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26 Navy | Fall/Winter 2017 both to allow large ships to dock at NOB and to provide the infill necessary to expand the flats on the west and north of the base. Sai lors surged into the new facility, eventually reaching 34,000 enlisted men. In October of 1917, an airfield was established for seaplanes at the adja- cent Chambers Field. e following August it was detached from NOB and became known as Naval Air Detachment, Hampton Roads (renamed Naval Air Station (NAS) Norfolk in 1921). In the early days of the war, the Detachment had a staff of five officers, three aviators, ten enlisted Sailors, and seven aircra. By the end of the war nineteen months later it had grown to 167 officers, 1,221 enlisted men, and 65 aircra. Aer Armistice Day, the base entered a quiet period. Popular interest in aviation, however, did not. During the 1920's, barnstormers performed across the country, air mail became common, and pilots every- where competed to break new records for endurance, distance, and speed. Air power – one of the greatest innovations in warfighting during World War I – was destined to be a significant part of the American military force, and the expansion of shipboard aviation in the 1930's meant increased activity at the Naval Air Station. By the end of the decade, it was was clear to military leaders that American involvement in the war in Europe was inevitable. Accordingly, in 1939 construction was begun on new facilities at the base, including runways at NAS and ramps for seaplanes, then barracks, magazine areas, warehouses, a new dispensary, and more. Personnel in the summer of 1940 numbered around 8,000; a year later, when the construction was mostly finished, there were 15,000 officers on station, 14,400 Sailors assigned to Norfolk-based ships, and 10,000 new recruits at the Naval Training Station. Four hundred Secretary of the Navy purchased the original 474 acres for $1.2 million, with an additional $1.6 million allocated for construction and development of a naval base. HAMPTON ROADS NAVAL MUSEUM Sailors in formation in front of the USS Electrician, a permanently grounded ship used for training purposes during World War I.

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