Naval Air Station Sigonella
Overview
 
Naval Air Station Sigonella , "The Hub of the Med", is a U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 installation at NATO Base Sigonella and an Italian Air Force
Italian Air Force
The Italian Air Force has gone under different names in different periods:*Regia Aeronautica , from 1923 to June 1946*Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana, the air force of Italian Social Republic during World War II...

 base in Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. Although a tenant of the Italian Air Force, NAS Sigonella acts as landlord to more than 40 other U.S. commands and activities. It is located 15 km (15,000,000,000,000 nm) west and 11 km (11,000,000,000,000 nm) south of the city of Catania
Catania
Catania is an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily facing the Ionian Sea, between Messina and Syracuse. It is the capital of the homonymous province, and with 298,957 inhabitants it is the second-largest city in Sicily and the tenth in Italy.Catania is known to have a seismic history and...

, and some 40 km (40,000,000,000,000 nm) south of Mount Etna
Mount Etna
Mount Etna is an active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily, close to Messina and Catania. It is the tallest active volcano in Europe, currently standing high, though this varies with summit eruptions; the mountain is 21 m higher than it was in 1981.. It is the highest mountain in...

.
Encyclopedia
Naval Air Station Sigonella , "The Hub of the Med", is a U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 installation at NATO Base Sigonella and an Italian Air Force
Italian Air Force
The Italian Air Force has gone under different names in different periods:*Regia Aeronautica , from 1923 to June 1946*Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana, the air force of Italian Social Republic during World War II...

 base in Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. Although a tenant of the Italian Air Force, NAS Sigonella acts as landlord to more than 40 other U.S. commands and activities. It is located 15 km (15,000,000,000,000 nm) west and 11 km (11,000,000,000,000 nm) south of the city of Catania
Catania
Catania is an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily facing the Ionian Sea, between Messina and Syracuse. It is the capital of the homonymous province, and with 298,957 inhabitants it is the second-largest city in Sicily and the tenth in Italy.Catania is known to have a seismic history and...

, and some 40 km (40,000,000,000,000 nm) south of Mount Etna
Mount Etna
Mount Etna is an active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily, close to Messina and Catania. It is the tallest active volcano in Europe, currently standing high, though this varies with summit eruptions; the mountain is 21 m higher than it was in 1981.. It is the highest mountain in...

. Because of its location near the center of the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

, NASSIG is well-placed to support operations by the U.S. 6th Fleet, other U.S. military units, and U.S. allies and coalition partners.
It also serves as an Italian base for the 41º Stormo
Aeronautica Militare
The Italian Air Force is the air force of the Italian Republic. It has held a prominent role in modern Italian military history...

 Antisom.

The base comprises two sections: NAS I was the site of the original U.S. base but is now a support facility and NAS II which includes the runways, operations and most tenant commands. NAS I also contains the Navy Exchange and Commissary, the school, and some homes, mainly for the commodore of Task Force 67, the air station commanding officer, air station executive officer and commanding officers of tenant activities. NAS I also is host to other facilities, mainly for entertainment. NAS II is now only used as a service base. Military personnel are housed in Marinai, located 2 minutes from NAS II and approximately 10–15 minutes from NAS I. Marinai flooded in December 2005 displacing many families temporarily. Also in Marinai is Boy Scout Troop 53 and Cub Scout Pack 53. Previously, "Mineo" was used as a housing base, but has since been returned to Italian Nationals and is no longer in service.

From 1987 to 2002, there was a base housing development Villaggio Costanzo which was located in the village of Santa Maria La Stella, in the comune
Comune
In Italy, the comune is the basic administrative division, and may be properly approximated in casual speech by the English word township or municipality.-Importance and function:...

 of Aci Sant'Antonio
Aci Sant'Antonio
Aci Sant'Antonio is a comune in the Province of Catania in the Italian region of Sicily, located about 160 km southeast of Palermo and about 10 km northeast of Catania....

, and approximately 60 minutes from NAS I.
The closest community to the base is Motta Sant'Anastasia
Motta Sant'Anastasia
Motta Sant'Anastasia is a comune in the Province of Catania in the Italian region Sicily, located about 160 km southeast of Palermo and about 9 km west of Catania...

, where many military personnel and their families live in rented accommodation on the economy. Relations between the Americans and the local Italian nationals are cordial, despite some anti-American demonstrations outside the base protesting the Iraq War. Many Italian nationals are employed as civilian workers at the base.

Among the aircraft that fly from this island base are U.S. Air Force C-130, C-17 and C-5 airlifters, KC-135 and KC-10 tankers and U.S. Navy P-3 Orion
P-3 Orion
The Lockheed P-3 Orion is a four-engine turboprop anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft developed for the United States Navy and introduced in the 1960s. Lockheed based it on the L-188 Electra commercial airliner. The aircraft is easily recognizable by its distinctive tail stinger or...

s, C-2 Greyhounds C-130, and C-9B (Skytrains). It is one of the most frequently used stops for U.S. airlifters bound from the continental United States
Conus
Conus is a large genus of small to large predatory sea snails, marine gastropod molluscs, with the common names of cone snails, cone shells or cones. This genus is placed in the subfamily Coninae within the family Conidae. Geologically speaking, the genus is known from the Eocene to the Recent ...

 to Southwest Asia
Southwest Asia
Western Asia, West Asia, Southwest Asia or Southwestern Asia are terms that describe the westernmost portion of Asia. The terms are partly coterminous with the Middle East, which describes a geographical position in relation to Western Europe rather than its location within Asia...

 and the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

.

NAS Sigonella has the best claim to be hub of U.S. naval air operations in the Mediterranean. The base command is landlord to more than 40 other U.S. units. Among the largest are a rotating P-3 patrol squadron; a Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station; and a U.S. Naval Hospital. The hospital was built in 1992. Previously, there was only a clinic. The closest Naval Hospital was at Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

. Sigonella is home to more than 4,000 troops, civilian personnel, and family members.

NAS Sigonella is the Navy's second largest security command, second only to that located at Naval Support Activity Bahrain. NAS Sigonella also has a large support of security personnel from NR NSF Sigonella, Out of NOSC Detroit, MI.

History

The United States Naval Air Facility (NAF), Sigonella, was established June 15, 1959; its first commanding officer was CAPT Walter J. Frazier. The facility was conceived in the early 1950s, when plans to base U.S. Navy P2V Neptune
P-2 Neptune
The Lockheed P-2 Neptune was a Maritime patrol and ASW aircraft. It was developed for the United States Navy by Lockheed to replace the Lockheed PV-1 Ventura and PV-2 Harpoon, and being replaced in turn with the Lockheed P-3 Orion...

s at Hal Far, Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

 began to outgrow the facility.

When there was no room for expansion at Malta, the U.S. Navy obtained NATO backing to be hosted by Sicilians. Italy made land available under a temporary agreement signed June 25, 1957. Six days later, Landing Ship Tank (LST
Tank landing ship
Landing Ship, Tank was the military designation for naval vessels created during World War II to support amphibious operations by carrying significant quantities of vehicles, cargo, and landing troops directly onto an unimproved shore....

s) began to deliver equipment from the Malta base.

Ground was broken in September, and construction on the administrative area at NAF I was started in 1958. It was built on top of an airfield where damaged German fighters and bombers had once landed during the Second World War. The first Americans arrived for work at Sigonella in March 1959—six months before any buildings were ready—and so worked for six months in Catania
Catania
Catania is an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily facing the Ionian Sea, between Messina and Syracuse. It is the capital of the homonymous province, and with 298,957 inhabitants it is the second-largest city in Sicily and the tenth in Italy.Catania is known to have a seismic history and...

 at a large warehouse complex called Magazzino Generale (General Warehouse), which is opposite the cemetery on the right side of the street as one enters Catania from the base.

By the end of August 1959, the NAF II airfield was available for daylight flights under visual flight rules
Visual flight rules
Visual flight rules are a set of regulations which allow a pilot to operate an aircraft in weather conditions generally clear enough to allow the pilot to see where the aircraft is going. Specifically, the weather must be better than basic VFR weather minimums, as specified in the rules of the...

 (VFR); 24 flights were logged by Aug. 31.

One of Sigonella's first buildings was what is now the American Forces Network
American Forces Network
The American Forces Network is the brand name used by the United States Armed Forces American Forces Radio and Television Service for its entertainment and command internal information networks worldwide...

 (AFN) building. In 1958, that building was Sigonella's vector (pest) control center, where rat
Rat
Rats are various medium-sized, long-tailed rodents of the superfamily Muroidea. "True rats" are members of the genus Rattus, the most important of which to humans are the black rat, Rattus rattus, and the brown rat, Rattus norvegicus...

 poison was stored. The Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 Corps of Engineers
United States Army Corps of Engineers
The United States Army Corps of Engineers is a federal agency and a major Army command made up of some 38,000 civilian and military personnel, making it the world's largest public engineering, design and construction management agency...

 next used the building for their offices, later sharing it with Special Services, or what is now called Morale, Welfare and Recreation
Morale, Welfare and Recreation
Morale, Welfare and Recreation, abbreviated MWR, is a network of support and leisure services designed for use by soldiers , their families, civilian employees, military retirees and other eligible participants....

 (MWR). Around 1966, AFN came to Sigonella and joined Special Services, which soon moved out, leaving the building to the broadcasters.

Sigonella's first flood occurred mid-September 1959. The Dittaino Bridge between NAF I and NAF II was under six feet of water on September 20 and all traffic had to go through Catania. Power outages accompanied the floods.

In the 1980s, Naval Air Facility Sigonella was redesignated as a Naval Air Station.

On the night of 10 October 1985, there were tense hours on NAS II when the Italian Carabinieri
Carabinieri
The Carabinieri is the national gendarmerie of Italy, policing both military and civilian populations, and is a branch of the armed forces.-Early history:...

, Italian Air Force
Italian Air Force
The Italian Air Force has gone under different names in different periods:*Regia Aeronautica , from 1923 to June 1946*Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana, the air force of Italian Social Republic during World War II...

, and the American Navy SEALS came close to firing upon one another following the interception by Navy F-14 Tomcat
F-14 Tomcat
The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is a supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft. The Tomcat was developed for the United States Navy's Naval Fighter Experimental program following the collapse of the F-111B project...

 fighters of an Egyptian Boeing 737
Boeing 737
The Boeing 737 is a short- to medium-range, twin-engine narrow-body jet airliner. Originally developed as a shorter, lower-cost twin-engine airliner derived from Boeing's 707 and 727, the 737 has developed into a family of nine passenger models with a capacity of 85 to 215 passengers...

 airliner carrying the hijackers of the Italian cruise ship, the Achille Lauro
MS Achille Lauro
MS Achille Lauro was a cruise ship based in Naples, Italy. Built between 1939 and 1947 as MS Willem Ruys, a passenger liner for the Rotterdamsche Lloyd. It is most remembered for its 1985 hijacking...

, which had been commandeered by members of the PLO on 7 October. The hijackers had killed a Jewish-American citizen Leon Klinghoffer
Leon Klinghoffer
Leon Klinghoffer was a disabled American appliance manufacturer who was murdered and thrown overboard by Palestinian terrorists in the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985.-Hijacking and murder:...

. The F-14s instructed the Egyptian plane to land at Sigonella where the Americans had planned to take the hijackers into custody. The Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi
Bettino Craxi
Benedetto Craxi was an Italian politician, head of the Italian Socialist Party from 1976 to 1993, the first socialist President of the Council of Ministers of Italy from 1983 to 1987.-Political career:...

 instead claimed the hijackers were under Italian jurisdiction. The Italian authorities therefore refused to allow the SEALS to board the plane, threatening to open fire on the Americans had they made an attempt to do so. This move was supposedly dictated both by security concerns about terrorists
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 targeting Italy if the United States had had it their way, and by the Italian tradition of diplomacy
Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

 with the Arab world
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

. The ensuing stand-off lasted throughout the night, until President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 gave the orders for the Americans to stand down.

On April 1, 2004, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) opened Defense Depot Sigonella Italy on NAS II to serve as a supply base for the Mediterranean. DLA also provides fuel and property disposal from NAS II.

Sigonella suffered its second major flood mid December 2005. Over 400 service members and family evacuated. In 2006, a newly installed protective berm
Berm
A berm is a level space, shelf, or raised barrier separating two areas. Berm originates in the Middle Dutch and German berme and came into usage in English via French.- History :...

 prevented a nearly second consecutive year of flooding.

Facilities

The airport resides at an elevation
Elevation
The elevation of a geographic location is its height above a fixed reference point, most commonly a reference geoid, a mathematical model of the Earth's sea level as an equipotential gravitational surface ....

 of 79 feet (24 m) above mean sea level. It has two asphalt
Asphalt
Asphalt or , also known as bitumen, is a sticky, black and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid that is present in most crude petroleums and in some natural deposits, it is a substance classed as a pitch...

 paved runway
Runway
According to ICAO a runway is a "defined rectangular area on a land aerodrome prepared for the landing and take-off of aircraft." Runways may be a man-made surface or a natural surface .- Orientation and dimensions :Runways are named by a number between 01 and 36, which is generally one tenth...

s: 10R/28L which measures 2462 by 45 m (8,077.4 by 147.6 ) and 10L/28R measuring 2442 by 30 m (8,011.8 by 98.4 ).

See also

  • Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS)
    Alliance Ground Surveillance
    Alliance Ground Surveillance is a NATO programme to acquire an airborne ground surveillance capability.The Main Operating Base will be located at Sigonella Air Base, Italy.-External links:*...

  • Mobile User Objective System (MUOS)
    Mobile User Objective System
    The Mobile User Objective System is an array of geosynchronous satellites being developed for the United States Department of Defense to provide global satellite communications narrowband connectivity for communications use by the United States and allies.-Overview:The Mobile User Objective...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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