Augusta Bay Port Facility
The Augusta Bay Port Facility provides fuel, ammunition and supplies to SIXTH Fleet combat and logistics support ships. LHA's are largest US Navy vessels routinely entering the inner harbor. Shallow water depths in the northern part of the harbor restrict its use.
It is located approximately 270 nm south-southeast of Naples on the east coast of the Italian island of Sicily. The Bay of Augusta is exposed to open ocean winds and waves from the eastern semicircle. Strong offshore westerly winds affect the bay during winter and spring. Facilities are situated in three of the basins that comprise Augusta Bay, Porto Megarese, Porto Xifonio and Seno del Priolo. The Porto Megarese is a natural harbor with 4.4 nm (8 km) North-South and 2.2 nm (4 km) East-West. Largest of three basins. Sicily forms the western and northern boundaries. East and South boundaries are protected by the Isoletto di Augustas and by three long breakwaters: diga centrale (central levee), diga settentrionele (northern levee) and diga meridionale (southern levee). The primary entrance passes between the northern and central breakwaters. width: 1200 ft (366 m); min depth 42 ft (13 m). It is a spacious and deep harbor which can accomodate ships as large as 250,000 dwt. Anchorage is available inside the breakwaters in the central zone with water depths not less than 73.5 ft (22.4 m). Porto Xifonio and Seno del Priolo offer protected anchorages to smaller vessels only. The terrain is largely mountainous adjacent to Augusta Bay. Elevations within 10 mi of Augusta Bay range from sea level to over 984 ft (300 m). One peak reaches 1870 ft (570 m). Mt Etna (10,902 ft/3,323 m) is 35 nm North-Northwest of the port.
Heavy seas, which may reach 23-26 ft (7-8 m) in height in the outer harbor, break rather heavily over the breakwaters but only slight seas result in the inner harbor. From November through February strong winds from the eastern quadrant (Northeast through Southeast) can cause significant problems. Inner harbor protected from full impact of wind generated sea but wind force can adversely impact small boat operations in the inner harbor. Wind can cause ships to drag anchor. Primary cause for East quadrant winds in winter is the Gregale - a wind resulting from high pressure over Central Europe or the Balkans and low pressure over the Ionian Sea or Tunisia/Libya. Early spring is similar to winter. June through September has the least hazardous weather of the year.
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