The Island of Diego Garcia is the largest of the Chagos Islands located on a large shoal area known as the Great Chagos Bank. Diego Garcia was discovered by Portuguese explorers in the early 1500s. It is the largest of 52 islands which forms the Chagos Archiplelago located in the heart of the Indian Ocean. The islands name is believed to have come from either the ship’s captain or the navigator.
After the island was discovered, it was forgotten on maps until Diego Garcia was rediscovered and claimed by the French in the 1700s, which she remained under until after the Napoleoanic Wars—when possession was ceded to the British.
In 1965, with the formation of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), Diego Garcia was under administrative control of the British government. With the formation of BIOT, a formal agreement was signed between the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States in 1966 making the island available to satisfy defense needs of both governments.
During the 19th Century the islands were used as plantations, producing copra and coconut oils. Until 1971, Diego Garcia’s main source of income was from the profitable copra oil plantation. Copra oil provided fine machine oil and fuel to light European lamps. Coconut harvests on the island remained constant, until just prior to the arrival of the U.S. Navy Seabees and the start up of U.S. military construction.
Following a decision to establish the U.S. Navy Support Facility based on the 1966 Exchange of Notes between Great Britain and the United States plantations were closed. In January 1971, U.S. Navy Seabees were transported to the island by landing ship to begin building the U.S. military presence on Diego Garcia
Following the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in 1979, Diego Garcia saw most of its build-up of any location since the Vietnam War. In 1986, Diego Garcia became fully operational with the completion of the construction program.
Diego Garcia’s strategic location and full range of facilities make the island the last link in the long logistics chain; supporting vital U.S. and British Naval presence in the Indian Ocean and North Arabian Sea.
Today, under the command of a Royal Navy Commander, Great Britain maintains a presence on the Island, with the Headquarters, British Forces, BIOT, and the Royal Overseas Police. Diego Garcia is home to 16 separate commands, including the U.S. Navy Support Facility, which functions as the host command.
The mission of the U.S. Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia is “To provide logistic support to operational forces forward deployed to the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf AORs in support of national policy objectives.” NAVSUPPFAC Diego Garcia occupies a critical part on the “tip of the spear” for U.S. military forces by supporting a multitude of unique and challenging mission requirements. Our motto and mission focus is “ONE ISLAND, ONE TEAM, ONE MISSION.”
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