Silver Strand Training Complex (SSTC), formerly known as the Naval Radio Receiving Facility (NRRF), is the premier training facility for U.S. Special Operations Forces. Located between Imperial Beach and Silver Strand State Beach near San Diego in southern California, USA, this facility is known by locals as the "elephant cage" which is a nickname for the large Wullenweber direction finder antenna. The antenna was used to provide direction finding, primary communication links for U.S. Navy submarines. As of February 2010[update] the antenna is still in place, even though it was scheduled to be removed in fiscal year 2007. Presently the base is subordinate to Naval Base Coronado and commanded by that base's Commanding Officer.
Initially created in 1920 as the Navy Radio Compass Station, it was renamed in 1940 as the Navy Direction Finder Station when a permanent direction finding station was established. In 1943, thirty WAVES were stationed there, culminating in 1945 with a total of 112 WAVES; there they engaged in SIGINT. By 1953, it was known as Naval Radio Receiving Station Imperial Beach, and in 1965 it received its well known Wullenweber Circular Disposed Antenna Array, a AN/FRD-10. The last of its type to be built, it ceased operation in 1999.
In 1942, the United States Army took ownership of 412.14 acres in Coronado Heights and designated it Fort Emory in honor of BG Emory, itself being subordinate to Fort Rosecrans, being manned by the 19th Coastal Artillery. Armament of the base consisted of four 155mm guns of Battery Imperial, which was superseded by the two 6 inch guns (M1905) of Battery Grant. Coastal radars were authorized in 1943. Construction of a 16 inch battery were completed in 1944, however the guns were never mounted; these guns would have supplemented another 16 inch battery, Battery Ashburn at Fort Rosecrans. The land upon which the fort was located was turned over to the Navy in 1947, with a single army family as caretaker of the facilities which was declared surplus a year later; in 1950 it was finally transferred to the Navy integrating with the Imperial Beach Radio Station.
Today the 450 acres (2 km2) facility provides an excellent training environment with waterborne approaches from both the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay sides. Offshore the Coronado Roads area is used for ship systems testing. The city-like layout of the base also provides a realistic site for critical urban warfare training.
In 2010, the Navy proposed increased training, including mine-sweeping training, amphibious operations, as well as special warfare operations. This faced opposition during public hearings by environmentalist, due to possible impact upon the California Least Tern, San Diego fairy shrimp, and to a lesser extent the Western snowy plover. Later that year new warning signs were put up by the Navy warning of increased training, and of endangered species. A ten-year-long, 818-page environmental impact statement was released relating to this proposed increased activity, it was created with the assistance of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. In an unrelated proposal, the bases water area will be used for training by the Littoral Combat Ships for antisubmarine warfare; the Navy has filed its impact upon wildlife with NOAA as it relates to the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
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- Thompson, Erwin N.; Howard B. Overton (1991). THE GUNS OF SAN DIEGO: San Diego Harbor Defenses, 1796-1947. San Diego: National Park Service. http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/cabr/hrs7.htm. Retrieved 16 February 2011.
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- "Silver Strand Training Complex". CNIC website. https://www.cnic.navy.mil/Coronado/About/Installations/SilverStrandTrainingComplex/index.htm. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
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- Megan Burke; Hank Crook, Alison St John (26 February 2010). "Navy Expansion Proposed Along Silver Strand". Editors Roundtable. KPBS. http://www.kpbs.org/news/2010/feb/26/navy-expansion-proposed-along-silver-strand/. Retrieved 17 February 2011.
- JANINE ZÚÑIGA (23 February 2010). "Plans to step up Navy training worry neighbors". http://www.singonsandiego.com/news/2010/feb/23/naval-training-plans-concern-locals/. Retrieved 17 February 2011.
- Kyla Calvert (12 August 2010). "Navy’s Silver Strand Expansion Could Harm Vulnerable Species". http://www.kpbs.org/news/2010/aug/12/navys-silver-strand-expansion-could-harm-vulnerabl/. Retrieved 17 February 2011.
- JANINE ZÚÑIGA (13 January 2011). "Last chance to comment on new training activities". http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/jan/13/increased-naval-activity-planned-silver-strand/. Retrieved 17 February 2011.
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