Naval Air Station Key West acts as both a military airport and naval station directly outside of Key West, Florida.
Its mission is to provide operational readiness for the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, National Guard, and other federal agencies. One of the most notable facilities on base is their Tactical Combat Training System that tracks Ariel maneuvers.
Key West has a tropical climate with temperatures typically hanging around 80°F, occasionally rising to 90°F temperatures in the summer. Because of its maritime location, surrounded by the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it is often a pleasant climate to live within. During Hurricane months, however, Key West is often directly in the path of most hurricanes and sometimes intense tropical storms.
Because of its location, there is only one way to the mainland by road, Highway 1, which is typically reliable, but is sometimes compromised during hurricane season, which sometimes causes areas in the Keys to be evacuated.
Key West International Airport is the best way to arrive at the Naval Air station by air.
The United States Navy established a base in Key West during the 1820's in order to stop piracy from legends such as Blackbeard the Pirate. Expanding in during the Mexican American War, the base was complete one year following the end of the Civil War. In 1898, the USS Maine sailed from Key West to Havana when, during its journey, exploded on the sea, killing hundreds. The United States believed this to be an act of war on behalf of the Spanish and soon launched the Spanish-American War, which ultimately placed the United States on top as the most powerful Navy in the world.
During World War I, the main mission of the Naval Base was to provide oil to American ships while stopping German ships from delivering oil to enemies. During this time, the Naval Base began to add seaplanes and venture into the realm of aviation. During the First World War, over 500 aviators spotted German submarines in the Atlantic and went on to claim victory at the war's end. After World War I, much of the base was dismantled and destroyed due to a lack of naval presence, however, the government retained the land. During World War II, German submarines returned to the area and were so close to land, they were sometimes seen just off shore. The base quickly was re-established in 1943, this time as Naval Air Station Key West, and was responsible for sinking German subs. From the end of the World War II and into present day, the Naval Air Station has been responsible for testing many new air and sea technologies. It was briefly downgraded from a Base to facility in 2001 but reclaimed its status as a base in 2003.
Morale, Welfare, and Recreation
A comprehensive list of things to do and programs on base can be found through this link.
A calendar of events can be found here.
Additional services and facilities offered on base are the Truman Fitness Center, The Single Sailor Program, a host of restaurants, and a Chapel that offers protestant services at 10:30 am on Sunday’s.
More information can be gained by calling this number 305-797-1275
Lodging and Housing
Navy Gateway Inns & Suites has standard rooms as well as suites located on base with varying prices depending on the style of room and length of stay. Some rooms are “pet friendly” and have a pet fee of $20 per night. Other amenities include Free Wi-FI, Fishing, Bowling, a Chapel, eateries such as Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, a marina, canoe rentals, playgrounds, and a rec center.
Navy Getaways also has campground and RV rentals at their Key West location.
For more information, please call (305) 293-2112.
Many hotels cost between $250 - $400 near the base depending on the style of room and time of year. One hotel service through NYAH rents rooms currently at $71 dollars per evening and has very favorable ratings.
Child Development Centers are available on base from ages 5 weeks to six years old.
A listing of charter, private, and public schools for students ages K-12, along with their contact information, can be found here.
Saint Leo University has programs on base which allow personnel to pursue or complete an undergraduate degree in twelve different programs. With class sizes at about 25, it provides a personal environment to go to school while serving the United States.
Things to Do
Because of Key West’s mostly isolated tropical location, the area is a perfect spot for many beach and water activities. There is a plethora of beaches to be visited and dozens of natural sights. In fact, the keys themselves are known to be some of the most scenic and beautiful destinations within Florida. A popular tourist destination is the Southernmost Point Buoy which marks the absolute furthest south land mass in the continental United States.
Dry Tortugas, a National Park famous for its snorkeling and camping connected to Fort Jefferson, one of the largest built forts in the United States in the 1800’s. Also visit Harry Truman’s Little White House a retreat Truman used during his presidency to escape the winters of Washington, D.C. Also fun for the whole family - The Key West Aquarium.