Panama Sea Frontier


Panama Sea Frontier

The Panama Sea Frontier was responsible, during World War II, for the defense of the Pacific and Atlantic sea approaches to the Panama Canal and for naval shore facilities in the Central America region. The Sea Frontier headquarters were located in Balboa, Panama.

On the west coast of the Americas, the responsibility of the Panama Sea Frontier was to protect Allied shipping in an ocean area extending from the Mexico-Guatemala border and out around the Galapagos Islands, then to latitude 5 degree south. On the eastern side of Panama, the sea frontier was responsible for the coastal areas from the Mexico-British Honduras boundary on the Yucatán Peninsula along latitude 18 degrees 5 minutes north to longitude 80 degrees 27 minutes west, and thence to Punta de Gallinas. However, the prime responsibility of this sea frontier was the protection and defense of the Panama Canal and its operating equipment.

The Panama Sea Frontier also had to contend with political as well as military forces, since the president of Panama, Dr. Anulfo Arias, had pro-German leanings, and also because neutral Panama, like neutral Spain in Europe, was a haven for Axis agents, sympathizers, and spies. Fortunately, Anulfo Arias was replaced as president with a pro-Allies President De La Guardia shortly before America was attacked at Pearl Harbor. However, pro-Axis sympathy continued for the followers of Anulfo Arias, and others, and German influence continued to be very strong in the region.

outheast Pacific Area

On 24 March 1942, the newly-formed British and US Combined Chiefs of Staff issued a directive designating the Pacific theater an area of American strategic responsibility. Six days later the US Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) divided the Pacific theater into three areas: the Pacific Ocean Areas (POA), the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA), and the Southeast Pacific Area.

The Southeast Pacific Force, SoEastPac, was a small force of cruisers and destroyers based at Balboa which formed the main force operating in the Southeast Pacific Area. The Southeast Pacific Force was formed by a directive of August 28, 1941 to Admiral Kimmel:

CINCPAC CONSTITUTE THE SOUTHEAST PACIFIC FORCE CONSISTING OF TWO 7,500-TON LIGHT CRUISERS AND DISPATCH IT TO BALBOA. FOR TASK PURPOSES THIS FORCE WILL OPERATE DIRECTLY UNDER CNO AFTER ENTERING THE SOUTHEAST PACIFIC SUB AREA AS DEFINED IN WPL 46 PAR. 3222 EXCEPT WESTERN LIMIT IS LONGITUDE 100 WEST. WITHIN THE PACIFIC SECTOR OF THE PANAMA NAVAL COASTAL FRONTIER AND WITHIN THE SOUTHEAST PACIFIC SUB AREA THE COMMANDER PANAMA NAVAL COASTAL FRONTIER AND COMMANDER SOUTHEAST PACIFIC FORCE WILL IN COOPERATION AND ACTING UNDER THE STRATEGIC DIRECTION OF THE CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS EXECUTE THE FOLLOWING TASK: DESTROY SURFACE RAIDERS WHICH ATTACK OR THREATEN UNITED STATES FLAG SHIPPING. [http://www.erikanderson.net/pearlharbor/congress/part_3/090-099.txt, but see also http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/forums/ViewPost.aspx?ForumID=34&ID=8976 (now dead link)]

References

*Admiral Earnest J. King, [http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/cno/cnorpt_1.html First Report to the Secretary of the Navy: Covering our Peacetime Navy and our Wartime Navy and including combat operations up to 1 March 1944] . April 1944, pp. 75-88.
*Samuel Eliot Morrison, History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, The Battle of the Atlantic, 1939-1943. ISBN 0-7858-1302-0

External links

* [http://www.uboatarchive.net/ESFWarDiaryMar42.htm U-boat Archive - Eastern Sea Frontier - War Diary March 1942]
* [http://www.history.navy.mil/books/OPNAV20-P1000/E.htm Glossary of U.S. Naval Abbreviations (OPNAV 29-P1000)]
* [http://www.shsu.edu/~his_ncp/Comant44.html Naval Operations in the Atlantic and Mediterranean to March 1944]


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