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    You can’t fly without supply: How the Navy’s Aviation Supply Office (ASO) took off

    1973 insignia for Aviation Supply Office (ASO)

    Courtesy Photo | 730101-N-N1901-1001 1973 insignia for Aviation Supply Office (ASO),...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Naval Supply Systems Command

    Who else but a Supply Corps Officer would need to envision parts and supplies to support the Navy’s first aircraft carrier? It was 1928, and Lt. E. Dorsey Foster was a supply officer aboard USS Langley (CV-1). The ship was developed from Proteus-class collier Jupiter and served as an unarmed test bed for deck and flight operations throughout the 1920s. Foster worked to gauge the level of support for embarked aircraft and quickly discovered the air component had a complete stock of parts for straight-line, conventional aircraft engines. Unfortunately, all of the Langley’s planes were equipped with radial engines. There were no parts on board for the engines of the embarked planes. That experience prompted Foster in 1931, while assigned to the Naval Aircraft Factory, to produce and implement the first spare parts allowance lists for the USS Lexington’s (CV-2) deckload of F-3B, F-4B, and T-4M aircraft.

    Foster’s dilemma would become an obstacle throughout the Navy as the role of naval aviation grew through the 1920s and 1930s, from 50 planes and 39 aviators at the start of World War I to an authorization in 1940 for 15,000 aircraft. Clearly, the naval supply structure could not adequately support the expanding and increasingly complex naval air arm. This realization, along with the start of World War II in 1939, resulted in the first official recognition and documentation of a need for a specialized agency to concentrate on aviation supply. The Naval Aircraft Factory’s February 1940 letter to the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics via the Chief of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts (now Naval Supply Systems Command), recommended the establishment of a field requisition and field inventory and stock transfer section for all of naval aviation—an Aviation Supply Office (ASO).

    The ASO was established on Oct. 1, 1941, with 200 civilian employees and 14 officers at the Naval Aircraft Factory in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Capt. Oscar W. Leidel became the first commanding officer of the ASO.

    The attack on Pearl Harbor came just two months later. By then, 27,500 naval aircraft had been authorized, and there were soon to be over 100 carriers in commission to employ and support naval air power. By the end of World War II, the number of naval aircraft would grow to 38,000. The carrier-dominated surface Navy had arrived.

    Physically located on the second floor of a storage building on the naval Shipyard grounds, it soon became apparent that ASO would need its own physical facilities. The site originally proposed was an open area adjoining the shipyard, where Veterans Stadium was located. The “unsuitable condition” of the land, however, resulted in the choice of a 135-acre quarried clay bed in Northeast Philadelphia on which stood a brick factory. Work began in 1942 and ASO continued operations from the Shipyard until completion. The entire depot cost $10 million (about $182 million in today’s money) to construct and took nearly 6 million person-hours.
    In December 1942, Foster, now a captain, became the aviation supply officer, and on July 17, 1943, when the new depot was put into commission, he added the title of Supply Officer in Command of the Naval Aviation Supply Depot. There were now 323 officers and 2,219 civilians working on behalf of aviation supply support and logistics. By the end of 1945, these numbers would grow to 507 officers, 676 enlisted men and 5,332 civilians. Capt. Foster characterized the ASO workforce, who mostly came from Philadelphia and surrounding areas as “uninhibited by tradition and dogma—able, proficient, and willing.”

    Today, there are 88 officers, 40 enlisted, and 2,545 civilians who exemplify those same characteristics that Capt. Foster described over 70 years ago.

    Foster went on to become a vice admiral in 1949 upon his appointment as Chief of Naval Material, Office of the Secretary of the Navy. He retired in 1951.

    By the 1980s, ASO and Ships Parts Control Center (SPCC) in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, became the two remaining inventory control points providing logistics support to the Navy fleet. To read more about the history of SPCC, go to: DVIDS - News - NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support: How WWII changed the supply picture in a small, central Pennsylvania town (

    On Oct. 2, 1995, the Naval Inventory Control Point (NAVICP) was established with the merging of the former ASO in Philadelphia and SPCC. The purpose of this merger was to bring together all of the Navy's Program Support Inventory Control Point (PSICP) functions under a single command. The move to join the activities together as one command, two sites, was the result of a need to reduce costs and infrastructure, as well as to standardize inventory management procedures with a mission to provide Navy, Marine Corps, joint and allied forces quality supplies and services on a timely basis.

    On July 1, 2011, Naval Inventory Control Point's name changed to Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Weapon Systems Support (WSS) as a result of a “One NAVSUP,” Enterprisewide branding initiative where each NAVSUP activity supports the “Global Logistics Support Network” as a node in the network, vice as an individual entity; and each command is identified as a component of NAVSUP through its name. No organization structural changes were made.

    The mission of NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support is to provide Navy, Marine Corps, Joint and Allied Forces program and supply support for the weapon systems that keep our Naval forces mission ready. This mission is carried out by a single command organization operating in Mechanicsburg, Philadelphia, and Norfolk, Virginia.



    Date Taken: 01.23.2023
    Date Posted: 01.23.2023 15:01
    Story ID: 437093
    Location: PHILADELPHIA, PA, US 

    Web Views: 376
    Downloads: 1