Sigonella Base - Sigonella sicily italy - base of sigonella - sigonella naval air station - sigonella base sicily

Sigonella Naval Air Station - Welcome to Sigonella - An American in Sicily - Sicily, Island of the Sun

Sunny Sigonella, Things to do - Sigonella on the Internet! - Passports & Visas - Rules of the Road

The Home Teams - NAS I vs. NAS II - Sicilian Sights: So much so near

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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.

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.

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Welcome to Sigonella
Welcome to U.S. Naval Air Station Sigonella, the logistical "Hub of the Med!" Due to its crucial and strategic location in the center of the Mediterranean, NASSIG plays a vital role in supporting joint and combined operations in the European theater, and provides the shortest logistics route from CONUS to Southwest Asia and the Indian Ocean. The importance of the base is reflected in our mission: to provide logistics and fleet support to U.S. military and NATO forces throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East, while ensuring the highest quality of life for our Sailors and their families stationed here.
NAS Sigonella is an Italian Air Force base commanded by an Italian colonel. NASSIG is a tenant command, which means we share the base with our Italian hosts. Although a tenant of the Italian Air Force, NASSIG acts as landlord to more than 30 other U.S. Major tenant commands include the U.S. Naval Hospital Sigonella, CTF-67, EOD Mobile Unit-8, Fleet Industrial Supply Center (FISC) Sigonella, AIMD Sigonella, and the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Sigonella. The air station's Operations Department operates the C-26 transport aircraft that, in concert with deployed Naval Reserve C-9, C-40 and C-130 aircraft, provide logistics support throughout the European theater and Middle East.With a major base recapitalization underway, NASSIG is undergoing a facelift that has not only provided modern, comfortable housing and impressive MWR facilities, but will ensure Sigonella's viability well into the next century.
While the main business of any naval air station is flying, carrying out our common mission takes the teamwork of all hands; both tenant commands and air station departments. Together, we can provide first-rate fleet support, while taking care of our Sailors and their families, all in close cooperation and friendship with our Italian hosts.

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An American in Sicily
During your tour of duty in Sicily, you will be much more than an American tourist. As a temporary resident and guest of Italy, you are expected to conduct yourself at all times as an "ambassador" of both America and the U.S. military. Your job as a diplomat will be made easier if you attempt to learn and understand the language and customs of our host nationals.

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Sicily, "Isola del Sole" (Island of the Sun)
Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea separated from the southwestern tip of mainland Italy by the narrow (under two nautical miles wide) Straits of Messina, has a typically sunny climate. The island is roughly triangular in shape and with adjacent small islands forms a region of Italy inhabited by six million people.Located between the continents of Europe and Africa, the island of Sicily has been a historically significant crossroads for thousands of years. The Greeks arrived first, calling the island "Trinacria," referring to the island's triangular shape.Sicily boasts a long, rich history, and diverse cultural heritage, due to the frequent occupation by foreign powers. Because of its important strategic position, midway between the Straits of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal, Sicily has been the site of meetings between many civilizations, in battle as well as peace, and each left traces of its culture and history. 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. Here, you can find catacombs, Roman amphitheaters, Greek temples, Norman castles, and Arab baths mixed among modern cities. Some claim that there are more Greek ruins here than there are in Greece, and more Norman castles than in Normandy. If you travel to the interior of the island, you can still experience rich culture and old-world charm of villages.Sicilians are a very warm and hospitable people, particularly to those interested in learning their way of life and language, so do not hesitate to communicate with them.
They are also very religious and celebrate many elaborate religious festivals and holidays. Each town has a patron saint, and Sicilians honor the saint's birthday with feasts, parades, and fireworks.

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Sunny Sigonella - Things to do
"Welcome to Sunny Sigonella," is a phrase newcomers often hear. You are about to discover a fascinating island of exotic extremes and unforgettable landscapes -- from bustling modern cities to quaint, picturesque villages tucked into the mountainside; from sandy, white beaches to a coastline of jagged, black lava rock; from large harbors graced with luxury yachts to small harbors filled with wooden fishing boats; from the cheerfully noisy bustle of an outdoor market to the quiet grace of upscale stores like "Benetton." Sicily has much to offer. A challenging hike up Mt. Etna to see Europe's most active volcano is as thrilling as skiing down its snowy slopes in the winter. Sunbathe on the island's beaches, or explore its beautiful underwater world. Sicilians are very active in the theater and arts. Summer plays and operas are often performed in the ruins of the island's magnificent, ancient amphitheaters. The island is also noted for its fine embroidery, and in some communities, rich, colorful, carpets are still woven by handOpen-air markets abound in Sicily and the local custom is to haggle with merchants over prices. In most towns, the roadways are lined with fresh fruit and vegetable stands.
Beaches ranging from soft white sand to lava rock border Sicily. Some are large and crowded, and some grace private coves. The most developed beaches are on the northern and eastern sides of the island between Palermo and Catania. Sicily is a fascinating and unique island, of color and contrast, myth and legend. Families can take a day trip every weekend for a year and not see everything there is to see on the island.
But the experiences and memories will last a lifetime.

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Sigonella on the Internet!
Information about Sigonella and its many tenant commands is now just a click away on the internet! Point your browser to http://www.sicily.navy.mil to learn more about your new command.

For more information about health services see the Facilities and Services chapter.

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Passports
Military family members should have two passports -- one government official or "no-fee" passport for entry into Italy is required and a tourist passport if they wish to travel. Check with your local PSD for passport forms and information. Servicemembers may travel to NATO countries using their military identification cards while under orders or NATO leave papersHowever, tourist passports are recommended for personal travel and are required for many non-NATO countries. Non-military personnel and their family members should carry their passports with them while traveling in Italy.

Visas
Italian law requires all civilians who enter Italy, except European Union citizens, to obtain visas prior to their entry into Italy. This law does not require active duty service members to have visas. Civilians who are visiting Italy for less than 90 days as tourists do not need visas.

What type of Visa do I need? Members of the U.S. civilian component and U.S. contract workers who are pending orders to Italy must obtain visas for work purposes ("visto per motivo di lavoro") prior to traveling to Italy.Family members of the U.S. military or civilian component and dependents of U.S. contract workers must obtain visas for family purposes ("visto per motivi di famiglia") prior to traveling to Italy.

Obtaining your Visa: Visas can be obtained through the assistance of the PSD of the detaching command or at one of the Italian Consulate Offices in the United States (call before you go). For a listing of the Italian Consulate Offices, go to http://www.state.gov/www/travel/consular_offices/i_sec.html. Visas cannot be obtained once personnel arrive in Italy.

Italian Consulate
690 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10020
(212) 737-9100

Italian Consulate
2590 Webster Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 931-4924

Italian Embassy
1601 Fuller Street
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 328-5500.

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Rules of the Road
While driving on Italian roads, you are required to carry with you at all times: a valid driver's license with Italian translation, Military Registration/Certificate of Title (proof that your car is in Italy legally), Cover Plate authorization, and Valid Italian Insurance documents/window sticker (proof of insurance). Driving under the influence of alcohol is an extremely serious offense in Italy. A blood alcohol level of 0.05 is positive proof of drunk driving. Refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test results in immediate loss of the license for 6 months (one year on base), and a possible fine of up to 1,000.00 euro. If you have had too much to drink, leave your vehicle; take a taxi or call a friend.

The following basic rules for driving in Italy will save you stress as well as injury:

1. Do not pick up hitchhikers.
2. Many intersections lack stop lights or traffic control. The vehicle on the right has the right-of-way, unless there is a stop sign.
3. Some drivers may take seemingly unnecessary and dangerous risks to gain a few feet of road; do not take the same risks and let them pass.
4. Low beams are used on main highways or darker roads. Headlights have always to be turned on when driving outside city/town borders. Overtaking cars, especially at night, should briefly flash their headlights to alert the car being passed. Flashing headlights are also used to signal stopped traffic at crossroads, or to signal slower vehicles to move right and permit a faster vehicle to pass.
5. When a car behind you flashes its lights, move to the right lane as soon as it is safe to do so. Respect speed limits and overtake only when road conditions and/or traffic signs allow you to.
6. While horn blowing is technically illegal in many Italian cities, it is loosely enforced. Most people blow their horns to signal approach to a blind intersection, or intent to pass.

As with other cultural differences, driving habits in Sicily may at first seem strange and even threatening. If you maintain a commitment to alertness and flexibility, you will reduce the anxiety of this adjustment.

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The Home Teams
In Italy, there are several law enforcement agencies. The most common are:
Polizia di Stato (State Police): It operates on the national territory and deals with the full spectrum of order and law enforcement, such as crime investigations, crime prevention, counter terrorism, undercover and assault operations. Polizia has different branches, such as "Stradale" (Highway Patrol) and "Ferroviaria" (Railway Police). The State Police and Highway Patrol also respond to traffic accidents. Usually, Polizia personnel wear blue uniforms.
Carabinieri: Even if they have a military ranking - so their authority is acknowledged both by civilians and military members - the role of Carabinieri is that of a regular police force dealing with all aspects of criminal investigations, crime prevention and repression. Road patrol and traffic accident investigations also fall under their responsibilities. Their uniform has black trousers with red stripes on both sides, and they are recognizable by the white or black belt (sash) across the chest over the uniform.
Guardia di Finanza (Finance Guard): The Guardia di Finanza deals mainly with economic crimes; it is a specialized customs police force, coping with tax evasion, counterfeit currency, contraband, counter narcotics, arms smuggling and fraud. Its officers wear green uniforms.
Polizia Municipale (City Police): Enforce traffic laws within city limits, set up checkpoints, and also issue vending licenses.

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NAS I vs. NAS II
NAS Sigonella is actually comprised of two sites, NAS I and NAS II. NAS I is the support site where the Navy Exchange, Commissary, Mid-Town Recreational Complex, Navy Lodge and Navy Hospital are located. NAS II is the operational base. As you travel between NAS I and NAS II, you may encounter herds of goats and sheep, as well as cattle, being herded along the roadway. This is a common event in the area. The shepherds, assisted by a dog or two, can expertly maneuver their flocks around your vehicle. You can do your part by slowing down and allowing them to pass. Newcomers will also note the plentiful olive trees, vineyards, and orange groves on the road between NAS I and NAS II. Many types of citrus grow throughout the province, including the popular blood oranges, so named because of their deep red interior color.

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Sicilian Sights: So much so near
There is an abundance of breathtaking sights and warm-hearted, generous citizens throughout Sicily. During your tour at Sigonella, you really should take advantage of every opportunity to travel. A wealth of history awaits you. Many notable destinations are less than an hour away by car, making an excursion after working hours both feasible and enjoyable. You can also explore the island by bus, train or organized tours offered by MWR or local tourist agents. It has been said that 70 percent of the world's art is in Italy-this just gives you some indication of the scope of the task to describe everything. Add to that the incredible wealth of Greek and Roman history, plus the history of the rest of Europe, and it becomes overwhelming. Those who travel and explore, enjoy Sicily the most. Listed here are several of the most popular destinations in Sicily:
Agrigento: This ancient city houses the ruins of more than 20 Greek temples, some in remarkably good condition. The international festival of the almond blossom tree is held every February. The Valley of Temples is a must-see during your tour.
Catania: From a beautiful baroque cathedral to the infamous fish market, Catania has something for just about everyone.
Cefalu': Cefalu', which dates back to the 9th century B.C., has long been considered the pearl of the northern coast due to its beautiful, inviting beaches and picturesque old town. In the summer, Cefalu welcomes many visiting yachts. But it is best known for its cathedral, which is one of the best-preserved examples of Norman church architecture in Italy.
Messina: The province contains many ruins and monuments of exceptional historic, artistic, and archeological interest. Be sure to witness the "performance" by the astronomical clock at noon when all the statues move, the lion roars three times and the cock crows and flaps his wings. Then, a dove flies as the church of Montallo appears. Slowly and majestically, angels file past the Madonna, one handing her a letter while another takes it back, and the Virgin blesses them.
Mount Etna: Mount Etna is one of the world's major active volcanoes and the largest in Europe (reaching more than 11,000 feet). It is a magnificent sight, particularly in winter and spring when snow blankets the top and dense vegetation covers the bottom. On the northern slope, three ski lifts and a national skiing school operate during the ski season.
Palermo: Palermo, Sicily's largest city, is one of the richest in art and history; every period has left traces. It is a city of varied architectural influences: Phoenician in origin; Roman in the mosaics of Villa Bonanno; Arabic in some churches which were once mosques; French for the Hautville Dynasty, which left wonderful monuments; German for the Hohenstaufen tombs in the cathedral; Spanish in the names of some of its streets and piazzas, and for architecture recalling three centuries of rule by viceroys; and finally, Angelin and Bourbon recalling other periods of French domination.
Siracusa: According to Cicero, Siracusa was the finest and largest of all Greek cities and is now one of the most attractive towns in Sicily, with beautiful surrounding scenery and important ruins of the ancient past. Main attractions include the Greek theater, catacombs, stone quarries, and many ancient monuments.
Taormina: Taormina is a vision of beauty that stimulates the eyes, spirit and imagination. The Greek theater, built in the third century B.C., commands one of the world's most beautiful views. The town itself is built high above the famous coast of Taormina which thousands of tourists from all over Europe visit in the summertime. Naxos, a small town near Taormina, was the first Greek colony in Sicily, built in 737 B.C.

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