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NCTCS, Cutler Maine
NCTAMS LANT DET, Cutler
East Machias, Maine

The Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station in Cutler, Maine, was a communication center used to provide contact with U.S submarines in the North Atlantic Mediterranean and Arctic seas. Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Cutler, commisioned in 1961, maintains and operates a very low-freguency (VLF) transmitter. With an output of 2 million watts, 20 times that of major radio stations, it is the most powerful in the world. The Navy shore VLF/LF transmitter facilities transmit a 50 baud submarine command and control broadcast which is the backbone of the submarine broadcast system. The VLF/LF radio broadcast provides robustness (i.e., improved performance in atmospheric noise), availability, global coverage, and has seawater penetrating properties. The submarine VLF/LF broadcasts operates in a frequency range from 14 to 60 kHz.

The mission of NCTAMS LANT DET Cutler (Code 16) was to provide and support quality communications to our customers, the operating forces of the Atlantic Fleet and shore commands of the Northeast Region. Provide a Very Low Frequency (VLF) broadcast link to Atlantic Fleet Units operating at sea in areas of broadcast coverage and High Frequency (HF) transmitter support to NCTAMS LANT and as directed by CINCLANTFLT, to other units of the Fleet operating in the Northern, Southern, and Western Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.

The Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station, Atlantic Detachment (NCTAMS LANT DET), Cutler, Maine, consists of three discontiguous parcels with a combined area of roughly 3,000 acres, several miles of coastline, and over 150 buildings and structures. The most notable feature of this station's built environment is two arrays of Cold War-era, very low-frequency antennas, which cover an area of approximately 2,000 acres and consist of 26 antenna-towers ranging in height from 800 to 1,000 feet.

Located on Sprague Neck Peninsula, the Unit's three sections jut out into the ocean west of the village of Cutler, Maine. The site provides a dramatic example of Maine's wilderness scenery; rock-bound shoreline cliffs, hidden beaches, tidal pools, offshore islands, and spruce forests. Cleared for the 26 1,000-foot towers, 2200 acres is maintained as grassland. Sprague Neck Bar has been designates an Ecological Reserve Area for its importance to tens of thousands of migrating shorebirds anually.

The Natural Resources Office participated in the Neotropical Migrant Monitoring Program, sponsosred by the Navy and USF&WS. The coastlines of Maine and New Brunswick were intensively surveyed to determine migration and breeding habitat use by both songbirds and shorebirds. This data will be used to develop long-term habitat management. Military mission precludes public access to much of NCTS Cutler.

With relocation of Cutler's VERDIN suite to a remote location at Norfolk, Virginia in 1999, Cutler's capacity was adjusted and reduced. The VERDIN suite is a signal encoding operation involving keying equipment, and is now managed remotely from Norfolk.

In May 1999 the Fleet and Industrial Supply Center (FISC), Norfolk Detachment Philadelphia announced plans to acquire telecommunications base support services for Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station (NCTS) Cutler, Maine. This acquisition is for the provision of all services, functions, and tasks necessary to fulfill the NCTS Cutler telecommunications mission, including: (1) Managing the telecommunications operation; (2) Providing Very Low Frequency (VLF) and High Frequency (HF) communications; (3)Providing planned maintenance, corrective maintenance and repair for all electronic equipment and antenna systems; (4) Operating and maintaining the power plant and associated equipment; (5) Providing base support; and (6) Procuring supplies. The U.S. Navy has determined that this requirement is a commercial activity as defined by OMB Circular A-76.

Citing misleading correspondence and intentions in the Navy's ongoing Commercial Activities (CA) study at the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station (NCTS), in January 2000 Maine's Congressional Delegation asked Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen to cancel the CA study, retain full operational capability at the base, and direct the Department of Defense (DOD) Inspector General to conduct an investigation of Navy actions relating to Cutler. Despite assurances to the delegation from then-Navy Secretary John Dalton in 1994 that Cutler's mission would remain unchanged and the Navy would make "every reasonable effort to see the facility properly populated and funded to accomplish its mission", the delegation said it recently learned that the Navy's decision to remote operations of the VERDIN suite from Cutler was made in 1991.

As of October, 2000, the station is no longer being operated by Navy personnel. NCTS Cutler will continue operations at their nearby radio tower site, but with civilian personnel only. The Navy has identified the base, used to houseand support the Navy personnel, as "excess" and has made about 80 acres of waterfront property available for development. The 80-acre, oceanfront navy base located in Cutler, Maine, is being disposed of by the U.S. Navy.

Special legislation passed by Congress allows the Cutler Develpment Cornoration, a local organization of area municipalities, the option of taking the NCTS base property directly from the Navy. This provision will avoid the long and uncertain federal disposal process, and allow the community group to sell or lease directly to interested developers.

Suggested uses for the property have ranged from a senior citizen housing project to a private school, from a summer camp to a warehouse-based industrial park. The 34-acre administration area, for instance, contains 22 buildings, including warehouses, storage buildings, office space, recreational facilities, a chapel, a grocery store and even a small medical center. One single family and 26 multi-family homes provide housing for up to 61 families. 8 units are four bedroom, 8 units are two-bedroom, 44 units are three bedroom. All homes have attached or detached garages, and each unit has about 1200 square feet of living space.The single family home has 3 bedrooms and 1500 square feet of living space. Wood construction, shared furnace, shared utilities on site. Renovated in 1995. About half of the homes have an ocean view. There's also a baseball field, tennis courts, fitness center, restaurant, 2-lane bowling alley and gymnasium.

 



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