The U.S. Naval Security Group Activity (NSGA), Galeta Island, Republic of Panama dates to 1925 when the Department of the Navy and the Panama Canal Company (PCC) jointly developed a radio compass station to provide lines of bearing to commercial and naval ships approaching the Atlantic terminus of the Panama Canal.
The selected site was Toro Point on the approaches to the western breakwater of Limon Ba, then controlled by the PCC, now within the confines of Fort Sherman. A radio compass house, barracks, married quarters for the Chief-in-Charge and a concrete seawall were constructed and the station was commissioned on May 18, 1925.
In December of 1952, Toro Point Statin was changed to Naval Communication Unit Number 33 and was moved to Galeta Point, where an operations building was built and a GRD-6 direction finding antenna system was installed. In December 1958, the station was designed U.S. Naval Security Group Activity, Galeta Island and established as a separate activity under the control of the Commandant, Fifteenth Naval District.
In May 1962, the PCC began site clearing and fill for a new radio facility one mile west of the Galeta Point site. The prime contractor began work on the new operations building and Circular Disposed Antenna Array (CDAA) in October 1962, but work was not completed until 1965. Equipment installation within the new building was completed in October, and on 23 October 1965, the new operations site became fully operational. In March 1966, the activity was redesignated as a command under a Commanding Officer, CDR K. L. Robinson. The Coco Solo Annex of the U.S. Naval Station Panama Canal was transferred to NSGA Galeta Island on July 1, 1968. The Coco Solo Annex had been maintained in a caretaker status by Rodman since the closing of the closing of the Coco Solo Naval Air Station in 1958. Many of the Annex facilities were used by NSGA Galeta since 1952, under an inter-service support agreement.
On November 20, 1968, the station gained the capability under Project Bullseye for fully computerized and semiautomatic high frequency direction finding (HFDF) operation; hence, NSGA Galeta Island became a dual net HFDF station through its capability participate in both the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic and Pacific HFDF nets. Over the next several years, the activity was assigned an ever increasing cryptologic mission. By October 1973, the station personnel complement included 15 officers, 238 enlisted and 51 civilians.
It was the largest Navy command in the Canal Zone; however, because of fiscal constraints imposed during FY 1974 NSGA Galeta Island underwent a severe decrement, reducing station mission and manpower allowance drastically, to 35 military and civilian billets. The Coco Solo support base was transferred to U.S. Army control on July 1, 1974. Inter-service support agreements were negotiated with the U.S. Army, the PCC, the U.S. Naval Station Panama Canal and several other agencies to ensure continued support for the Navy contingent remaining at Galeta Island.
Under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977 under President Jimmy Carter, Galeta Island has been designated a DoD contractor site for the length of the treaty, allowing continuous support to the fleet and to the nation until December 31, 1999.
NSGA Galeta Island has since enjoyed a rebirth. The total military and civilian personnel presence at Galeta Island includes three tenants: the 747th Military Intelligence Battalion, Company d Marine Support Battalion and the Marine Corps Security Force Company Panama, Atlantic Platoon. Additionally, Galeta Island has been host to a field laboratory of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute since 1967. The command is now headquartered in Building 17 Fort Davis. The facilities at Coco Solo were turned over to the government of Panama in September of 1990. NSGA Galeta Island was officially decommissioned June 30, 1995.
The Last Commanding Officer of NSGA Galeta Island Republic of Panama:
Commander Peyronel, USN
NSGA Galeta Island Republic of Panama
Commander Peyronel attended California State University at Sacramento, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish in 1974.
Commissioned in December 1974, through Officer Candidate School, her first duty station was the Naval Security Group Activity Sabana Seca, Puerto Rico, where she served as the Non-Morse Signals Collection Division Officer. She transferred to the Naval Security Group Activity Northwest, Virginia in January 1977. While at Northwest, Commander Peyronel served as the Technical Processing and Reporting Unit Branch Officer, NCO LANT Division Officer and Communications Officer.
She was redesignated as Special Duty Officer (Cryptology) in March 1977. Her next duty station was the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, where she earned a Master of Science Degree in Telecommunications Systems Management. In March 1981, she was assigned to Headquarters, Naval Security Group Command in Washington, D.C., where she worked in the Telecommunications and ADP Department, initially assigned to Current Operations Division and later as a project officer for several fleet communications projects. In May 1984, she assumed command of Naval Security Group Activity Terceira, Azores. Commander Peyronel reported to CINCLANTFLT in February 1986 and served as Fleet Communications Officer. She was assigned as NSGD Guam Department Head in April 1989 and assumed duties as NAVCAMS WESTPAC Executive Officer in July 1990. Transferring to the Bureau of Naval Personnel in August 1991, she served as the CT/IS Enlisted Community Manager and Navy Foreign Language Program Manager. She then served as Commanding Officer of NSGA Galeta Island, Republic of Panama from July 1994 to its decommissioning date in July 1995.
Commander Peyronel’s awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation (two awards) and the National Defense Service Medal (two awards).
Source: U.S. Naval Security Group Activity Galeta Island Republic of Panama Decommissioning Ceremony Booklet, March 31, 1995
31 March 2018 at 19:41
Another one of our “good” duty stations gone. Was there prior to decommission 70-73..
4 May 2018 at 21:02
You should put the entire decommissioning booklet on here! I helped decommission Galeta Island in 1995. Loved that place!
26 June 2018 at 14:17
Hated this placelo
26 June 2018 at 14:24
Hated this place…spouse(husband had affair with Panamanian women whom he hired for new EDF)
11 July 2018 at 20:32
I was Part of the Marine security team. I had really good times there. I once had my girlfriend sneak in and meet by the beach where there use to be a pontoon about 20 meters off shore.we had to swim to it. The waster was warm and so clear. We made love under the moonlight. I was on duty that day. my shift was over so I told my dim wit corporal that I was going for a run offsite, away from the array The air was so warm that night all I wore my my Marine Corps issue red shorts and a pair of sneakers, no shirt. I was 22 at the time full of life and proud to be a Marine. When I got back my SGT asked me where I was, I told him a short made up story and about the run. For some reason he didn’t believe me. He asked me one last time or I was gonna get it. I smiled at him and kept my mouth shut, knowing if i did me and my buddy who helped me get my girl friend in would be in a court martial hearing the next day. I kept my ground So my SGT made me do some truck drivers for ten minutes and a hundred push-ups for being late. for being late from my SO CALLED RUN. I love the Corps and wish I was there again. Ahh yes. Galeta Island good times good times!!
8 September 2020 at 02:01
NSGA was my very 1st duty station in the Navy, I served there from December 1970- November 1973, one of the best, commands I had the priveledge to serve on.
8 December 2020 at 21:46
anonymous, when were you there, i was there from 68-71, kendall CTM2
15 October 2021 at 00:25
i was stationed at marine barrack panama in early 1966, i love that duty station, i was one of the 1st marine to open galeta in 1966-67, when we got there we ran the place, the navy was glad to have marines there, we use to sneak down to the beach area and have a party at night, i had some great times, wish i could turn back time ! ! ! ! ! !
1 February 2022 at 13:04
My ex husband CTRSN David Hargrove was stationed there at the same time
3 April 2022 at 02:27
Loved this place and my brothers and sisters as a US Marine there. Never again in my lifetime, will there be a better duty station and group of men and women who served there. Semper Fidelis.
3 July 2022 at 00:49
Fun duty station. Great fishing out at the bohio, Coco Solo, and Ft Randolph. Lots of fun at the Canal Yacht Club. Panamanian girl friends pretty much lived in the barracks with us at Coco Solo. A few times we threw water filled condoms at the Army Field Station unit while they were running by our barracks in formation. Next to the Philippines, Panama is my 2nd favorite duty station. Fun times!
28 February 2023 at 07:28
This was my very first duty station after graduating boot camp at Great Lakes Illinois, I was 17 years of age & scared to pieces, but I enjoyed my time there, I arrived at night wearing Dress Blues, it was my 1st Christmas away from home, but I adjusted, and as I said I enjoyed my time there.