The History of Quonset Naval Air Station
The birthplace of the US Navy, Quonset Point goes back to the Revolutionary War, when a guard was placed there to watch for British warships that might sail up Narragansett Bay to raid coastal Rhode Island cities.
By the late 19th Century, Quonset Point had become the State Camp Ground for the Rhode Island Militia and, later, the Rhode Island National Guard. During the Spanish American War, the conflict in Mexico and World War I, troops trained at Quonset Point.
On June 7, 1938, a Naval Board headed by Rear Admiral Hepburn was authorized by Congress to study the need for, and location of new bases on the East Coast. Quonset Point was selected and in May 1940, $24,204,000 was asked of Congress by the Navy to finance the project.
Construction was begun on 16 July 1940 upon a tract of land of approximately 996 acres (including Hope Island) to which was added an area, made by hydraulic fill, of approximately 260 acres, making a total of 1,256 acres. Subsequent to the deactivation of the former Naval Construction Training Center (Seabees) at Davisville, a total of 492 acres was transferred from that activity to the Naval Air Station (NAS), making the present area of the station 1,748 acres.
During World War II, NAS Quonset Point served on the front lines of the war against the U-boats. Numerous land-based and carrier-based anti-submarine squadrons trained and shipped out from Quonset and these accounted for many U-boats sunk and many merchant ships saved. During the war, the base was also on the cutting edge of research in airborne radar and electronics systems.
NAS Quonset Point was home not only to U.S. pilots but to those of Allied nations as well. Many British and Canadian pilots trained at Quonset and 12 carrier-based squadrons were born there.
After the war, NAS Quonset Point continued its anti-submarine work, this time in the cat-and-mouse game with Soviet submarines in the North Atlantic. It was also one of the primary overhaul and maintenance facilities for famous aircraft such as the A-4 Skyhawk, an aircraft that figures prominently in the museum's collection. NAS Quonset Point continued in these and many other roles until the base was closed in 1973. NAS Quonset Point was also the home base for VX/VXE-6, the Navy’s Antarctic Support Squadron. Annually from 1956 to 1973, this squadron traveled to Antarctica to support Operation Deep Freeze, the U.S. contribution to the international scientific exploration of Antarctica that continues to this day.
NAS Quonset Point has a long and distinguished history. It is the role of the Quonset Air Museum to preserve and make available to future generations this large part of Rhode Island history.
Vist our Museum and see the LAST Aircraft to fly from NAS Quonset!