Operation Just Cause
Upon Orders from the President George H. Bush, the
Removal of Manuel Noriega and his Regime was authorized. Panama had
been a long time Base for U.S. forces and HQ for U.S. SOUTHERN
COMMAND with many units stationed in Panama. The Scope of the Panama
Invasion is to large so we will only address the Special Boats
Units (SBU) and SEALs.
The Naval Special Warfare Units stationed there
already had intimate knowledge of the areas.
They were, at the time of the action, NSWU-8 with 5 platoons of
SEALs form SEAL Team 2 and 4, and Special Boat Unit 26 which had,
MkIII and IV PBs ,PBR MkIIs, and PBLs. These units were based at
Rodman Naval Station Panama. These units were called by U.S. Special
Operations Command "Task Force White" and divided in to 4
Task Units each with a separate Mission.
On the evening of 20 Dec 1989 "Task Unit Papas" mission was
the capture of Paitillia airfield and to deny President Noriega an
escape by air. They left in a little flotilla of 2 PBs and 15 CRRCs
for a short 5 mile transit to offshore of the objective. The PBs
were acting as Command Control and Security for the CRRCs. The
insertion of the large SEAL force of 3 Platoons and Airforce CCs,
went without incident. Around 1 am the Seal Force was compromised by
Panamanian Defense Forces (PFD) and a savage fire fight broke out.
The end result was that the airfield was taken with 4 SEALs killed
and 8 wounded. This mission would cause many "Lessons Learned" so
mistakes would not be repeated.
Task Unit Charlie was assigned to secure the Atlantic Side of
the Panama Canal. It was comprised of two PBRs and 8 SEALs, and on
20 Dec. 89, TF Charlie blocked all vessels entering the Canal. They
also patrolled the shipping channel near Colon preventing the PFD
from commandeering boats. Mid morning on the 20th Dec TF Charlie was
ordered to investigate the German Merchant ship "Asian Senator". The
ship was reported to have 30 PFD on Board. When the SEALs saw armed
men in civilian clothes they engaged and called in the PBRs for fire
support. The heavy firepower of the PBRs caused the Panamanians to
surrender. During the period of 20 Dec to 26 Dec TF Charlie on
occasion traded shots with PFD ashore and detained one Colombian
vessel with looted electronics, and searched 31 Boats at the Panama
Canal Yacht Club.
TF Foxtrot was comprised of SEALs, PBs and PBRs and PBls and
a native Cayuga canoe. TF Foxtrot was operating on the Pacific side
of the Canal conducting Coastal Patrol and Interdiction. Critical
security from the sea off Howard Air Force Base were provided by the
PBs which kept all vessels from approaching the base offshore. SEALs
and SBU Crewmen used a Native Cayuga Canoe. The SEALs launched
from the Canoe and searched the tiny islands off Howard AF Base for
infiltrators. Two PBRs protected the Bridge of the Americas. PBLs
and SEALs searched vessels coming and going in the area.
On 21 Dec. TF Foxtrot Intercepted searched and
seized the Passe Porte Tout and Macho de Monde, 2 of Noriegas sports
yachts, on board 18 Panamanians and large qualities of arms and
26 Dec TF Foxtrot shifted its operational areas to waters off Papal
Nunciature the last refuge of Noriega and ended operations 2 Jan
TF Whiskey was a small SEAL Unit using a CRRC, Their very
successful mission was a combat swimmer attack on the 65' Panamanian
Patrol Boat Presidente Poras using a stealthy underwater attack,
setting charges on the unsuspecting vessel tied up at Balboa Harbor.
When the charges blew, it destroyed the PFD Patrol boat.