USS Saipan (LHA 2)

LHA COMMUNICATIONS CAPABILITIES

The Communications Department aboard each of the Navy’s five 40,000-ton complex amphibious assault ships had more communications equipment than any other surface combatant ship in the Navy–with the exception of two amphibious communications command (LCC) ships.

The five LHAs included: USS SAIPAN (LHA-2) and USS NASSAU (LHA-4), both operating from the East Coast, and USS TARAWA (LHA-l), USS BELLEAU WOOD (LHA-3), and USS PELELIU (LHA-S), operating from the West Coast. The two LCC ships were the Mount Whitney (LCC-20) on the East Coast and the USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) on the West Coast.

When an LHA was a flagship, that is, when the Commander of Amphibious Group Two–COMPHIBGRU 2 (East Coast) or COMPHIBGRU 1 (West Coast), for short, was operating in his capacity as group commander aboard the ship, it was required to maintain contact with the “seat of government,”–the Department of Defense In the Pentagon in Washington, and, when necessary, with the White House. Communications was one of the most necessary capabilities of this type of ship.

There were two divisions and one administrative unit of the Communica­tions Department–Radio Division, including the Communications (“Comm”) Center, and the Signals Division. The administrative unit was is the CMS (for Communications Security Material System) Custodian.

The Radio Division’s basic function was to maintain command and control functions, which included all external transmitting communications assets utilizing the entire spectrum of frequency ranges–Ultra High Frequency (UHF), Very High Frequency (VHF), and High Frequency (HF).

Included were satellite communications (the U.S. Navy utilized eight orbiting Fleet support satellites and controled parts of three Defense Department communications satellites), as well as secure voice communication, i.e. by encryption.

Additionally, LHA ships were equipped with the Navy Tactical Data System (NTDS), a computer which complied all surface and air electronic input and provided for the ship’s commanding officer a “tactical picture” of all ships and aircraft within a given area, identifying them as friend or potential foe.

However, LHA ships also had a very sophisticated computerized communications “suite” (package) called the Communications Data Processing System. This system enabled the Navy, in a rapidly expanding capability, to process large amounts of information at great speed.

The satellite communications system on LHA ships was capable of trans­mitting 3,000 words a minute, and a message could be transmitted around the world via satellite in 3-4 seconds.

The Signals Division of the Communications Department had responsibil­ity for all visual communications on the ship, both the ship’s signals and those of the admiral (Commander, Amphibious Group One or Two) when he was embarked. In addition, the Signals Division was responsible for all honors and ceremonies on board.

The Signals Division not only reported to the bridge all ships that its personnel identified anywhere within visual range of the ship, but it also had a new responsibility since 1 April 1982: reporting any ships suspected of transporting drugs.

Means of communications included: flashing light, semaphore (hand flags), Infrared blinker (for nighttime)’ and flag hoists.

 

Next Page: LHA Engineering Facilities

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Works by Dr. Connors

Log Entries, are as varied as the person reliving them–interesting, exciting, provocative, stimulating, appealing, heartwarming, lively and entertaining–worth telling to a larger audience, sharing with others some unforgettable experiences and preserving precious memories for future generations.

Truckbusters From Dogpatch: the Combat Diary of the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing during the Korean War, 1950-1953. The incredible story of the men—pilots, ground crew and supporting elements—whose achievements and records during that bloody conflict not only made U.S. Air Force history, but helped the newly fledged military service gain the confidence and respect it now enjoys.

Baited Trap: the Ambush of Mission 1890. After more than fifty years, we know the riveting story — “…a story that has not been told, but should have been” (Graybeard Magazine) — of the Korean War’s most heroic–and costly, helicopter rescue mission. It took declassification of official records, extensive research, tracking down the scattered families of brave airmen, and use of the Freedom of Information Act, to piece together the story of what five incredibly determined Air Force and Navy pilots did that long June afternoon in the infamous “Iron Triangle.”

About Tracy Connors

Tracy D. Connors graduated from Jacksonville University (AA), University of Florida (BA), the University of Rhode Island (MA), and Capella University (Ph.D. with Distinction, human services management, 2013). Ph.D. (Honorary), Leadership Excellence, Jacksonville University, December, 2013. Designated a "Distinguished Dolphin" by Jacksonville University, Feb. 2, 2010.