also host to several tenant commands, including Fighter Squadron Composite 111 (VFC-111), Strike Fighter Squadron 106 (VFA-106) Detachment, the U.S. Army Special Forces Underwater Operations School and Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF South).
In addition to the main air station on Boca Chica Key, NAS Key West comprises several separate annexes in the Key West area. These additional properties include:
Truman Annex (former Naval Station Key West)
Trumbo Point (former NAS Key West seaplane base)
Sigsbee Park Annex
Naval Branch Health Clinic Key West (site of former Naval Hospital Key West)
KEY WEST NAS /BOCA CHICA FIELD/ AIRPORT HISTORY
The U.S. Navy’s presence in Key West dates back to 1823 when a Naval Base was established to stop piracy in this area. The lower Keys were home to many wealthy shipping merchants whose fleets operated from these waters. This drew the interest of pirates such as Blackbeard and Captain William Kidd, who used the Keys as a base from which to prey on shipping lanes. The base was expanded during the Mexican-American War and the Spanish-American War. In 1898, the battleship Maine sailed from Key West to Havana, Cuba, where it sank. The sinking of the Maine resulted in the United States declaring war on Spain, and the entire U.S. Atlantic Fleet moved to Key West for the duration of the war.
During World War I (1914–1918) the base was expanded again, and in 1917, a U.S. naval submarine base was established on what is now naval air station property. Its mission during World War I was to supply oil to the U.S. fleet and to block German ships from reaching Mexican oil supplies.
On January 18, 1918, the first class of student aviators arrived for seaplane training, which launched the station’s reputation as a premier training site for Naval Aviators, a reputation which continues today. The base was primarily used for antisubmarine patrol operations and as an elemental flight training station, with more than 500 aviators trained at the station during World War I.
After World War I, the base was decommissioned and its personnel were transferred or released. Most of the buildings were destroyed or dismantled and moved to other locations. The remaining facilities were used only occasionally during 1920–1930 for seaplane training. The station remained inactive until 1939.
The seaplane base was designated as a Naval Air Station Key West on 15 December 1940, and served as an operating and training base for fleet aircraft Squadrons. This set the stage for America’s entry into World War II. Fortunately, the government retained the property, which proved to be a wise decision as the nation scrambled to re-arm in a state of emergency at the outbreak of the war.
U.S. Navy P-3C and E-2C aircraft also routinely conduct detachment operations at NAS Key West, primarily counternarcotics (CN) reconnaissance missions in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean basin in support of both the U.S. Coast Guard and Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF – SOUTH).
On 5 October 2001, Naval Air Station Key West was downgraded and redesignated as Naval Air Facility Key West. On 1 April 2003, the air facility was upgraded and restored back to full air station status as Naval Air Station Key West.
KEY WEST NAS /BOCA CHICA FIELD/ AIRPORT LOCATION
KEY WEST NAS /BOCA CHICA FIELD/ AIRPORT FACTS
Elevation: 393 ft.
Runway length available: 03/21 7000×150 ft. :: 07/25 10000×200 ft. :: 13/31 7000×150 ft.