OP-20-G Moves Forward

It was recommended that the proposed HFDF station operate as an individual station primarily for the purpose for which it was established and that no attempt be made to incorporate it into the North American HFDF Net or to have it guard German U-boat frequencies used in the North Atlantic.  Due to the station’s exposed and vulnerable location, it was recommended the station’s classified holdings consist of the minimum amount of information necessary for the accomplishment of the station’s mission and a hazardous duty strip cipher.

On October 16, the State Department was requested to secure permission from the Norwegian government to establish the station.  Prompt action was desired since it was necessary to establish the station prior to the close of navigation in December.

Manning and Equipping

On October 18, CNO (OP-20) informed COMGREPAT that, in addition to the one officer and four enlisted personnel to be provided by COMGREPAT, CNO would provide on RMC and three RM3, all HFDF trained, Model DAB HFDF equipment, a Model TBK transmitter, two HF search receivers, test equipment, antennas, and an auxiliary power plant.  It was also agreed that the Jan Mayen station would be issued a strip cipher.  The particular cipher issued was not considered the most secure but was one, which would have less adverse impact in the event of compromise; presumably through enemy action.  Distribution of this particular cipher would be limited to the Jan Mayen station COMGREPAT, NOBI, the Admiralty, and the Navy Department.  Distribution was subsequently extended to CTF 24.

On October 19, OP-20-G went out to the East Coast Strategic HFDF station with a call for one RMC and three Radiomen of any rate to volunteer for duty in the extreme North Atlantic.  The volunteer had to be in excellent physical condition, especially with good teeth, and be qualified DAB operators.

On October 22, OP-20-G requested orders for the transfer of the following personnel via COMONE to the Naval Operating Base, Iceland, for further transportation to Jan Mayen Island.

RMC George C. Bernatz, 305-204-40, USN
RM1 Oscar Bridges Lee, 406-79-74, USN
RM3 Kenneth Theodore Kunze, 207-39-50, USNR
RM3 William Albert Leskie, 244-20-37, USNR

Original OP-20-G Crew and friend Left to right: RM3 Leskie, RMC Bernatz, “friend”, RM1 Lee, and RM3 Kunze, another “friend.”

The request stated that it was imperative that the personnel arrive in Iceland prior to November 2.  The men were to be outfitted with cold weather clothing by COMONE prior to transfer to Iceland.  

On October 23, LTJG Pedersen, USCG, was ordered to Washington, D.C. where he learned that the Jan Mayen project had been reinstated with, as stated, ADNC (OP-20-G) providing the HFDF equipment and for trained operators; equipment and personnel both in the process of assembly for transportation to Iceland.  Two additional men were obtained from the District Coast Guard Officer, FIRST Naval District.

On October 25 1943, COMGREPAT published Operation Plan #8-43 which established Task Unit 24.8.15 (Jan Mayen Task Unit) and gave LTJG Arne C. Pedersen his orders.   On October 27, it was decided to name the station the U.S. Naval Supplementary Radio Station, Jan Mayen.  Effective December 20, 1943, the Jan Mayen station was transferred from the command of COMGREPAT to CTG 24.4 (Iceland) and redesignated as Task Unit 24.4.1.  However, later reports from Jan Mayen carried the designation CTU 24.4.2.

Logistics Planning

On October 30, LTJG Pedersen was ordered detached from his present duty station and proceeded to Boston where he was to report to COMGREPAT and COMONE for duty with the Greenland Patrol.  He and the four OP-20-G Radiomen were then to proceed to the Naval Air Station, Brooklyn, New York, where they were to report to the NATS Headquarters for transportation at 0930, November 1, to Naval Operating Base, Iceland (NOBI) where they were to report for transportation and assignment to Navy #719 (Jan Mayen).

In the meantime, while USCG Cutter NORTHLAND was en route to Reykjavik from Greenland, a logistical plan was drafted from which each member of the Task Organization formulated his individual plan.  Upon arrival at 0900, October 30 1943, CTU 24.8.14 (NORTHLAND) conferred with the Commandant, Naval Operating Base, Iceland, who furnished four Seabees and the services of LCDR G. L. Dosland, USNR,

Source: NCVA/SRH-299