U.S. Naval Research Laboratory - Chesapeake Bay Detachment

Mission St​atement

​​"Naval Research Laboratory – Chesapeake Bay Division's mission is to provide and maintain facilities for use by the research divisions of the Naval Research Laboratory, located in Washington, D.C., for the testing, development, and evaluation of radar, radio, optical, a​nd fire control equipment, along with other research projects requiring a maritime environment or open skies, but with land-based support facilities."

History and General Information​

​​​​Naval Research Laboratory – Chesapeake Bay Detachment (NRL-CBD), is one of the field sites of the Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL) main campus in Washington, D.C. NRL-CBD is in Calvert County, Maryland, on the south end of Chesapeake Beach, approximately 40 miles southeast of Washington, D.C. The 160-acre site is bounded by the Chesapeake Bay to the east and residential uses in all other directions. Bayside Road (State Route 261) bisects NRL-CBD into an eastern and western site.1 Unique site characteristics include its high elevation, away from congestion and industrial interference, allowing for low background radar testing, which is frequently coordinated with the Multiple Research site at Tilghman Island, Maryland, another Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) field site.

The land for NRL-CBD was acquired in 1941 and construction progressed rapidly during World War II. This included construction of a laboratory building, shop facilities, and utility systems in 1953 and 1954.2 Presently, the NRL-CBD tenants and commands operate and maintain unique land, sea, and air facilities for NRL research and testing. Involved are radar, electronic warfare, optical devices, materials, communications, and fire research. Specialized equipment, plant, and laboratory space support tenant research and development projects. Examples of specialized equipment include towers for antenna support, a ship motion simulator, as well as a test control center for air and sea operations that extends across the Chesapeake Bay.

NRL scientists and engineers conduct basic and applied research across a wide variety of disciplines to support the United States Navy and Marine Corps in meeting national defense mission needs. Examples in which NRL scientists and engineers engage are chemical and biological sciences, electronics, environments, ocean and atmospheric science, information sciences, material and nanotechnology, power and energy, radar, and space. NRL-CBD also engages in technology transfer activities of its applied research areas and technologies. Sponsoring government agencies include the Office of Naval Research, Naval Systems Command and Warfare Centers, Air Force, Army, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Department of Energy, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).3

Another core function at NRL-CBD is the work of the fire research facilities. The Navy Technology Center for Safety and Survivability (NTCSS) performs Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) on fire and personnel protection, fuels, chemical defense, submarine atmospheres, and damage control aspects of ship and aircraft survivability while supporting the Navy and Marine Corps.4 NRL-CBD engages in the technology transfer of their fire safety and survivability technologies.

The Joint Maritime Test Facility (JMTF) supports current and future fire suppression systems relevant to large-scale fires, supplies resources for technology development/transition, and provides fire hazard assessment analysis / Live Fire Test & Evaluation (LFT&E) surrogate testing. Specialized facilities include custom test rigs and test chambers to evaluate Navy damage control on surface ships and submarines. Another specialized facility to support combustion research is a large spray combustion test building which has a range of optical diagnostic equipment for high-speed velocimetry, spray measurement, acoustics, thermometry, chemical species measurement, and imaging in ultraviolet, visible, and infrared.5

The NRL has several facilities and field sites across the United States, including: the NRL main campus in Washington, D.C.; two major facilities on the Potomac River southwest 
of Washington, D.C.; NRL-CBD; and the Multiple Research Site at Tilghman Island, Maryland; the Scientific Development Squadron (VXS-1) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland; the Free Space Antenna Range in Pomonkey, Maryland; the Midway Research Center in Quantico, Virginia; the Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Mississippi; the Marine Corrosion Facility in Key West, Florida; and the Marine Meteorology Division in Monterey, California.6

Learn more about the history and work of NRL-CBD in this short informational video.

Major Tenants and Commands

  • Navy Technology Center for Safety and Survivability (NTCSS)
  • Combustion and Reacting Transport
  • Joint Maritime Test Facility (JMTF)
  • Shipboard and Field Operations


Compatible Use Organizations, Programs, and Resources​

​For more information on how NRL-CBD works with surrounding communities to build strong and mutually beneficial relationships, you can explore compatible use organizations, programs, and resources.​​ ​

Community Resources to​ Promote Compatibility

Military installations and their host communities have strong and mutually beneficial relationships. They rely on and support one another in terms of jobs, housing, schools, recreation, infrastructure, and social services. Communication, coordination, and partnerships that support compatible community development can create mutually beneficial results to ensure support for warfighters and their families, military operations, and continued community growth and economic development.​​​

Local Comprehensive Planning


Counties and municipalities develop comprehensive plans to provide a long-term vision for their future growth and development. Comprehensive plans typically include maps showing proposed future land uses and anticipated transportation and community facilities, and emphasize sustainability, as well as protection of environmental features, and historical and cultural resources.

The following are links to comprehensive plans for areas surrounding NRL-CBD:

  • The Town of Chesapeake Beach Comprehensive Plan (2021)
    • The comprehensive plan recommends permanent conservation of the Randle Cliff Natural Heritage Area, directly north of NRL-CBD, through public acquisition or conservation easement (page 47). The Proposed Land Use: 2040 map (page 58) designates this area as Resource Conservation. The plan states that the purpose of Resource Conservation Areas is to “protect natural resources and sensitive areas from the impact of development.”
    • The Proposed Planning Area Boundary map (page 26) highlights the areas in which the comprehensive plan recommends developing a joint planning area outside of town boundaries. This is to be in coordination with Calvert County and focuses on community facilities, parks and recreation, water and sewer infrastructure, and resiliency in response to sea level rise. The boundary includes NRL-CBD.
  • Calvert County Comprehensive Plan (2019)
    • The comprehensive plan Future Land Use Plan map (page 3-15) designates the area surrounding NRL-CBD as a county growth area intended for residential use, as it is within one mile of Chesapeake Beach. The comprehensive plan states that density in residential areas can be increased to four dwelling units per acre through the Transfer of Development Rights.
    • The Water Resources chapter (pages 9-1 through 9-17) discusses the importance of the NRL-CBD water and wastewater systems for ensuring drinking water quality and sewage treatment.
    • Objective 1 of the Government and Community Facilities Chapter includes an objective to coordinate and cooperate with other governments and government agencies, with the following strategies.
      • Maintain close cooperation with all government agencies in establishing consistent and effective decisions relating to issues such as an improved environment, a better business climate, and higher quality of life.
      • Work with the towns of North Beach and Chesapeake Beach, as well as the Tri-County Council of Southern Maryland, and Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties to achieve consensus on regional issues and policies.

Economic Resources to Promote Compatibility

A jurisdiction's economic development office and support organizations offer a variety of resources that help the community seek out economic growth opportunities and strengthen existing businesses. These resources are particularly valuable for defense communities that are continually looking for ways to attract new business, retain a skilled workforce, and provide resources and opportunities for military families relocating to the area.

Naval Research Laboratory - Chesapeake Bay Detachment Workforce and Economic Impact


NRL-CBD generates more than 61 direct, indirect, and induced jobs as a result of its operati​ons in Chesapeake Beach and the surrounding region.7​ This includes the military, civilian, and contractor employees responsible for carrying out the installation's mission and the employment opportunities generated by local spending on goods and services by the workforce. For a breakdown of employment type by installation, refer to the installation's economic impact analysis sheet.

According to the FY 2021 Economic Impact of Maryland's Military Installations and the Associated Defense Ecosystem, prepared by the Maryland Department of Commerce, the annual economic output for N​RL-CBD (sum of direct, indirect, and induced impacts) is $9.8M, with a total employee compensation of $5.3M.8

Economic Development in Calvert County


The Calvert County Economic Development Office works to strengthen business development throughout the county and offers a variety of programs and services to foster business retention, growth, and new investment for businesses of all sizes. The office partners with many organizations to foster economic stability and growth, including NRL-CBD, the Calvert County Chamber of Commerce, the Maryland Department of Commerce, and the Small Business Development Center.

Naval Research Laboratory Office of Small Business Programs

The Naval Research Laboratory Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) promotes small business contracting and partnering with NRL-CBD and advances including small businesses that support scientific research and advanced technology development. It relates to community compatibility as it promotes economic growth and partnerships within the region.

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Technology Transfer Office

The Naval Research Laboratory Technology Transfer Office (TTO) promotes NRL-CBD's innovative technologies and collaboration with industry and academia to develop strategic partnerships between NRL-CBD's state of the art research capabilities and technologies and industry needs. Similar to the OSBP, the fostering of relationships between small businesses and NRL-CBD promotes economic growth, technology knowledge sharing, and partnerships within the region. Technology transfer programs that NRL-CBD participates in include Educational Partnership Agreements (EPAs), CRADAs, Work for Non-Federal Entities Agreements, and Commercial License Agreements. Technology topics range from solar power optimization to nano-technology and global vessel tracking.

Regional Transportation Organization


The Calvert-St. Mary's Metropolitan Planning Organization (C-SMMPO) is the regional Metropolitan Planning Organization responsible for coordinating planning activities and investment decisions related to surface transportation assets (e.g., roads, bridges, transit assets, pedestrian facilities, and bicycle facilities). Roadway congestion, construction, and transportation planning are regional concerns that impact local communities and access to NRL-CBD, potentially affecting employees, service members, and the mission. Communication between the military installation and the C-SMMPO is necessary to ensure an adequate regional transportation infrastructure that supports continued military operations.

The C-SMMPO's FY21- FY24 Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) includes a description of the schedule for which federal, state, and local funds are distributed for state and local transportation projects within the region.

Additionally, the FY 2019 – 2022 Maryland Statewide Transportation Improvement Program included a project to replace the MD 261 Fishing Creek bridge, located within one-mile of NRL-CBD. MD-261 serves at the main route into Chesapeake Beach and serves pedestrians, motorists, cyclists, and a variety of marine vessels traveling below. The project was completed in 2019 and required extensive coordination with the Navy, surrounding communities, and the State Highway Administration. Coordination with the Navy included the extension of a Navy pier that was impacted by bridge replacement.

1 Naval Research Laboratory – Chesapeake Bay Detachment. Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command. Naval Research Laboratory – Chesapeake Bay Detachment Environmental Restoration Program Public Works Site.
2 Ibid.
3 U.S. Naval Research Laboratory – The Department of the Navy’s Corporate Laboratory. Department of the Navy. NRL Areas of Research.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid.
6 U.S. Naval Research Laboratory 2021 Annual Report. Department of Navy.
U.S. Naval Research Laboratory 2021 Annual Report.
7​ FY ​2021 Economic Impact of Maryland's Military Installatio​ns and the Associated Defense Ecosystem. Maryland Department of Commerce. FY 2021 Economic Impact of Maryland's Military Installations and the Associated Defense Ecosystem.
8 Ibid.​


​​​​​​​Public Affairs Office

5813 Bayside Road
Chesapeake Beach, MD 20670

Phone: (202) 480-3746

Public Affairs Office Website​

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