Home History and Culture Fort Sherman, the Largest Military Base in the Atlantic During the Canal...

Fort Sherman, the Largest Military Base in the Atlantic During the Canal Zone Period


Simultaneously with the construction of the Panama Canal, the United States Army, protected by the Hay-Bunau Varilla treaty where they had total power over the 10 kilometers wide strip that divides the country, developed several defensive locations to protect it, both with weapons coastal defense systems as well as military bases to defend against a direct assault by a foreign navy.

Foto: Claudio Carrasco

The Main Base in the Panamanian Caribbean

Fort Sherman was the main infantry base that protected the Atlantic entrance of the Panama Canal, as it was Fort Amador on the Pacific. Located at Toro Point, at the northern end of the Panama Canal, construction began in January 1912 as a strategic and vital part of the original 1910 defensive plans. Developed areas included housing, 300-person barracks, a small airstrip landing and several recreational areas. Sherman was the site of the first operationally deployed early warning radar in the United States when an SCR-270 was installed there in 1941.

Foto: Claudio Carrasco

Jungle Training Center

After the decommissioning of the Coastal Artillery Corps stationed during World War II, the forest area was used by the United States Army Southern Jungle Operations Training Center (USARSO). This center was founded in 1951 to train Central American and US forces in jungle warfare, with an enrollment of approximately 9,000 soldiers annually. Here they also offered a 10-day aircrew survival course, open to all branches of military service, and a four-week jungle warfare engineer course.

During the last two years of the Panama Canal Treaty (between 1998 and 1999), what remained of the US military forces were located at the Sherman Base, as well as at the Rodman Naval Station, the Clayton Base and Fort Kobbee, these last three located on the Pacific side.

Foto: Claudio Carrasco

History After the Canal Zone

After the United States Army left the fort facilities, several projects have been planned to be executed in this sector, but none have been carried out. However, these facilities were used for the filming of the 2008 James Bond movie Quantum of Solace, positioning the country as a place with highly attractive movie production locations from around the world.

Experts have agreed that Fort Sherman has enormous tourist potential since it borders around 10,000 hectares of protected forest, faces the sea towards the Caribbean and Limon Bay, and is very close to Fort San Lorenzo (the largest military structure of the Spanish colony).

In 2010, the Master Plan for the Sherman area was drawn up, with the collaboration of the World Bank, and in 2012 it was determined that the area is for tourism, in which economic activities linked to the maritime sector can be incorporated, for its proximity to the Canal, since it has characteristics similar to the Amador Causeway in Panama City.

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