With expansion of Coast Guard missions in 1924, shore radio stations were established. Prior to this time, Coast Guard vessels were equipped with Navy-type radio equipment and used Navy frequencies for ship-to-shore messages. To accommodate new anti-smuggling duties, the need arose for more far reaching communications than the Navy or commercial stations could provide. The first radio stations were tasked with delivery of mass amounts of traffic required for a newly commissioned fleet of more than 300 75-foot cutters.
The first radio station was established at the Rockaway Point Coast Guard Station at Fort Tilden, NY. This station proved so successful that additional units were established at Nahant, MA; New London, CT; Cape May, NJ; Cape Henry, VA; Fernandina, FL; Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Mobile, AL; San Francisco; San Pedro, CA; Port Angeles, WA;, and Anacortes, WA.
Radio Station Norfolk, VA - NMN
The first radio station to serve the Norfolk area was established at Cape Henry, Va., in February 1926. The original compliment consisted of a Chief Radioman, three RM1's and one RM3. The first of several moves for NMN occurred on 6 December 1929 when the station was relocated to Virginia Beach and received several upgrades. The station remained there until the next move to Princess Anne where it operated until 16 July 1943 when it was moved to London Bridge, Oceana, VA. This location was near the Naval Air Station Runway, and as missions grew and equipment expanded, so did the antennas. This caused some concern from pilots who had to land at night, NMN's antennas were un-lighted. The station again packed up and moved in the mid-1950's, this time to Pungo Field. The station operated there until 17 June 1976 when the current operations facility was commissioned at Naval Security Group Activity Northwest, Chesapeake, Va. Not only did this new station assume the call sign and duties of its predecessor at Pungo, but Radio Station Washington, D.C., NMH was closed and NMN assumed those duties as well.
Communication Station Portsmouth (COMMSTA Portsmouth)
COMMSTA Portsmouth, as we were called at that time, differed from the previous NMN's. The transmitters were no longer co-located with the operators. Our site at Northwest houses the receiver and operations equipment, while the transmitter facility remains at Pungo Field, Virginia Beach, some 17 miles away. Constructed at a cost of $8 million, the Receiver and Operations building sits on 210 acres which is among the Navy's 4800 acres at Northwest. In 1985 COMMSTA Portsmouth was redesignated "Communication Area Master Station Atlantic - "NMN" (CAMSLANT). Along with this name change came new responsibilities. CAMSLANT directs and oversees day to day operations and maintains operational control of all Communication Stations in the Coast Guard's Atlantic Area. These include COMMSTA Miami/NMA (1993*), COMMSTA Boston/NMF (1996*), and COMMSTA New Orleans/NMG (1998*) which are all controlled remotely by CAMSLANT.
*-Year remoted to CAMSLANT
Today, CAMSLANT is staffed and operated by over 100 telecommunications professionals and support personnel and offers a full spectrum of telecommunications services to support the fleet, shore commanders, and other government agencies and organizations throughout the world. CAMSLANT also maintains and deploys contingency communications to provide command and control support for natural disaster recovery, special operations, and other emergencies. CAMSLANT is also responsible for the Atlantic Area Cutter Fleet Communications Assist Team (CAT) and has assumed a formal role in training the fleet's communicators. The newest addition to CAMSLANT is the Local Control Center (LCC). The LCC is a landline-based subunit, which was brought online on August 1999. The CAMSLANT LCC is a vital hub of all Coast Guard message traffic.
The future is bright for CAMSLANT.