Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Welcome to the area

The following covers information on the Hampton Roads area to include:

  • Housing
  • Setting up utility services
  • Commuting
  • Automobile registration

Please carefully read over the information and if you have further questions direct them to your ship sponsor.


 Norfolk/Hampton Roads Information

Hampton Roads is the name of both a body of water and the land areas that surround it in southeastern Virginia.

Officially known as the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA, the Hampton Roads area has a population of about 1.6 million and is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the southeastern United States between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. Other less popular names for the area include Tidewater Virginia, Virginia's Waterfront, and "Seven Cities" (because of the seven primary cities in the area: Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Virginia Beach).

While combined into a single Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) for economic purposes, most of the land area of Hampton Roads is geographically divided into 2 smaller regions, the Virginia Peninsula and South Hampton Roads, the latter also locally known as the Southside (Both the Peninsula and Southside are occasionally and interchangeably referred to as Tidewater. The name Tidewater also refers, geographically, the coastal plain of Virginia). A small portion of Virginia's Middle Peninsula region and part of North Carolina are also included in the MSA definition.



The term "Hampton Roads" is a centuries old reference that originated when the region was a struggling British outpost nearly four hundred years ago. Designated in the 17th Century as the name of the harbor, "Hampton Roads" honors one of the founders of the Virginia Company and a great supporter of the colonization of Virginia, Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of South Hampton. Signifying the safety of a port, "roads" in nautical terminology means "a place less sheltered than a harbor where ships may ride at anchor." Although perhaps by that definition the label "harbor" is technically incorrect, Hampton Roads has become well-known as the "world's greatest harbor."

The entrance from Chesapeake Bay was defended by Fort Monroe, built in 1819 on Old Point Comfort, and by Fort Wool, built as Fort Calhoun in 1829, on a small island called the Rip Raps near the middle of the channel. The famous Battle of Hampton Roads between USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (ex-USS Merrimack) during the U.S. Civil War took place here, off Sewell's Point, on March 8-9, 1862. The Jamestown Exposition was held at Sewell's Point on Hampton Roads in 1907. A major naval display was featured, and this laid the groundwork for the future Norfolk Navy Base, which was later established there.

Note: This section provides history of the water area known as Hampton Roads. For the histories of the various communities which make up the Hampton Roads region, please refer to the articles on the History of Virginia, Virginia Peninsula and South Hampton Roads sub regions, and individual articles for each shire, county, town, or city in the following sections.


 Naval Station Norfolk

You cannot live in Hampton Roads without being minutes from a naval installation. The Navy owns 36,000 acres and more than 6,750 buildings in the area. There are some 108,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel stationed in the area, and the Navy employs more than 41,000 civilians. There are more than 23,000 retired Navy men and women living in Hampton Roads, and approximately 118,300 dependents of active duty and civilian personnel. The total Hampton Roads Navy community numbers some 318,000 people.

The Norfolk area is situated in the southeast corner of Virginia at the southern end of Chesapeake Bay. Naval Station Norfolk lies at the eastern shore of Hampton Roads. Hampton Roads is a natural tidal basin formed by the confluence of the James and Elizabeth Rivers. The entrance to Hampton Roads for all deep draft ships lies between Old Point Comfort and Fort Wool. Not only is Hampton Roads the gateway to the Naval Station, but also provides access to commercial and naval activities at Norfolk and Portsmouth on the Elizabeth River, extensive shipbuilding and cargo handling facilities at Newport News, and many smaller facilities and marinas along the James and Elizabeth Rivers. Therefore, the whole area is extremely busy with marine traffic. The Norfolk area has a large number of berths, anchorages, facilities and services available.

Naval Station Norfolk is homeport to more ships than any other and is the world's largest naval base. When the approximately 90 ships home-ported here are not at sea, they are alongside one of the 15 piers for repair, refit, training and to provide the ship's crew an opportunity to be with their families. Naval Station Norfolk is homeport to aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, large amphibious ships, submarines and a variety of supply and logistics ships. It is uncommon for these ships to all be in port at one time.



The water area known as Hampton Roads is a channel through which the waters of the James River, Nansemond River, and Elizabeth River pass (between Old Point Comfort to the north and Sewell's Point to the south) into the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The region has extensive natural areas, including 26 miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches, the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Dismal Swamp, picturesque rivers, state parks, wildlife refuges, and botanical gardens. The land portion of Hampton Roads is divided into two regions, the Peninsula, on the north side, and South Hampton Roads, on the south side, where most of the area's population lives. In addition, the Middle Peninsula counties of Gloucester and Mathews, while not part of the geographical Hampton Roads area, are included in the vast metropolitan region's population.

Get ready for the most rewarding tour of duty of your life!


 Housing Information

Family Housing Naval Weapons Station
Code 095
1970 Von Stubbing Dr.
Yorktown, Va. 23603
(757) 847-7800
(800) 704-5488
Portsmouth Housing Office
Norfolk Naval Shipyard
129 ½ Morning Side Dr.
Portsmouth, Va. 23702
(757) 396-3330
Housing Welcome Center
Navy Public Works Center
7924 14th St.
Norfolk, Va. 23505
Off Hampton Blvd.)
(757) 445-2832
(800) 628-7510

Housing Welcome Center
Naval Air Station Oceana
1201 Paul Jones Circle
Virginia Beach, Va. 23460
(757) 433-2195
DSN (757) 462-7448


Housing Welcome Center
Naval Medical Center Portsmouth
845 Sterling Cook St.
Portsmouth, Va. 23708
(757) 953-5404
(800) 628-7510
DSN (757) 565-2832


Housing Welcome Center
Naval Amphibious Base
Little Creek
2100 Independence Blvd.
Virginia Beach, Va. 23455
(757) 462-7448
DSN (757) 253-7448



Housing Welcome Center
Navy Security Group Activity Northwest
1320 Northwest Blvd.
Suite 100
Chesapeake, Va. 23322
(757) 421-8280/8281




 Setting Up Utility Services

For public utilities and water service, contact your city's public works center:

Department of Utilities

P.O. Box 1080
Norfolk, Va. 23501
(757) 664-6700
P.O. Box 75225
Chesapeake, Va. 23328
(757) 547-6352
801 Crawford Street
Portsmouth, Va. 23456
(757) 427-4631
Municipal Center
Virginia Beach, Va. 23456
(757) 427-4631
P.O. Box 979
Newport News, Va. 23607
(757) 247-8421

For natural gas service, contact:

Virginia Natural Gas
3719 East Va. Beach Blvd.
Norfolk, Va. 23502
(757) 466-5550

For your electrical needs, contact:

Dominion Virginia Power
P.O. Box 26543
Richmond, Va. 23290
(888) 667-3000


 Commuting in Hampton Roads

Hampton Roads is divided up into two physically and psychologically different places: the peninsula and the south side. The peninsula contains Hampton, Newport News and Poquoson. The south side contains Norfolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Suffolk and Portsmouth.

The two are connected by the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel (I-64) on the east and the newer and bigger Monitor/Merrimack Bridge Tunnel (I-664) on the west. Both are two lanes each way. An accident in one will force traffic over to the other and cause backups for miles. In the past, this has effectively cut off the two sides from each other.

Traffic on the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel will back up for just about any reason with waits of up to an hour to get to the tunnel entrance. Huge signs up and down I-64 warn motorists of the length of the backup and the approximate wait time. Traffic in the Monitor/Merrimack tends to flow better, but that’s because it’s away from I-64, the main artery. There is a way to get from I-664 to I-64 and that’s through the Downtown Tunnel (I-264). But this option clogs up fast during rush hours.


 Automobile Registration

Base decals are valid for three years. In order to obtain one, you must present a completed vehicle registration form available at the pass office along with your driver’s license, military identification and proof of auto insurance.

City car decals are required for respective cities unless a service member’s car is registered in another state.

If you wish to obtain a Virginia title, plates and registration, you must obtain a city decal. The $15 to $25 charge for the decal may be waived if the car is registered in the service member’s name alone. In order to receive the waiver and decal the service member must present a Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) or if required, a copy of the prior year’s tax return or a letter from the command to the city treasurer’s office.

Vehicles registered in Virginia or other states that require safety inspections must display their current inspection stickers. Vehicles registered in states not requiring safety inspections must have evidence of being inspected by an authorized Virginia state inspection agent. Safety inspections are required annually and cost around $10.

For services requiring a visit to the department of motor vehicles, DMV hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday.