Support Activity Panama City hosted the 2013-14 Class of Leadership Bay,
February 5, 2014. Leadership
Bay is a community leadership development program presented by the Bay County
Chamber of Commerce. Its mission is to cultivate a broadened network of
well-informed leaders whose strengthened commitment to community involvement
will affect positive change in Bay County.
The day began with the home of military diving at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center. Commanding Officer, Commander Hung Cao briefed the participants on the Nation’s Dive School. “We train professional military divers to face any challenge, anytime, anywhere.” Cao said the Dive School has a through put of about 1200
students a year and they teach everything from Navy deep sea divers, Seabee underwater construction divers to Explosive Ordnance Disposal divers, Coast Guard divers, Army engineer divers and Marine Corps and Air Force combat divers. “Students come from all branches of the military and even include international navy students as well.”
Next, the group boarded one of the Coast Guard’s first response vessels, the Response Boat Medium (RB-M) at the U.S. Coast Guard Station Panama City. Master Chief Petty Officer Jeffery Ryan, Officer in Charge, USCGC SEAHAWK explained that the Coast Guard cutters in Panama City have responsibilities that extend from Mobile, Alabama to Tampa, Florida. “One of our main responsibilities is to render aid to persons in distress but we also have units that maintain all of the aids to navigation for our local boaters,” said Ryan.
The Navy Experimental Diving Unit Navy (NEDU) develops solutions to support and improve manned operations in undersea and other extreme environments. “We basically support efforts to enhance warfighter capabilities in the field of military diving.” said Senior Chief Mike Hamman, who is a Hospital Corpsman Navy Diver stationed at NEDU. NEDU conducts biomedical research and independent testing and evaluation of equipment and procedures for the Navy. Class participants were briefed by Hamman on the Ocean Simulation Facility (OSF). The OSF simulates ocean conditions to a maximum pressure equivalent of 2,250 feet. The chamber complex consists of a 55,000-gallon wet chamber and five interconnected dry living/working chambers, which can be controlled for temperature. Equipped with the latest data acquisition capability, the OSF can accommodate a wide range of complex experiments including diver biomedical studies and testing of humans as well as small submersible vehicles and other machines.
Lastly, the students were introduced to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division, the Nation’s technical center of excellence for littoral warfare and coastal defense. Public Affairs Officer Jeff Prater educated the group on mine warfare and the Navy’s use of unmanned systems to find naval sea mines. “We use unmanned systems so we can keep our sailors out of the minefield.” Then the group boarded one of the Navy’s Landing Craft Air-Cushion vehicles, the LCAC. “Two of the Navy’s six core mission areas are power projection and humanitarian assistance and disaster response. The LCAC is our primary method for landing Marines ashore and it is also our heavy lift capability to assist in disaster relief.” Prater said. Prater commended the group on their participation in Leadership Bay. “Our community is rich with military history and it is important that emerging leaders recognize the value of our local bases. The Navy is not a global force for good by accident, it takes supportive communities like we have here in Bay County to enable and protect our men and women in uniform.”
Ann Leonard, the Career and Technical Education Director for Bay District Schools summed up the visit, “I was amazed at the magnitude of training programs, operational support and research that exists on the base. I'm not sure the average citizen of Bay County is even aware of the incredible work that goes on right here in our community. I know I speak for our entire Leadership Bay class in thanking Naval Support Activity Panama City for this tremendous learning opportunity. It was a pretty awesome day!”