FACT CHECK: Has The Pentagon Surrendered Norfolk Naval Base To NATO?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

An image shared on Facebook claims the Pentagon surrendered Norfolk Naval Base to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Verdict: False

While a new NATO headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, recently became fully operational, there is no evidence Naval Station Norfolk was surrendered to NATO. Spokespeople for both NATO and the Department of Defense refuted the claim.

Fact Check:

The image making the claim about Naval Station Norfolk and NATO, a political and military alliance consisting of the U.S. and 29 other member nations, contains what appears to be a screen grab of a headline. It also includes a link to another Facebook post.

“The Pentagon surrenders Norfolk Naval Base to NATO,” reads the headline inside the image. (RELATED: Have NATO Allies Increased Defense Spending By $34 Billion?)

While NATO’s Joint Force Command (JFC) Norfolk did, according to Defense News, become fully operational in mid-July, this headquarters is only one part of the naval complex at Norfolk. There is no indication NATO now controls the entire Naval Station Norfolk, which the U.S. Navy describes as the world’s largest naval complex.

Check Your Fact reviewed press releases from the Department of Defense, the Navy and NATO and found no mention of the U.S. surrendering the strategic base. National news outlets also haven’t reported about the base being turned over to NATO.

The headline in the inaccurate Facebook post appears to come from a July blog post on the website brassballs.blog. Nothing in the blog post substantiates its claim about Naval Station Norfolk being surrendered to NATO.

The link included in the image directs users to an October 2020 Facebook post shared by the Norfolk International Airport that states in part, “In a ceremony at ORF today, new NATO signs were unveiled in the Arrivals Terminal noting that Norfolk is NATO’s Home in North America.” ORF is the International Air Transport Association’s three-letter location code for the airport. The Norfolk International Airport’s post does not mention anything about the U.S. surrendering the base.

“It is false to say that Norfolk was ‘surrendered’ to NATO – JFC Norfolk is hosted by the United States within the much larger national facility at Norfolk, and its Commander also commands the US Second Fleet,” said Dylan White, a NATO spokesperson, in an email to Check Your Fact. “I would also note that the US is a founding and key member of NATO, and that all decisions in the Alliance are taken by consensus.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Defense also told Check Your Fact via email: “The Department of Defense still has the same capability there, so the headline you stated below is false.”

JFC Norfolk is “one of three regionally focused joint, operational-level commands reporting directly to Supreme Allied Commander Europe and the only operational NATO command based in North America,” according to NATO’s website.

Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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