Just south of the beachfront city of Oxnard, California, lie the two mainland components of Naval Base Ventura County: Port Hueneme and Point Mugu; the third, San Nicolas Island, 60 miles southwest of Point Mugu, is one of the eight storied Channel Islands of the Pacific and part of the Sea Test Range. The Seabees (“We build, we fight”) stationed at Port Hueneme also train at U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hunter Liggett, 215 miles north of NBVC near Jolon, California.
Geographically, Ventura County is about one-third of the way up California’s western coast from the Mexican border and is the southernmost county of the state’s Central Coast, a block of six counties stretching from San Francisco to Los Angeles. For drivers, the bases are about 65 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles on U.S. 101; approximately 43 miles northwest of Santa Monica on the Pacific Coast Highway, also known as California State Route 1; and a little over 360 miles from San Francisco for those driving south on U.S. 101.
Personnel at Port Hueneme (pronounced “Why-NEE-me”) and Point Mugu number about 17,000, counting 4,000 active-duty members, 2,000 Ready Reservists, 5,000 Department of Defense Civil Service employees, 5,800 contractors and 2,500 family members, the Navy says. Census figures indicate there also are about 100 personnel on San Nicolas Island, though there are no official permanent residents.
The combined land area of Port Hueneme, Point Mugu and San Nicolas Island totals 19,475 acres, not counting Point Mugu’s Laguna Peak Naval Satellite Operations Center near Camarillo.
About Naval Base Ventura County
The defining mission of NBVC’s 80-plus tenant commands is to serve and support the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Port Hueneme has the sole military deep-water port between San Diego and San Francisco, including more than 300 acres of laydown space and 16 miles of railroad. The 30th Naval Construction Regiment trains Seabee Battalions and the 31st Seabee Readiness Group here; the base also hosts the Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering, the Naval Facilities Expeditionary Logistics Center, the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, the Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center, Engineering Duty Officer School, and the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division. Port Operations controls every vessel as it comes and goes and its movements while in harbor; provides security, berthing, hotel, tug and small craft services; and is First-Responder Qualified, able to contain any on-water oil or hazmat spill in an hour or less.
Point Mugu is a naval air-power hub; one of its two runways can land the largest aircraft in the U.S. military inventory. Air Traffic Control at Point Mugu oversees 3,000 square miles of airspace and is the Navy’s most complex operation of its type. It handles more than 150,000 military and civilian flights every year, while the Air Terminal’s passenger, cargo and transient line aircraft services move some 4.7 million pounds of cargo and 42,000 passengers and deal with 4,000 aircraft. In addition, the base is headquarters for a network of satellite control facilities; which sits atop 1,421-foot-high Laguna Peak, near Camarillo, and monitors and tracks launches from Point Mugu, Vandenberg Air Force Base and other sites. NBVC Point Mugu’s Airborne Command Control and Logistics Wing supports four squadrons of E-2C Hawkeyes, “the eyes of the fleet,” carrier-based surveillance aircraft that can provide crucial military information. Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 55 is also at Point Mugu, as are Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Three Zero and the Naval Air Systems Command Weapons Division (NAVAIR WD).
San Nicolas Island, 9 miles long and 4 miles wide, has a small airport and several buildings that house telemetry equipment in support of research, test, and development activity across Point Mugu’s 36,000-square-mile sea range, as well as a number of target sites for missile tests.
In 2016, Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles moved two MH-65 Dolphin helicopters, with its crew of five pilots, seven ground crew members, and 15 TDY personnel from CG Station San Francisco. The USCG Forward Operating Base moved from Los Angeles International Airport, where they have been based since 1962, to be based at NBVC PM.
By 2025, the Navy hopes to have four of its 68 future-forward MQ-4C Triton unmanned surveillance aircraft being developed by Northrup-Grumman based at Point Mugu. The high-altitude, long-endurance Triton sweeps up images and information in a 360-degree circle over 2,000 nautical miles for direct relay. The Triton’s use also is expected to include assessments of battle damage, communication relays, search and rescue, and support for other naval aircraft involved in anti-surface warfare, maritime interdiction, battle-space management and targeting.
The Navy adds $2 billion in total economic activity to the Ventura County region and about 20,060 direct and indirect jobs, the most recent economic survey, NBVC’s FY2010 “Naval Base Ventura County Economic Impact and Community Involvement,” determined. An additional plus: That activity generated $79.5 million in state and local tax revenues and $1.04 million in Federal Impact Aid to local schools. NBVC is in the final stages of releasing its FY2017 Economic Impact Assessment based on 2015 data.