Det 1, 13th Air Force, is responsible for operating and maintaining a Southwest
Asia contingency base on Diego Garcia in support of CINCCENTCOM OPLANs. Provides
facilities, munitions, vehicles, Aerospace Ground Equipment, supplies and
aviation fuel to sustain deployed bomber and tanker sortie operations.
The 36th Civil Engineer Squadron sent a 24-person Prime Base Engineer Emergency
Force detachment to Naval Support Facility, Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean
Territories, in June 2000. The team left Andersen seven weeks ago to complete
some construction work as part of the Air Force¡¯s Bomber Forward Operating
Location initiative. Members from Pacific Air Forces Headquarters and 36th CES
identified five requirements for the team, including: constructing a land mobile
radio repeater facility, constructing supply and maintenance secure storage
rooms, repairing tent city electrical system, constructing a generator pad and
testing grounding points on the south ramp.
Diego Garcia is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) formed in 1965
from territory belonging formerly to Mauritius and the Seychelles. The island is
one of 52 in the Chagos Archipelago, which extends over an area of 10,000 square
miles. The archipelago is located in the heart of the Indian Ocean, south of
India and between Africa and Indonesia. The tropical island is a narrow coral
atoll with a land area of about eleven square miles, nearly enclosing a lagoon.
Its configuration is that of a "V" drawn by a shaky hand. The island stretches
37 miles from tip to tip, with an opening to the north-northwest. Three small
islands dot the mouth of the lagoon which is approximately 13 miles long and up
to 6 miles wide. The lagoon is from sixty to one hundred feet deep with numerous
coral heads in most areas. Shallow reefs surround the island on the ocean side,
as well as in the lagoon. The island's mean height above sea level is 4 feet.
Diego Garcia is the largest of many atolls that form the Chagos Archipelago. The
horseshoe- shaped atoll is located seven degrees south of the equator in the
North Central Region of the Indian Ocean. It is heavily vegetated, has a land
area of 6,720 acres and is 37 miles long, tip- to-tip. The maximum elevation is
22 feet, with an average elevation of four feet above sea level. The enclosed
lagoon is approximately seven miles wide and thirteen miles long. The three
small islands at the mouth of the lagoon and the shape of the atoll give the
impression of a footprint, hence the term ¡°„Footprint of Freedom¡°ņ.
Annual rainfall averages 102 inches with the heaviest precipitation occurring
during October to February. Humidity remains high throughout the year and
temperatures are generally in the upper-80's Fahrenheit by day, falling to the
mid-70's by night. The almost constant breezes keep conditions reasonably
The atoll has been used primarily for the harvesting of coconuts from which
coconut oil and copra were processed. It has also been a coal station and guano
mining was carried out for a brief period.
Britain granted independence in the 1950s and 1960s to many of its former
colonies in the Indian Ocean. The remaining islands were joined under the title
of the British Indian Ocean Territories (BIOT), Diego Garcia being one of these
islands. The British and United States Government agreements allowed the US
access to part of the island to construct a communication station and
subsequently a Naval Support Facility. The British do not charge the US any
Diego Garcia is an unaccompanied tour area; concurrent travel of dependents is
not authorized. Furnished BOQ is available upon arrival. Medical and dental
facilities may be inadequate and may require treatment at distant locations.
Since the BOQ is fully furnished, shipment of household goods into Diego Garcia
is limited to one thousand pounds of personal items. Appliances, television,
bed, and furniture is provided. EML is available to Singapore. Military flights
are the only authorized flights in and out of Diego Garcia to Singapore.
Commercial and military flights are available from Singapore. Facilities include
a gymnasium, clubs, galley, Ship's Store, library, Post Office, Navy Federal
Credit Union, Community Bank, and chapel.
Diego Garcia, the southernmost island in the Chagos Archipelago and a part of
the British Indian Ocean Territory, is centrally located in the Indian Ocean. It
is a narrow atoll 39 miles long that nearly encloses a lagoon 13 miles long and
up to 6 miles wide. Depths in the lagoon range from 60 to 100 ft; numerous coral
heads extend toward the surface and form hazards to navigation. Shallow reefs
surround the island on the ocean side as well as within the lagoon. The new
channel and anchorage area are dredged to 45 feet (mean low water springs), and
the old turning basin can also be used if depth is sufficient for ship type.
Diego Garcia is not a typhoon haven. The surrounding topography is low and does
not provide an extensive wind break. Expected winds of 60 kt or greater justify
a sortie to the north of all ships in the lagoon. With expected winds around
35-40 kt, sortie is not recommended. Small harbor craft can be moored at
existing pier structures and larger ships can be anchored in the lee anchorage.
In the past 30 years, the island has not been seriously affected by a severe
tropical cyclone even though it is threatened about once a year. The maximum
sustained wind associated with a tropical cyclone in the past 30 years at Diego
Garcia has been approximately 40 kt.