Naval Ordnance Station Louisville (NOSL) was a major employer of Louisville for over fifty years, starting in late 1941. On January 29, 1941, ground was broken for the 142-acre area that was to become Naval Ordnance Station Louisville (NOSL). The plant, Naval Ordnance Plant Louisville, was commissioned on October 1, 1941, under operating contract to Westinghouse Electric Corporation as part of the wartime Naval Shore Establishment.
Personnel were employed in the assembly of gun mounts, torpedo tubes, and other naval ordnance. In 1946, NOPL was turned over to Navy control when Westinghouse's contract expired. The number of workers declined to 500. In 1948, it spiked to 850 and then decreased to only 100 in 1950. The Korean War caused employment at NOSL to increase to 1800. At its peak, some 4200 personnel were employed in the assembly of gun mounts, torpedo tubes, and other naval ordnance.
In the 1990's, NOSL was the only Navy facility capable of providing both major overhaul and complete engineering and technical support services for the Navy's surface weapon systems. NOSL remanufactured, repaired, and updated naval gun systems from 20 millimeters through five inches and provided engineering support for all naval guns. NOSL was the only approved engineering and overhaul facility for the PHALANX Close-in Weapon System, the Navy's highly sophisticated anti-ship missile defense system. NOSL also manufactured gun barrels, missile hardware, and a wide variety of weapon system parts for the Navy and the other military services.
In 1990, NOSL was on a list for base closures, but the Gulf War kept the facility open, hiring 107 permanent workers. Immediately after the conclusion of Operation: Desert Storm, it was decided for NOSL to merge some activities with Indiana's Crane Naval facility, allowing it to remain open. It was renamed the Naval Surface Warfare Center.
On June 27, 1993, NOSL survived another base-closure movement, despite efforts by private contractor United Defense/FMC in Minnesota.
On August 16, 1996, NOSL returned to the concept of private industry management. NOSL responsibilities were distributed between United Defense L.P. (now BAE Systems), Hughes Missile System Company (now Raytheon Systems Company), the local government, and a small government workforce. NSWC Sublease - LJCRA and UDLP
In September 1997 Naval Ordnance Station was officially "disestablished" by the Navy. The remaining government presence at NOSL became known as Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Huemene Division Louisville Detachment October.
The park's name was changed to Greater Louisville Technology Center, but it continued to be called "the old Naval Ordnance Station" by locals for over a decade.
On February 11, 2004 the former NOSL was transferred by deed to the Louisville/Jefferson County Redevelopment Authority (LJCRA). The LJCRA leased back a portion of the property to the Government for in-service engineering and storage support for gun weapons systems at 160 Rochester Drive.
In 2005 DoD recommended to realign the Louisville, KY, detachment of Naval Surface Warfare Center Division Port Hueneme, CA, by relocating gun and ammunition Research and Development & Acquisition to Picatinny Arsenal, NJ. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 506 jobs (296 direct jobs and 210 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 periods in the Louisville, KY-IN, Metropolitan Statistical Area (less than 0.1%). The park is renamed Airport Industrial Center to reflect its proximity to Louisville International Airport in November.
On Aug. 16, 2010, the detachment was moved under Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division from NSWC Port Hueneme in preparation for the BRAC consolidation.
On August 12, 2011 NSWC IHD transferred functional responsibility for naval engineering gun support to its Picatinny, New Jersey detachment. The symbolic cannon made by Don Holtz in 1993 to commemorate Louisville's realignment with NSWC Crane was installed at the Picatinny detachment. (Two of the model cannons, replicas of the British 24 pounder that was the main battery gun for their Man 'O War ships in the late 19th Century, were installed in front of the Gun Systems Engineering building.) The facility was vacated on September 30, 2011.