Once Britannia ruled the waves, but that era ended with World War Two. After that war, the U.S. Navy has been the undisputed maritime power in the world and nowhere is that more apparent than at the naval base at Norfolk. While the naval base is a secure site and it is not open to tourists, parts of this massive base are visible from the roads and various vantage points. There is even a cruise down the harbor so that one can get a much better look at America's most powerful warships.


America has many superb naval museums that one can visit all around the country. While all these museums feature old ships that have been decommissioned and donated to become museums, one can also see America's mothball fleets. If one is up in Pennsylvania, one can see what's left of Philadelphia's once-mighty mothball fleet.

What To Know About The Naval Base At Norfolk

The American naval base in Norfolk is the largest American naval base and the most powerful in the world. It is the home port of the U.S. Navy's Fleet Forces Command with the largest concentration of naval forces with around 75 ships and 134 aircraft.

The Naval Station Norfolk stretches for 4 miles along the waterfront of Hampton Roads peninsula. The station supports the operational readiness of the US Atlantic Fleet, providing facilities and services to enable mission accomplishment.

  • Largest: The Norfolk Naval Base Is The Largest Naval Base In The World
  • Supports: The US Atlantic Fleet
  • Newport News Shipbuilding Yard: Where The Super Aircraft Carriers Are Built
  • Number of Ships: Around 75 Naval Ships and Many More Aircraft and Other Facilities

The Norfolk naval base is home to four carrier strike groups and their assigned ships - that alone is perhaps more powerful than any other navy in the world.

Not far from the naval base is the Newport News Shipbuilding yard - it is this shipbuilding yard that builds all the super aircraft carriers of the U.S. navy.

Related: How To Get The Most Out Of A Historical Visit To The Pearl Harbor Museum & Memorial

Cruises Of The Norfolk Naval Base

If one would like to get a glimpse of this mighty naval base, then enjoy a Norfolk Harbor cruise aboard the Victory Rover. On the cruise one will be able to see destroyers, submarines, and other vessels while taking in the sights of the harbor.

The Norfolk Harbor Cruise is a two-hour Narrated Naval Base Cruise with the captain providing entertaining and fascinating commentary on the navy and base. The tour departs daily from Nauticus, home of the Battleship Wisconsin.

One will see destroyers, aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships, submarines, guided missile cruisers, and more.

The Victory Rover that one will cruise on provides plenty of comfortable seating, an air-conditioned enclosed deck, an open-air shaded upper deck, a snack bar, and a souvenir shop.

Tickets can be purchased online, over the phone, or at the ticket window at Nauticus - although reservations are strongly recommended. This naval base tour is one of Norfolk's most popular attractions.

  • Departure Point: Nauticus Museum - Home of the USS Wisconsin
  • Price: From $28.00
  • Duration: A 2 Hour Cruise
  • See: Aircraft Carriers, Submarines, Destroyers, Amphibious Assault Ships, Guided Missile Cruisers, and More

Related: Why Visiting NYC's Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum is A Must

Don't Forget the Nauticus and Wisconsin!

The USS Wisconsin was one of four completed Iowa class battleships - the largest battleships ever built for the US Navy. She was built at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in Philadelphia and served in the latter part of the Pacific War against Japan.

After the war, she served in the Korean War and in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 against Iraq. She spent most of her career mothballed and from 1944 to her decommissioning in 1991 she only spent a total of 14 years in active service.

  • Battle Stars: 6
  • Class: Iowa Class Battleship

Like the others in her class, she was spared strapping and instead donated as a museum ship and today operated by Nauticus, The National Maritime Center.

Nauticus offers both the might battleship for tours as well as a superb naval museum to discover the history of the navy and what naval life is like.

  • Nauticus Hours: Open Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday, Noon – 5 p.m.
  • Closed: Mondays

Make A Full Day With The Combo Ticket

To see the Nauticus museum, the Wisconsin, and go on a Norfolk Base Harbor cruise, consider buying a combo ticket. This is a full-day tour was the Naval Base Crusie takes around two hours one should then allow 2 to 3 hours for Nauticus and the Battleship Wisconsin. This discounted ticket must be used on the same day and one should keep in mind that Nauticus closes at 4.00 pm.

  • Cost: Adult $41.35 / Children (ages 4-12): $27.45
  • Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 4pm / Sunday 12pm – 4pm

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