In 1957, the Naval Security Group (NSG) established the Communication Security (COMSEC) Mobile Support Unit 9 at Sasebo, Japan.
In December of the same year, NSG established and commissioned the Naval Security Group Detachment (NSGD) Sasebo.

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NSGD Sasebo sack just before commissioning sometime around the first week in December, 1957.  The AN/TRD-4 antenna array was just installed.   Photo courtesy of Richard Kivi (former CTR2)

Initially the only mission for NSGD Sasebo was a high frequency direction finding (HFDF) operation with 11 personnel, including eight DF operators.  The site operated as part of the NSG’s Western Pacific (WESTPAC) HFDF network controlled from U.S. Naval Communications Facility Kami Seya (A). Initially, it was considered a temporary site until the NSG Activity at Hakata assumed Sasebo’s HFDF mission.

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Snort Ortlieb during Sasebo HFDF installation.  The box in the backgroiund contained the AN/TRD-4.  Note the emergency diesel generator building.  The system was operational in approximately four days from installation.  Photo courtesy of Richard Kivi, December, 1957

The site was equipped with an AN/TRD-4 transportable DF station with a frequency range 540 kHz to 30 MHz. The antenna system consisted of two separate four element Adcock arrays, one of which had a range from 540 kHz to 10 MHZ and the other from 10 to 30 MHz. The DF receiver system included an R-390/URR HF radio communications receiver.

Initially there were three DF operators stood the watch in a S44A/G shelter.  However, by 1959, as the mission grew, 20 manual Morse intercept operators were added to the team of HFDF operators and by 1962, the team grew between 30 and 40 NSG personnel.  In additional to the Navy team, there was also a small Army contingent.   By this time, not only were they responsible for DF operations and radio intercept, but maintaining field telephone communications.

In September, 1964, COMSEC Support Unit 3 in Sasebo was disestablished.  Four years later in July 1968, NSGD Sasebo was deactivated and the station ceased operations. This “temporary site” operated for 10 years and seven months.

(A) On January 15, 1960 the U.S. Naval Communications Facility Kami Seya, Japan became the U.S. Naval Security Group Activity (NSGA), Kami Seya with approximately 1,500 people assigned.

Some of the first to be station at NSDG Sasebo:

Andy Anderson
Hank Aldredge, CTC

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CWO Shorty Allen, OIC.  Photo courtesy of James Butler (former CTR2)

Jack W. Archebelle
* Tom A. “Shotgun” Bird
C. Britton
* James Butler
* A. C. Carlson
Richard “Dick” Conrad
Truman H. Cooper
Paul E. Duprey
Jim Exley
Joseph Foley
* Cal Fulmer
Bernie Gelotti
Jerry Gerken
Bruce W. Horncastle

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CTC Hank Aldredge, Photo courtesy of  James Butler

* Dick Kivi
Ronald Koch
Gene Lathrum
Louie N. Martocci
* Bill Moore
* “Snort” Ortlieb
Joe A. Panza
Albert Pena
Dennis B. Tyler
F. Weiss
* Woody Woodside
Johnny Zelsnack
Ibara Toshiyiki (house boy)

* Original 8 HFDF operators


Sasebo, with a good natural harbor at the mouth of Omura bay, was a Japanese Naval base from 1896 until the end of WWII. Sasebo was a small village until 1868, but expanded rapidly after wars with China and Russia. The town was partially destroyed during WWII, but was revived as a commercial and fishing port.

Sasebo has been an important Naval base since 1883, when then Lieutenant Commander Heihachiro Togo nominated the tiny fishing village to be established as the nucleus of a mighty base for the Imperial Japanese Navy. On July 1, 1889, the Sasebo Naval Station began operations as headquarters for the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Third Naval District. In 1904, ships of the Japanese Navy under Admiral Togo sailed from Sasebo to take on the Russian Baltic Fleet. Admiral Togo’s victory at the Battle of the Tsushima Straits is a classic engagement in Naval history.

The Imperial Japanese Navy employed some 50,000 people at the Sasebo Naval Arsenal at the peak of World War II, constructing and refitting destroyers, light cruisers, submarines and other various Naval vessels. The 21st Naval Air Arsenal, established jointly at Sasebo and Omura, produced a total of 966 aircraft.

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downtown Sasebo, Japan, 1958.  Photo courtesy of James Butler

In September, 1945, the U.S. Marine Corp’s Fifth Division landed at Sasebo, and in June, 1946, U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo was established. When war broke out in Korea three years later, Sasebo became the main launching point for United Nations and U.S. Forces. Millions of tons of ammunition, fuel, tanks, trucks and supplies flowed through Sasebo on their way to UN Forces in Korea. The number of Americans in Sasebo grew to about 20,000; and some 100 warships and freighters per day swelled the foreign population. Sasebo provided heavy support to the expanded Seventh Fleet during the years of war in Southeast Asia. In the mid 1970’s, U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo became Naval Ordnance Facility, Sasebo, and fleet visits dwindled to a very low level. But on July 4, 1980, the facility was renamed U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo, and once again Seventh Fleet ships made Sasebo their overseas homeport. Sasebo played a vital logistics role in Operation Desert Shield/Storm during 1990-91, by serving as a supply point for ordnance and fuel for ships and Marines operating in the Persian Gulf.

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Sasebo Naval Base

U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo provides service to ships of the U.S. Seventh Fleet. Service Force ships, as well as mine sweepers, which make Sasebo their homeport. COMFLEACT Sasebo provides service to its 35 tenant commands, and is currently home to Commander, Amphibious Squadron Eleven and assigned ships: USS Essex (LHD-2), USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49), USS Denver(LPD-9), USS Guardian (MCM-5), USS Patriot (MCM-7), USS Tortuga (LSD 46) and some 5,000 Americans as part of U.S. forward deployed Naval forces. Commander, Amphibious Squadron Eleven (COMPHIBRON 11), is the only permanently forward deployed amphibious squadron in the Navy. Mine Countermeasures Squadron One, based out of Ingleside, TX., also has two minesweepers forward deployed in Sasebo. All ships fall under the operational command of Commander, Amphibious Group One (COMPHIBRGRU 1), located in White Beach, Okinawa, Japan.

U.S. Naval Telecommunications Center (NTCC) Sasebo was established in February 1991 and is located on board U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo. It was renamed U.S. Naval Computer and Telecommunications Detachment when Base Communications Offices (BCO) Sasebo transferred to NAVCOMTELSTA in 1993. NCTD Sasebo provides communications, maintenance and training support to tenant commands, six forward deployed ships, visiting dignitaries, and transmitting units. In addition, NCTD provides base telecommunications service for 830 official and unofficial customers.

In early 2000, a Detachment of the staff of Commander, Amphibious Group One moved into a newly renovated building, located immediately across from India Basin Pier 8, next to Sasebo’s Afloat Training Group Detachment. Although headquartered at White Beach, Okinawa, COMPHIBRGRU 1 maintains a contingent of staff members in Sasebo to assist the ships with maintenance, training, supply, manpower and public affairs issues.

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