Historic California Posts, Camps,
Stations and Airfields
(San Diego VHF Site 3HK3, Naval
Radio Compass Station Imperial Beach, Naval Radio Direction Finder
Station Imperial Beach, Naval Radio Receiving Facility Imperial
Beach, Silver Strand Training Complex)
by Justin Ruhge
In view of the concentration of defenses at Coronado Heights,
i.e. Battery Imperial, Battery Grant and Battery Construction
No. 134, the San Diego Chamber of Commerce asked Secretary of
War Henry L. Stinson to name it Fort Emory, in honor of Brigadier
General William H. Emory. Emory had arrived in San Diego in 1846
with the Kearny command to survey the new international boundary.
The Chamber of Commerce believed that it was due to Emory's representations
that the boundary was placed south of San Diego Bay. The War
Department agreed and in December renamed the Coronado Heights
Military Reservation Fort Emory, which became a sub-post of Fort
Rosecrans, as was Fort Pio Pico. Today this facility is part
of the Navy Radio Receiving Facility Imperial Beach.
During most of the year 1941, the 155mm
battery in the northwest part of Fort Rosecrans moved to Coronado
Heights and was named Battery Imperial.
This movement extended the water area
covered by Harbor Defense. At the same time a temporary base-end
station was also established at Coronado Heights. In October
1942 the Army acquired ownership of the 412.14 acres at Coronado
Heights through a Declaration of Taking action. On December 14,
1942 this site was offically designated Fort Emory in honor of
Brigadier General William Helmsley Emory. Fort Emory was a sub-post
of Fort Rosecrans. The 19th Coast Artillery had been moved to
Fort Emory to man the new Anti-Motor Torpedo Boat armament and
anti-aircraft machine guns.
In November 1943 Battery Grant proof fired
at Fort Emory. Battery Grant superseded Battery Imperial. During
December the plotting-switchboard room for the 16 inch battery
at Fort Emory was completed and the fire control switchboard
for that post installed. Communications had been maintained for
two years with a field switchboard, field telephones, and originally
all field wire. The wire had been progressively replaced with
cables as construction continued.
In February 1944, the War Department ordered
work on some parts of the moderization projects in the Harbor
Defense of San Diego deferred, Affected were the mounting of
the guns and carriages, installation of the director, and the
power plant for the 16" battery at Fort Emory. The gun emplacements
and all the base-end stations for the battery had been completed
by this time. Also, deferred was the construction of the battalion
command post tower.
Then on April 25, 1944 the 3d Battalion
plus Battery E of the 19th Coast Artillery was sent to Texas
to be used as field artillery replacements. During the year the
fifth fire control radar was on the air at Fort Emory in July
1944 and assigned to Battery Grant.
On May 4, 1944, 100 acres of Fort Emory
was declared standby and arrangements were made granting temporary
use to the Navy. Then on July 19 a permit was issued to the Navy
for its use of the 100 acres which became Naval Air Stationt-San
Diego's Coronado Heights Annex. With the completion of World
War 2, the fort was inactivated on January 31, 1947 and declared
surplus on March 1, 1948. . From 1945 to 1950, the Army family
of 1st Sgt. Frank C. Grissom were caretakers of the Army buildings
and the guns at Fort Emory.
Finally in 1950 the Army transfered Fort
Emory to the Navy and who incorporated it into their Imperial
Beach Radio Station
VHF Site 3HK3
US Army Corps of Engineers
According to records obtained from the
Naval Facilities Engineering Command, the San Diego VHF Site
3HK3 was located in San Diego, San Diego County, California.
The War Department acquired fee simple title to the site, subject
to existing utility easements, following declarations of taking,
on 19 November 1941 (19 acres), 16 October 1942 (412.14 acres),
and 2 November 1943 (126.8 acres). In addition, two perpetual
railroad right-of-ways were concurrently obtained, totaling 2.26
acres. Portions of the site were initially under U.S. Army control
as Fort Emory and were transferred to U.S. Navy on 18 April 1944
(119 acres) and 16 August 1950 (412.14 acres).
The land was initially used as part of Fort Emory, Harbore Defenses
of San Diego. It was later acquired by the Army Air Forces as
a site for a Very High Frequency (VHF) aid to navigation site,
including housing for enlisted personnel. Subsequent U.S. Navy
use of the site included a communication station and radio direction
finder station. Details of early use of the site are not known,
but current use of the site is NAVRADRECFAC (Naval Radio Receiving
Facility), Imperial Beach, which is an active current operation
encompassing all the above-described acquisitions. There are
current encumbrances and outgrants totaling 361.41 acres.
The Silver Strand Training Complex, formerly
known as the Naval Radio Receiving Facility (NRRF), has become
the premier training facility for the military's special forces.
Located on the Imperial Beach / Coronado border, this facility
is known by locals as the "elephant cage" which is
the nickname of a large landmark located there, the large "Wollan
Weber" circular antenna. The antenna area was used several
years ago to provide primary communication links for the Navy's
submarine community. Today this 450-acre 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.