Feeds

US Navy cuts ELF radio transmissions

Environmentalists welcome decision

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

The US Navy has called time on all its Extremely Low Frequency transmissions, saying that improvements in technology means that the communications system is now unneccessary.

The Navy used ELF transmissions - defined as the band of frequencies between 0Hz and 300Hz - for secure communications with submarines. The very low frequencies mean that the signal can penetrate far below the surface of the sea, reaching the deeply submerged vessels. The thought behind the project was that in the event of a nuclear attack by the USSR the US would be able to instruct its nuclear fleet to retaliate, without having to wait for the submarines to surface.

First proposed in 1968, the original specifications for ELF transmitters called for the antennae to cover an area of 22,500 miles - bigger than Belgium and the Netherlands combined. This was scaled down considerably, thanks to advances in technology and an assemement of the impact such a large electric field could have on local animal, and human, populations.

The Navy ran two transmission sites: one in Wisconsin, the other in Michigan. The ELF transmitters are huge structures, composed of power lines that stretch through the forests for up to 28 miles each. Big, but still small fry compared to the original plans.

The project was almost cancelled in the late 70s, but President Reagan revived it and it became operational in 1989. It is widely regarded as a relic of the Cold War. Philip Coyle, former under secretary of defense, now with the Centre for Defence Information told Michigan Public Radio: "This is a Cold War system, and the Cold War is over."

The Navy says new technology means the ELF system is no longer neccessary, and that it will switch to using a combination of satellites and Very Low Frequency (3-30kHz) transmitters instead.

Local residents say the closure of the centres will mean the loss of around 60 jobs, but environmentalists and anit-nuclear campaigners have welcomed the decision. ®

Related stories

US Emergency Alert System open to hack attack
UK scientists roll out Wi-Fi proof wallpaper
Dutch downplay 3G health scare study
Magnetic fields may cause childhood cancer

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Software bug caught Galileo sats in landslide, no escape from reality
Life had just begun, code error means Russia's gone and thrown it all away
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.