U.S. Naval Security Group Activity (NSGA) Northwest was commissioned on October 1, 1975 and closed on September 30, 2001.
On July 11, 1951, the Secretary of the Navy approved the acquisition of land for the future site of the Naval Radio Station (NAVRADSTA) (R) Northwest. Consisting of 1,491 acres of land in Currituck County, North Carolina, and 3,186 acres in Chesapeake, Virginia; the site is located about 30 miles south of Norfolk, VA. Named for the nearby Northwest River, the site is in a wooded swamp lands, adjacent to the Great Dismal Swamp. In May, 1955, the U.S. Naval Radio Station was activated to serve as a receiving facility for Naval activities in the Norfolk area.
Originally, each of the Naval Security Group elements functioned as separate divisions within NAVCOMMSTA Norfolk. A reorganization took place in January, 1966, when all divisions were brought together under one department with CDR G. C. Lawrence, USN, acting as both Naval Security Department Head and Officer-In-Charge, Naval Radio Station (R) Northwest. The Security Group Department was composed of Registered Publication Issuing Offices (RPIO), Armed Forces Courier Service (ARFCOS), High Frequency Direction Finding (HFDF), Communications Security (COMSEC), and Security Group (SECGRU) operations that consisted of 20 officers and 130 enlisted personnel.
The COMSEC personnel not only provided communications security support from the shore, but also went aboard various ships to support Fleet exercises. ARFCOS, the forerunning of the Defense Courier Service, was part of a global courier network for the secure distribution of highly classified and sensitive materials. And the PRIO was established to provide for distribution of publications incorporated within the Registered Publication System.
After years of operating and functioning as a Naval Radio Station, on September 30, 1970, the Naval Radio Station (R) Northwest was disestablished and became a component activity of the Naval Communication Station Norfolk. The directive disestablished the NAVRADSTA (R) Northwest, under an Officer-in-Charge, and redesignated it Naval Receiving Facility Northwest. CDR J.T. Hodgkinson, USN, was at the helm, with the new title of Head, Naval Security Group Department, Naval Receiving Facility Northwest, effective on October 1, 1970.
The U.S. NSGA Northwest maintained and operated a high frequency direction finding (HFDF) facility and provided communication support to Navy and other Department of Defense elements. The communications facility located at Northwest included an operations building located in the center of an AN/FRD-10A Circularly Disposed Antenna Array (CDAA), also known as a Wullenweber antenna array. In the fall of 1960, preliminary design and engineering work was completed on a new HFDF Wullenweber antenna array. The building, nicknamed SHOTGUN, was accepted from the contractor by DIRLANTDOCKS on October 25, 1963. The new HFDF “SHOTGUN” station was activated in July, 1964. The CDAA ceased operations on June 1, 2001 and dismantling of the CDAA started on June 25. The CDAA property is now an annex to the Naval Support Activity, Norfolk, VA.