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NAWS China Lake

Commander Navy Region Southwest, Navy Installations Command
1 Administrative Circle, Ridgecrest, CA 93555
NAWS China Lake

Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake is a base covered by three counties in California: Inyo, Kern and San Bernardino. The front gate can be found in Ridgecrest. It was established in the western part of the Mojave Dessert area.  

NAWS is one of the most important bases because it stores close to 85% of the land that was used for research operations for armaments and weapons. And it had usage for testing and evaluating. 

This base was created in 1943 due to the Navy needing a new site to test new weapons and aviation techniques. It was also used to provide basic training for these weapons. The first operations began a few weeks after the base was established. The excellent climate, great visibility and wide area were all determining factors for picking the region. 

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy visited the base to admire an air show. 

Arriving at China Lake
 
At China Lake, the main gate is easily accessible from State Highway 178, State Highway 14 and Highway 395. Like any other command in the Navy, you have the responsibility of letting your command and your sponsor know you have arrived. Military personnel should initially check in at the Quarterdeck, which is located in the Headquarters Building at the northeast corner of Knox Road and Blandy Avenue. A Safety and Security Orientation Briefing is scheduled regularly for new personnel. New arriving personnel will also want to check in with Personnel Support Department for assistance with badges and processing transfer papers and the Fleet and Family Support Center for further information and referral information. 
 
After you have checked in, you will be issued a China Lake badge. This badge is very important to you and should be safeguarded with the same care as your driver’s license or any other important document. Your China Lake badge says, “I belong here,” and identifies you as an official China Lake employee. The badge must be worn in full view while in any restricted area. You must show proof of the following to receive a permanent vehicle decal: vehicle registration, insurance, and a Department of Motor Vehicle driver’s license. 
 
Also, bring any family member over the age of 16 to get them a base dependant badge (not ID). Children who attend the schools on the installation will not be mandated to wear a badge. China Lake works a little different due to the large amount of civilian employees (3000+) and a regular military Active Duty ID/dependant will grant you access to the main side but will not grant you access to the installations airfield or ranges.

Base Population

80,000 active duty and supports students at three installations annually of up to 138,000, 8,000 civilian contractors, 200 mission partners, 250,000 family members and veterans.