DE 387 Destroyer Escort
WDE 487 Coast Guard Destroyer Escort
DER 387 Destroyer Escort Radar Picket


Reformatted for this page.

Some To: addresses were omitted.  

From: John B. Lukasiewicz
To: Joseph Betters
Subject: Pacific Barrier, US Navy's role 
Date: Tuesday, May 04, 1999 6:43 AM 

Recently I was contacted by a US Navy Captain attached to the National  Security Council.  He told me that he was writing a paper for the Naval War College Review about the US Navy's role in protecting America during the Cold War.  All that he wanted to know was how we transmitted the Radar Contact information to Net Control (CW or Voice).  He claims that he could not find that info in the Navy Historical Archives (hell, I didn't know we were in there at all). 

He found my web site and figured that I should be able to give him the answer. 

Well, since he said that the CW info was not in the archives, I figure there ain't a lot of other stuff in there either.  So, I sorta loaded him up with other tidbits of info and am asking you guys to try and remember some stuff and send to me for relay. 



From: John B. Lukasiewicz 
To: Joseph Betters 
Subject: Fw: Pacific Barrier Stuff 
Date: Tuesday, May 04, 1999 6:43 AM 

Gents: This is what I sent the Captain so far. 

Captain: Real easy to answer if you BTDT, so here goes. 

The CIC Plotter had message blanks where he filled in the blanks for contact designator, location (i.e. AJBC34, [map grids]) course, speed, altitude and remarks. The CIC Officer on watch would initial the Contact Report, then the CIC Plotter would hand deliver the Contact Report to the Radio Operator on duty. If it was a "Initial Report" the message was assigned a "Flash" (Z) Precedence. Amplifying Reports were "Emergency" (Y) Precedence. The only other Precedence used on the Pacific Barrier by the aircraft was "Operational Immediate" (O) for Position Reports etc. etc. The Radioman would send & receive for the contact traffic in CW (International Morse Code). COMBARPAC, at NAS Barbers Point Hawaii was net control for the Pacific Barrier CW traffic. They had a large "War Room" that had a wall with a map of the Pacific on it. There were Plotters, Evaluators and Senior Evaluators on duty at all times. Net control (COMBARPAC) had, I believe it was either 3 or 5 minutes to evaluate an initial contact (compare contact location with known plots). If they had not identified the contact by that time, the Senior Evaluator would pick up the "Red Phone" and be direct with NORAD within the Colorado mountain 

They attempted to use Single Side Band (SSB) HF Voice for transmitting and receiving Contact Reports. They installed the SSB gear in several of our aircraft for testing. The plan was that the CIC Officer could transmit and receive contact traffic from his duty station. It did not work very well due to the crazy Atmospherics present in the Northern Pacific. After approximately 3 months, the SSB gear was removed. Even with Atmospherics and Russian Jamming from the Kamchatka Peninsula, CW proved it's worth once again. 

Some of our aircraft had "Camera Scopes" (that's what we called them) installed for testing, just aft of the Navigators Position. The theory was that if an aircraft or station ship (DER) had a contact that acted strange, or was unique in anyway, the Camera Scope could be used to relay the Radar Image to COMBARPAC in Hawaii. The originating aircraft, or DER could synchronize their Camera Scopes and leap frog the Image (i.e. Aircraft, DER, Aircraft, DER etc. etc. to Midway Island, where it would then be transmitted to COMBARPAC for evaluation via Underwater Cable. There also were Plexiglas Overlays that you could put in the Camera Scope and send messages (written with Grease Pencil on the Overlay) via Radar (Camera Scope to Camera Scope) between the Aircraft and DER's. The Camera Scope concept did not work very well either, and was discontinued after about 5-6 months. 

All of the above happened in the last half of 1960 and into 1961.  I left in November of 1961, and even then we all knew that the Pacific Barrier was being phased out. To the best of my knowledge there were no additional tests conducted with radio or radar gear on the Pacific Barrier WV-2's until the Barrier was decommissioned. and the aircraft had been reassigned. 

An additional tidbit 
Some of our aircraft had internal ductwork installed, with inlet and outlet that opened outside the cabin. This ductwork had a plenum box (?) that contained a filter (similar to a common furnace filter setup). Every time these particular aircraft landed, they were met by two guys in white suits, driving a little white truck. They would come aboard the aircraft and quickly change filters and leave. They told us that they were running a test to determine what type of insects were present in the Northern Pacific Atmosphere. Years later we all figured out that they were sampling the air for nuclear particles, indicating Russian Nuclear Tests.. I don't remember the ductwork being removed from these aircraft. 

Another tidbit 
Some of our aircraft were assigned Special Ops. to work with Air Force C-119's equipped with special gear to retrieve returning US Space Capsules (containing monkeys we were told) in the Western Pacific by snagging the capsules parachute shroud lines, and then cranking the snagged capsule aboard through their rear "Clam Shell" doors. The C-119's did not have 360 degree azimuth radar so our aircraft would vector the C-119 towards the returning capsule until they had obtained a plot on their radar. Years later we all figured out that they were recovering the monthly edition from a spy satellite. 

Another tidbit 
The Russian's were dropping missiles in the the Western Pacific off & on during the late 1950's and early 1960's. They always had a minimum of 3 Telemetry Ships in the recovery area (Triangulation???). Some of our crews were assigned Special Ops., keeping these ships under surveillance 24 hours a day while they were recovering missiles. Out of boredom, the pilots would occasionally "Buzz the Decks" of one on the ships (Yep! with a WV-2). Usually, everybody on deck would salute us with the International Hand Signal, informing us that we were number 1. 

Another tidbit 
Our crew, Crew 45, AEWBARRONPAC, to the best of my knowledge, was the only Pacific Barrier Aircraft to catch a Russian Sub on the surface. Our Co-Pilot spotted the Sub's wake from 10,000 ft., our assigned altitude for optimum radar performance. The Plane Commander was called to the cockpit and the plan was to continue on our mission, as if we had not spotted them. When we had flown past the Submarine, beyond the radar range of all known Russian Submarine Air Search Radar, we went down to the deck, did a 180 and got ready for action. Spotters were stationed at all the ports and we continued on our reciprocal course. The Plane Commander was the first to spot the Sub and steered toward it. The Submarine had half the conning tower above surface when we flew over them at about 200 ft. We set up a expanding square search and eventually they surfaced and we had them in sight once again. They signaled with Aldiz Lamp that they were H.M.S. Sub????. We generated, and received encrypted traffic with Net Control (COMBARPAC). They informed us that the free world had no submarine in that area and that we were to assume the submarine was from a Communist Bloc Nation. At that point we were ordered to continue on our normal Barrier Mission. This sighting was approximately 300 miles South of Adak, in the Aleutian's. 

Captain,  I am curious, and wonder if you came across any mention or of the following, when you were going through the Pacific Barrier archives. A group of five, (5) Aircrewmen disappeared from Midway Island, vanished from the face of the earth. The men (representing 2-3 aircrews) checked out three (3) boats and outboard motors from Special Services and proceeded to the reef on Midway Island. They planned on doing some snorkeling, spearfishing and catching some Longusta (sp?). They were between Barrier Missions, so they were making a day of it. They never returned, and when they showed up as missing, a search was organized. The searchers found all three boats pulled up on the reef with all gear and equipment intact. There were no signs of anything that would answer the question "What happened?" I believe that they all were Petty Officers, ranging in rate from 3rd class to Chief, so I guess you can rule out the theory of youth. I believe that several were married also. This happened in late 1959 or early 1960, when Russian Sub activity was at it's height in the Midway Island area, gathering data on the Barrier Mission. Scuttle butt was that a Russian Sub surfaced just outside the reef and captured them for interrogation. If you know, and can shed any light on this matter, myself, and many others, would like to know what happened to our Squadron Mates. 


John B. Lukasiewicz   

Much more information can be found at
John's Home Page,not active

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