The following five BMEWS stations are of the tropo type and were part of the A Route. All links, unless specified otherwise, are 60’ antennas. Site configuration is based on the older stations described for the original WACS tropo installations.
DUNCAN CANAL Smuggler Cove; Hoonah
HOONAH Duncan Canal; Ocean Cape; TD-2 link to Lena Point
OCEAN CAPE Cape Yakataga; Hoonah
SMUGGLER COVE Duncan Canal; remote link to DEW-line
CAPE YAKATAGA (photo 14) Ocean Cape; Boswell Bay
Construction on Project Stretchout began In the late 1950’s. Because the six stations were configured somewhat differently and had various functions, they will be described separately. All of the stations were tropos and they functioned, overall, as the Aleutian DEW-line system. It was during this phase of WACS construction that 120’ billboard antennas were first used. While the 60’ antennas had been successful elsewhere, 120’ antennas were still in the planning stage when they were constructed in the Aleutians. The facilities were built in the 1950’s, and DEW-line capabilities functioned until the late 1960’s.
Cold Bay became the hub of the Aleutian DEW-line system and connected back to the main WACS network at King Salmon. It was also the headquarters for the 714 AC&W squadron. The facility was constructed in 1958, opened in 1959, and deactivated in 1979. MAR capability was added in the 1970’s.
60’ antennas beamed signals 105 miles to Port Moller and 92 miles to Cape Sarichef. The original site consisted of a composite building which housed the dormitory and the communications equipment as well. Additional facilities were available at the nearby ACS site. The original cost for Cold Bay and Cape Sarichef together was almost eight million dollars. Improvements and repair to the composite building in 1971 cost 2.5 million dollars. The installation has been demolished.
DRIFTWOOD BAY (UNALASKA)
Driftwood Bay reached west 106 miles to Nikolski and east 93 miles to Cape Sarichef. 60’ antennas were employed. The station was opened in 1959 and deactivated in 1977. It has been vandalized extensively, which is rather surprising because it is such a remote site.
Nikoiski not only functioned as a component of the western DEW-line, it served the Navy, FAA, and other agencies as well. It communicated with Driftwood Bay, 106 miles to the east, via 30’ antennas; Atka, 233 miles to the west, with 60’ antennas, and Adak, 341 miles west, with 120’ antennas. It cost five million dollars to build. (See note 1)
Port Helden communicated directly with King Salmon, 141 miles up the Alaska Peninsula and with Port Moller, 100 miles down the Alaska Peninsula utilizing 60’ antennas in both cases. It was opened in 1959 and deactivated in 1978. The original site included a 15,000 sf composite building, a 400 sf water storage tanks, a 90 sf water pump house, a 140 sf ammunition storage structure and fuel storage tanks totalling 540,000 gallons in capacity. This abandoned site has been heavily vandalized and is in a state of "decomposition". It cost 3.5 million dollars to build.
Port Heiden and Port Moller were virtually identical in site composition and configuration. 60’ antennas communicated with Cold Bay, 105 miles to the west, and with Port Heiden, 100 miles away. It has been ransacked and free standing water is present is all buildings. The original cost to build Port Moller was 4.4 mIllion dollars. It may have cost more to build than Port Heiden because it is a less accessible spot.
Cape Sarichef, now in private hands, was built on top of a levelled cinder cone. A problem during construction and all during occupation of the site was volcanic ash and dust which got into all the machinery and bothered the personnel as well. One pair of 60’ antennas communicated with Driftwood Bay, 93 miles to the west, while the other pair faced Cold Bay, 92 miles to the east. The initial cost of Cape Sarichef and Cold Bay together was almost eight million dollars.
Project Bluegrass extended the WACS to the end of the Aleutian Chain. Adak and Shemya became operational in the late 1960’s and were deactivated in the late 1970’s. They have been demolished, although the composite building on Shemya has been stripped, remodeled and has been reused for other purposes. Due to the remoteness of these facilities, only 120’ billboard antennas could be used (photo 2; as-builts 2-6). As mentioned above, use of this size antenna was still in the planning stage. When erected during Stretchout and Bluegrass, they had never been used before. Adak communicated with Nikoiski to the east, 341 miles distant and with Shemya, an incredible 393 miles to the west. Shemya was the end link to Adak and the WACS system on the mainland and also had communications capabilities with the Coast Guard installation on Attu.
LIGHT ROUTE MICROWAVE FACILITIES (LRM)
LRM’s date to the 1960’s and provided telephone service to the Air Force Bases on which they were located. They also connected into the WACS system. Pre-existing facilities were used and the WACS rented office space in them. The Campion AFB WACS connected to Kalakaket Creek and Galena. Eielson AFB had a microwave path to Pedro Dome. The Elmendorf AFB facility connected to R1-N and, finally, Galena was linked to Campion and Kalakaket Creek.
There was no Nikolski to Atka shot.
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