Most of us do not realize that most major systems take years to go from concept design to prototype and final system installation. But since we are CTs and not regular sailors, by the spring of 1966 we had our first system installed on, I believe, the USS PERMIT (SSN-594) out of San Diego. I went to sea as part of the team to check out the installation prior to any operational mission.

I was even involved in developing the testing criteria for the system and really pushed the requirements to the maximum. We had to develop a signal environment for the California coast from San Diego and San Francisco without being detected by aircraft or ships in a five day period. The results of this test far exceeded what any of the engineers and naval officials had ever considered. It took us only three days and a total of 16 hours of antenna time to accomplish this task. Our signal mapping was more accurate and complete than that used to evaluate against our effort. All we did was pop the mast up for 10 to 15 minutes with recordings going full bore. Then drop down and spend hours extracting necessary information. Before I was detached from headquarters, I learned that the WATERBOY project had an official equipment designator of AN/WLR-6(V). There is a book published in 1999 entitled BLIND MAN’S BLUFF by Sherry Sontag & Christopher Drew which essentially describes our efforts from the early 1970s.

Solving USS LIBERTY’s LPA Antenna Problem

The USS LIBERTY (AGTR-5) and other AGTR vessels had a LPA antenna installed using a 40mm gun pedestal mount for rotation control. They were experiencing frequent antenna failures due to elements breaking. Since I had experience in submarine duty and hydraulics they assumed I could resolve the problem for them. Therefore, I visited Norfolk and checked out their antenna system. It took me only about an hour to ascertain the problem and present a solution. It seems they used a 600-psi system to provide power for rotation without surge bladders to dampen the vibration power surges. I had them install a number of bladders which eliminated leaks and reduced the pressure to 100 psi as the mount did not have to rotate quickly, but rather move at a reasonable rotational speed.

NAVSECGRU and NSA Staffing and Mission Increases

During this time, both NAVSECGRU as well as NSA were increasing both their staffing as well as missions. Thus, we would have to cope with NSA’s efforts to assume absolute operational control over various missions. We were successful in requiring NSA to provide us a copy of every system they proposed to use on a submarine mission. Whenever a mission experienced equipment problems, we would use our copy in the laboratory to duplicate the problem and develop a resolution. Most individuals I worked with at NSA were outstanding in spite of their branch supervisors. One time they shipped a system out to Pearl Harbor for installation on a boat and we did not receive ours until just before the boat was scheduled to deploy. We set up our version and discovered a design problem. Assuming the ship’s technicians being totally in the dark on how the system was to function, I developed a set of detailed instructions on how to make the necessary changes. To ensure they were sufficiently clear I had our own “A” branch chief use the message to make the necessary changes. Finally, I began routing the message via various branches for chop and finally to NSA for a chop. The branch supervisor had taken the afternoon off to play golf so I had the engineer involved approve the message. Two days later our Admiral noticed on the reading board a message by NSA directing the vessel not implement these modifications. I was told to find out what was going on and went out to NSA to resolve it. After over an hour, trying to get a straight answer, I blew my stack. I realized he was just upset because he had not signed off on the message. I accused this supervisor of working for the Russians instead of us as I stormed out. Well, by the time it took me to return to headquarters, the phones were ringing off the hook. It seemed everyone I passed in the passageway wanted to know what happened. Thus, when I reported to the CDR, he too asked what I did. I told him, he put his head in his arms for a moment and said we have to see the Admiral. Well, during this meeting, I was ordered to send a formal apology which I refused and would ask for a court martial instead. I was so mad I even made a threat to go public if the boat experiences any problems on this mission. Now I no longer was authorized to visit NSA. After the boat returned from its mission and a copy of the patrol report finally reached Washington, I again had a meeting with the Admiral. He informed me that I could begin visiting NSA and the specific branch supervisor had been transferred. It seems the captain quickly implemented our proposed modifications after a serious incident and that precluded future incidents.

Comparing Magnetic Recording Equipment

Another incident involved the NSA branch head with responsibility for magnetic recording equipment. It seems that at a meeting in our office with a MINCOM sales representative LT Robert Arnold threw him out for demanding we provide funds to complete their new tape recorder design. He told us that NSA was directing everyone employ their new recorder in our systems. At this time, I had one of the Winston production models in house conducting a series of tests. This sales representative began spreading allegations that I had a financial interest in Winston and was using that to push this recorder. So again, I went before the man so to speak. When I discovered what was alleged, I got mad and told the Admiral that I would like to have a demonstration of both to prove my recorder was better and that I did not have any stock in the company. Thus, a comparison test was arranged in our laboratory. In preparation for this test, I had black curtains installed on all windows and some of the lights replaced with red bulbs. The Winston recorder was an open face side-by-side recorder while the MINCOM was a stacked reel configuration. The admiral along with executives from MINCOM, Winston, and NSA attended this test. I had their engineer conduct all tests and give them the feeling of being on top. Everything went well while operating with ordinary lighting. Then I turned off the white lights and relied on only red lights. The MINCOM had two red dots on the reel hubs an operator must line up to install the supply reel. Well after about 15 minutes and the engineer unable to install the first reel, I turned the white lights on and informed him he would never be able to install the reel. Red dots on the hubs disappear under red light. Then I pointed out how the MINCOM connections were at the top of the chassis permitting moisture to seep in and short them out. They had all the control knobs in very tight locations for bias settings that needed to be altered when making adjustments to signal gain. The bias settings are adjusted only for a specific type of tape using a scope while signal gain is routinely adjusted. All these controls were in a very tight configuration. By this time the Admiral was satisfied and the MINCOM executives asked if their engineers could discuss problems in more detail. I readily agreed as I told them I want to tell every supplier as then we would always get the best product. I quietly told my CDR the reason for the push by NSA members is that they had stock in the company. It was interesting when walking draft correspondence through headquarters. Once we agreed on branch message content, we began the process of rewrite after each office proposed change. When I had all the desired branches agree, to its content, pull out the original draft and watch it fly up the chain of command to final signature. This I bet brings back memories to those that had a tour at headquarters.

William Hadley duty stations:

Boot Camp 1947
NAVSECGRUHDQTRS Nov 1947- Aug 1948
Cheltenham Maryland August 1948 – Feb 1949
NTC Great Lakes ET school Feb 1949-Dec 1949
Cheltenham Maryland Dec 1949- March 1950
NCU-35 March 1950 – Nov 1952
Skaggs Island Jan 1953 – Jan 1955
NCU-37 NAVSECGRUACT Jan 1955-March 1958
NAVSECGRU HDQTRS g-40 mar 1958 – mar 1959
Sub School New London Mar 1959- May 1959
USS TRITON (SSNR -586) May 1959 – May 1962
DEPCOMSUBLANT May 1962-Jan 1964
Newport RHODE Island Jan 64-Feb 64
NTTC Pensacola, Florida Mar 64- Apr 64
NAVSECGRU HdQtrs G-403 Apr 64 – Jun 66
Great Lakes EMO school Jun 66- Jun 67
NTTC Pensacola Technical Services Officer Jun 67 – Dec 69
NSC Adak, Alaska Dec 69 – Feb 72
Rota Spain Feb 72- Jun 74
Retired June 30 1974

Featured Image: The tall antenna with William Hadley at the top, photo courtesy William Hadley

Source: NCVA CRYPTOLOG Spring/Summer 2012