Naval Air Station Sigonella
NAS Sigonella is located in eastern Sicily approximately 16 km west of the city of Catania and approximately 24 km due south of Mount Etna, an active volcano. It occupies a tract of land at NATO Maritime Airfield Sigonella which is operated and hosted by the Italian Air Force. The U.S. has maintained a permanent presence at the activity since 1959. NAS Sigonella provides consolidated operational command and control, administrative, logistical and advance logistical support to U.S. and other NATO forces. In the discharge of its mission, NAS Sigonella is assisted by a number of tenant organizations and support units.
The mission of US Forces at Sigonella, Rota, and Souda Bay is to provide Command Control and Logistics Support to US And NATO Operating Forces. These three facilities are undergoing a transformation from Maritime Patrol Airfields to Multi-role "Hubs" providing crucial air-links for USAF strategic airlift in support of CENTCOM and Africa Area contingency operations.
The primary purpose of US Naval Air Station Sigonella is to provide consolidated operational, command and control, administrative, logistical and advanced logistical support to US and other Nato forces. NAS Sigonella is the major support element for US SIXTH Fleet Mediterranean. It is the strategic center of the Mediterranean. Recent political events in the strategic center of the Mediterranean and Near East have greatly increased operational requirements and there has been emergent mission tasking.
NAS Sigonella supported a rotational VP squadron, an HC squadron, C-2, C-9, and C-130 detachments, shore-based fleet aircraft, transient NATO aircraft and US Air Force transient aircraft. The Augusta Bay Port Facility provides fuel, ammunition and supplies to SIXTH Fleet combat and logistics support ships. The Niscemi Telecommunications Facility and Pachino Target Range also provide support to the Fleet. Additionally, this station is the routing point for trainsient fleet personnel snd fleet cargo movements thought Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia. There are currently about 2,930 active duty personnel, 1,250 Italian and American civilian personnel, and family members numbered about 3,200.
The Italian Defense General Staff (IDGS) notified the US Embassy in writing on 01 April 2008 that Italy approved the deployment of the Global Hawk UAV to Sigonella Naval Air Station in Sicily. Global Hawk will replace the U2 in 2010 as the primary overhead reconnaisance asset in the Mediterranean, the Middle East and North Africa. Securing basing for Global Hawk at Sigonella had been a top priority for Embassy Rome for the last year and a half, including via the Ambassador's personal engagement of the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Minister of Defense, Chief of Defense and National Security Advisor.
Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti confirmed in February 2016 that the United States had been given permission to use the Sigonella base to carry out drone strikes on Daesh targets in Libya. The agreement will be strictly enforced, with Italians authorizing drone flights from Sicily’s Sigonella air base on a case by case basis. Under the agreement, armed drone flights cannot be used for offensive purposes, only to protect personnel on the ground. Over the previous 18 months, Washington has reached out to Italy with repeated requests to conduct armed drone operations from Sigonella, citing the risk of Daesh extremists spilling into Europe in the ongoing Middle East refugee crisis. An US-Italian agreement was signed back in January 2013 stipulated the use of at least six combat Predator drones, not only in Libya, but also in Niger, Mali, and the Horn of Africa region.
Commander, Fleet and Industrial Supply Centers (COMFISC) announced in January 2005 the establishment of Fleet and Industrial Supply Center (FISC) Sigonella, Italy, as the logistics hub for Navy Region Europe. OPNAV Notice 5450 established FISC Sigonella, the Navy's seventh supply center, and disestablished the Navy Regional Contracting Center (NRCC) in Naples, Italy. The logistics and procurement functions, which were provided by NRCC personnel in Naples, Bahrain, London and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, were, as a result, completely integrated into FISC Sigonella as FISC Sigonella Detachment Naples. Existing supply departments at bases located throughout Europe, the Mediterranean and the North Atlantic were to continue to operate, but as detachments under FISC Sigonella. This key leveraging move was expected to allow the Navy to optimize the performance of base operating supply-funded functions, while generating significant budgetary savings for the Navy's recapitalization efforts. As of late January 2005, the consolidation of functions under FISC Sigonella such as supply chain management, contracting, hazardous materials management, mail services and other related logistics operations at bases in Navy Region Europe had already generated a 27 percent reduction in military billets and a 30 percent reduction in civilian positions. This initiative was expected to save the taxpayer more than $8.4 million annually in labor costs alone. NAVSUP's vision was to eventually have FISC Sigonella service Navy Region Southwest Asia once operations in Europe have been refined. As a result of the change, FISC Sigonella became the second supply center in an overseas location, along with FISC Yokosuka, Japan. The other five FISCs are located in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Bremerton (Puget Sound), Wash.; Norfolk, Va.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and San Diego.
NAS Sigonella, located in sunny Sicily, originally hosted only 700 Americans and a small expeditionary airfield, Sigonella's population has grown to 7,000 and now hosts U.S. and NATO aircraft of all kinds. Since it's opening, Sigonella has grown to be the premier logistics base in the Mediterranean as it continues to be a vital component in supporting U.S. and NATO operations within the European theater.
Plans to build a naval air facility were drawn up in the early 1950s as a result of an agreement between the U.S. and NATO. Sicily became a more feasible alternative than the already overcrowded facility at Hal Far, Malta, where the Navy had planned base squadrons of P2V Neptunes. Because there was no more room for expansion at Malta, the Navy got NATO backing to use Sicily. Land for Sigonella was therefore made available to the Navy on a temporary basis under the terms of an agreement with the Italian government June 25, 1957. Six days later, equipment began arriving at Sigonella from the Malta base via landing ship tank (LSTs). The fleet Aircraft Service Squadron FASRON (Special) 201 at Halfar was disestablished July 1. The initial building of Sigonella began in September 1957, with the administrative area at NAF I beginning in 1958. The building, which is now occupied by the Housing Office, was Sigonella's first Admin. building.
The first Americans arrived at Sigonella in March 1959, but they stayed in Catania except for daily trips to the administrative area because there were no buildings ready for occupancy. During the six months required to make NAF I habitable, the Navy occupied the large warehouse complex called Magazine Generale, which is opposite the cemetery on the right side of the street as one enters Catania from the base. On June 15, 1959, U.S. Naval Air Facility (NAVFAC) Sigonella was commissioned on top of a field where damaged German fighters and bombers once landed during WWII. By the end of August 1959, the NAF II airfield was available for daylight VFR flights, with 24 flights logged by Aug. 31.
Because of the growing commitment to supporting Sixth Fleet operations in the Mediterranean and Middle East, NAVFAC Sigonella had nearly tripled in size by 1977. The rapid growth and the station's strategic importance to the U.S. prompted officials to redesignate the facility as a naval air station in 1981.
NAS Sigonella is actually divided into two bases, NAS I and NAS II. NAS Sigonella consists primarily of operations at NAS I and NAS II with several additional areas of support.
Most operational work is conducted at NAS II. The runway, air terminal, operations and most tenant commands are located here. Once a scarcely populated area, a construction boom made NAS II the center of base operations by the late 1970's. NAS II is the Air Field and Operations site and is a joint U.S. and Italian facility with separate supporting areas. The NAS II site includes separate areas for NATO Mine, NATO Magazine, and NATO Ordnance Areas. The NATO Ordnance Area/Mine Depot is located north of and adjacent to NAS II and has ordnance storage facilities. Finally, the NATO Magazine Area, located west of NAS II, has ammunition storage facilities.
About a 10-minute drive north of NAS II is NAS I. This was the original US Naval Base, but as more and more departments migrated to NAS II, NAS I became known as the personnel support facility. NAS I is the Support site and is located approximately 10 miles west of the city of Catania. The NAS I site includes Navy Family Housing and is supported by seven leased family housing sites located off base. NAS I is home to the major shopping facilities - the DeCA Commissary store, the Navy Exchange Retail Store (NEX) and Mini Mall, as well as the Stephen Decatur School, the Navy Family Service Center and the new US Naval Hospital. Government Housing units are also located on NAS I, giving it the appearance of a small town. NAS I once included Rocky Hollow Golf Course. Thousands of rocks were cleared off the golf course during off-duty hours in 1961. With the steady increase in Sigonella's quality of life, the number of active duty and family members increased, (more than 7,500 people in FY96). A bigger and better hospital equipped to handle the health care needs of its population became a priority. The three-level, 98,000 square foot U.S. Naval Hospital took over the links in 1993.
The mission of U.S. Naval Computer and Telecommunication Station Sicily [NCTS Sicily] is to provide command, control, communication, computer, base level information infrastructure services and customer assistance to Naval Air Station, Sigonella, its tenant activities, multi-national forces and other Department of Defense customers. There is a communications transmitter facility located on privately owned leased land northwest of NAS II. Another remote communications transmitter site is located near Niscemi, roughly 65 miles southwest of NAS II.
CDR Mary Anderson as she turned over command of NCTS Sicily to CDR Natalie Young-Aranita on 25 May 1999. Young-Aranita became the seventh NCTS commanding officer. During Anderson's tenure, NCTS received the Golden Anchor Award (1997), the Silver Anchor Award (1998), Defense Information Infrastructure Facility of the Year (1998), the Armed Forces Service Medal and the NATO Medal. Other notable accomplishments include the repair and installation of 10 transmitters. An Integrated Digital Network Exchange was also installed, providing a much more reliable and faster digital connection between NCTS Sicily and Naval Receiver Transmitter Facility (NRTF) Niscemi. All copper wire circuitry between NCTS Sicily Tech Control Facility, Base Communications Office and Tactical Support Communications was replaced with fiber optic cabling. They have also improved service to NAS Sigonella and the fleet through modernization projects such as extremely high frequency, satellite communication system and establishment of a cellular virtual private network for more efficient cellular phone service and reduced customer cost. Current projects include preparing for the implementation of the Global Broadcast System and Defense Messaging System.
Pachino Target Range at Pachino is a U.S. operated aerial bomb scoring target range located on the southeast coastline and is used by U.S. and NATO forces.
The Augusta Bay Port Facility provides fuel, ammunition and supplies to SIXTH Fleet combat and logistics support ships.
Active duty assigned to Niscemi commute in command vehicles to the worksite daily or as assigned. Military members assigned to Pachino reside at the worksite and commute to the base to conduct personal business.
Throughout Operation Allied Force, Sigonella proved itself to be the primary logistical support element for U.S. SIXTH Fleet operations. This support was provided through numerous outlets. Sigonella's air terminal, European Command's second busiest, routed over 16 million pounds of cargo and 19,000 passengers while flightline operations increased over 260 percent since March 1999. The Fleet support in Augusta Bay increased 110 percent from March to June as Sailors worked closely with host nation officials and maximized logistic support for NATO operations by utilizing ports throughout Sicily. Additionally, U.S. SIXTH Fleet communications are provided by NASSIG's Niscemi Telecommunications Facility and Carrier Air Wing pilots hone their skills at NASSIG's Pachino target range. With a $300 million recapitalization of the base underway that will greatly increase the quality of life for its Sailors, Sigonella will continue its mission of Fleet support well into the new century.
NAS Sigonella is located on the eastern coast of Sicily near the city of Catania, second largest city in Sicily. The island of Sicily measures 160 miles in length and varies in width from 30 miles at its western end to about 110 in the east. Separated from the mainland by the narrow (less than two nautical miles wide) Straits of Messina, it is the largest island in the Mediterrenean.
Sicily has a long, rich history--due mainly to the constant occupation by foreign powers. Situated in the center of the Mediterranean--midway between Europe and North Africa, the Straits of Gibralter and the Middle East--Sicily has attraced many conquerers. The Greeks arrived first, calling the island "Trinacria." The Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Germans, Spaniards, French and Austrians followed, all helping to shape Sicily's past.
Present day Sicily reflects this rich heritage. Catacombs, Roman ampitheatres, Greek temples and theatres and Arab baths are mixed among modern cities. Sicilians speak Italian and the Sicilian dialect, a mix of Greek, Latin, Arabic, Spanish, and Italian. Sicilians are very warm, friendly and hospitable, particularly to those interested in learning their way of life and language. They are also very religious and celebrate with many elaborate religious festivals and holidays. Each town has a patron Saint, and Sicilians honor the Saint's birthday with feasts, parades and fireworks.
Pottery is a popular item to buy due to its unique design and durability. The island is also noted for its fine embroidery, and in some communities, carpet is still woven by hand using colorful cloth. On the northeastern coast, the specialty is jewelry, made from native coral which grows off shore. Open air markets abound in Sicily. The markets offer everything from Italian shoes to household goods. You can also find fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and meats. In most towns, the roadways are also lined with fresh fruit and vegetable stands.
Being an island, Sicily is surrounded by beaches ranging from soft white sand to huge lava rocks. Some are large and crowded, or you can find your own private cove. The most developed beaches are on the northern and eastern sides of the island between Palermo and Catania. The more private beaches are on the southwestern coast. The usual swimming season is from mid spring to late fall.
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