Important Military and Commercial Results Obtained from Seizure of Stations.
No. 1,503 H Street, N. W.,
Washington, D. C., Wednesday.
An important factor in winning the war has been the operation of radio telegraphy by the navy. This task, imposed on the division of communications, ranked second in importance to the conveying of troops. Entire control of wireless communication meant not only transmission of government orders, but handling commercial traffic, interception of enemy messages, training of operators, devising a system of communication with vessels at sea and obviating the necessity of using transmitting apparatus and disclosing ship's position to the enemy; also the study of messages handled by the Sayville and Tuckerton stations prior to April, 1917.
Immediately after the declaration of war President Wilson issued a proclamation closing all stations not necessary for naval communications and delegated the control of all other stations, except government, to the Secretary of the Navy. A system of receiving stations was at once installed along the Atlantic coast, and these stations, together with the high power transmitting stations, made it possible to maintain continuous communication with such points as Carnarvon, Lyons, Nantes and Rome.
To obviate the necessity of a vessel at sea using her transmitting apparatus, and thus disclosing her location, a broadcasting system was inaugurated, whereby massages to all vessels, naval and merchant, were transmitted "into the air" at certain designated times; all vessels being instructed to copy all these messages. Operation of the radio service proved so satisfactory that the purchase of all the shore stations of the federal telegraph company and the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America, except the four high power stations of the latter, has recently been announced.
This increases the number of naval stations from fifty-eight to 111.
The navy has handled commercial radio traffic since 1912 with great success. Even during the war, with rigid restrictions regarding the use of radio, thousands of dollars have been turned into the Treasury from the commercial radio traffic of the navy. One of the most profitable activities of the navy during the war has been the study of file copies of the radio messages handled by the Sayville and Tuckerton stations with the German stations at Nauen and Eilvese prior to April 7, 1917. In co-operation with the office of the Alien Property Custodian millions of dollars' worth of German owned property was confiscated. One message alone enabled the Alien Property Custodian to seize $10,000,000 worth of German owned ships, and another message enabled the officer to secure for the Navy Department the high power station at Sayvllle. Another interesting fact concerning these stations is that a large sum of money, representing the receipts of these stations while under navy supervision prior to April 7, 1917, was invested in Liberty bonds, despite the protest of the German Agent, now located in an internment camp.
At the urgent recommendation of General Pershing that the radio stations be prepared to take over the work of the cables, arrangements were made for the erection of the most powerful radio station in the world at Bordeaux, France, which will he known as the "Lafayette" station. It is not yet completed, but when finished will provide absolutely reliable transatlantic communication at any season of the year.
In addition to the construction of this enormous station the navy has found it possible to furnish the Cuban government eighteen steel towers for radio stations and the necessary apparatus. Also three radio stations have been placed in Panama.
There is at present a bill before Congress providing for permanent government ownership of all commercial shore radio stations, the control to be delegated to the Secretary of the Navy. As the navy already owns all but sixteen of the commercial shore stations the passage of this bill would establish for all time to the Navy Department the control of radio in the United States and enable the navy to continue the work it carried on during the war.