Combat Training Center Dam Neck Virginia
Established as an Anti-Aircraft Gunnery Training Center in early 1942, Dam Neck had grown, by the mid-1970s into a major training center housing numerous tenant commands. Situated just five miles south of Virginia Beach, and now surrounded by that city, Dam Neck retains its role as a major training center and software development facility.
By the end of World War II, several barracks had been constructed, along with classrooms, simulators, administrative buildings, and recreational facilities. After the war, as the anti-aircraft defenses changed from guns to missiles, the gun line along the Atlantic shore was reduced, and Naval Guided Missile School Dam Neck was established to provide training for the sailors of the next generation.
The advent of the submarine-launched ballistic missile program introduced new enlisted ratings for the navy, which Dam Neck supported with the establishment of the training pipeline for fire control technician, missile technician, and navigation technician for the Polaris and Poseidon weapons systems. The school later provided conversion training for the Trident Backfit Weapons Systems, in which submarines built to carry Poseidon missiles were converted to deploy the Trident missile.
The training required graduates from Navy Basic Enlisted Submarine School to attend basic electronics training at “A” school, at Dam Neck before attending training at their rate specific “C” school, also located, at the center. Up until the mid-1970s students were housed in barracks built in the 1940s and 1950s, while the training was conducted in classrooms of similar vintage.
Numerous other training and support commands have called the facility home, including special warfare operations and training, surface guided missile schools, surface anti-ship missile schools and additional software and computer development training centers.
Several contractors maintained facilities at the training center as well, to monitor and support the training being conducted on the equipment their company provided to various systems and to ensure continuous updates to the training corresponded to modifications of equipment and procedures.
Today, Dam Neck is officially named Training Support Center Hampton Roads. United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group, and Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center are two of the other tenant commands located on the base.
Asbestos Exposure at Dam Neck
Until the late 1970s and early 1980s, many of the buildings comprising the training center were of World War II vintage, including barracks and classrooms. Several of the barracks were non-air conditioned, heated with steam from boilers.
Several of the school buildings, although enlarged by addition, still contained the original core structure, and also were heated by steam, although air conditioning had been installed to protect heat-sensitive equipment used in the training simulators.
These buildings all contained asbestos in several areas, including floors and ceilings, roofs, bulkheads and insulation around pipes and ventilation ducts. The use of asbestos in the construction industry at the time of their building was nearly as extensive as it was in the construction of ships.
Although harmless unless damages, asbestos was present in nearly all buildings erected by and for the navy during the time frame.
While Dam Neck was and remains a training center, with far less hazard of harmful exposure to asbestos than that present in a shipyard, trainees going through the center prior to the late 1970s nonetheless had the potential for harmful exposure to asbestos dust.