December 1950 Radio & Television News Article
communications and their communicators have always been held in high regard. Operating and maintaining sophisticated
electronics equipment is difficult enough on solid ground, but doing it on the ocean with winds and waves tossing
the platform (ship) relentlessly can exacerbate the problem tremendously. It is a wonder that radar systems can
even be useful with the antenna constantly rotating about pitch, roll, and yaw axes while simultaneously shifting
in the x, y and z axes. Sure, airborne platforms have the same sort of challenge, but their perturbations are not
typically as violent, as great in magnitude, or as prolonged as a naval vessel in rough seas. For the record, I'm
a former USAF radar guy so I'm not just trying to glorify my own branch of service. This article from Radio &
Television news gives some insight into the life a naval communicator during the 1950s.
of Contents]These articles are scanned and OCRed from old editions of the Radio & Television News magazine. Here
is a list of the Radio & Television News articles
I have already posted. As time permits, I will be glad to scan articles for you. All copyrights (if any) are hereby acknowledged.
all available vintage Radio News articles.
Thanks to Terry W. for providing this article.
By Rear Admiral John R. Redman,
Director, Naval Communications
Fifty years ago Marconi installed the first wireless equipment on Navy ships. Today, utilizing all forms of communications,
naval forces, whether on land, sea, or in the air, are united as a single fighting unit.
Born Reno, Nevada in 1898. Graduated from U. S. Naval Academy in 1918. Promoted to Lieutenant (jg) during World
War I, advanced to rank of Captain in 1942, became a Rear Admiral in 1944. He took a post graduate course in
radio engineering at Annapolis and subsequently served in various communications posts in many different theaters.
From October 1942 until March 1945 he served as communications officer and assistant chief of staff for communications
on the staff of fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. He commanded the USS Massachusetts until 1946 after which he
assumed command of the Naval Receiving Station at Treasure Island. He became Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff
to the Commander Western Sea Frontier in 1947 and later served as Deputy Commander Western Sea frontier and
Deputy Commander Pacific Reserve Fleet. In July 1949 he reported to the Chief Naval Operations for duty as,
Director, Naval Communications, a post that he continues to hold at the present. He has been decorated 9 times.
On a gray morning
in 1803, Commodore Edward Preble set sail with a "task force" of wooden ships to instill respect for the infant
United States in the pirates of the Barbary Coast. Preble's communications consisted of a strip of bunting, a megaphone,
and a bull voice. Naval Communications have come a long way since those pioneer days.
Early progress was
primarily in the extension and perfection of visual communications systems. By 1875, the Navy was experimenting
with electricity for signaling. There was much excitement the following year when signals were read at a distance
of 6 miles by means of an electromagnetic device. The flash lamp, perfected in 1878, permitted signals to be read
at the unheard-of distance of nearly 17 miles! Communicators of the day hailed the event with enthusiasm. But it
was the advent of "wireless" that gave Naval Communications its real impetus.
With the Nineteenth Century
approaching its close, Guglielmo Marconi startled the world by his experiments with wireless. He was invited to
experiment under Navy supervision. As early as 1900 the young inventor and his assistants were installing the "Marconi
device" aboard several vessels. In 1901 the Navy made its first wireless installation on a battleship. A year later
the first Naval wireless test stations on shore were established at Annapolis, Maryland and Washington, D. C. During
1903, five different systems of wireless were under test in the United States. By the end of that year, the Navy's
tests had progressed to the extent that seven ships and five shore stations were fully equipped with wireless apparatus
and operators were furnished for service use. Wireless had shed its swaddling clothes and was growing rapidly.
The Navy now demanded that the new equipment be installed on all its fighting ships. Meanwhile, developments
ashore kept pace with those at sea. Six experimental stations were built. A special training school was established
at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Wireless - or radio, as it came to be called - was in the Navy to stay. From then on,
advance followed advance, keeping pace with technological progress, lessons learned from operational experience,
and the needs of the Navy.
The present-day Naval Communication Service would stagger the imagination of
communicators of the early 1900's. All known forms of communication are employed. Today's naval vessels are floating
communications centers - from the tiny torpedo boat with as few as seven radio circuits to the mighty carrier with
more than a hundred. The extensive, yet flexible circuits of the Naval Communication Service keep the fleet units
of a seven-seas Navy in constant communication with each other and with the Naval Shore establishment. Through careful
planning, an organization has been built up that can get in touch with any ship in the fleet almost instantly. With
the facilities now available, a ship out of sight is never a ship out of mind. No longer does the control of communications
by shore stations extend only as far as the eye can see through a telescope. Today, distance does not limit communications,
for messages can be sent around the world.
The Naval Communication Service (NCS) has three watchwords -
"Reliability, Security, and Speed." The performance of each element of the myriad services - and devices which make
up the overall NCS is weighed in terms of those three factors. As the name implies, Naval Communications is a "Service."
Its mission is to provide and maintain reliable and secure communications, based on war requirements, adequate to
meet the needs of the Operating Forces, the Navy Department, and the Naval Shore Establishment, primarily to serve
command and secondarily to facilitate administration.
In considering command, a parallel is found in the game of football. The quarterback on a football team is, in effect,
the "officer in command." When he directs a play, he is exercising a function of command, and each signal he calls
is a command communication. The information he passes on is the most important his team can receive, for it determines
just which course of action will be taken against the opposition. Naval Command, playing a role similar to that
of the quarterback, controls the movements of the operating forces. Command cannot function smoothly without reliable
and rapid means of sending and receiving information - and no Naval operation can be successful without the smooth
functioning of Command. Thus it is that the first duty of the Naval Communication Service is to serve Command.
A Navy radioman operates teletype equipment. These units are now being used extensively by the Navy. A private
network of such teletype stations links far-flung stations and ships.
All Navy dispatches do not relate directly to combat, even in wartime. Most communications deal with activities
that support the fleet. It is a big task to equip and train all the personnel in the Navy and to provide for them
such vital needs as ammunition, transportation, food, clothing, hospitals, and supply depots. In moving the countless
messages that must be handled to carry on the work of supporting the fighting forces, Naval Communications facilitates
To maintain the objectives of "Reliability, Security, and Speed," flexibility is a necessity.
In the development of Naval Communications, it has been found that no one method of passing information can adequately
serve all purposes at all times. Scientific progress has added immeasurably to the effectiveness of communications,
but it has not eliminated the utility, under certain conditions, of some of the earliest methods of signaling. The
systems of communications employed today in Naval Communications embrace many new, some old, methods. They run the
gamut from hand semaphore to the advanced radioteletype, and include visual communications, sound, wire systems,
radiotelegraph, radiotelephone, facsimile-radio-photo, television, and even messengers.
as the name implies, provides delivery by hand from the communication office of the originator to that of the addressee.
The courier who carried news of victory from Marathon to Athens was a forerunner of today's messenger. When other
methods, especially radio channels, are overloaded, messengers do much to relieve the congestion. Like messenger
service, mail is an important alternate method for easing the transmission load on wire and radio circuits. It should
be noted that the Navy Postal Service is an integral part of the Naval Communication Service. Naval Communications
has responsibility for the establishment and operation of Navy post offices, both afloat and ashore.
Visual signals are still widely used in the Navy.
Flag-hoist signals for maneuvering
The transmission of intelligence by visual methods is ancient in
origin. Yet, today visual communication still holds its own along with more modern systems. The three principal
types of visual signaling - flaghoist, semaphore, and flashing light - meet the rigid demands of good naval communications.
Flaghoist signaling, because it can be used to reach a complete group of ships rapidly and simultaneously,
is about the most efficient type of visual short-range communications. Almost all flaghoists are coded signals.
To communicate by flaghoist, the originator selects the combination of flags that will convey his particular message.
The flags are then attached to the halyard which carries them to a yardarm to form a display - a complete flaghoist
message. The receiving station reads the meaning and takes appropriate action. More than 60 flags and pennants go
into action at one time or another. It is an inspiring sight, to any observer, to see a large convoy of ships traveling
in close formation, maneuvering in unison to displays of multi-colored flags.
Semaphore is another fast,
short-range form of signaling. It requires the most simple equipment of standard visual methods, just two flags
attached to staffs. Being restricted to short-distance communication, Semaphore is more secure than either radio
or light, since there is less chance of interception.
The third principal visual signaling method is flashing
light. It is a visual telegraphic system using International Morse Code, the same code used by radiotelegraph operators.
The signalman sends and receives dot-and-dash characters as short or long flashes of light. There are two systems
of flashing light, directional and non-directional. In directional signaling, the light is aimed at the ship or
station to which the message is being sent. Searchlights, blinker tube, or a multi-purpose signal lamp are used
for this purpose. Non-directional signaling is accomplished by yardarm blinkers. These are a cluster of special
non-directional electric lamps, located near the ends of the yardarm.
Additional devices used in visual
communications are pyrotechnics and panels. Pyrotechnics are merely fireworks of various types with special meanings
assigned to each type or combination. The meanings may change, but usually deal with distress or emergency identification.
Another kind of pyrotechnic is the smoke grenade, used to mark locations in the water. Panels are strips of material
laid out on the ground to give instructions and information to aircraft. The position of the panels in relation
to one another determines the meaning of the message.
Sound in communication is employed in underwater signaling devices. These devices
can be used over short distances to communicate with submarines or surface vessels that carry similar echo-ranging
equipment. Messages are sent by telegraph key. Underwater sound transmissions are slow, the range extremely limited,
and security from interception poor. Reliability of communication is subject to variations in the temperature of
the water, the salt content, the depth, and other conditions that affect the movement of underwater sound waves.
Wire communication systems employed by the Navy include cables, landwire
telegraph, telephone, and teletype. The Naval Communication Service does not own or operate cables. Therefore, when
such facilities are required, the cables of commercial companies or foreign governments must be utilized. Landwire
telegraph - the sending of Morse Code over wire - is now almost completely replaced by the faster and more efficient
teletype. The telephone, being convenient and speedy, is, of course, especially suitable for administrative traffic
at naval bases and shore stations.
The most widely used wire system for communication between stations ashore
is teletype. The teletypewriter, broadly speaking, is little more than an electrically operated typewriter. Teletype
may be defined as "typewriting at a distance." It is the most rapid and accurate system of recorded wire communication.
Normal speed of transmission is in the vicinity of 60 words-per-minute, but much higher speeds are possible.
By operating a keyboard similar to that of a typewriter, signals are produced that print characters in page
form. or on a tape. These characters appear at both the sending and receiving stations. One teletypewriter transmitting
signals will actuate all receiving machines connected to the teletype system. For example, an operator transmitting
from New York to Boston has his message repeated, letter by letter, in Boston as soon as it is formed in New York.
The same occurs at all receiving stations tied into the network.
One form of teletype operation is called
"simplex." This provides transmission in a single direction at a time. Simultaneous flow of traffic in both directions
is provided by a second method, "duplex." By employing separate wires, carrying incoming and outgoing signals, duplex
can carry nearly twice as much traffic as simplex.
Special transmission devices, known as tape relay equipment,
enable messages to be relayed from one point to another with a minimum of delay. A combination of transmitter-distributor,
perforator, and printer gives the operator the choice of messages printed on a page, perforated on tape, or both.
An incoming message may be received in page form for the record, and punched on tape by the perforator at the same
time. The tape can be used for further relay by feeding it into the appropriate circuit transmitter-distributor.
Diagram of how a plane. carrying "airborne early warning" radar equipment is used to relay this information
over the horizon.
Prior to 1940, Naval Communications within the continental limits
of the United States consisted of point-to-point radio circuits and one landline Morse telegraph circuit. Messages
which could not be handled by the Navy's facilities were routed via commercial communication companies. In July
1940, a commercial teletypewriter network was developed to serve selected Naval activities. This became known as
the TWX System. The Navy was charged at toll call rates, so much for the first three minutes, and additional charges
for overtime. As the volume of messages increased, the cost of communication soared. It became mandatory in the
interests of economy that a private teletypewriter service be installed for the Navy, to supplement TWX, and to
serve activities which were handling large numbers of messages.
In May 1941, the first private Navy teletypewriter
circuit was inaugurated between Washington and New London. This became the nucleus of the present extensive U. S.
Naval Teletypewriter System, which is commonly called the NTX System. Primary relay stations are located in five
communication centers, at Washington, San Francisco, Honolulu, Guam, and Balboa. The various Naval Districts tie
into these primary stations either by landwire or by radioteletype. Each continental Naval District has a major
relay station and is connected to Washington or San Francisco by direct wire circuits. Western districts channel
traffic to San Francisco, eastern districts to Washington. San Francisco and Washington are connected by landline
teletype. Ships at sea and major relay stations outside the continental limits feed into the primary stations by
radioteletype. To provide complete NTX coverage, minor and tributary stations are set up at activities within Naval
Districts and at outside points, when the traffic load warrants. TWX (commercial) is still used where NTX coverage
is not justified.
The NTX and TWX systems link district and sea frontier headquarters, naval bases, ordnance
plants, manufacturers, supply depots, and the countless other naval shore establishments which supply and maintain
WAVES in mock-up control tower during familiarization course which is given at the "Airman School"
Navy Radioteletype, which applies the teletype to radio transmission and
reception, is given the abbreviated title RATT. Prior to the development of RATT, teletype needed wire to connect
it with communication points. Contact with ships at sea was limited to radiotelephone or radiotelegraph. At the
present time, many warships have radio teletype equipment; in the future, radioteletype will handle the bulk of
communication traffic for all ships in the Navy. A milestone in the history of radioteletype is the sending of messages
to and from aircraft in flight. This was made possible by development of smaller and lighter equipment.
Radioteletype is simply an ordinary teletypewriter installation connected by means of a converter to the radio transmitting
and receiving equipment. When receiving, the converter changes radio impulses into a form of electrical energy which
actuates the teletype. When transmitting, the procedure is reversed. Teletype is so flexible that wire and radio
systems can be combined as desired. This makes it possible for Naval Communications to span great areas of the globe
with a network using Teletype alone.
Although radioteletype and
radiotelegraph are the primary radio systems used in the Navy for long-distance work and for recorded communications,
radiotelephone, or voice radio, is also extensively used. Its important advantages are speed and ease of operation
and adaptability to lightweight portable equipment.
Voice radio is particularly valuable for comparatively
short-range communication by aircraft and surface ships. When a number of ships are in company and time is a primary
consideration, voice radio often steps in to replace visual methods. It is used for walkie-talkie, for communications
between aircraft units, and in control tower operations. Ship-to-shore as well as tactical ship-to-ship communications
are greatly aided by its use. Small craft, such as district craft, depend entirely on radiotelephone for radio communication.
Facsimile, or radiophoto, performs the transmission of pictorial
or graphic information by wire or radio and reproduction of the material in its original form at the receiving station.
Navy radiophoto facilities, operating as a function of the Naval Communication Service, are maintained at Washington,
San Francisco, Pearl Harbor, and Guam. A basic operation of these units is the daily exchange of weather maps. They
also provide a rapid method of delivering photographs, blueprints, and other material not suitable for transmission
by other standard means of communication. The Navy is a participant in the joint national facsimile weather map
network, which covers the entire United States and connects major air stations and weather centrals. This network
is composed of facilities of the U. S. Air Force, Navy, Weather Bureau, and a few commercial stations. Mobile radiophoto
units provide for operation aboard ship or at outlying points, as necessary to meet special requirements.
Radiophoto transmission is an important supplement to rapid communications, providing a previously unavailable
method of handling pictorial-graphic intelligence. In comparing radiophoto with other advanced communication systems,
radioteletype may be likened to typewriting, radiophoto to the printing press, and television to the motion picture.
Navy Communication System
It is clear from the preceding discussion that Naval
Communications provides all types of facilities, from the most simple to the highly complex. These versatile facilities
enable local commands to carry out in the most efficient manner whatever is the. job of the moment. In any military
organization, however, there must be overall control and a means for getting the word to all elements of the forces
wherever located. Effective control of our widespread naval forces is made possible by the Navy Communication System,
which is an integrated network providing basic communication coverage on a worldwide scale.
The chief components
of the Navy Communication System ashore are the Primary Communication Centers at Washington, San Francisco, Honolulu,
Balboa, and Guam. These are the "big five" of the system. The key station of the entire Navy Communication System
is, of course, Washington. From this point, radio circuits and landlines tie together the entire Navy, making it
possible for the fleet to perform its tasks as a single unit. From the radio standpoint, "Radio Washington" consists
of several elements: a central communication office located in the Navy Department; a high power transmitting station
at Annapolis, Maryland; a receiving and monitoring station at Cheltenham, Maryland; and a radio link transmitter
and receiver station at Arlington, Virginia.
To get messages to all units of the Navy, a system of "broadcasts" is used. The word "broadcast" was introduced
to communications by the Navy. This term is appropriate because messages are cast in all directions. Fleet Broadcast
schedules are the primary means of delivering traffic to the fleet. The five major stations transmit by this method
on predesignated frequencies and schedules, appropriate to reach all points. Messages normally are transmitted "blind,"
that is, the ships do not use their transmitters to acknowledge receipt of the traffic. This insures security and
safety, since any "enemy" is deprived of the opportunity to use direction finding equipment in detecting the location
of fleet units. In addition to the primary broadcasts, which require very high power equipment, secondary stations
are set up at appropriate points to provide local coverage for small units operating in a local area. In addition
to these two types of broadcasts, there are a number of local, low-power transmitting facilities operated in various
areas to disseminate hydrographic and weather information, and time signals.
A Navy signalman uses one of the Service's signal searchlights to maintain communications during "radio silence."
Earlier descriptions of the
Navy's vast teletype and radioteletype point-to-point circuits told how continental shore stations are linked to
overseas points and to ships at sea. This comprehensive high-speed system handles huge volumes of traffic. Manual
radiotelegraph also is used by ships to contact shore stations, when other facilities are not available.
The efficient and smooth operation of Naval Communications requires careful planning. Ashore, each Naval District
has its own communication organization, supervised by the District Communication Officer. This officer draws up
a communication plan that provides for complete communications with ships, aircraft, and all naval stations within
his district. This plan also furnishes direct channels to the Navy Department, to other Naval Districts, and to
the communication facilities of other military services. District plans take special note of measures to be taken
in case of local emergencies, such as storms, floods, fires, and hurricanes, when normal communication circuits
may be disrupted. Emergency planning makes particular provision for the utilization of the extensive Naval Reserve
Communication System. There are over 850 radio stations located at Naval Reserve activities throughout the United
States. Established primarily for the training of communications personnel, and located in practically every major
city and in hundreds of small communities, these stations constitute a valuable communication potential in emergencies.
The seagoing counterpart of District Communication Plans are Fleet Communication Plans. These plans prescribe
radio and visual procedures to be used by ships, and are drawn up to meet any situations that may arise.
To achieve better service, preparedness, and greater economy, Naval Communications planning involves full coordination
with the Army and the Air Force. Joint use of facilities, whenever practicable, results in economy of men, material,
and radio frequencies. Employment of standard operative procedures and equipment by the three services, further
assists continuing efforts toward maximum integration of military communications.
A different form of searchlight which utilizes an infrared filter and a specially designed infrared viewer.
A close parallel can be drawn between the communication service
required to support the operations of naval aircraft and that required by surface craft operations. In addition
to the communication channels of tactical command, point-to-point flight operations require continuous circuits,
fixed or mobile, between the point of departure and destination; continuous air-surface communication enroute; and
reliable aids to navigation.
Similar functional communications apply to ships and aircraft, since both are
mobile naval units with responsibility to operational commanders, with comparable ranges of operation, and need
for full operating area coverage. Both have need for fixed circuits to provide command and supporting functions.
Air-ground channels parallel ship-shore channel functions, with added air-surface ship channels being provided in
the case of air operations with the fleet. Worthy of note is the mutual interdependence between installations provided
for communication and for navigational purposes, voice transmissions being normally made over most radio aids to
navigation, and normal radio channels being used on occasion for direction-finding purposes.
of aeronautical communication is accomplished by voice radio, operated by the pilot, except when planes are at such
distances from base as to necessitate radiotelegraph transmissions. Flashing light signals are useful between aircraft
and surface craft under conditions where the use of radio is undesirable or impossible.
No matter how excellent the communication system, its effectiveness is no greater than
the people who man it. That is why, in Naval Communications as in every other field, personnel is the most important
factor. The Navy, in maintaining its Naval Communication Service, has a continuing need for both operational and
technical personnel. The manual radiotelegraph operator, the wireline expert, the electronics technician, each finds
an important job awaiting him.
In the past twenty years, tremendous
strides have been made in the technological fields of communications. With faster ships, faster airplanes, and increased
tempo in all fields, no communications organization can rest on its laurels. Continuing research has a prime objective
of devising faster and more reliable means of communications. Naval Communications in the future, as in the past,
will be quick to recognize new systems and techniques and to apply them wherever feasible, at all times working
toward more reliable, secure, rapid and flexible communications.
Radar, magnetic airborne detection, and sono-buoy listening devices make up
electronic "nerve center" of anti-submarine blimp.