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Holston Army Plant Army Base in Kingston, TN Tennessee Military Bases


The Holston Army Plant has been in operations in 1942. The plant is a chemical processing plant that provides ingredients for all types of military explosives. Located in Kingston, Tennessee, the plant is run by BAE Systems who received a $27-million contract in 2013 to rebuild the facility and create a more energy efficient facility in order to produce explosives.

Command at Holston Army Plant

The Holston Army Ammunition Plant was once known as the Holston Ordnance Works. It was constructed outside of Kingsport in Tennessee to make explosives for the Second World War.

The system is now under the control of BAE Systems’ division Ordnance Systems Inc, which has been operating the plant for the past several years and has a 25-year facility contract. In addition, BAE Systems runs the Radford Army Ammunition Plant in Radford, VA as well. BAE Ordnance Systems is a subsidiary of BAE Systems, Inc. The company has been providing industry leading management for government-owned and contractor-operated munitions sites for the US military. BAE Systems has been the operating contractor of the Holston plant since 1999 and has developed innovative products like the IMX-101, which the Army approved as a safe and effective replacement for the TNT in artillery. A new contract was approved to complete the final phase of construction and bring the facilities up to a modern standard of energy efficiency.

In 2012, BAE Systems became the operating contractor of the Radford Army Ammunition Plant in Radford, VA, which is similar to the operations at Holston but its mostly a range of propellants used for different military munitions.

The plant has all sorts of capabilities including:

• Production and development of insensitive munitions explosives

• Synthesis and manufacture of high explosives

• Recrystallization and purification from organic solvents

• Melt-cast, cast-cured, pressed and extruded explosives formulas

• Explosives testing for performance

• Explosives full spectrum research and development

• Custom and fine chemical manufacture for defense

The current plant operates on two sites including Plant A in Kingston and then Plant B, which is four miles outside of the area located in Hawkins County. Both are connected by rail. Plant A offers 120 acres and Plant B has 5,900 acres. In total, the plant has 465 buildings, some of which are never used or used specifically for storage.

The buildings are housed on 6,024 acres of land with 325 buildings, 130 igloos and another storage area that comprises 275,000 square feet.

History of Holston Army Plant

Holston Ordnance Works (HOW) formed in 1942 and stopped promptly after World War II in 1945. It was again reactivated as the Cold War began and has remained open through present day. The installation was renamed to Holston Army Ammunition Plant (HSAAP or HAAP) in the 1960s. Holston Defense Corporation began operations at the facility from 1949 to 1999 through reimbursement contractors with the US Army.

Originally built in 1942 and through 1944, the plant was built to be used by the government contractor at the time known as Tennessee Eastman Corporation, which was a subsidiary division of Eastman Kodak. Throughout World War II, the plant manufactured Composition B, which was an explosive mixture of TNT and RDX. After the war, the plant was placed on standby status and produced only fertilizer. However, it was reactivated in 1949 through the Holston Defense Corporation, which was the new subsidiary division of Eastman Kodak.

Through the Korean War, Holston Army Planet continued to manufacture Composition B and rework the old stored Composition B. There were various new production lines built during 1951 through 1954 in order to produce for the war. Once the Korean War was over, it was decreased until there was only one-line operation. The plant did not resume large-scale productions until the mid-1960s when it began production of Composition B once more for the Vietnam War.

After 1973, production decreased again to a small amount, but the plant also had new orders that were considered “special” explosives and propellants for the Armed Services including the Navy’s Trident missiles. The plant also handles and stores material for the national defense stockpile.

As of 1988, the plant has been able to produce all of the RDC/HMX combinations used by the USA and 90 percent that is used by countries that friendly with the US.

The facilities are regulated and audited according to the Environmental Management System. Every few years, Holston Army Ammunition Plant must complete an ISO 14001 successfully and register. The facilities were required to have Environmental Management Systems put in along with other federal facilities by December 2005. There were also several initiatives for the plant including water conservation and replacing fluorescent lighting with LED lighting. A recycling program was enacted to help save on costs and carbon footprints.

Major modernization plans went into place in 2013 to ensure that the Holston Army Ammunition Plant remained a valuable asset to the Joint Forces. The US Army granted BAE Systems a $27 million contract to finish construction of a new, state-of-the-art and energy-saving chemical processing facility that would be located at the Holston Army Ammunition Plant in Kingston.

The plant was finished later in 2013 and has transformed the way that the Plant operates allowing for acetic acid and acetic anhydride to be produced, stored and safely handled at the plant for multiple types of military explosives.

The vice president and general manager of BAE Systems has said that this was the most important change for Holston since its original opening in 1942. The facility was designed by BAE Systems for the Army and will also use combined heat and power technology through a process of cogeneration in order to use steam from natural gas to process chemicals. The electricity from the operation will allow the plant to be powered at least 90 percent of the time, which is a major step in the right direction as the plant has promised to be more energy efficient.