The mission of NSWC PCD is to conduct research, development, test and evaluation, and in-service support in Mine Warfare, Naval Special Warfare, Diving and Life Support, and Amphibious and Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare Systems, as well as other missions in the Littoral Battlespace.
Ensuring Warfighting Dominance in the Littoral Battlespace
NSWC Panama City Division's origins begin with mine countermeasures research conducted during World War II at the U.S. Naval Mine Warfare Test Station, Solomons, Maryland. In 1945, equipment, facilities, and personnel were transferred from that location to Panama City, Florida to occupy a 373-acre tract of land that was owned by the U.S. Navy and considered to be in a caretaker status. This same tract was used as a Naval Section Base in 1942, the U.S. Naval Amphibious Training Base in 1944, and was inactivated in June 1945. It was later established as the U.S. Navy Mine Countermeasures Station July 20, 1945.
By 1955, the Station achieved laboratory status and was renamed the U.S. Navy Mine Defense Laboratory in April 1955. Its mission included torpedo mine countermeasures, helicopter mine countermeasures, mine hunting and mine watching study projects, as well as other advanced countermeasures.
The laboratory became an activity of the Naval Research and Development Center, Carderock, Maryland Nov. 1, 1967, and was renamed the Naval Ship Research and Development Laboratory, Panama City, November 1968. A naval internal reorganization effort to combine several of the closely related R&D laboratories resulted in the Panama City and Annapolis laboratories being combined with the David Taylor Naval Ship Research and Development Center at Carderock.
In February 1972, it was renamed the Naval Coastal Systems Laboratory. Its mission expanded to include naval special warfare areas such as inshore undersea warfare and amphibious operations. In its separate command status, the laboratory reported directly to the Chief of Naval Material.
In March 1978, the name changed to Naval Coastal Systems Center (NCSC) to more accurately reflect the broad range of products and services provided and to bring its name into alignment with the other (then) sever RDT&E centers commanded by the Chief of Naval Material. Upon disestablishment of the NMC in 1985, NCSC reported to the Office of the Chief of Naval Research. From 1986, to 1991, NCSC reported to the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. In October 1991, it was realigned under the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).
In January 1992, NCSC was re-designated the Coastal Systems Station, Dahlgren Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center, and reported to NAVSEA. Its mission was to support the mission of the Dahlgren Division by providing RDT&E and in-service engineering for mine warfare, special warfare, amphibious warfare, diving and other naval missions that take place primarily in the coastal region. By October 2007, Naval Coastal Systems Center Panama City was brought out from under Dahlgren Division and established as its own echelon 4 division within NAVSEA.
Today, Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division is one of the major research, development, test and evaluation laboratories in the U.S. Navy and boasts a wide base of expertise in engineering and scientific disciplines. By October 2017, the command employed more than 1,400 civilian employees of which over 800 were scientists and engineers. NSWC PCD prides itself of being good stewards of the environment and taxpayer dollar. The command has a business base of more than $400 million of which $330 million goes back into the State of Florida through labor dollars, contract services, and local goods.
Throughout its existence, the mission, size and responsibilities have continued to grow to meet the increasing call for technical solutions made by our nation's warfighters. Today, NSWC PCD remains the Technical Center of Excellence for Littoral Warfare & Coastal Defense.