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Naval Support Facility Indian Head Base Guide

Naval Support Facility Indian Head in Maryland is one of two operations hosted by Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP), which serves as a major hub for naval activity in the tri-county area in Naval District Washington.

NSF Indian Head operates with Commanding Naval Support Facility Dahlgren in Virginia under NSA South Potomac,  a “major shore command” in Naval District Washington.

Base Guide: Naval Support Facility Indian Head

This base guide focuses on NSF Indian Head in Maryland. A separate guide for NSF Dahlgren in Virginia is forthcoming.

NSF Indian Head is recognized for its developments and breakthroughs in science and engineering that contribute to developing and maintaining support facilities for military forces.

Despite its proximity to Washington D.C. and Baltimore, the more remote location allows residents to enjoy small-town life with their families and growth opportunities within the service.

With over 10,000 employees, this site is an essential hub for naval activities in the northeastern United States. Find more information on NSF Indian Head below, including details about the local area, base housing, local schools, and reporting procedures.

NSF Indian Head Surrounding Area

Naval Support Facility Indian Head is about half an hour’s drive from Washington, D.C. Stretching out more than 3,000 acres, Indian Head follows the Potomac River, Mattawoman Creek and Chicamuxen Creek in Charles County, Maryland.

This location offers multiple natural recreational areas for hiking and outdoor exploration with family or friends. For those who wish for museums, art, and urban attractions, take a day trip to Washington, D.C., or Baltimore to find endless options for cultural enrichment.

Nearby natural and historic attractions and activities include but are not limited to:

  • Indian Head Rail Trail
  • Mount Aventine Manor
  • Chapman State Park
  • Ruth B. Swann Memorial Park

In-Processing and Check-In

Upon arrival, all military service members should report to their command for specific instructions. Those who arrive with their families will be shown to a temporary lodging site before the service member returns to command for in-processing.

  • In hand, incoming service members should have copies of their orders, leave forms, travel and relocation receipts, military ID cards, driver’s licenses, insurance, and any other relevant medical or employment documents.
  • Regarding family members, service families should report birth certificates, Social Security cards, medical documentation, and immunization records, which will facilitate the transition to looking for housing and schools.
  • Representatives at the command station will give further instructions on how to proceed.

Child Care at NSF Indian Head

Children ages six weeks to five years old can be cared for at the Child Development Center. Full and part-time options are available for families, with income-based fees. Activities are based on developmentally appropriate play and instructional activities by age group.

Child and Youth programs are also available for those six to 12 years of age. The CDC is in Building 1901 and can be reached at (301) 744-4458.

If there is no availability at the Child Development Center, Child Development Homes are another option for local families. Children are cared for in approved caregivers’ homes from six weeks to 12 years old, with flexible hours for families. Reach out to (301) 744-4458 for availability or for questions.


Housing in the Indian Head area, due to its proximity to the Washington D.C. area and Baltimore, can be expensive. If you are willing to commute a longer distance, you may find housing at a reduced rate, but you will need the approval of the Housing Department for this option.

  • Upon arrival, the best course of action is to reach out to the Housing Office for availability, maps, and processes for housing applications.
  • There are over 130 family units in the area, which sometimes will default to a waiting list. For this reason, it is always a good idea to reach out to the Housing Office before arrival to begin the process when possible. For more details, call the Housing Referral Office at (301) 744-4317.
  • The Housing Referral Office will collaborate with your sponsor to arrange for housing that meets your family needs. Off-base housing must be approved before a move. The Housing Referral Office is also your advocate if you are in a landlord or rental dispute.
  • Related: Basic Allowance for Housing Calculator


Indian Head Navy Exchange
4124 W Patton Rd
Indian Head, MD 20640-5136
(301) 743-5415

The Indian Head Navy Exchange Commissary has shelves stocked with regular supplies for daily life on base for families and single service members. For convenience special orders can be made as well with advance notice such as fruit or vegetable trays. Call ahead to make special orders or for questions.

PCS and TDY Lodging

For those who need temporary lodging upon arrival, be aware that there are no on-site temporary lodging options. However, there are many hotel and motel chains in the nearby area that can provide temporary housing.

Call ahead to check for availability and keep all travel receipts. You may want to check with your sponsor to be sure which sites may offer discounts or other forms of compensation while staying in temporary lodgings. Nearby hotels and motels include but are not limited to the following at NSF Indian Head:

  • Super 8 Motel in Indian Head, MD (301) 753-8100 (pet-friendly + fee)
  • Residence Inn Waldorf, MD (301) 632-2111 (pet-friendly + fee)
  • Best Western in La Plata, MD (301) 934-4900
  • Holiday Inn Express in La Plata, MD (301) 392-0065
  • Comfort Inn in Waldorf, MD (301) 932-4400


Travelers to the NSF Indian Head area can use one of three nearby airports, including Baltimore Washington International BWI, Reagan National DCA, or Dulles International Airport IAD. After arriving at one of these airports, you must arrange for transportation to the base. There is no public transportation once on base.

If driving in from the airport or surrounding area, from BWI, use I-95W to MD 295S to I-495S. Follow signs to Indian Head and the main gate. From DCA, use US-1 to I-495N to Indian Head, following signs to the main gate. From IAD, follow I-495 S toward Indian Head and the main gate.

Vehicle Registration

Because there is no public transportation option on base at NSF Indian Head, personal vehicles are necessary for local transportation. The remote location offers few other options. When bringing in a personal vehicle, ensure the registration and insurance are current.

Drivers will have about 30 days to register their vehicles with the state after relocating to Maryland.

If your driver’s license from another state is valid, service members can be exempt from getting a Maryland driver’s license. However, if stationed for an extended time in the state, it may be convenient to go ahead and make the change. Insurance should be kept up with a minimum of liability insurance.

Also, state and local laws will apply to drivers and passengers, including seatbelts. Small children should be in safety seats in the back seat. Motorcycle drivers should wear approved helmets and other protective gear. All drivers should refrain from cell phone use or use a hands-free device only while in a vehicle.

Schools at NSF Indian Head

Students in the area will attend Charles County Public Schools. There are many schooling options for students from Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade graduation, including the following campuses:

Elementary Schools

Middle Schools

High Schools

Colleges and Universities

If a learner is willing to travel, there are many universities in the tri-county area due to the proximity to Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland including Bowie State University, Goucher College, and Notre Dame of Maryland University.

However, in the immediate area, the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) has four stations for higher learning, including La Plata Campus and Regional Hughesville Campus in Charles County, the Prince Frederick Campus in Calvert County, and the Leonardtown Campus in St. Mary’s County. For more information and to learn which campus and degree plan would be right for you, call (301) 934-2251.

Related: Ultimate GI Bill Guide

Contact Numbers

Naval Support Facility Indian Head
3838 Strauss Avenue
Indian Head, MD 20640
(301) 744-4379

  • Adult Education Center (540) 653-8216
  • Barracks/Single Service Member Housing (301) 744-4317
  • Child Development Center (301) 744-4458
  • Commissary (301) 743-5415
  • Family Child Care Development Homes (301) 744-4458
  • Housing Office (301) 744-4317
  • ID/CAC Card Processing (301) 744-4251
  • School Aged Care (301) 743-5456
  • School Liaison (540) 413-7287
  • Welcome/Visitors Center (301) 744-4379
  • Youth Programs (301) 743-5456

NSF Indian Head Mission and Units

  • Naval Surface Warfare Center Expeditionary Exploitation Unit One (EXU-1)
  • Marine Corps Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF)
  • Naval Ordnance Safety and Security Activity (NOSSA)
  • Naval Sea Logistics Center, Detachment Indian Head
  • Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP)
  • Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division


In 1890, the first Naval facility was founded in Southern Maryland, known as the Naval Support Facility Indian Head along the Potomac River for gun testing.

By 1921, the installation became the Naval Powder Factory and tested and researched chemicals, helping develop war supplies for World War II. In the Korean War, the site focused on producing and improving explosives and propellants, changing its name to the Naval Propellant Plant in 1958, eventually becoming the Naval Ordnance Station in 1966.

The Naval Ordnance Station switched from production to engineering in the 1980s, specializing in chemicals, guns, rockets, missiles, explosives, safety, and training. Eventually fusing with the Naval District Washington with other regional facilities, it was given a new name, the Naval Support Facility Indian Head in the early 2000’s.

Under the supervision of Naval Support Activity South Potomac, the site oversees activities at many local facilities and manages functions that sustain the continued growth and development of naval activities in the area.

Related: Ultimate Military Benefits Guide



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Kena Sosa is an award-winning author, filmmaker and percussionist. She
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2023 ChildArt Magazine issue. Kena has written for Recon Media since 2023.