NCVA-NE Field Trip to NAVSOCDET ALFA Prospect Harbor, ME
[Article and Photos courtesy of "Ace Cub Reporter" Dick Carlson]
Four members of the New England Chapter of NCVA [Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association] and wives toured the NAVSOCDET ALFA [Naval Satellite Operations Command, Detachment Alfa] at Prospect Harbor peninsula in Prospect Harbor, Maine on Wednesday, September 26, 2007. One of NAVSOC's original sites, Detachment Alfa supports satellite tracking, telemetry and commanding (TT&C) through space-ground link subsystem (SGLS), ultra-high-frequency (UHF), and EHF capabilities. It supports many Naval Space programs to include FLTSAT (Fleet Satellite) and NTDN (Navy Terminal Data Node) among other areas. Commissioned in 1962 at the U.S. Naval Security Group Activity Winter Harbor, Maine site in the village of Corea, the detachment was moved to a former Coast Guard property within the village of Prospect Harbor in 1964 where it currently stands.

On a warm, sunny afternoon, Jon Stiles, NAVSOC's AOIC gave Jim and Althea Burke, Bob and Maxine Fields, Dick and Merlene Carlson and Bob and Josie Kord the royal treatment first to completely check out the 1891 Lightkeeper's House and also into and atop the rarely visited Lighthouse located at 4424'N 6801'W at the tip of Prospect Harbor Point [still a working navigational aid with blinking light] with a fifth-order Fresnel Lens (1870) flashing red every six seconds with two white sectors. The Lighthouse Tower is owned by the U. S. Coast Guard and leased to the American Lighthouse Foundation of Rockland, Maine, which is licensed to care for the tower. To understand the significance of a red flashing light with two white sectors, Dick asked Jeremy D'Entremont, a noted Webmaster of lighthouses in New England about it. The lighthouse shows a red light with two white sectors. The white sectors mark the "fairways" for mariners coming into the harbor. As long as they see the white light, they know they're avoiding dangerous ledges. When they see the red light, they're in danger of striking the ledges.

Four of us climbed up the wooden spiral stairs into the sub-lantern landing, then climbed a narrow ladder to the lantern housing itself. We then crawled through a metal porthole to walk around the outdoor lighthouse walk. WHAT A VIEW!

After Lighthouse and Lightkeeper's House visit, Jon Stiles gave us a personal tour of the actual workspaces of NAVSOCDET ALFA. The few workers on the second watch had to sanitize their working spaces for us to enter. But we witnessed for ourselves the most modern equipment of keeping tabs on those who would do us harm as opposed to our CT techniques of former times.

After the tour ended, we left the securely guarded NAVSOCDET military compound and had dinner at "Chases Restaurant" in Winter Harbor overlooking the sea. Being birds of a feather, everyone dined on fresh ocean haddock.

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Gull Cottage and the Lighthouse
Seated L-R: Althea Burks, Jim Burks, Maxine Field, Merlene Carlson, Dick Carlson.
Standing: L-R: Bob Field, Bob Kord, Josi Kord.
The heavily guarded "main-gate" to NAVSOCDET ALFA
Looking out over NAVSOCDET ALFA secured compound

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