As part of base consolidations taking place throughout the Navy, Naval Station Annapolis - which has officially existed for almost 60 years - became Naval Support Activity Annapolis yesterday, a change Navy officials said would not result in the loss of "any existing functions."
Often known in Annapolis as "the base" across the Severn River from the Naval Academy, the station has long provided support to the military college through seamanship, weapons and engineering training, as well as providing public works and housing for enlisted personnel assigned to the base.
The change is the result of "installation consolidation" that took place throughout the Navy in 2002, in which certain operations - including public works, security, environmental safety and port operations - were brought under regional authorities instead of being managed by each base.
The transition, which was made to save money, is not related to last year's base closure round, said Cmdr. Ed Zeigler, spokesman for Naval District Washington. It also comes on the heels of another, more major change. In January, the Marine sentries who guarded the academy and performed ceremonial duties since the school was founded in 1845, were removed as part of a plan to redeploy Marines to combat units.
Zeigler said the only major change is that the new support activity will have its own commander, who will operate under the direction of the Naval Academy superintendent.
"In terms to what it means to everyone who comes to the base, the services will be the same," he said, noting that the barbershop, commissary, exchange and other activities will remain.
The base has a long history of supporting midshipmen, beginning when the USS Preble arrived in 1851 as the academy's first training ship. Over time, the school also was the home of naval aviation in 1911, and the first "YP" or "Yard Patrol Craft" arrived in 1939.
It was formally commissioned a naval station in 1947.