The complete guide to Navy bases in Florida

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florida navy base key west
F/A-18 Super Hornets attached to the “Gladiators” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 are seen on the flight line at Naval Air Station Key West’s Boca Chica Field in Key West, Fla. Aug. 12, 2022. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nicholas V. Huynh)

Ever wonder how many Navy bases are in Florida? Or the difference between a Navy base and a Naval Air Station? Well, this guide is for you. Here, you’ll find an overview of all the Navy bases in the Sunshine state and some links that might be useful, too! 

How Many Bases are in Florida?

The Sunshine State is home to 21 military installations, but not all of them are Navy bases! We all know Florida has plenty of beaches and amusement parks. However, there’s also a strong military presence there, too. 

There are six Air Force bases, one Army post, one Marine Corps installation, three Coast Guard bases and nine main Navy bases.

So what’s the difference between a Navy base and a naval air station? 

A naval air station (NAS) is a military air base that includes permanent land-based operations for the military aviation division of the navy. You’ll find squadrons, groups, or wings embedded at a NAS. In contrast, a Navy base is where the Navy conducts its operations. So, the easiest way to think of it is that a NAS has air capabilities, while bases don’t. 

Naval Air Stations in Florida 

naval air station in key west
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District survey boat Florida II, surveys the federal navigation channel, Key West, FL, September 23, 2017.

NAS Pensacola Corry Station, formerly known as Naval Technical Training Center Corry, is a sub-installation of NAS Pensacola. It hosts several of the Navy’s Information Warfare Corps commands. It’s also part of the Navy’s 10th Fleet. The base was established in 1923 and is named in honor of Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Cdr. William M. Corry, Jr. 

NAS Key West provides naval training, particularly anti-submarine air support and supports engineering research and development. This is one of the older installations in Florida. The War Department established the base in 1832. Then, nearly a hundred years later, it got a new mission as a naval air station. Throughout the years, it’s had many objectives. These days, it’s a training facility for air-to-air combat fighter aircraft for all branches of the military. 

NAS Whiting Field is one of the Navy’s two pilot training bases. It provides training for the Marines Corps, Coast Guide, and the Air Force as well. The base is named for Kennth Whiting, a Naval aviator who learned to fly from Orville Wright. These days, it’s known as one of the busiest installations in the world. In fact, more than one million flights depart the base annually. 

NAS Jacksonville and Pensacola

NAS Jacksonville is the second-largest installation in South Florida. Pilots train here as do techs learning about anti-submarine warfare. Established in 1917, NAS Jacksonville has seen its share of names and uses. Currently, it’s part of the overall Jacksonville Naval complex, a collection of Navy installations in the Jacksonville Metro area. NAS Jax has been a DoD installation since 1917.

NAS Jacksonville is also home to a hospital that’s part of Tricare health system. Officially called the Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Jacksonville, this is one of the busiest and largest hospitals in the Navy. DoD ID holders and VA ID holders can access care here. 

NAS Pensacola provides advanced training for the Navy, Marine, flight officers, and coast aviators. Often called the “Naval Aviation Cradle,” this base is actually located within Pensacola’s city limits. Both the Navy and the Marines train here. It’s also home to the Blue Angels. Speaking of the Blue Angels, did you know the 2023 team includes Lt. Amanda Lee, one of two officers selected to fly the F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet? Way to go, ma’am! 

NAS Pensacola is also home to a Tricare healthcare system hospital.  DoD ID holders and VA ID holders can access care here. 

naval air station key west aircraft
114th Aircraft Maintenance crew chiefs perform launch procedures during a training mission March 9, 2017, Naval Air Station Key West, FL. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Travis Schuring/Released)

Navy Bases in Florida 

AUTEC Complex is located near West Palm Beach. The Atlantic Undersea Test and Evacuation Center (AUTEC) conducts tests and provides training for undersea techniques. That makes it one giant, advanced laboratory that includes three different test capabilities. All tests occur under water in an area that’s nearly 200 km long and 30 km wide. 

Mayport is home to nearly 40 ships and is also a local airfield. It contains a protected harbor that can accommodate carrier-size vessels. Mayport was commissioned in 1942 and then reclassified as a Naval Sea Frontier Base. Now, it’s the third-largest naval surface fleet concentration in the country. It’s also home to U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and the U.S. Fourth Fleet. 

Other Navy Installations in Florida

Naval Air Warfare Center Training System Division is located inside the Central Florida Research Park in Orlando, its purpose is to train for air warfare and develop training systems for undersea and surface operations. Because of its small size, many think it’s the smallest Navy base in the world. Currently, only around 100 Sailors are stationed here, so chances are pretty slim you’ll ever call it home.

Naval Support Activity Panama City’s main mission is to provide defense and physical security of critical infrastructure as well as op support to Fleet, Fighter, and Family commands. Major tenants include Naval Surface Warfare Center-Panama City Division, Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center, Navy Experimental Diving Unit and U.S. Coast Guard Station Panama City.  

shoreline at naval support activity panama city
Mike Clayton, environmental division director at Naval Support Activity Panama City, explains the progress of a shoreline restoration project to Rear Adm. Jack Scorby, commander of Navy Region Southeast, during a base visit, where Scorby toured tenant commands and base facilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many Navy bases are in Florida?

There are nine main Navy installations in Florida. 

What is the best Navy base in Florida?

That’s a tough question since it’s such a personal experience. Florida is a wonderful place to be stationed, no matter if you’re at Mayport or NAS Jacksonville. There’s always lots to do and plenty to experience. 

What’s the largest Navy base in Florida? 

NAS Jacksonville and NAS Pensacola are both massive installations. Prepare to get lost a few times when you’re new. Also, Mayport is the third-largest Navy facility in the country!