US Sixth Fleet Mediterranean, Nato forces
Naval Air Station (NAS) Sigonella is a United States Navy installation and an Italian Air Force base located in Sicily, about 15km west and 11km south of the city of Catania. NAS Sigonella is home to more than 40 US commands and activities.
NAS Sigonella is referred to as ‘The Hub of the Med’ due to its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea. The naval air station supports the missions of the US Sixth Fleet Mediterranean, as well as other US units and its coalition partners. The 41º Stormo Antisom (41st ASW Wing) of the Italian Air Force is also based at Sigonella.
NAS Sigonella hosts the US Navy’s second largest security command after the one based at naval support activity Bahrain.
The idea to establish a US naval base at Sigonella was conceptualised during the early 1950s, when it was realised that Hal Far, Malta, cannot be expanded to house US Navy P-2 Neptunes. The US Navy obtained Nato support to use Sicily.
The US signed a temporary agreement with Italy for land in June 1957. The base received the first US aircraft, R4QD type Marine 1665, in August 1957. Construction began on the administrative area at NAF I in 1958. The facility was built over an airfield which was used to land damaged German fighters and bombers during the World War II.
The naval air facility (NAF) Sigonella was officially opened in June 1959. The NAF II airfield was usable for daylight operations under visual flight rules (VFR) by the end of August 1959. The first flood occurred at Sigonella in September of that year.
The base became home for 320 enlisted men and 39 officers, with 234 members in deployed squadrons by November 1959. NAS Sigonella was divided into NAS I and NAS II.
Naval air facility Sigonella was re-designated as a naval air station in the 1980s. The Defence Depot Sigonella Italy on NAS II was opened in April 2004. Sigonella suffered its second major flood mid-December 2005. More than 400 service members and families were evacuated.
NAS Sigonella provides operational command and control, administrative and logistical support to the US and other Nato forces.
The naval air station is assisted by a number of tenant organisations such as the armed forces network, aircraft intermediate maintenance detachment, naval computer and telecommunications station, air terminal, commander task force 67 and NAVSUP fleet logistics centre Sigonella.
The Command Administrative department coordinates several offices to provide administrative management support and services to the naval air station.
The Force Protection Division implements the DoD and USN Force Protection policies to forbid hostile activities. Other major divisions include safety, security and emergency management.
NAS Sigonella provides operational support for a rotational VP squadron, an HC squadron, C-2, C-9 and C-130 squadrons and shore-based fleet aircraft.
The base is also used by Nato and US Air Force transient aircraft. It is one of the most frequently used transit bases of the US used by aircraft travelling from the US to southwest Asia and the Indian Ocean.
The naval air station is equipped with an air terminal and two runways surfaced with asphalt. The runways can accommodate C-130 Hercules, C-17 Globemaster and C-5 Galaxy military transport aircraft, KC-135 and KC-10 tankers, P-3 Orions, C-2 Greyhounds, C-130s and Skytrain logistics aircraft of the US Navy.
NAS Sigonella provides navy family housing, bachelor housing and navy gateway inns and suites (NGIS) for all military and DOD civilian personnel. NAS I is home to a commissary, the navy exchange retail store (NEX), navy family service centre and the US Naval Hospital. The morale welfare and recreation (MWR) centre conducts more than 35 fleet and family support programmes and outdoor recreation activities.
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