The history of the Navy Supply Corps dates back to 1795 when President George Washington appointed Tench Francis as the first purveyor of public supplies; however, it was not until 1921 that the first Supply Corps School opened in Washington, D.C. In 1924, the school was disestablished but then reopened in 1934 as the Naval Finance and Supply School in Philadelphia. The school then merged with the Supply Corps Reserve Officer School in 1941. In 1945, the school was moved to Bayonne, New Jersey, where it operated until 1954, then relocated to Athens, Georgia, where it remained until December 2010.
The Navy Supply Corps School officially opened its doors in January 2011 at its current location in Newport. The building is named after Vice Adm. Kenneth R. Wheeler, the 31st Chief of Supply Corps and former World War II prisoner of war. His distinction in many crucial roles earned him a third star in January 1973, at which time he was designated vice chief of naval material, becoming the principal adviser to the legendary Adm. Isaac Kidd Jr., and exercising authority over six deputy chiefs and six systems commanders. Wheeler retired in September 1974 after 35 years of service.
The Wheeler Center is a 58,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility with 11 electronic classrooms, two video teletraining rooms, a multipurpose room that can be separated into three classrooms and nine breakout discussion rooms. Additionally, there is a mock ship's store, barbershop, shipboard galley, storeroom, laundry and a Navy Cash laboratory used to introduce the students to what they might expect during their first tour as division officers afloat.
The mission of the Navy Supply Corps School is to develop Navy Supply Corps officers and other logistics professionals through integrated education and training while building their personal, professional and leadership competencies to meet current and future global defense challenges. As the initial training site for new Supply Corps officers, the Basic Qualification Course/Basic Qualification Course Navy Reserves teaches the fundamentals of supply and logistics. The curriculum includes training in supply management, food service, retail operations, disbursing, and leadership and management. Officers returning to the fleet to take charge of an afloat Supply Department attend the Supply Officer Department Head Course or Senior Supply Officer Department Head Courses to review supply fundamentals.
Other courses include: Joint Aviation Supply and Maintenance Material Management, Introduction to Expeditionary Logistics, Transportation of Hazardous Material, Relational Supply Force Level Course and Reserve Supply Management Advanced Refresher Training. The school also partners with international military and civilian management programs to offer the International Officer Supply Basic Course, International Logistics Executive Advanced Development and Advanced Management Program.
The Navy Supply Corps School trains more than 2,400 students every year. The training is delivered in-resident and through distance learning via a mobile training team or Video Tele-Training.