DAHLGREN, Va. – Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) plans to conduct range testing from March 4-April 2, 2021; Monday through Friday; 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Testing requires a high volume of rounds fired at a rapid pace across several consecutive days and test shots may produce continuous loud noise in communities surrounding Naval Surface Facility Dahlgren.

Access to the Potomac River Middle Danger Zone (MDZ), as described in 33 CFR 334.230, will be restricted during testing. 

NSWC Dahlgren Division delivers weapons systems to the fleet. Range testing is a part of the dynamic nature of research, development, testing, and evaluation operations. 

For questions or more information, contact the NSWCDD Public Affairs Office at NSWCD_103.fct@navy.mil or (540) 653- 8154.

Range / Weapons Testing Hotline: 877-845-5656 (toll free) for daily updates on range operation and test schedules.

Noise Questions & Comments: 866-359-5540 (toll free) to comment or ask a question about noise or vibrations you think are being caused by operations at Dahlgren.

NOTE: Inclement weather on Monday has forced testing to spill over to Friday, March 5.  Please see below for updated range schedule.

Friday, March 5
Testing at: Buildings 1180-1186/EEA/PRTR River Operations/AA Fuze Range

  • Operating Times: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Noise on Station: Potential to create “Loud” noise in the eastern (Main Range and Terminal Range) area of NSF Dahlgren.
  • Noise Down Range: Potential to create “Loud” noise down range and in communities surrounding NSF Dahlgren.
  • River Restrictions: Restricted approximately 10,000 yards down range from NSF Dahlgren below the yellow “O” buoy (Maryland) and to the yellow “N” buoy (Virginia).
  • Roads Closed on Station: Tisdale Road/Blue Stone Road/River Bank Road/Fuze Road
  • Barricades Closed on Station: Churchill Range/Harris Range/Area 3 Barricade/Shocktube Road Barricade/Hide Away Pond Barricade/1410 Back Gate/Blue Stone Road Barricade/Lower Gambo Creek Gate/North Main Range Gate 1/North Main Range Gate 2/Fuze Road Barricade
  • EMCON Conditions: Condition 2 in Buildings 995/948/1122/455, Condition 1 in Buildings 1180/1186, Condition 4 in Buildings 102/161/943
  • MR Shelter Condition:
  • Other Notifications: None

Map shows the Middle Danger Area of the Potomac River. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Site (NSWCDL), Dahlgren, Virginia furnishes this chart, in the interest of the safety of watercraft traffic on the Potomac River. It does not apply to the aircraft flying over the area.

The Potomac River Middle Danger Area is part of the large danger area described in the U.S. Coastal Pilot 3, Atlantic Coast, Sandy Hook to Cape Henry. Entry into this area is hazardous to watercraft when guns and other ordnance items are being fired or other testing is being conducted by the NSWCDL in connection with the development of weapons for national defense.

In order to assure that no watercraft are endangered by such testing, NSWCDL stations range control boats (international orange superstructure over white hull) in the proximity of areas rendered hazardous by the test operations. Figure 2 shows a range control boat. It is the responsibility of these boats to ensure that no watercraft are endangered by the test operation. Normally, these boats are located near Lower Cedar Point (Buoy “R”, near 301 bridge), near Swan Point, Maryland (Buoy “O”), off shore at Colonial Beach, Virginia. (Buoy “N”), and at the mouth of Upper Machodoc Creek. These buoys are depicted on the Middle Danger Area map.

Figure 2 – Range Boat

When range control boats are flying a red flag, watercraft must not enter any portion of the danger area or operate anywhere close to the danger area without having obtained permission from the nearest range control boat. A siren sounded at a watercraft from a range control boat is a signal to come alongside for instructions as to how to proceed and information on areas that must be avoided.

A red flag will be flying at the NSWCDL Yardcraft piers during times that test operations are being conducted in the Potomac River. All watercraft that desire to proceed in or out of Upper Machodoc Creek during test operati0ons will be provided specific instructions for transit. Normally, use of the back channel (along a line from Buoy “P” to NSWCDL Yardcraft main pier) will be permitted.

Firing schedules are arranged to cause minimum inconvenience to river traffic and generally the range is not closed for long periods of time. Normally, test operations are conducted between the hours of 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM daily, except weekends and national holidays. Infrequently, the range is used during other hours and/or at night in order to take advantage of favorable light or atmospheric conditions or due to emergency situations.

When testing is in progress, entry into any part of the danger area without specific clearance by proper authority is prohibited by regulations promulgated by the Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army, pursuant to the authority of Sections 1 and 3, Title 33, U.S. Code. The danger areas are described in the U.S. Coastal Pilot 3, Atlantic Coast, Sandy Hook to Cape Henry. Although these regulations are enforceable, NSWCDL desires to cooperate with, and assist, all watercraft operating in the Potomac River danger areas.

Dahlgren Range Control monitors marine ship-to-shore channels 16 and 14 and citizens band channel 5. Please direct questions and request for information to Naval Support Activity South Potomac Public Affairs Office, (540) 653-8153 or NSWC Dahlgren Public Affairs Office, (540) 653-8152.