Books of Interest to Mercurians

A History of Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) Submarine Radio Communications, John Merrill, Publishing Directions, Southington, Conn., 2002. 96 pages, $26.95.

In this book, John Merrill traces the research and development of a radio communications system for the Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) submarines first launched in 1959. These submarines operated thousands of miles from the U.S. mainland and at depths of hundreds of feet. Devising a communication system that would not severely reduce the speed, maneuverability, and depth of the submarines was a daunting challenge. Among the approaches researchers examined was extremely low frequency (ELF) radio. A June 1959 meeting at the Institute for Defense Analysis out-lined an ELF communication system operating in the range of 3 to 300 Hertz. Difficult technological chal-lenges related to ELF submarine receivers and receiv-ing antennas, land-based transmitters, antennas and environmental issues, and budgetary battles created problems that became state and national issues and caused major delays in the navyís implementation of the system. In October 1989, the navy transferred the operational ELF system from its Space and Warfare Systems Command to the Naval Telecom-munications Command. The book draws attention to the multitude of governmental, industrial, engineering, scientific, and academic organizations that were involved in the long development of a radio communication system suited to both strategic and attacks submarine requirements.

John Merrill was a career electronic engineer and former head of the Submarine Electromagnetics Department at the Naval Underwater Systems Center Laboratory, Fort Trumbull, in New London, Conn. Earlier, he was the Centerís program manager for the development of the navy's ELF radio wave global communication system for strategic and attack submarines. He also is the author of Fort Trumbull and the Submarine (Publishing Directions, 2000) and Looking Around: A Short History of Submarine Periscopes (Publishing Directions, 2002), as well as coauthor of Meeting the Submarine Challenge: A Short History of the Naval Underwa-ter Systems Center (GPO, 1997). In addition, John Merrill has taught science, mathematics, electrical engineering, and computer information systems at several colleges and universities, and he is a Mercurian.