Navy Bases

Panama City Naval Support Activity, Panama

Naval Support Activity Panama City (NSA PC) is located on beautiful St. Andrew Bay in Panama City Beach, Florida. It has direct, deep-water access to the Gulf of Mexico. Panama City Beach provides a perfect location and environment for conducting year-round training, testing and research. The activity totals 657 acres and houses 221 buildings.

Panama City serves active duty Navy and Coast Guard permanent party personnel and families. In addition, the largest numbers of the Base population are comprised of hundreds of EOD/Diver students.

NSA Panama City exists to enable warfighter readiness. NSA's largest tenant activity is NSWC PC, still one of the major research, development, test and evaluation laboratories of the Navy. NSWC PC boasts a wide base of expertise in engineering and scientific disciplines in the mission areas of mine warfare, expeditionary warfare, special warfare, and diving and life support. NSWC PC and the other three major tenants: the Navy Experimental Diving Unit, the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center, and the Center for Navy Ordnance Disposal and Diving make the station the consolidated site for all navy diving and salvage research, development, testing, and training.

Currently, NSA PC hosts several project offices, including the Deployable Joint Command and Control System. The Base also hosts many other diverse tenant activities: Explosive Ordnance Disposal Detachment, U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Naval Dental Center Branch Dental Clinic, Navy Exchange Branch, Naval Hospital Pensacola Branch Clinic, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Navy Publication and Printing Service Office, Naval Special Warfare Training Detachment, Personnel Support Detachment, Resident Officer in Charge of Construction, and Veterans Administration Primary Care Clinic.

Naval Support Activity, Panama City had its origin in the mine countermeasures research conducted during World War II at the U.S. Naval Mine Warfare Test Station, Solomons, Maryland. In 1945, equipment, facilities, and personnel were transferred from Solomons to Panama City, Florida, to occupy a 373-acre tract along St. Andrew Bay. This same tract was used as a Naval Section Base in 1942, the U.S. Naval Amphibious Training Base in 1944, and was inactivated in June 1945. It was established as the U.S. Navy Mine Countermeasures Station July 20, 1945.

By 1955, the Countermeasures Station had achieved laboratory status and was renamed to the U.S. Navy Mine Defense Laboratory in April 1955. Its mission had been expanded to include torpedo countermeasures, helicopter mine countermeasures, mine hunting and mine watching study projects, and other advanced countermeasures. Also by the late 1950's the laboratory started dive programs as well.

The Laboratory became an activity of the Naval Ship Research and Development Center, Carderock, Maryland, November 1967, and was renamed the Naval Ship Research and Development Laboratory, Panama City, November 1968. A naval internal reorganization effort to combine several of the closely related research and development laboratories resulted in the Panama City and Annapolis labs being combined with the David Taylor Naval Ship Research and Development Center at Carderock, MD.

Renamed the Naval Coastal Systems Laboratory in February 1972, its mission had expanded into warfare areas such as inshore undersea warfare and amphibious operations. In its separate command status, the laboratory reported directly to the Chief of Naval Material.

Navy Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU) became a tenant in 1973, established to perform all aspects of independent test and evaluation for diving and hyperbaric operation. In 1974, the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center moved to the base from the Washington Navy Yard to provide all aspects of training in diving, ship salvage, and submarine rescue. These tenants, combined with the diving research and development program of the host laboratory, established Panama City as the single site for diving for the Navy.

March 1978, again a name changed to place changing the base to Naval Coastal Systems Center (NCSC) to more accurately reflect the broad range of products and services provided and to bring its name into consonance with the other seven RDT&E centers commanded by the Chief of Naval Material. Upon disestablishment of the Naval Material Command in 1985, NCSC reported to the Office of the Chief of Naval Research. From 1986 through 1991, NCSC reported to the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. In October 1991, it was realigned under the Naval Sea Systems Command.

In January 1992, NCSC was re-designated the Coastal Systems Station (CSS), Dahlgren Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center, reporting to the Naval Sea Systems Command.

On October 1 2003, CSS was reorganized as a part of the alignment under the Commander, Navy Installations. During this reorganization, the base was renamed Naval Support Activity, Panama City, reporting to the Commander, Navy Region Southeast. The R&D mission workforce was renamed the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City. The primary mission and work areas of the base remained unchanged.

NSA, Panama City's largest tenant activity is NSWC PC, still one of the major research, development, test and evaluation laboratories of the Navy, which boasts a wide base of expertise in engineering and scientific disciplines in the mission areas of mine warfare, expeditionary warfare, special warfare, and diving and life support. NSWC PC and the other three major tenants, the Navy Experimental Diving Unit, the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center, and the Center for Navy Ordnance Disposal and Diving, make the Station the consolidated site for all navy diving and salvage research, development, testing, and training.

Currently, the Activity hosts several project offices, including the Deployable Joint Command and Control System. NSA, Panama City also hosts many other diverse tenant activities: Explosive Ordnance Disposal Detachment, U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Naval Dental Center Branch Dental Clinic, Navy Exchange Branch, Naval Hospital Pensacola Branch Clinic, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Navy Publication and Printing Service Office, Naval Special Warfare Training Detachment, Personnel Support Detachment, Resident Officer in Charge of Construction, Veterans Administration Primary Care Clinic, and the Coastal Operations Institute.

The Activity totals 657 acres and houses 221 buildings. The Athena Research Vessels are based in Panama City, and include three converted Asheville-class patrol gunboats. Two have been converted to support general hydrodynamic and acoustic testing, and one supports electromagnetic signatures testing.

Diversity of test environments, low encroachment, and mission area synergy make the Activity an ideal location and climate for development, test, and training in littoral warfare missions. Beach contours and water depths replicate more than 80% of the world's littoral regions, and offer a "surrogate" Persian Gulf.

NSA, Panama City employs approximately 2,800 civilian and military personnel with an annual payroll of more than $150 million. The Activity contracts services, buys local goods, and maintains an active construction program. Its economic impact on Bay County is more than $400 million annually. Throughout its existence, NSA, Panama City and its tenants have continued to evolve to meet the demanding requirements of the U.S. Navy-to defend today and to plan for tomorrow in response to national needs.

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