Inland Empire to commemorate Navy’s 240th birthday at Inaugural Ball

U.S. Navy Photo/Greg Vojtko

NORCO, Calif. – Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division’s top officer announced that his command has partnered with the local community to commemorate the Navy’s 240th birthday with a first-ever formal ball that will incorporate traditional military ceremonies, dinner, dancing and a keynote address by Congressman Ken Calvert.

The Inaugural Inland Empire Navy Birthday Ball will be held at the Riverside Convention Center the evening of Oct. 17, with all proceeds benefitting the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.

“Our founders established this country as a maritime nation,” said Capt. Steve Murray, NSWC Corona’s commanding officer. “Our constitution specifically requires us to provide and maintain a Navy, and that’s what we’ve done for 240 years. This birthday commemoration is a great way to share our naval heritage with our local community.”

The Navy’s theme for this year’s commemoration is “Ready Then, Ready Now, Ready Always,” tracing its birth to Oct. 13, 1775, when the Continental Congress authorized its own Navy before the United States declared independence less than a year later.

“We’ve had U.S. naval presence around the globe, around the clock for more than two centuries. And our national ship of state – the USS Constitution – is still in our fleet bearing the name President George Washington bestowed on her,” Murray added. “That’s an incredible legacy.”

While it’s surprising to some to have a base inland, the Navy has been here for nearly 75 years.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Navy’s presence in the Inland Empire in Dec. 1941, following the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, as the Corona Naval Hospital on the once luxury-resort site of the Norconian Hotel.

Two-thirds of the original Navy property has been transferred for public use and has become the home of Norco College campus, Norco City Hall and the Corona-Norco Unified School District, among others.

NSWC Corona remains at the center of the original property as the Navy’s premiere independent assessment agent enabling Sailors and Marines around the world to train, fight and win. As a federally designated lab, NSWC Corona has several world class science and engineering facilities that support U.S. and allied nation naval exercises across the globe.

The presidential decision 75 years ago that put the Navy in Norco has unexpectedly positioned the warfare center in a strategic, geographic center of the largest concentration of military power in the world: The fleet in San Diego and Port Hueneme, the Marines of Camp Pendleton, the Air Force in Riverside, the Army at Ft. Irwin and the Marines in 29 Palms. Each service, including the Coast Guard, has used NSWC Corona’s technical capability to support their missions.

The warfare center’s growing presence is evidenced by the nearly 200 personnel it’s hired in the last year to keep pace with the growing demand for its mission. With more than 2,200 Sailors, Navy civilians and support contractors across the country, NSWC Corona injects more than $300 million each year into the local economy with its 1,500 personnel headquartered in Norco.

And as the Pentagon focuses on emerging threats in the Asia-Pacific region, the center’s leaders expect additional growth to support increased demand and the additional ships coming to San Diego. NSWC Corona’s operating revenue increased $50 million last year, and Murray expects it to increase another $50 million next year.

Tickets can be purchased for military and civilians online at or by calling the Corona-Norco YMCA at (951) 736-1415. Depending on military rank, prices range from $45 to $125.