Naval Radio Transmitter Facility Annapolis
Naval Station, North Severn, Annapolis MD
Greenbury Point is managed as a conservation area and is used for light midshipmen tactical training. The Radio Transmitter Facility at Greenbury Point was ordered to close, per BRAC '91. The the 231 acres of land and existing facilities, except the towers, at Greenbury Point conservation area at North Severn (formerly the Naval Radio Transmitting Facility (NRTF)) has been transferred to the US Naval Academy in September 1994. The undeveloped areas are being managed as wildlife habitat; therefore, human access is limited. Residents of Greenbury Point housing have free access to their homes and surrounding area except the East and West Roads and undeveloped areas.
During the Cold War, Greenbury Point was a key communications center for the Navy's submarine fleet. The antennas transmitted Very Low Frequency signals capable of penetrating the ocean, allowing communications with submerged submarines. By the early 1990s, with advances in satellite communications, the antennas became obsolete.
Greenbury Point was the site of the original settlement in the area, now mostly submerged by the Severn River. It was called Providence and was established by Puritans seeking religious freedom in 1649.
The property -- called "Hammond's Inheritance" -- was purchased by the Navy on August 21, 1909 for use as a dairy farm. From 1911 to 1917, part of this site was also used for the first Naval Air Station. In August 1911 a handful of Naval officers received orders to report for duty at the Engineering Experiment Station at the Naval Academy "... in connection with the test of gasoline motors and other experimental work in the development of aviation, including instruction at the aviation school." The site of the aviation camp at the Academy was Greenbury Point. The Greenbury Point station has not come in for its fair measure of recognition in the history of Naval Aviation. It was a very small affair, and it shared its location with the Academy as its host. Nonetheless, its establishment was a landmark event, It was the Navy's first air station and it was at Greenbury Point that the Navy began to conduct its first formal aviation training program. Pensacola, known as "The Cradle of Naval Aviation," succeeded the "naval air encampment" at Greenbury Point as the training site for naval aviators in 1914.
The Navy first built the four of the most northern radio towers on Greenbury Point in 1918 to communicate with US forces fighting in World War I. The transmitter, with call letters NSS, went on the air on 06 August 1918. The Annapolis transmitters operated in conjunction with a large antenna receiver facility at Cheltenham, MD. Two additional southerly towers were erected at Annapolis in 1922. In August 1938, the erection of three "Eifel Towers" (1G7, 1H7 and 1T9) was completed. In 1941, Building #60 was compled, a 50 kW L.F. transmitter were installed and high frequency operations established. The station was used for all communications with the Atlantic Fleet during World War II.
Extensive modification and improvement of the VLF antenna system was begun in 1969. The old 600-foot radio towers on Greenbury Point were demolished to make way for a new communications link with vessels of the Atlantic fleet. A new 1200-foot guyed center tower was erected and surrounded with nine 600-foot towers (three of which were identical to those erected in 1917). The modified "Goliath" antenna consisted of the 1200-foot tower and the "top hat" assembly supported by the 600-foot towers, covering about 200 acres. To power the new VLF antenna a 1000 kilowatt AN/FRT-87 transmitter was installed in the original transmitter building.
Since the radio towers had no operational requirement and the Naval Academy has no mission requirement for the towers, the disposal action for the antenna towers was the responsibility of the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Command (NCTC) under MILCON project P-501.
The demolition of the towers had political implications. A Senate appropriation staffer attempted to allocate funding to this project; however, he also tried to place language in the appropriations bill that would limit the use of the property to only conservation and any changes require Congressional approval. The staffer was informed that this is not acceptable to the Naval Academy.
The demolition of the naval radio transmitting facility (NRTF) towers at Naval Station, Annapolis was initially projected to include demolition and removal of 19 antenna towers, antenna arrays and guys, the excavation and removal of a causeway in the Chesapeake Bay, and incidental related work. The towers to be demolished include: Six 600 foot towers supported by 2 levels of 3 guys, Three 600 foot freestanding Eiffel-style towers, One 1200 foot tower supported by 4 levels of 3 guys, Four 300 foot freestanding towers, One 800 foot tower supported by 1 level of 8 guys, Three 80 foot triangular towers with rigid conical antenna frame supported by rope guys, and One 66 foot freestanding download terminal tower. Six tower guy anchors located in the Bay were removed; and all other tower foundation/anchors and the radial grounding systems remained in place. The base insulator for Tower No. 10 was salvaged and turned over to the Government. The work also included removal of 4 HF curtain array antennas and supports. These include a total of approximately 20 wood pole supports, 55 guy cables, 250 foot (plus or minus) length of 2 foot wide wood access piers, and 60 (plus or minus) wood dolphin poles. The naval station, primary school and golf course remained in operation during the entire demolition period.
The final demolition of 16 of the 19 former Navy radio towers on Greenbury Point took place on 09 December 1999. Three towers remained standing and were turned over to Maryland or Anne Arundel County for telecommunications or training purposes.
The undeveloped area of Greenbury Point is being managed as a environmentally sensitive conservation area and is the surface danger zone for the Naval Station rifle ranges. In the developed area, the facilities are occupied by Construction Battalion Unit 403, a Bachelor Enlisted Quarters, Married Enlisted Quarters (being used as swing space during NavSta BEQ Renovation), and a soon to be renovated Environmental Nature Center.
There are no planned changes to the facilities or land usage at Greenbury Point. An updated Integrated Natural Resources Plan and a Facilities Master Plan are being developed to manage this area. Greenbury Point has a variety of other habitats including wooded coves, shallow wetland ponds, forests and scrub/shrub areas. Many interesting wildlife make this area their home. For example, Greenbury Point supports the only bobwhite quail population in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
US Fish and Wildlife Service staff developed a Natural Resources Management Plan for the Annapolis Area Complex of the Navy, which includes the Naval Academy, the North Severn Complex of the golf course and Greenbury Point and the Naval Dairy Farm in Gambrills, Maryland. The Service's restoration and environmental education experts assisted the Navy's natural resources manager by evaluating Navy lands and writing a plan for the future of conservation areas and natural habitats under Navy management.
Greenbury Point, a 231 acre peninsula at the mouth of the Severn River, provides numerous opportunities to integrate wildlife habitat and education with the training mission of the Naval Academy. Outdoor education planners from the Service's Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge are lending their expertise to help shape the Visitor's Center Environmental Education facility the Navy is currently building on Greenbury Point. Nineteen osprey pairs that nested on Greenbury Point's radio towers were provided new platforms before the towers were demolished.
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