King George News

Cathy Dyson writes about King George County. You can email her at

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Weapons tests at Navy base will cause some big booms

The Fourth of July has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean the sound of bombs bursting in air is over, at least in the Dahlgren area.

The Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division will conduct daily testing Thursday, Friday and Monday, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. The munitions tests have the potential to produce loud noise, according to the base’s communications office. A story in The Free Lance-Star said testing would take place over the weekend as well, but base officials said there was a miscommunication from the range control office on the dates, and that no weekend testing will be done.

Access to the Potomac River will be restricted down range near buoys 29 and 30 during testing.

According to the Navy base’s website, the primary guns used on the Potomac River Test Range vary in size, scope and operation. Some gun systems evaluate new technology used in projectiles, propellants and firing controls.

Others are naval guns of several sizes used for anti-air, anti-surface and shore missions. One model, used on a combat ship, can fire 220 rounds per minute, according to the website.

The base in King George County attempts to be a “good neighbor” by managing the amount of noise it creates, its “Making Noise” fact sheet says. It has seven fixed sound meters along the Potomac River in Virginia, and one in Maryland, as well as a buoy with a sound meter west of Swan Point, along the Maryland shore.

Details about the schedule and affected areas are available online here or by calling the range’s Weapons Testing Hotline at 877/845-5656.

Anyone with comments or complaints about noise or vibrations from base operations may call 866/359-5540.