Dahlgren NSWC

The Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren Division is a premier research and development center that serves as a specialty site for weapon system integration. It grew from a tiny proving ground for testing naval guns to be among the largest research and development centers in the United States. The center rapidly introduces new technology into complex warfighting systems and excel based on their longstanding competencies in Science and Technology, Research and Development, and Test and Evaluation. Read more about Dahlgren NSWC below:

Delivering Value to the Navy, the Next Navy and the Navy After Next


17320 Dahlgren Road, Dahlgren, VA
(540) 653-8531

The Dahlgren Laboratory is located approximately 55 miles south of Washington, D.C., 60 miles north of Richmond, VA, and 23 miles east of Fredericksburg, VA, between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers. The surrounding community is rich in history featuring the birthplaces of George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, and Robert E. Lee within a short drive. Nearby are several major Civil War battlefields, antebellum plantations, and state and national parks.

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Dahlgren was established in 1918 as the Naval Proving Ground, and named Dahlgren in honor of Rear Admiral John Adolphus Dahlgren, who is considered the father of modern naval ordnance. Prior to 1918, the Navy had operated a proving ground at Indian Head, Maryland, which became inadequate with advances in ordnance during World War I. A range of 90,000 yards down the Potomac River was provided by the move to Dahlgren.

Dahlgren was then an extremely remote area. Thus, to recruit and retain the highly specialized work force required, the Navy provided housing, food and medical services, schools and recreational facilities, and many other community services.

Until World War II, the principal work at Dahlgren was to proof and test every major naval gun, along with the rounds they deliver, for fleet use. This was done at the Main Range Gun Line which faces down the Potomac River. While the Gun Line still performs that vital role, the scope and depth of work at Dahlgren has grown tremendously. Reflecting this expanded mission, and Dahlgren’s transition to a broad-based R&D capability, the name was changed in 1959 to Naval Weapons Laboratory.

Concurrently, the pace of change in the Dahlgren area has relieved the Navy of much of its role in providing community services. Dahlgren now has a land area of 4,300 acres that includes several miles of Potomac shoreline and a 20 mile downriver range for projectile testing.


The future promises to be highlighted by the hopes and dreams of even greater achievements as Dahlgren excels to its new mission: to provide research, development, test and evaluation, engineering, and fleet support for surface warfare systems, surface ship combat systems, ordnance, mines, amphibious warfare systems, mine countermeasures, special warfare systems, and strategic systems.


Base Phone Numbers:

BEQ/BOQ Information
Weapons Testing Hotline
877-845-5656 (toll free)