The Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center Complex is located relatively close to West Palm Beach in Florida and the Bahamas and operated by the US Navy. It performs some of the most advanced tests and training sessions for undersea techniques. It covers pretty much every aspect of this field, from calibration to construction. In other words, the place can be described as one of the most advanced laboratories in the world, with three dimensional operations. It consists of three different test places – one for weapons, one for acoustic purposes and one for FORACS. All these tests take place underwater, on an almost 200 km long and 30 km wide area with depths that can reach 2 km. The place is often referred to as TOTO among the people working there. The general purpose of the base is to train and certify captains and crew members for submarines. At the same time, the professionals here test the most sophisticated weapons and their accuracy.
The US Navy requirement and necessity for a wide area to test various weapons and equipments became critical during the ’40s and the ’50s. World War II was a great opportunity to discover this necessity. In 1958, the US Navy selected a group of professionals to choose the most appropriate spot for such a base. The spot was picked for its relief and perfectly natural environment and characteristics. The place is U shaped and somehow protected by numerous islands and reefs. The only major connection with the ocean is in the northern side. The environment was perfect. The place was protected against the natural disturbances from the ocean, turning it into an ideal place for tests and practices.
The actual construction began later, in 1964. A big part of it was ready in 1965, allowing the first cadres to show up. The first range was ready in 1966 – the one for weapons. The others two were ready in 1968 and 1969. The rest of the base was entirely built by 1974. Ever since then, it has managed to remain among the most sophisticated and advanced laboratories in the world. The constant improvements and upgrades stayed in touch with the technology, ensuring a proper evolution of AUTEC Complex over the years.
Most of the most important facilities at AUTEC Complex were renamed in the memory of some of the US Navy heroes, such as the Jacobson Hall, the Roger L. Glei Chapel or the Shafer Brothers Hall.
According to the position of this base, the housing system at AUTEC Complex is entirely on site. It is run by the US Navy, without any privatized spots. Since the place is relatively isolated from human communities, getting off site accommodation is practically impossible. When dispatched here, the troops are automatically assigned with a sponsor and a home. The students are hosted in specific buildings, in larger rooms. The superiors and the long term inhabitants live in different buildings, with more advanced facilities.