LORAN-C transmitter Lampedusa

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LORAN-C transmitter Lampedusa is the X-Ray secondary station of the Mediterranean Sea LORAN-C Chain ( GRI 7990). It uses a transmission power of 325 kW. The Lampedusa LORAN-C transmitter was situated on the island of Lampedusa at 35°31′21″N 12°31′31″E / 35.52250°N 12.52528°E / 35.52250; 12.52528. The Lampedusa LORAN-C transmitter uses as an antenna a 190.5 metre (625 ft) tall mast radiator, which was commissioned in 1972. An Omega monitoring station was also constructed on the base.

In 1979, Lt. Kay Hartzell took command of the Coast Guard base,[1] becoming the first female commanding officer of an isolated U.S. military base.

On April 15, 1986, Libya fired two Scuds at the U.S. Coast Guard navigation station on the Italian island, in retaliation for the American bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi. However, the missiles passed over the island, landing in the sea, and caused no damage.[2]

As a result of the attack, the Coast Guard station was commissioned as a NATO base, including security hardening and an armory, as well as an Italian security detail stationed nearby.

At the time of the missile attack, the LORAN station was under the command of Lt. Ernest DelBueno. DelBueno had spent the previous winter arming the crew and hardening the station against a possible terrorist attack. DelBueno received orders to evacuate non-essential members of the crew to the U.S. Naval Air Station in Sigonella, Sicily and to stay behind with a small team to keep the signal on air. The commander of a U.S. Navy transport helicopter from Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Four (HC-4), upon landing advised DelBuono that he had received orders to evacuate the entire crew. Unable to communicate with his superiors in London, DelBueno and the crew left the base. They returned early the next morning. The incident damaged relations with the some of the local Italians. Despite additional threats from Qaddafi throughout the spring of 1986, the station continued to provide signal availability to NATO forces. Prior to leaving at the end of his tour in July 1986, DelBueno installed enhanced secure communications equipment, fences and additional weapons to ensure that future commanding officers had the equipment to respond to potential terrorist threats.

On January 4, 1989, U.S. Navy aircraft from the carrier USS John F. Kennedy shot down two Libyan fighters approximately 200 kilometers from the island. At the time, a U.S. Navy logistics aircraft from HC-4 was on the ground at the NATO base, preparing for takeoff. The base commander, Lt. Kenneth Armstrong, received notice from U.S. Sixth Fleet Intelligence at La Maddalena that the Libyan fighters had been shot down, and immediately grounded the unarmed logistics flight, which was scheduled to move on to Tel Aviv. Sixth Fleet Intel also informed Armstrong that Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi had made direct reprisal threats against the American commanders at Sigonella, Sicily, and at Lampedusa.

The aircraft remained on the ground overnight, and an Italian media frenzy followed, putting Lampedusa and Armstrong in the spotlight. Armstrong responded by hosting a media tour of the base, conspicuously wearing his body armor and pointing out defensive forces on the base. The move quieted speculation that the Americans were once again preparing to leave.

The NATO base was decommissioned in 1994 and transferred to Italian military control. It can still be seen clearly on Google Earth (keyword: Lampedusa), at the west end of the island, with swimming pool and outbuildings visible.

The LORAN Station ceased transmission on 312400Z DEC 94 and was decommissioned in January 1995.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ US Coast Guard's Women Chronology
  2. ^ Libyan Missiles