TOC | Previous Section: Chapter XXXI | Next Section: Chapter XXXIII
History of Communications-Electronics in the United States Navy, Captain Linwood S. Howeth, USN (Retired), 1963, pages 379-388:
The Development of Fleet Tactical Communications
1. FLEET COMMUNICATIONS SITUATION AT THE END OF WORLD WAR I
The development of radio in the Navy had been based on its use over long distances as an extension of telegraph and cable facilities and as a means of communication with and between ships at sea. The naval situation during World War I was such that little change was required in this concept. With the exception of the 6th Battle Squadron, the operations of our ships consisted of protecting our convoys from and taking offensive action against German submarines. A single tactical circuit normally sufficed each of the separate units engaged in these operations and, for most purposes, the newly developed radiotelephone set (CW 936) was used.
The primary wartime tasks of the Naval Communication System were the provision of long-distance radio facilities to provide communications between the United States and Europe and the broadcast of meteorological and hydrographic information and intelligence to our units at sea. The secondary task was the provision of the very limited tactical communication requirements of the convoys and hunter-killer groups. When the war ended the Naval Communication System was the largest most efficient, and best equipped radio communication facility in the world. On the other hand, when the ships were reassembled into fleets, there was but little improvement in fleet tactical communications over that which existed at the beginning of the war, although there had been considerable improvement in both receiving and transmitting equipment.1
Following the war there was the normal period of relaxation of effort. At that time Secretary Daniels, concerned about the existent situation, stated, "The danger to every navy after a great war, indeed, the national tendency, if history is any test, is for fleets to become stale."2 The economic and military results of a too-rapid demobilization caused disruption, disorganization, and loss of millions of dollars of equipment.3 For the better part of a year little was done to improve fleet communications.
2. THE IMPROVEMENT PERIOD
Following the war, several studies were conducted to determine the best organization of our naval forces to meet the changing concepts of naval warfare occasioned by our emergence from World War I as a world power, and the development of aircraft as an integral arm of the service. From these studies there eventually evolved a plan for the consolidation of the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets into a single fleet, subdivided into the scouting and battle fleets, and the control and base forces.
The Bureau of Engineering and the Office of the Director of Naval Communications followed the trend of these studies and obtained the opinions of higher naval officers which early indicated the strong possibility that the major fleets would be consolidated under a single command. In consonance with the trend and these opinions, a fleet communication plan4 was jointly developed by these two offices during late 1919. Essentially, the plan provided duplex circuits between:
Navy Department and Commander in Chief; Commander in Chief, fleet and force commanders, and all ships; force commanders and the immediate subordinate commanders such as squadron, flotilla, or division depending upon force organization; flotilla or squadron commanders and division commanders; and division commanders and commanding officers of ships of their divisions.
In order to implement this plan, all ships would require additional receiving facilities to cover the Commander in Chief's circuit and the shore stations broadcasts of time, weather, and hydrographic information. Since some forces were still equipped with spark equipment, together with the necessary damped-wave receiving equipment, it would be necessary for the Commander in Chief to transmit simultaneously to his force commanders on both damped and undamped waves and, likewise, to receive both types of emissions. One or the other of the Commander in Chief's frequencies would have to be guarded constantly by designated ships of each force, usually by the force flagships. In the event that parts of a force was separated geographically, guard ships would be required for each area. Additional circuits would be required for each area. Additional circuits would be required for the purposes of exchanging gunfire-control information and for communications between battleships and their observation planes.
As simple as this plan appears under present-day operations, it was far in advance of equipment and installation capabilities. Before it could be used with any degree of success, ships would have to be fitted with transmitters emitting within very narrow bands, designed to make it possible to reduce power to the minimum required, and with sharply tunable receivers capable of rejecting undesired signals. The transmitters would also need to be equipped with "break keys" which would stop other transmitting to permit the uninterfered reception of important messages. Even after these things were accomplished, completely successful operation would require the maximum possible separation between the transmitters and receivers in each ship, as well as means of multiple transmission and reception to reduce the number of antennas.5
Some of these requirements could not be met immediately. Satisfactory vacuum tube transmitters were not available to replace the arc and spark sets. The reinstallation and separation of transmitters and receivers required major overhauls and, before the transmitters could be placed belowdeck and behind armor in the battleships, experimentation was necessary to determine the size and type of antenna trunks.
The Bureau adopted the models E, F, and R receiving systems as temporary standard installations. To improve selectivity, to reduce interference, and to permit the use of two receivers on one antenna, the complicated and temperamental acceptor-rejector circuits of the Royal Navy were included as parts of the E and F systems. The motor-buzzer set was adopted as a substitute for the spark gap for low-powered communications.
Immediate steps were taken to intensify research directed toward the development of satisfactory systems for the multiple use of transmitting and receiving antennas and for the elimination of arc-transmitter compensating and harmonic frequencies and mush. Experimentation was commenced in the U.S.S. Ohio to determine the optimum belowdecks installation of transmitters and the best type and minimum size of antenna trunks. Commercial interests were requested to improve vacuum tubes and to develop higher powered ones for transmitting purpose. In order to encourage the research and development of tube transmitters, contracts for 45 low-powered ones (5, 150, and 750 watts output) were given the General Electric and Western Electric Cos.6
3. PREPARATIONS FOR FORMING A SINGLE FLEET
The implementation of the decision to form a single fleet was held in abeyance while the Washington Disarmament Conference was being held because the international political repercussions of such an action might well have had adverse effects upon the deliberations of the conferees. The obsolete U.S.S. Seattle had been designated to become the flagship of the U.S. Fleet and was being readied for this service. The statutory limitation on the amount that could be spent for this purpose prevented duplexing the radio equipment. However, separate transmitting and receiving rooms were fitted out. These were given the maximum possible separation.7
Meanwhile, the fleet frequency plan was tested in both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets during the combined exercises of these fleets held during the winter of 1921-22. The commanders of both fleets submitted lengthy reports on the operations and reliability of communications during the exercises and, although these were somewhat at variance, both considered their communications entirely unsatisfactory as to personnel and material. When used, the fleet frequency plan caused so much interference that it was impossible to receive messages. The principal reasons for the failure were the absence of duplexing; the interaction of antennas; the broad signals emitted by the spark transmitters; the compensating and harmonic frequencies and the mush emitted by the arc; and the almost complete lack of personnel capable of or interested in endeavoring to make such a plan work.8 The models TB and TC vacuum tube transmitters that had been installed in the battleships prior to these exercises proved entirely unreliable.9
Before it was realized that models TB and TC were unsatisfactory, contracts had been signed for the production of models TE, TF, and TG. The contract for the latter was cancelled. The Model TE transmitters were installed on submarines and, although not completely satisfactory, were an improvement over the small spark sets previously installed in this type of vessel. The Model TF, similar to the Model TE, but not configured for fitting into submarines, was installed in submarine tenders and cruisers and also was an improvement over the previous equipment. Ships equipped with either of these transmitters and with the Model RA receiver had the best and most reliable ship radio communications in the Navy in 1922.
4. RADIO COMMUNICATIONS SITUATION IN THE U.S. FLEET
Following the Senate's ratifications of the terms of the Disarmament Conference, a new "U.S. Naval Policy" was prepared by the General Board of the Navy. This was approved and promulgated by the Secretary of the Navy on 29 March 1922. That portion of the policy relating to communications is quoted below:
To maintain and operate a naval communication system based on the requirements of the forces afloat in a campaign in either or both oceans.
On 1 July 1922 the U.S. Fleet Organization was put into effect. Adm. Hilliary P. Jones, USN, was appointed Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, and he chose Lt. T. A. M. Craven,10 USN, as his Fleet Radio Officer.
To provide and operate radio compass stations as required.
To develop within the Fleet the uses of all forms of communications required for battle efficiency.
To provide adequate radio communications facilities to mariners along the United States coasts where private facilities are more available.
During the winter of 1922-23 the first fleet exercise was held in waters adjacent to Panama. In his report dated 14 March 1923, the Commander in Chief made the following statement:
"The Commander-in-Chief considers that rapid communication within the fleet, between the fleet and its bases and between the fleet and the Navy Department is neither satisfactory nor reliable. The maneuvers of the United States Fleet off Panama during both 1922 and 1923 have demonstrated this fact in the most profound manner; and although there has been some improvement during the past two years, the Commander-in-Chief believes that the subject of communications still warrants the serious and immediate consideration of the Department."
This report contained specific recommendations as to the communication requirements of the fleet and means of satisfying them. It also made the recommendation that communications be made a part of the battle efficiency competition in order to increase the interest of commanding officers in this facet of operations. When this recommendation reached the Navy Department it created a furor. Couched in terms which unmistakenly warned that it was impossible for the fleet to operate as a united force in battle unless communications could be improved to meet requirements, immediate action was forthcoming.
During May and June the members of the General Board studied the report and held extensive hearings on the subject. Their recommendations, concurring with the Commander in Chief, were submitted to the Secretary of the Navy, who approved them.
On 1 July 1923 Adm. R. E. Coontz, USN, became Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, and Hooper was assigned duty as Fleet Radio Officer. Capt. R. W. McNeely, USN, relieved him as the Head of the Radio Division, Bureau of Engineering. Craven was ordered to the Bureau of Engineering and assigned duty as Head of the Ship Section of the Radio Division.
5. EFFECTS OF RADIO BROADCASTING
While the above was transpiring, the radio broadcast boom hit the United States. On 1 January 1922 there were eight licensed radio broadcasting stations in the United States. By 1 May they had increased to 27911 and, by the end of the year, to 569.12 Each of these stations was licensed to operate on a specific frequency between 500 and 1500 kc. during specified periods of the day. Day by day, the number of stations continued to increase. At the end of 1922 it was estimated that there were between 1½ and 2½ million radio receivers in the country.13 As the number of stations increased, the interference increased proportionately with the density of stations in a particular area. In locations along the seacoasts, the high-powered arc transmitters and the remaining spark transmitters of the Navy disrupted reception of these stations and, likewise, the broadcasting increased the difficulties in receiving messages transmitted by naval radio. The owners of broadcast receivers far outnumbered the receivers on naval stations. If their hue and cry against the naval radio stations did not each the heavens it, nonetheless, did reach the ears of high Government officials. The result: much of the money of an already drastically reduced radio budget was expended on improving the emission characteristics of the shore radio stations. This reduced the funds available to improve fleet radio communications. This was not the end. Once aroused, the clamor could not be quieted. In some areas the public could not be convinced that the interference they encountered was from other than naval sources. The Second National Radio Conference was held in Washington in the spring of 1923. Broadcasting interests, abetted by the public, demanded the Navy relinquish the 500-1500-kc. band. The Interdepartmental Radio Advisory Committee14 acquiesced to this demand and agreed that, as soon as possible, the Navy would use the frequencies within this band only on a noninterference basis.15 The broadcast boom was not entirely against the interest of naval communications, for it did provide an increased incentive to the commercial interests to develop improved vacuum tubes, transmitters, and receivers.
6. IMPROVEMENT OF SHIP INSTALLATIONS
Based upon experiments conducted in the U.S.S. Ohio and the recommendations of the Commander in Chief, new standard installation plans for capital ships were formulated. These plans envisaged a communications control center adjacent to the command center. The main receiving room would contain eight receivers for the following purposes:
1 low frequency (12-150 kc):
Multicoupling, using a tube coupling system devised by Taylor and Young, was to be installed so that all eight receivers might use the same antenna simultaneously.16 The receivers would be remotely connected to the communications control center or the conning tower and copied at those locations. The main transmitting room, which was to contain four transmitters, was to be located below the first deck, and, in the battleships, it was to be behind the armor belt. The primary transmitter, an arc equipped with the Eaton Uniwave key and transformer coupling, would cover the frequency range 75-550 kc. A tube transmitter, of lower power, would cover the same range. The other two were to be tube transmitters covering the range 1500-4000 kc. The master oscillator power amplifier control system was to be used to provide the necessary frequency stabilization, One of the higher frequency transmitters was to be capable of being voice-modulated. The plan required that all four transmitters could be used simultaneously and could be keyed from the bridge, conning tower, or by the operator at any of the receiving positions. Three emergency receivers were to be installed in a screened, soundproof booth in the transmitter room.17
3 medium frequency (75-1000 kc):
Commander in chief, force commanders, and for long-range communications.
4 High frequency (1500-4000 kc):
Officer in tactical command, division commanders, gunnery control observers, and spotting planes.
In providing the equipment for this installation, the Bureau took into account the agreement to vacate the broadcast band except on a noninterference basis. The Commander in Chief's comments on this plan are contained in a letter dated 27 March 1924. He did not agree in adopting a policy of vacating the frequencies which the fleet had used for years without assurance that the new frequencies would be satisfactory and that sufficient funds would be available to provide equipments using those frequencies. He warned that as soon as the Navy developed the frequencies above 2000 kc. and perfected its apparatus, private or other Government interests would insist upon another shift. Commenting further upon vacating the broadcast band, he stated that in his opinion the number of broadcast stations would be greatly reduced in the future and it would then be possible to arrange for the use of alternate blocks of frequencies within this band and for area assignments.18 He closed his letter recommending that, since it would take years to develop service above 3000 kc., apparatus should be provided the fleet for using the band between 800-2100 kc. and that separate receiving rooms should not be considered until after service trial in some fleet units.19
This letter reflected the opinions of Hooper, who at that time saw little future in radio broadcasting. In a personal letter to the Director of Naval Communications, dated 15 July 1924, he commented that fleet personnel had a feeling that possibly the Department and the fleet were assuming a great deal more worry and work than was necessary because the existence of a temporary situation in radio broadcasting. In defense of this position he opined that the number of long-distance radio broadcasting stations was greatly in excess of what it would be in a few years that these stations would be reduced in a short time from the hundreds then in existence to perhaps 2, and that these would be owned by the Telephone Co. and Radio Corp.
In early 1923 the first of the Navy-designed alternating current tube sets, Model TL, was installed in the U.S.S. Wyoming for service tests and proved to be very satisfactory.20 Models TM, TN, and TO, utilizing spark transmitter components, were quickly developed. The Model TM was used to replace the 500-watt spark sets on submarines not fitted with Model TE. Model TN, 6 kw., was installed in shore stations. Model TO, 100 watts, voice-modulated, was built for installation in battleships for intrafleet communications. The CW 936 transceiver, installed on all ships, was modified to transmit interrupted continuous waves for use in intrafleet communications to replace the motor-buzzer sets.
During 1923 all battleships were equipped with TL transmitters. Some were also provided with TO transmitters. The U.S.S. California radio installation was modernized and duplexed to some extent. The U.S.S. Colorado and U.S.S. West Virginia, then building, were completely duplexed during their construction. Other capital ships which followed them were also completely duplexed.
7. CONTINUED UNSATISFACTORY TACTICAL RADIO PERFORMANCE
During January and February 1924 the fleet exercised, conducting Fleet Problems II, III, and IV. While these were being held Hooper wrote that the TL set was working fine and was being used for almost everything, and that the TO was also working very nicely. Despite Hooper's favorable comments on the radio transmitters, communications during the exercises were not satisfactory. It was difficult to get the ships to use their assigned frequencies which often resulted in delays of from 2 to 5 hours in obtaining acknowledgment of a message. Such unsatisfactory performances did not gain the confidence of the commanders.21
On 16 February, Commander, Battleships Divisions, Battle Fleet, appointed a board to investigate the deficiencies of radio communications within his command. On 23 February Rear Adm. L. M. Nulton, USN, the senior member, reported the findings of the board. These were sharply critical of communications operations within the fleet and more so of the state of readiness of radio material. In substance, the board rendered the following opinions:
Too much is being attempted with too little by poorly qualified personnel.
In closing its report the Board made the following specific recommendations:
The Fleet Communications Plan cannot be carried but with the diversified, incongruous radio installations existent within the fleet during this period of transition from spark apparatus, with its broad emission, to sharply tunable equipment. Theory is far ahead of material improvements. Destroyers have obsolete apparatus. Cruisers have excellent long-distance equipment, but that for short distance is not satisfactory. Sharply tunable receivers have not been installed in any of our ships.
Existing regulations require a uniformity and versatility of procedure beyond which the equipment is capable. This results in confusion and discouragement of personnel. Additional confusion is caused by absence of authority.
An impracticable number of communication channels are now required. It should suffice that:
Unit commanders be able to communicate with the units of their commands and their immediate seniors in the chain of command.
The Commander in Chief be able to communicate with his immediate subordinate commanders and with the Navy Department.
Permit free and absolute control by the division commander over radio within a division.
Following the completion of the exercises, the Commander in Chief's report was submitted to the Chief of Naval Operations. It contained the following comments:
Require that specific equipment be assigned and be limited to this function with higher authority making no other use of it whatever, either for communications or drills.
Require that all communication drills be held at specified times and be of specific duration.
Require a continuous watch on not more than two frequencies on any one ship.
Radio equipment, particularly receiving equipment, is not up to date.
Notwithstanding the approved recommendation of the Navy General Board and the continued demands from the Fleet for improved equipments, the Bureau of Engineering was faced with difficulties in carrying out its radio modernization plans. In addition to curtailed appropriations, legal and administrative problems continued to confront the Bureau. The problem was complicated by a statutory limitation on the amount that could be expended on the navy yard overhaul of a ship as well as the prerogatives of its commanding officer and of the commandant of the overhauling yard as governed by Navy Department instructions. The determination of how the money was to be expended was causing difficulty. With the concurrence of the Commander in Chief, the Bureau had planned to duplex the radio installation of the U.S.S. Arizona during the navy yard overhaul of that ship in early 1924. But the project received such a low priority that it was not accomplished.
The absence of forward receiving rooms in nearly all flagships, aircraft carriers, and aircraft tenders prevents duplex operation. This includes such ships as the U.S.S. Omaha, Richmond, Savannah, and Procyon.
There are no sharply tunable receivers in the fleet.
There are few sharply tunable transmitters and more are needed to free ships from interference when working simultaneously.
Loading coils should be added to the Model TL tube transmitter to permit use of low frequency so that the use of arc sets be made unnecessary as these preclude duplex communication.
Some means of reducing transmission range to approximately known distances is required.
Devices for changing frequencies are not satisfactory. In operations when a ship goes from one task force to another it should be possible to shift frequency accurately by setting a dial. It would usually be impossible to send test messages to tune in as is now necessary. Flagships should be equipped first.
Base force flagships, tenders, and repair ships should be equipped for low-power continuous-wave intrafleet communications to permit them to handle, without interference, the continuous large volume of traffic incident to the performance of their mission.
Destroyer squadron flagboats require long-range tube transmitters with provision for reducing their power for short-range work. The four units contracted for with the General Electric Co. are suitable for trial and can be installed by forces afloat prior to November 1924.22
The failure to duplex the Arizona caused Craven, Head of the Ship Section of the Radio Division, to recommend to his superior, McNeely, that the Commander in Chief list the radio projects he desired accomplished and request funds be set aside for them for no other purpose. On 18 June, McNeely, in a personal letter to Hooper, quoted Craven's recommendation. Tempers began to flare. In a tersely worded reply, dated 27 June, Hooper intimated that the Bureau of Engineering, and especially the Radio Division, was attempting to evade its responsibilities. He pointed out that it was not the province of the commander to tell a Bureau how to allocate its money as this was, by law, a function of each bureau.
He continued by advising McNeely of the manner in which he accomplished the work of the Radio Division when he was its head, and closed with the following quoted paragraph:
To come down to brass tacks, we have made our recommendations, and we have made a summary of what we think you will do this year, based on our previous ability to obtain a proper proportion of Bureau money and our ability to buy, test and install. We expect you to produce. We would appreciate a systematic method of keeping informed as to progress on the projects in order to make certain necessary arrangements.
A less kindly officer than McNeely might have demanded redress for the statements and tenor of this letter. Except for one other letter, written by Hooper on the day following, Hooper's papers contain no record of further personal correspondence between these two officers.
Under the existing appropriation system, established by law, funds were appropriated to the several bureaus of the Navy Department and the chief of each of these was responsible for their expenditure. The Secretary of the Navy recognized the inadequacies of the appropriation system. In his annual report for 1928 he recommended that funds for the support, maintenance, repair, and operation of ships of the fleet be appropriated in a lump sum in order that the entire overhaul of each vessel could be properly coordinated and financed.
This situation continued to be a deterring factor in the modernization of radio installations. Necessary and satisfactory belowdeck spaces, always insufficient, were allocated to the various bureaus, and each of these was most reluctant to give up assigned spaces to meet the particular requirements of another. Moreover, the necessary alterations to ships' structures had to be approved by and paid for by the Bureau of Construction and Repair. As might be rightfully expected, radio installations were far down on their priority lists as compared with the upkeep and maintenance of hulls.23
Congress, in the 1925 Appropriation Bill, provided the Bureau of Engineering with over $1½ million which had been requested for the improvement of radio installations in ships.24 This amount would have been sufficient to modernize the radio installations of all ships in commission. Unfortunately, this matter was not coordinated with the Bureau of Construction and Repair and no specific funds were sought for the purpose by that Bureau. This resulted in only a few of the larger ships being duplexed during that fiscal year.
8. TREND TOWARD THE USE OF HIGHER FREQUENCIES
The failure to utilize the funds appropriated for 1925 to modernize the fleet installations was not as unfortunate as might be expected. By the end of that year, naval research facilities, assisted by the research activities of amateurs and others, had discovered many of the secrets of shortwave transmission paths, including "skip distance" and the confirmation of the Kennelly-Heaviside theory.25 Experiments conducted by the fleet during that year proved the superiority of the 2000-3000-kc. band for tactical communications and demonstrated the reliability of low-powered, long-distance radio communications in the 4000-20,000-kc. band. The future use of these higher frequencies for long-distance ship-to-shore communications would provide a means of reducing the size and weight of transmitting equipment and the size of antenna trunks and watertight deck and bulkhead insulators. During the year, contracts were entered into with the various manufacturing companies for a large number of improved vacuum tube transmitters for intrafleet and long-distance radio communications and for improved types of receivers, the models RE, RF, and RG. Paralleling this development, improved equipment for aircraft utilizing the 3000-4000 kc. band became available. The master oscillator power amplifier method of frequency control was adopted as standard for transmitters used for intrafleet communication. Crystal control was used for transmitters of frequencies above 3000 kc. Air-cooled tubes with plate voltages of less than 5,000 volts, using direct current supplied by motor generators, were utilized for shipboard equipments.
9. RADIO MODERNIZATION PLAN
Considering the enormous strides made in high-frequency radio communications, the Bureau of Engineering in 1925 decided to modernize all major ship installations during their next overhauls. The Commander in Chief, in his report on the tests of high frequency, recommended:
(a) Equip flagships of fleets and forces with high-frequency equipment for ship-to-shore communication.
The Navy Department concurred with the Commander in Chief's recommendations, except those which confined the use to frequencies below 9000 kc. The rejection of this recommendation was based on the need for higher frequencies for daylight use. For fiscal year 1926, Congress was requested to appropriate $550,000 for duplexing 2 battleships and 6 cruisers and for equipping these plus 10 battleships, 9 cruisers, 8 auxiliary vessels, and 19 destroyers with the new transmitters and receivers.27 This request was coordinated with the Bureau of Construction and Repair.
(b) Equip all cruisers with high-frequency equipment for long-distance communication, but do not remove arc until new equipment is proved.
(c) Test high frequency for use in submarines and, if successful, assign a specific frequency for submarine intrafleet communications.
(d) Confine shore station transmissions to frequencies less than 9000 kc. because of ship reception difficulties due to internally generated shipboard noises.
(e) Confine shipboard transmissions to frequencies less than 7000 kc. in order that ships within 400 miles of each other may communicate.
(f) Shift to the 2000-3000 kc. band for intrafleet communications.26
In September 1925 the Bureau of Engineering issued a statement of its position concerning the radio modernization program. This contained the following pertinent remarks:
An acknowledgment that the radio installations in the fleet were obsolete and fell short of meeting requirements.
The Naval Communications Frequency Plan29 was approved by the Interdepartmental Radio Advisory Committee early in 1926. The importance of this plan, which was fundamentally the work of Craven, cannot be overemphasized. Not only did it provide the necessary guidance for the modernization of the Naval Communications System, but with modifications it has lasted throughout the years. More important, it became the basis for the international allocations of frequency bands for specific services established by the Fourth International Radio Conference convened at Washington in 1927. The Convention which stemmed from this Conference was of far-reaching importance because it stabilized the international use of the radiofrequency spectrum and made it possible for all navies and merchant-marine shipping to operate on any part of the high seas without undue interferences.
The Bureau and the Office of Naval Communications were engaged in formulating a comprehensive naval communications plan which would allocate frequencies in the higher portion of the spectrum for naval usage. Upon approval of this plan by the Interdepartmental Radio Advisory Committee it would form the basis for final designs of new equipments.
Concurrently, both naval and commercial research facilities were conducting research based upon the requirements of this plan. This research was, necessity, slow because of the scarcity of naval radio engineers and the numerous problems confronting the commercial companies in the broadcast field.
Upon completion of designs, the new equipments must be service tested in and approved by the fleet and that undue haste in these tests might cause erroneous conclusions to be drawn which would result in further loss of time and undesirable expenditures of funds.
The program, carried through to its conclusion, would eliminate the unsatisfactory situation within a few years and the fleet would then have a modern electronic communication system capable of meeting initial mobilization requirements and of rapid expansion.28
Craven's plan provided detailed allocations of frequencies for naval usage during both peace and war. Very low frequencies plus frequencies between 4000 and 4525 kc. and the harmonics thereof were assigned naval shore radio stations. The Fleet was assigned a few low frequencies for use of the Commander in Chief, fleet, force and battleship division commanders for long-distance communications; and frequencies between 4000 and 4525 kc. and the harmonics thereof for the same purpose. Frequencies between 2000 and 3000 kc. were assigned for intrafleet tactical purposes. Communications between aircraft and ships were assigned frequencies between 3000 and 4000 kc. Communications between air stations and aircraft were provided by the utilization of some of these same frequencies augmented by the use of the broadcast band frequencies on a noninterference basis.
Once the decision to utilize the higher frequencies was finally made, there were no further major changes in the modernization plan. Battleships, cruisers, aircraft carriers, and tenders were duplexed during their next navy yard overhauls. The harmonic operation of the earlier equipment was far from satisfactory and most of the transmissions were confined to the fundamental frequencies. Later, Lt. Comdr. J. B. Dow, USN, designed an electron-coupled circuit that made the utilization of the harmonics practicable. By the end of 1927, practically all of the arc and spark transmitters had been relegated to museums or to the scrap pile.
In 1924 the design and development of high-speed (100 words per minute) keying and recording mechanisms was completed. These were then manufactured and installed at the shore stations where they greatly increased the traffic-handling capabilities of point-to-point circuits.
During the early 1920's there were many minor improvements in ancillary equipment. Higher dielectric bulkhead and deck insulators were designed and manufactured, as were also insulators of greatly increased tensile strength. Radiocompass equipment for ships was improved, and better locations obtained to increase accuracy.
1 The 10 Jan. 1925 issue of the Washington (D.C.) Star quoted the Chief of the Bureau of Engineering as stating that the radio equipment in naval vessels was estimated to be worth $7,500,000.
2 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1919 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1919), p. 10.
3 These lessons learned from World War I were quickly forgotten, and, the same conditions recurred at the end of World War II.
4 This plan was titled "The Force Tune System."
5 Bureau of Engineering Monthly Report of Radio and Sound, November 1919.
6 Supra, ch. XXVIII.
7 Memorandum, dated 18 July 1924, from Fleet Radio Officer to Fleet Material Officer.
8 Letter, dated 24 Apr. 1922, from Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, to the Chief of Naval Operations.
9 Supra, ch. XXVIII.
10 Craven was born in Pennsylvania, and was appointed a midshipman from New Jersey. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1913. In 1930 he resigned from the Navy as a lieutenant commander. He was later appointed to the Federal Communications Commission. After serving one term as a member of that Commission he practiced as a communications consultant in Washington, D.C. He was again appointed a member of the Federal Communications Commission, and is now serving his term.
11 Radio Service Bulletin, Department of Commerce (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1922), 1 May 1922.
12 Ibid., 1 Jan. 1923.
13 Orrin E. Dunlap, Jr., "Radio and Television Almanac" (Harper & Bros., New York, 1951), p. 71.
14 This Committee was established within the Executive Branch of the Government to advise the President on radio matters effecting Government usage.
15 Personal letter, dated 18 July 1924, from Hooper to the Director of Naval Communications.
16 Supra, ch. XXVIII.
17 Bureau of Engineering monthly, Radio and Sound Report, July 1924.
18 Ibid., August 1924.
19 Ibid., September 1924.
20 Ibid., March 1923.
21 Personal letter, dated 29 Jan. 1924, from Hooper to McNeely.
22 Personal letter, dated 19 Feb. 1924, from Hooper to McNeely.
23 Years later this unsatisfactory situation was recognized and the Bureau of Engineering and Construction and Repair were consolidated into the Bureau of Ships.
24 Personal letter, dated 28 June 1924, from Hooper to McNeely.
25 This theory was based on the belief that the upper portion of the earth's atmosphere contains layers of highly ionized air capable of bending or reflecting radio waves back to the earth. These layers cause fading, skip distance, and variations between day and night reception.
26 Letter, dated 8 Sept. 1925, Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, to the Chief of Naval Operations.
27 The Washington Star, 10 Jan. 1925.
28 Bureau of Engineering Monthly Report of Radio and Sound, September 1925.
29 App. K.
TOC | Previous Section: Chapter XXXI | Next Section: Chapter XXXIII