Highlighting the Cutting-Edge Research and Technology Development at Indiana’s Largest Military Facility

Naval Support Activity (NSA) Crane is Indiana’s largest military facility and the third-largest U.S. Naval installation in the world. The base is home to Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane – one of the nation’s most important military labs. NSWC Crane leads Department of Defense efforts in strategic nuclear programs, electronic warfare, counterfeit parts detection, and support of military special operations forces. The installation is also home to Crane Army Ammunition Activity (CAAA), which manages more than a quarter of the entire U.S. military’s critical munitions supply. Across these Navy and Army missions, Crane employs more than 5,000 Hoosiers and contributes more than $800 million annually to Indiana’s economy.

Joe was a champion for Crane and led efforts to grow the Navy and Air Force’s presence at the lab. In recent years Crane’s mission and workforce have grown significantly to the tune of more than 400 new jobs during Joe’s term in the Senate.

Saving 90 Jobs at Crane Army Ammunition Activity

In 2017, at Joe’s urging, the Department of Defense exempted employees at Crane Army Ammunition Activity from the federal hiring freeze. The freeze, which was announced on January 23, 2017, would have imperiled the jobs of a number of employees at the facility. On January 28, 2017, Joe asked the Secretary of Defense to exempt the 130 Crane employees who would have been impacted. Joe also met with the acting-Secretary of the Army to discuss how to save the jobs. More than 90 employee’s jobs were saved through the first round of exemptions.

Bringing Military Leaders to Crane

In his role on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and as ranking member of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee with oversight of our nation’s nuclear forces, Joe has continually worked to bring top military leaders to Indiana to show them the cutting-edge research and technology development being done by Hoosiers at Crane. Increased demand for NSA Crane’s services from the Army, Navy, Air Force and others has led to the creation of more than 400 jobs since 2014.

Joe hosted then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter for the first-ever visit from a sitting Defense Secretary at Crane in 2016. Carter toured the installation with Joe, focusing on the capabilities of the base’s Naval Surface Warfare Center, which is home to numerous research laboratories, testing facilities, and cutting-edge technology development centers. The visit was part of Carter’s effort to see installations preparing and training our warfighters of the future.

In early 2018, Joe hosted General David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at Crane. In addition to touring several of the labs at Crane, they discussed potential avenues for an increased Air Force presence at the base moving forward. Goldfein noted during the visit that Crane’s work "is absolutely essential."

In 2017, Joe hosted General Robert Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at NSWC Crane and CAAA. Neller received briefings on Crane’s innovative work in the areas of expeditionary warfare, electronic warfare, nuclear security, and ammunition logistics. Joe and Senator Todd Young had invited Neller to the facility earlier in the year.

Joe also hosted U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson at NSWC Crane. Joe showed Admiral Richardson the naval labs focusing on Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare, which are a function of the multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability, to provide a decisive advantage for our warfighters. Joe previously hosted Admiral Richardson, then serving as Director of Naval Reactors and the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, in Indiana when the two visited BWXT’s facility in Mount Vernon in 2015.

In 2015, Joe hosted then-Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command 4-star Army General Joseph Votel. The visit highlighted the cutting-edge work done at Crane to support military special operations forces and opportunities for expanded collaboration. 

In 2014, Joe also hosted then-Commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) General Charles Jacoby. The meeting provided an opportunity for Joe and Crane’s leadership to highlight the lab’s ongoing projects that contribute the NORTHCOM and NORAD homeland defense missions.

New Facility at Crane Army Ammunition Activity

As part of the 2017 national defense bill, Joe secured $24 million in military construction at CAAA to support necessary growth at the facility to match increased demand from the military. Joe fought successfully for the project to be fully funded as part of the government funding bill in March 2018. Also as a part of the defense bill, Joe successfully included language to codify and make permanent authority to give individual military labs, including NSWC Crane, permission to use 2-4% of their annual budget for things like in-house research, transitioning technology innovations to operational use, training and educating laboratory staff and making minor improvements or repairs to their infrastructure and equipment.

Expedited Access to University Expertise

The 2017 defense bill also gave the Department of Defense (DoD) authority to establish new multi-school partnerships (via contracts, consortia, cooperative agreements or other arrangements) to make it easier and faster for DoD to work with key university partners on topics relevant to military needs.

Joe has worked with universities across Indiana, including Purdue, Indiana University, and Notre Dame to create and strengthen opportunities for DoD to access the knowledge and expertise of their students and faculty.

In June 2017, Purdue University and NSWC Crane announced a new strategic partnership, made possible in part by Joe’s work to bring the two institutions together. He believes that we can get the best, most innovative solutions for our servicemembers by working in tandem.

Other Efforts to Support Crane

In 2015, Joe gave the keynote address at the Crane Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), where he updated stakeholders on our country’s national security challenges, and the critical role Crane is playing in supporting our Armed Forces.

Joe has visited other military installations and met with key stakeholders and military leaders across the country to raise Crane’s profile as a leader in cutting-edge research and technology development for our warfighters. Among those efforts, he visited two National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) laboratories and a Department of Defense military installation in New Mexico to meet with defense officials to discuss the critical work being done by Hoosiers at NWSC Crane in support of DoD’s nuclear programs.