The Navy made San Diego part of its first radio communications network by establishing the Naval Radio Station, Point Loma on May 12, 1906, with a 5 kw transmitter in a small wood building on the Point Loma Military Reservation.
In 1922, the Naval Radio Station headquarters and message center moved to the Naval Base Headquarters in downtown San Diego, at the foot of Broadway on Harbor Drive, co-located with the command center of the new Eleventh Naval District, which was established in 1921.
In 1941, the Navy took over 145 acres in Imperial Beach around the old Fort Emory artillery station, and in 1943 built a new radio receiver that took over the responsivities from Point Loma. In 1947, the Imperial Beach receiver site became Naval Communications Station, Eleventh Naval District, and in 1953 became Naval Communication Station (NAVCOMSTA), San Diego, Imperial Beach, CA. The Point Loma site became the U.S. Navy Radio and Sound Laboratory in 1940 and the Navy Electronics Laboratory in 1945. In 1977 it was merged into the Naval Ocean Systems Center (NOSC), San Diego, CA.
Communications Technician (CT) training “A” school commenced in U.S. Naval School, Imperial Beach, CA, on October 1, 1949. Courses of instruction included a CT basic course and advanced course, both located at Imperial Beach. The U.S. Naval School, Communications Technician (Supplementary Training) was established at Bainbridge Island, WA in October, 1951 and was closed in December, 1953. When the school closed at Bainbridge Island, only the Imperial Beach Communications Technician schools remained.
On July 1, 1957, the Communications Technician school at Imperial Beach was re-designated NAVCOMMTRACEN (NCTC) Imperial Beach, CA. Three years later in March 1960 NCTC Imperial Beach moved Corry Field, Pensacola, FL.
The U.S. Naval Receiving Facility (NAVRADRECFAC) Imperial Beach 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 Imperial Beach 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.
The CDAA was the last Navy Wullenweber installed, in 1967. The CDAA ceased operations on September 9, 1999, and the NAVRADRECFAC site at Imperial Beach was closed on September 30, 1999. The CDAA remains abandoned on the property of the Navy’s Silver Strand Training Complex, and scheduled to be dismantled in 2007.
Today, the property belongs to the Silver Strand Training Complex and is the premier training facility for the military’s special forces. The facility provides an excellent training environment with waterborne approaches from both the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay sides. The city-like layout of the base also provides a realistic site for critical urban warfare training.