NSA Panama City editorial by Ralph Williams
NSA Panama City is located on the Western Florida Panhandle on Florida’s Emerald Coast. It is approximately 70 miles east of the Air Force bases of Eglin AFB and Hurlburt Field and 140 miles East of the Navy bases of NAS Pensacola and NAS Corry Station. A large base of 657 acres, among its many missions, it trains divers from all branches of the military and lies on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The base and its prime waterfront location make this a great place to be stationed at and a desired travel destination.
NSA Panama City was first established during World War Two in 1945 as a mine countermeasure research facility when personnel were transferred from the U.S. Naval Mine Warfare Test Station in Solomons, Maryland, to the Panama City location. The unique conditions of the Gulf of Mexico make the base an ideal location for fleet (deep water) and littoral (shallow water) warfare mission training. The command’s website states that “Throughout its existence, NSA Panama City has 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.” Its tenant commands include the Naval Surface Warfare Center whose mission is to conduct research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) and in-service support of the following core mission areas: Mine Warfare Systems, Naval Special Warfare Systems, Diving and Life Support Systems, Amphibious/Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare Systems, and other missions that occur in the littoral or coastal regions.
The Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center is the largest diving facility in the world. Its mission is “to train professional military divers to face any challenge anytime, anywhere. We provide them with the skills and the confidence to successfully complete the missions in support of our Nation’s Strategic Guidance.”
The Navy Experimental Diving Unit is the primary source of diving and hyperbaric operational guidance for the US Navy. Its vision is "The Navy Experimental Diving Unit will be the most credible and respected research, development, and test and evaluation center for diving as well as the focal point of leadership for biomedical and bioengineering solutions for undersea military operations." Along with other commands located on the base, NSA Panama City is a center for some of the most advanced research and training the Navy performs.
Facilities and Quality of Life
NSA Panama City, located on beautiful St. Andrew Bay, is less then 5 minutes away from the amazing Emerald Coast beaches and the Gulf of Mexico. There are new recreational facilities throughout the base. The most popular amenities include a large marina with many rental watercraft, hiking trails, full sized pool, picnic areas, and fitness centers with basketball courts and outdoor sports fields. Dining on base includes the award winning base galley, the all-hands club Main Deck Pub and Grill which overlooks the bay and has fantastic views with live music at nights, and the C Street Café for something quick for breakfast and lunch. The Panama City Beach area with its 27-miles of beaches, two state parks, miles of hiking and biking trails, and 100 public beach access points offers a lot to see and do. As you explore, you’ll find that each area has its own unique flavor and character.
Places to stay on base include the large and updated Navy Gateway Inns and Suites, photos of the rooms look very nice. RV camping is available on base and off base with over 40 full hook up spots available including 13 foot campers available for rent. Also available are log cabins set in the woods that sleep up to six people. The website for the log cabins says to bring your own towels.
Panama City, Florida Area
NSA Panama City and the area of Panama City are in the Emerald Coast of Florida. This area is noted for its tranquil white beaches and is a vacation destination for travelers from around the world. Like other cities along the Emerald Coast, the area is close to many cities yet maintains a distinctive relaxing beach feel. Whether stationed at the base or just visiting, it is sure to be a pleasurable experience for all.