December 1950 issue of Radio & Television News
ran a series
of articles on Navy communications. This was a mere four years after
the end of World War II and right at the beginning days of the
Korean War. Communist and fascist regimes never give the world a moment's
rest (some - not me - think just being nice to them will cause them
to be nice in return). Discussed here are issues still relevant to modern
outfitting of naval assets with new or updated communications equipment.
Unlike land-based systems, naval environments impose increased requirements
for ruggedness due to harsh vibration, impact, and corrosion issues.
Weight added above the waterline needs to be offset with weight below
the water line to preserve stability. Reliability and personnel training
also need to be increased because being at sea means access to replacement
parts, operators, and service technicians are harder to accommodate.
The military people (officer and enlisted) who do the work do so out
of dedication and a sense of honor and country. Otherwise, why would
they accept pay and living conditions far inferior to the average
New York City
See all available
vintage Radio News
.Thanks to Terry W. for providing
Technical Aspects of Naval Communications
Head, Equipment Engineering Section, Division of Naval Communications
Graduated U. S. Naval Academy In 1926, completed post-graduate
course in electronic engineering in 1935. Officer-in-Charge
of U. S. Navy Radio Material School at Anacostia, D.C. from
1938-49. During war served as Communication Officer attached
to British Combined Operations Staff, attached to Allied Forces'
Headquarters (North African Campaign), served on USS Yorktown,
and become Communication Officer, U. S. Naval Forces (Europe).
Except for two years in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he has headed
the Equipment Engineering Section of the Division of Naval Communications
By Captain J. A. Morrison, USN
A "behind-the-scenes" review
of the problems involved in coordinating the U. S. Navy's vast research,
procurement, and installation programs.
The Naval Communication
Service is provided for by the Navy Communication System (shore stations)
and shipboard radio facilities. The shipboard facilities provide communication
channels between ships, fleet, and task force commanders. Ship-shore
and air-ground circuits are part of the entire service. The primary,
major, and minor relay stations of the Naval Communication System employing
wire and radio systems both automatic and manual, handle the Navy's
point-to-point traffic and fleet broadcasts. To maintain this service,
both shore station and ship require the very latest and most modern
type of communication equipment.
To accomplish progressive improvement
in fleet communications, the Office of Chief of Naval Operations' staff
includes trained electronic officers who are thoroughly familiar with
ship and shore communication systems. These officers hold membership
in various Joint and Combined Electronic groups, Electronic Committees
of the National Research and Development Board, the Munitions Board,
the International Telegraph Union, and many other civil and military
electronic organizations. Careful attention is paid to system-wise engineering
to insure that communications can be maintained with the U. S. Army
and the Air Force units, certain foreign military and commercial systems,
as well as with domestic U. S. commercial systems.
reports from the civil and military research laboratories are carefully
reviewed in order that new methods or techniques that have military
application may be considered and adopted, if improvement to naval communications
As technological advances in design of new weapons
are made, either by unfriendly nations or by the United States, tactics
or counter tactics are developed in our operational planning sections
to take advantage of, or overcome them.
Interior of an operating building at U. S. Naval Radio Station,
Mare Island, California in 1904. Note "dated" equipment.
Monitoring equipment, installed at Navy Radio in Washington,
D. C., makes a record of all transmissions over the system.
A Navy workshop setup for testing and repairing aviation communication
and other electronic equipment.
This protective helmet for pilots is literally "wired for sound."
It contains a built-in headset and an adjustable microphone
Navy communication and radar training on board an R4D (Navy's
version of the AAF's C-47 Dakota) electronics flying classroom.
A television camera peers into the cockpit of a mock-up Navy
bomber as the "pilot" and "co-pilot" demonstrate a simplified
control system. By means of microwave or coaxial cable relays
the demonstration can be witnessed by personnel at remote naval
stations or units of the fleet. The Navy is experimenting with
mass training by television at Sands Point, Long Island.
This ever-changing struggle presents naval communication equipment and
system engineers with the task of not only satisfying current requirements,
but at the same time solving the problem of arranging research, development,
procurement, and installation programs to insure that equipment and
systems, sometimes of comparative radically changed characteristics,
will be available should war come suddenly. As far as the Navy is concerned,
when it is realized that from writing the specifications to the completion
of the installation in all ships of the fleet of just one piece of communication
equipment, may take as long as four years, even under wartime production
schedules, the job of keeping fleet communication systems fitted with
equipment of advanced design can be appreciated.
To insure that
the best equipment available is purchased, a considerably complicated
process must be followed. A government purchase involving the taxpayers'
money must be justified as thoroughly as practicable, and all manufacturers
must, under the law, be given opportunity to obtain the contract. The
primary requisite for a justification is known as an operational requirement.
Operational requirements originate in the Office of the Chief
of Naval Operations, and are based upon fleet doctrine, fleet tactics,
and ship developments. Since shore stations exist fundamentally to support
the fleet, an operational requirement for shore communication equipment
generally stems from a fleet requirement.
requirements are studied in the Naval Communication Division of the
Navy Department, and from these studies are determined the allowances
of equipments per ship and shore station that will fulfill them. The
equipments required are listed by frequency range, distance coverage
necessary, and the type of emission desired. In the case of ships, the
requirements are listed in a Tentative Type Allowance, one being prepared
for each type of Navy ship. The Bureau of Ships proceeds to fill this
allowance with equipment available. If the equipment available will
not meet the specified requirement, or cannot be economically modified,
then new equipment must be developed and procured.
step in the development of new equipment is to write a set of military
characteristics. These characteristics are written in broad terms to
cover fully the operational requirement. After the preparation in the
Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, the characteristics are submitted
to the Joint Communications Electronics Committee of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, which is composed of representatives of the Army, Navy, and
Air Force. The characteristics are studied for possible joint interest,
and yield information as to whether equipment already exists, or is
planned, that will fill the requirements. Technical and operational
sections of the three Services study the characteristics and determine
whether or not there is a joint interest in the proposed development.
After approval of the Joint Committee, the characteristics are
forwarded to the Bureau of Ships. As the next step, the Bureau of Ships,
using the military characteristics as a guide, writes a set of technical
specifications. Here, in the interest of economy, before a contract
is placed, coordination to prevent undesirable duplication of effort
is achieved. A proposed Research and Development project is forwarded
to the Electronic Committee of the Research and Development Board for
consideration. This committee comprises representatives of the three
Services, as well as civilian members eminent in the electronics field.
After similar development projects are scrutinized, and if no undesirable
duplication is apparent, the Research and Development Board approves
The specifications are then submitted to manufacturers
for contract bids by the Bureau of Ships, and after the bid has been
awarded, the research and development stage follows, under the close
supervision of Navy engineers. The acceptance tests follow the development,
and finally the service evaluation tests are conducted aboard a station
or ship before the equipment is approved and purchased. In the case
of shipboard equipment, the service tests are performed by the Commander,
Operational Development Force who has available to him highly qualified
technical personnel and various types of ships and aircraft for which
the equipment is intended. The service evaluation tests consist of actually
using the equipment under conditions which duplicate its ultimate employment,
with naval personnel operating and maintaining it to make absolutely
sure that it will fulfill the operational requirement, and meet the
rigid physical standards imposed by the specifications. The foregoing
procedure, while it is admittedly slow, assists greatly in providing
for the U. S. Navy reliable, rugged, and compact communication equipment,
as economically as possible, and with the least impact possible on research
and manufacturing agencies. The communication equipment for the U. S.
Navy falls generally into two groupings: (1) shore, and (2) ship.
Shore Station Equipment
communication equipment must possess all of the features of reliability,
long life, stability, and low maintenance, the same as shipboard equipment.
Certain features, such as ruggedness, small size, and weight are not
so important. Shore stations exist to provide long distance communications
in large volumes; hence, the equipment is large and powerful, and no
limits are placed upon the size of the radiating system required for
the job. Transmitters in the order of 500 kw. to 1000 kw. are used,
together with huge amounts of terminal equipment for single side-band
and electronic multiplexing. Very low frequency transmitters give the
fleet world wide broadcast coverage. Transmitting, receiving, and control
stations are separated by several miles, and thus must be linked together
with landline or v.h.f. control links. Recent developments indicate
a trend toward PTM (pulse time modulation) for replacement of the very-high
frequency links. PTM offers more flexibility and more channels for the
Navy's operational requirements. Shipboard Equipment
Shipboard installations are restricted in size and
weight, depending upon the type of vessel involved. Practically, this
means that on some ships when a piece of equipment of any sort is placed
in a ship the weight added must be compensated for; either by removing
an equal weight, or if the equipment is installed above the water line,
an equal weight must be inserted near the keel to preserve the stability.
Similarly, space being at a premium in war vessels, consideration must
be given the size of the equipment in order that other essential material
may also be accommodated. This explains why those portions of Naval
military characteristics and technical specifications which have to
do with size and weight are most rigid and severe.
to the size and weight factors, because of the extreme ranges of temperature,
exposure to salt water spray, deterioration due to humidity and the
wear and tear of a ship at sea to which the equipment is subjected,
the problem of providing adequate equipment to meet the numerous operational
needs is not an easy one.
The limited space above decks, for
which requirements for guns, radars, signal searchlights, and other
special electronic devices compete with increased numbers of communication
antennas to meet expanding circuit requirements, all of which specify
omni-directional coverage, has placed increasing demands upon Navy Engineers
for efficient antenna systems. Such research is a continuing project
within the Navy, and of late years, considerable emphasis has been accorded
it. Recently developed common antenna working systems show promise of
producing some gratifying results.
In general, shipboard equipment
is growing smaller, more compact, more stable, lighter, automatic, and
rugged, It is hoped that miniaturization of components will reduce further
their size and weight. On the other hand, the effort to meet the ever
growing operational requirements and at the same time reduce the size
and weight has introduced, in some cases, more complicated and complex
equipment. This is a serious problem in view of the present shortage
of Navy Electronic Technician Mates. Therefore, specifications are beginning.
to emphasize packaging of components for quick replacement to enable
disabled equipment to remain on the air. The repair of the particular
circuit can be accomplished at a later time. As a result of a standardization
program, it is planned to replace the various models of transmitters
and receivers installed aboard our ships with an all-purpose series
of transmitters and receivers. This modernization will assist to some
extent in reducing the maintenance and spare parts provisions and stowage
problems. The latter is one which has long plagued the logisticians.
With numerous different types of equipments installed in ships, the
provision and stowage of sufficient spare parts for self-sufficient
operations presents many space and weight compensation problems. By
standardization of equipments, components, and revising stowage methods
aboard ships, a reduction of perhaps 50% in cubeage and weight per ship
In the development of any new equipment, the
Naval Communication Service is guided largely by programs of systems-wise
engineering. At the present time, there are three such programs that
might be listed, They are : (1) ultra-high frequency conversion, (2)
teletype, and (3) radiophoto-facsimile,
The ultra-high frequency
band was chosen because of the possibility of obtaining more channels
to provide for our tactical requirements. It is an all-purpose band
and will be used by all three military services on air-to-air, air-to-ground,
and ground-to-ground circuits. Considerable difficulty has been experienced
in developing equipment in this band, mainly because of frequency stability
considerations; however, the demanding specifications have brought about
successful research on new circuits, new techniques, and new automatic
control devices and considerable progress has been made. For instance,
the perfection of techniques to realize narrower channel bandwidths
has produced nearly double the communication channels than was hoped
for originally, Since this equipment must be installed aboard all types
of ships and craft, as well as planes, attainment of small size and
weight are being emphasized. This u.h.f. system will ultimately replace
the very-high frequency system now in use.
loads and high speed targets have resulted in more and more emphasis
being placed upon the use of automatic equipment. The manual c.w. circuit
is considered the "horse and buggy" type of communications and, like
the horse and buggy, is highly reliable, but very slow. The teletypewriter
program is an effort to shift naval communications from the manual method
to the machine method, and has been successfully accomplished in the
Navy Communication System (shore stations). A partial shift has been
made in the fleet in that ship-shore teleprinter circuits exist for
the use of those ships equipped with radio teletype equipment, It is
hoped that the fleet broadcasts may soon be made by this method. Radio
teletype equipment aboard ship is up against the same old problem of
weight and space. Hence, new equipment is being developed that is smaller,
lighter, and more compact - a distinct advance.
In line with
the trend toward automatics, the radiophoto-facsimile program is the
latest additional service to be provided by the Naval Communication
Service. The operational requirement for the transmission of maps, charts,
and official documents has spurred on the development of radiophoto-facsimile
equipment. Future developments indicate strongly that this equipment
will become an integral part of shore station and shipboard installations.
Considerable thought has been given to multiplexing equipment
for increasing the capacity of the existing communication circuits.
The limited frequency spectrum available has encouraged this development.
Looking into the future, more and more attention will be paid
to data transmission systems. In this atomic energy age, faster and
faster methods of communications will be necessary to support military
operation. Furthermore, with the U. S. Armed Services working as a team
with allied forces, coordinated communications are a must. All equipment
developments must continue to be done along joint specifications so
that the Services can work easily into each others' systems. Military
characteristics will insist that equipment be developed for joint use,
that it be reliable, small and compact as possible with miniaturized
components, stable, easily serviced, rugged, and easy to operate and
that certain features be automatic. In this manner the U. S. Navy will
continue to obtain the best equipment for war purposes that money can