PANAMA CITY BEACH The US Navy has maintained a base in Panama City Beach since 1945.
It's currently named Naval Support Activity Panama City and is most famous for housing the department of defense's only dive school but there's much more going on behind the scenes on this 657 acre base.
Past the entrance gates of the Naval Support Activity Center in Panama City, lie a vast array of missions.
Between the Naval Surface Warfare Center and the Dive School, both the airspace and the sea are well looked after.
The Panama City Division Aviation Unit is made up of 25 military and 24 civilian members.
PCD Aviation Unit Commander Bill Gibson says, "Mine warfare still poses the greatest threat to the shipping lanes throughout the world so mine warfare is a very important mission to both the Navy and the world commerce."
Historically, the aircraft of choice for mine warfare missions were the MH-53 Echo.
Four years ago, they transferred from the 53 to the MH-60 sierra.
Gibson explains, "[It's a] much smaller helicopter which means the mission systems on board need to be much smaller as well. These systems specifically seek to find sea mines in shallow water."
The department has a secondary mission as well.
These types of helicopters are used in search and rescue missions all around the world, like the one used to rescue a stranded kayaker back in October."
From the skies...
To the shores...
The warfare center's landing craft air cushion is an integral part of the base's missions.
Expositionary Systems Division Head David Vickers says, "The LCAC is the Marine Corps' primary vehicle for carrying troops and material to the beach.
Senior Software Engineer Lisa Nowalk explains, "Its core mission is to transport marines and equipment to any shoreline where they need to go."
It can reach 70% of the world's coastlines, and can carry 70 tons.
About 1 psi is pumped into the hovercraft which helps it inflate and actually fly above the water.
The Warfare Center of Panama City is currently working on the next generation of skirts which could help cut costs and help these skirts to last longer.
It's just one of the many advancements the Warfare Center is working achieve.