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LORAN STATION CAPE ATHOLL

76 19 N 69 22 W

Fact Sheet

Site Survey: Summer 1952
 
Construction Date Started: 1953 Completed: 1954
 
Constructed by:
 
Established: 1954
 
Disestablished: JUL 1975
 
Operated by: USCG - 1954 - AUG 1972
Danish - AUG 1972 - JUL 1975
 
Chain:
 
Station Letter designation:
 
Station code name: DOPE I
 
Station Unit Number: 1954 - APO 23
 
Radio Call Sign:
 
Station aka:
 
On-air testing date: 1954
 
Operational date: 8 NOV 1954 
 
Operations Ceased: 302400Z JUN 1975
 
Station Operation: Single MASTER
 
Station pair: 1L7, 1L0, 2S6 – CAPE CHRISTIAN
 
Loran Rate: 1L7, 1L0, 2S6
 
On-Air: 1L7 – 8 NOV 1954
1L0 – NOV 1956
2S6 -
 
Off-Air 1L7 – NOV 1956
1L0 –
2S6 – 302400Z JUN 1975
 
Monitor Rate:
 
Equipment:
 
Personnel Allowance: 1 office, 18 enlisted
 
Miscellaneous: AUG 1972 - Station Operations turned over to the Danish with the exception of CO, LORAN electronics and radio
 
Commanding Officers /
Officers in Charge
Construction OIC: Hal Hovorka - 1954
1st CO: LT LelandC. Batdorf 1954 - 1955
CO: LT Willi Vogeler 1955 - 1956
CO: LTJG Bob Cluett 1956 - 1957
CO: LTJG Tony Nevin 1957 – 1958
CO: LTJG Charles Glass 1958 - 1959
CO: LTJG Donald M. Taub 1959 - 1960
CO: LTJG David J. Meskell 1960 - 1961
CO: LTJG T. R. Klein 1961 - 1962
CO: LTJG Cutler 1962 - JUL 1963
CO: LTJG Bill Wilson JUL 1963 - AUG 1964
CO: LTJG Linfors AUG 1964 – JUL 1965
CO: LTJG Brad Traver JUL 1965 - AUG 1966
CO: LTJG Dave Zawadski AUG 1966
CO: LTJG David Labuda MAY 1968 – MAY 1969
CO: LTJG Harry F Schmecht MAY 1969 – MAY 1970
CO: LTJG Scheeser MAY 1970 - JUN 1971
CO: LTJG John F. McGowan JUL 1971 - 1972
CO: LTJG Pablo M. Rodriguez 1972 - 1973
Last CO: LTJG Thomas H Gilmore 1974 - JUL 1975
 

MEMORY LANE:

"During my tour we had what was billed as the first USO show since the station was commissioned. The show was "The Arkansas Lassies" who put on a wonderful song and cleared, Thule called to say they would be able to come soon to get them. The lassie's supervisor replied "Don't rush, we're having a wonderful time!"
- CDR Bill Wilson; CO July '63 to Aug'64

Bob Cluett's, A year at the top of the world

Thanks Bob!

Pictures

Cape Atholl Station Location

Suspected location of Loran Station Cape Atholl

Located in the National Archives Washington, DC
Ariel view c./1955

These photos and comments were provided by Tom Leary (RM3 Sep 1968 to Sep 1969). 

Looking West

The photo used on the station's Christmas card c./1968

Photo of the station taken from a Thule-based USAF ARS helicopter.

The station was resupplied from Thule Air Base by helo approximately once each month. In addition, two or three times during the year, USO shows were brought from Thule to perform at Cape Atholl. Usually, the USO shows were comprised of college kids who seemed to regard us as somewhat primitive due to our environment, and also probably due to our strange behavior upon seeing young attractive women.

The helicopters also provided for emergency medical evacuation, which I don't recall that we needed during my 68-69 stay. Sometimes we were fortunate enough to get a weekend "liberty" to Thule Air Base. When we did, we partied heavily at the NCO club with USAF personnel, RCA BMEWS employees and Danes.

Photo was taken from atop the mountain to the south of the station, so the direction of this picture is almost south to north. Thule was located about ENE, or to the right. As I remember it was about 40 miles away.

Although we preferred traveling to Thule by helo, we did have an M-37 truck and a couple of tracked vehicles that made the trip to Thule several times during my year long stay. It was a very rough ride that took several hours and we had frequent breakdowns and weather problems to contend with.

Aside from Thule, the only contact we had was with Eskimos who stopped by the station as they travelled by the area on dog sleds. Once, in the summer, when the ocean was thawed, I remember a couple who came via a small power boat. There were still icebergs drifting by. Another time an icebreaker made a stop to resupply us. Which one it was I can't recall, but I imagine at least one CG icebreaker stopped at Thule for about a week each year and briefly at Cape Atholl Loran Station. 

This photo was an official USCG photo of the station taken in 1955.
Not much change had occurred by 1968 when I arrived.

Eskimos frequently stopped by the Loran station.
This man, wearing the polar bear pants and sealskin boots was
working to untangle the sealskin leads for his sled dogs. 

The eskimos were very hearty and resourceful. These
three men were on the way to a polar bear hunt.

The visits of the Eskimos provided those of us at the CG station
with a unique opportunity to interact with a race of people that
most of the world only hears about. Several of our Eskimo visitors
claimed to be descendants from early Polar explorers,
including Robert Peary and Matthew Henson.

A Cape Atholl "Snow Run."  Water was made by melting snow and every week or so, the entire crew would dress up in parkas, insulated pants and bunny boots and head out to cut blocks of snow for the purpose. Snow blocks were piled into a trailer with skis that was pulled with the Thiokol. Once the trailer was filled with snow, it was pulled to the station where the snow was offloaded and handed, man to man, into the room where the evaporating equipment was located. 

Since there was limited water. Whatever was used for laundry was collected and re-used to flush the toilet after use. Showers were rationed  and limited water use was the general rule at the station. The toilet waste line was routed to a large pipe that was directed away from the station to a culvert where water ran during the summer thaw. The outflow end of pipe was elevated and during most of the year everything was frozen so there was a long icicle of waste frozen off the end of pipe. We called it a “poopcicle.”

This Eskimo hunter stopped by the station as he returned from a polar bear hunt.  His companions had already passed through with the skin and meat from their trophy bear, and he stopped to show us the orphaned cub.  It was his intention to trade the young bear with the Danes , who would perhaps be interested in selling the cub to a European zoo.

This was my opportunity to be as close as any of us
would ever get to a polar bear during my time at Cape Atholl. 

Early spring of 1969, the ocean still frozen. Some daylight allowed us to see beyond the immediate vicinity of the station. This picture was taken on the day we heard of the death of former President and American General Dwight D. Eisenhower. With the flag at half staff, we looked toward the south in acknowledgment that we had lost a great national leader.

Thanks Tom!

 

 

Cape Atholl website: Pictures from Cape Atholl in 1968/69
Submitted by Charles R. Wilkes.