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History of Communications-Electronics in the United States Navy, Captain Linwood S. Howeth, USN (Retired), 1963, pages xi-xv:
SOME YEARS AGO Naval War College publications reminded us that Communications is the handmaiden of operations. While this appears obvious, there is no sounder lesson for a naval officer. From single ship, to force, to fleet, to Navy Department--all through the command echelon--effective coordination and ultimate operational success depends upon efficient communications. Therefore, when the Director of Naval History asked me to prepare the introduction to this history of electronics in the Navy, I was pleased to accept. It affords me opportunity again to express my appreciation to those who made possible the reliable, rapid, and secure communications which were essential to the successful prosecution of World War II in which operations covered the many millions of square miles of the Pacific.
Upon assuming command of the U.S. Pacific Fleet on 31 December 1941, I found a well-functioning communication system capable of great expansion. Could it expand rapidly enough to handle the far-reaching demands suddenly thrown upon it? It could and did, to my great satisfaction. Large quantities of electronic equipment and increasing numbers of installation and maintenance personnel began to flow to Pearl Harbor from the Electronics Division, Bureau of Ships, directed by Commodore Jennings B. Dow. At the same time, the Communications Division of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, under Rear Adm. Joseph R. Redman, supplied trained operators. Thus, the Pacific Fleet Communications Officer, Captain, later Rear Adm. John R. Redman, could expand Pacific Ocean area communications to meet all operating, logistic, intelligence, and other command requirements. This gigantic task was accomplished so efficiently that the Pearl Harbor headquarters was able to exercise complete and effective control of the operations of the far-ranging forces on, under, and above the sea. The radio silence usually imposed upon the forces afloat made absolute confidence in the integrity of our communications system a matter of paramount importance. This confidence was earned and well merited.
In the last year of the war when an advanced CINCPAC headquarters was established on Guam, Commodore E. E. Stone, later rear admiral, relieved Captain Redman and administered fleet communications in the same outstanding manner. To those officers and to all the people who served under them, civilian and naval, who made possible the growth and operation of the all-important communication system, I repeat my thanks for a vital assignment well done.
The marked success achieved by naval communications in World War II was not happenstance but was the fruit of long years of endeavor. Since the dawn of time man looked for better means to communicate over greater distances with speed and accuracy. To "pass the word" when beyond voice range, he learned to beat out his message on a tree trunk or drum head. Smoke and fire beacons gave him visual signals. He used swift runners to carry news in the days of classical Greece, and swift horses for the colorful Pony Express in the American West before the coming of the telegraph.
Until the present century, a ship's isolation was complete once she navigated out of port and sailed over the horizon. Of course, ships in company or in passing "spoke" each other by voice hail, or signal flags by day, and lanterns at night. But once at sea, orders or instructions from higher commands not in company could not be easily altered. For want of communications, major battles have been fought after peace treaties were signed.
For centuries the ocean was both the great water highway of the world and a silent barrier. Radio raised the curtain to a vast and universal change. With the installation and perfection of the miracle of instantaneous wireless telegraphy, a radio-equipped ship would never again be totally cut off from the land.
The U.S. Navy, in keeping with its traditional scientific leadership, early recognized the impact of radio on naval operations. Only by such means of communication could far-scattered forces be effectively directed. Adm. Bradley A. Fiske, while a lieutenant, experimented with "electronic communication" on naval vessels in 1888, many years before Marconi's successful application. During Fiske's investigations, he discovered the principles of degaussing ships as a protection against mines (used widely in World War II), and designed a system of radio control of torpedoes which forms the basis for the modern radio guided missile.
As the following documentary history records, the Navy's subsequent enthusiastic drive and encouragement to scientific research gave the initial impetus and support to what has become the vast electronics industry in America, an industry that plays such an important part in our military and civilian lives.
When the Marconi interests refused an outright sale of radio equipment to the U.S. Navy, Rear Adm. Henry B. Manney, Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, steadfastly refused to accept a system which would have been inadequate for our needs. He insisted upon providing the Navy with a communication system, wholly under its control, which could be expanded in response to requirements, and one which would not stifle our inventive genius.
In the following years the Navy paced the way to United States world leadership in electronics. The United States Navy's first radios, purchased in Europe before American manufacturers entered the field, were limited to ranges under a hundred miles, and covered such wide bands that carrying on two communications simultaneously was an impossibility. An urgent need for more sensitive and sharply tuned sets led naval engineers in the World War I period to champion vacuum tube research and development by domestic producers. Thus stimulated by naval backing, America's inventive genius turned out a reliable vacuum tube.
Originally vacuum tubes had a life expectancy of some 70 hours and cost fifty dollars each, limitations which made their widespread use economically unfeasible. However, shortly after World War I the Navy solicited bids on a 5000 hour tube costing no more than five dollars. The successful bidder met these revolutionary specifications, and in so doing the Navy had sired a major contribution to the wildfire growth of commercial radio in this country, and set our electronics industry off to a booming start. Likewise, high voltage transmission line insulators, of a type now in world wide use, are a development growing out of the Navy's demand for high voltage insulators for shipboard and shore station antenna systems.
The Navy took the lead in airborne radio when in 1912 a naval aircraft, the first plane to carry a radio transmitter, communicated with a ground station at distances up to 16 miles. Four years later, the Navy's aircraft radio laboratory was established at Pensacola to concentrate on development of long range airborne radio equipment. By 1919, a naval pilot, using radio alone, was able to locate and fly to a battleship one hundred miles off shore.
The Navy was the first large user to adopt short wave for regular service use, and the first to initiate organized research in high frequency communications. As early as 1925, the Naval Research Laboratory was able to correlate data explaining in detail the phenomena governing high frequency communications. Radar, the electronic wonder which provided our forces with such a tremendous advantage over the Japanese enemy in World War II, is a never-to-be-forgotten offshoot of the Navy's basic interest and research in high frequency.
At international as well as national communication conferences, the Navy has consistently played a leading role. The first chairman and the first technical adviser to the Federal Communications Commission were naval officers. International acceptance and adoption of the radio spectrum channeling system was a result of naval effort.
Many officers and men in the Navy had a hand in this swift progress. Two outstanding names that I might single out were Admirals S. S. Robison and A. J. Hepburn, both of whom shared the distinction of being Commanders-in-Chief, United States Fleet. Admiral Robison prepared a radio manual that through several revisions remained for years the standard naval text on the subject. Admiral Hepburn convinced naval authorities of the great need of research and development by qualified civilian radio engineers.
If one person were to be termed the father of radio in the United States Navy, it would be Rear Admiral Stanford C. Hooper. He was twice Fleet Radio Officer, thrice Head of the Radio Division, Bureau of Ships, and long time Director of Naval Communications. During his first tour as Fleet Radio Officer he helped to develop sound radio doctrine in the Fleet, established communication discipline, and improved reliability to a point where radio was accepted as a primary means of tactical signaling. After World War I, he championed the concept that American businessmen should combat foreign communications monopolies that endangered our national security. Largely through Admiral Hooper's ideas and energetic efforts, American corporations today play a major role in the field of international radio communications.
Admiral Hooper induced all important American patent owners to pool their patents. This was an inspired move which helped make American manufactured equipment the best in the world. To obtain increased power and ruggedness for naval use, he stimulated vacuum tube research and development. The result was the vacuum tube transmitter which has been the heart of modern radio communications. It was Admiral Hooper who, although initially opposed, later fostered the system of high frequency radio communication which proved indispensable in World War II. Thus, through his dedicated efforts, Admiral Hooper made many contributions of far-reaching importance to the effectiveness of the Navy and national security.
Many other individuals and elements of the Navy likewise contributed in important ways to the development of radio in the Navy. For example, the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D. C. did notable pioneer work in radio and especially high frequencies. It was during research in the use of higher frequencies that Dr. A. Hoyt Taylor discovered the phenomenon of radar, the electronic wonder that played such an important role in World War II victory.
These few names I have listed represent hundreds of thousands in and outside the Navy who by their dedicated service made possible the enormous strides in the fields of electronics and communications which have won world leadership for America. The electronics worker in the factory, the radio operator of a warship, and the communicators on distant stations do their part in defending America. Their work and their accomplishments are a part of this electronic history.
When the scope and size of naval operations are enlarged, so too are the problems of command and combat coordination. A World War II Fast Carrier Task Force was deployed over miles of ocean, whereas the modern Attack Carrier Task Force of the Atomic Age is spread over thousands of square miles with a commensurate increase in the complexity of tactical communications. Naval communications must of necessity keep abreast or ahead of the increased requirements generated by technological developments in ships, aircraft and weapons. The Navy's exacting demand for ever more versatility, ruggedness, reliability, and long operating life which must be built into its electronic systems have constantly stimulated invention and improved design, and will continue to set high standards for the industry.
It is a giant step from the spark-gap transmitter of a half century ago to the transistorized multiplex of today which can simultaneously transmit one hundred words a minute on each of four channels. The intricate electronic complexes which look into the sky, under the sea, and direct our guns, missiles, and aircraft are a far cry from the eyes of a sailor lookout. Yet we merely stand on the threshold of a new and exciting science.
Electronics has had a great past under the leadership of the United States Navy. This complex electronics science will have an even greater future in the Navy of tomorrow. The guided missile ships, space satellite radio recorders, and radio astronomy, indicate the course of events to come. In these events, the Navy will continue to play a vital role.
C. W. NIMITZ,
|Fleet Admiral, USN|
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