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34 Years of Service to the Fleet
29 March 1960 - 05 January 1995

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Compiled by Charles M. Hughey

The area occupied by Naval Weapons Station, Charleston (WPNSTACHASN), and Polaris Missile Facility Atlantic (POMFLANT), is rich in history and Low Country folklore.

WPNSTACHASN was once the plantations known as Red Bank, White House, Ararat, Mt. Pleasant, plus part of Marrington. POMFLANT, which is located on that portion of WPNSTACHASN lying north of Red Bank Road, is on property that was once Liberty Hall, Brick Hope, Parnassus, The Cottage, and part of Medway Plantations.

In 1883 Liberty Hall was the property of a Dr. Bachman, and later became the home of Charles Desel. In the late 1930's, it was part of the estate of Colin McKay Grant and was leased as a hunting club. It adjoins the small plantation of Brick Hope, formerly the home of Charles Graves. Liberty Hall was also owned by the Grant Estate.

Parnassus was once the home of Zacharia Villepontoux, a wealthy Huguenot who manufactured the brick for historic St. Michael's Church in Charleston. At some time prior to 1842, Parnassus passed into the hands of Dr. Charles Tennant, who planted an avenue of great oaks which stretched for miles toward Goose Creek. A part of this avenue, which Dr. Tennant also planted, still stands in front of the Oaks Country Club in Goose Creek, and on the site of the plantation house.

Parnassus was a productive and wealthy plantation until mid-February 1865. During the Civil War, when Sherman took Columbia and moved toward Charleston, a gunboat came up the Cooper River shelling unprotected plantations, and a troop of soldiers looted and ruined the plantation house. The family was forced to move to Charleston because of destruction and poverty, and the following summer a woods fire burned across the unkept garden and destroyed the remainder of the house.

One small brick structure, probably used as slave quarters, still stands near the avenue of oaks on the Parnassus.

The Cottage was established by Elias Prioleau, a Huguenot pastor, who came to the colony about 1687. He purchased 140 acres of land called Medway, which was located on the west bank of the Back River. Prioleau died in 1699 and is buried on the plantation. His son, Samuel, inherited The Cottage and passed it on to his son, Samuel II, who was born in 1717.

The Prioleaus continued to add to their land, and by 1796 the plantation was composed of about 1,238 acres.

This property was sold to Peter Gaillard Stoney in 1834. In 1853, sixty acres on the river adjoining Parnassus, which included the Prioleau settlement, were purchased by Mrs. Mary S. Stevens, sister of Dr. Charles Tennant, who lived at Parnassus. Her son, Norman, Jr., was an invalid and the little Cottage house with its high sharp gables was built near the Parnassus house. The Cottage passed through various owners until it was purchased by Samuel G. Stoney and it again became part of Medway. The house burned in 1931.

The Prioleau Cemetery, with its surrounding brick wall, is maintained by WPNSTACHASN as a historic site.

The land on which POMFLANT is located, 5,185 acres, was subsequently a part of the Army Ordnance Depot known as the Liberty Hall Annex. It was transferred to the Navy in 1953 as part of the Naval Ammunition Depot, subsequently the Naval Weapons Station.

In September 1958, Congressional and Presidential approval was announced to construct a facility to support the Fleet Ballistic Missile Weapons System's Polaris Missile Program which was developed by a highly dedicated group of military and industrial engineers and special technicians. Construction began on the facility in December 1958.

The facility was established as the Naval Weapons Annex, Charleston, and placed on active status to accommodate the Polaris Missile Program on 29 March 1960.

The first FBM submarine, USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, departed Charleston with a full load of Polaris A-1 Missiles on 15 November 1960. These missiles, assembled and checked out at the Naval Weapons Annex and loaded aboard the submarine by annex personnel, proved the operational capability of the facility.

The present name of the facility was adopted on 2 July 1964. POMFLANT has always been a field activity under the direction of the Director, Strategic Systems Programs.

Since the beginning, POMFLANT's facilities were upgraded and modified over the years to keep pace with modernization and changes in the Fleet Ballistic Missile Weapon Systems Program.

The C3 Poseidon Missile Program began at POMFLANT in early 1968, and the first deployment was on 31 March 1971, in USS JAMES MADISON.

Assembly and testing of the C4 Trident Missile began in October 1978. On 20 October 1979, USS FRANCIS SCOTT KEY departed Charleston with 16 of the new generation missiles.

Approximately 884 military personnel, civilian employees and contractor representatives were assigned to the facility. While continuing to serve the fleet, they began C3 disposal in January 1991 and C4 phasedown in October 1992.

The last C3 Poseidon missile offload was conducted 21 August 1992 aboard USS TECUMSEH. The last C4 Trident complete missile offload was conducted 9 April 1993 aboard USS VON STEUBEN.

Fleet support terminated on 1 May 1994. Missile and motor disassembly operations and component disposal/shipments also completed in May 1994. POMFLANT will be disestablished and the Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic Detachment Charleston will be activated on 5 January 1995.

This page last updated on 07 June 2004.
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