The Historic Atlantic Highlands Military Reservation (MR)
Updated: November 11, 2005
Research is currently underway on the Atlantic Highlands Military Reservation in Navesink, NJ. This base was located on the hill behind Fort Hancock, and the property is now part of the Hartshorne Woods County Park. This area is the highest natural point on the Eastern Seaboard from Southern Maine to the Yucatan Penisula in Mexico. Most of the concrete emplacements are still intact, but few or no wooden structures remain. The casemates are not completely open to the public due to concerns for public safety and the security of the structures. You may walk along the marked trails through the Battery Lewis gun positions and climb atop the casemates for a great view of the New York Harbor. This will provide the visitor with an appreciation for the military significance of this site. Historic wayside exhibits are supposedly in the works.
We have identified four areas of research and would appreciate any additional information from readers of this web page:
1) Mortar Battery
During World War 1, there was an unnamed battery of four 12-inch mortars, models M1896, on M1891 carriages. The mortars were transferred from Fort Hancock, Battery Reynolds (S/N 20 and 21), and Battery McCook (S/N 18 and 58). Installation of the guns was completed on July, 18, 1918. The guns were finally removed to Fort Hancock for storage in July of 1920. It has been reported that one of these gun positions is still visible, and the other three are buried.
A 12-inch Mortar M1896 on the M1891 Carriage.
2) Battery Lewis
In World War 2, this base was the site of Battery Issac N. Lewis (Construction Number 116), which consisted of two 16-inch Navy guns, Model MkIIMI on M4 barbette carriages, installed in concrete casemates.
An exterior view of a similar 16-inch casemated gun at Battery Davis,
Fort Funston, CA, in 1941.
These guns weighed over 128 tons each, were 68 feet long, and could fire a 2,240 lb pound (16-inch diameter) armor-piercing projectile at targets up to 25 miles away. The crewmen worked inside the protection of the concrete casemates and used overhead hoists to load the projectile and the 648 lbs of powder contained within three seperate powder bags.
An interior view of loading the 16-inch gun at Battery Davis,
Fort Funston, CA, in 1941.
These two guns had an interlocking field-of-fire with the twin 16-inch guns of Fort Tilden that could hit any enemy ship approaching the New York Harbor. These guns had a service life of only 200 rounds each and were only fired during the proof firing and annual service practice. Although German submarines were operating within visual range of this facility, these guns were never fired at an enemy ship. Along with the other fortifications of the New York Harbor, this facility safeguarded the New York Harbor during World War 2.
An exterior view of a similar 16-inch casemated gun at Fort Story, VA
This gun battery was named in honor of Colonel Isaac N. Lewis. Born in New Salem, Pennsylvania on October 12, 1858 and graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1884, Lewis died in New Jersey on November 9, 1931. His most notable contribution was the invention, development, and full-scale production of the world's first lightweight machine gun for aircraft. Other contributions were a patented depression position finder, a plotting and relocating system for seacoast batteries, a time-interval clock and bell system of signals of artillery fire control, a quick-firing field gun and mount, a quick-reading mechanical vernier, a patented electric car lighting system, a windmill electric lighting system, and a patented gas-propelled torpedo (Source: www.goordnance.apg.army.mil/HallofFame/fame93.doc)
One of the two empty gun casemates at Battery Lewis, Atlantic Highlands MR, NJ. Photograph by Tom Page of The Online Air-Defense Radar Museum, http://www.radomes.org/museum/ -- Copyright 1998, All Rights Reserved. Used With Permission.
Installation of the equipment was completed and the guns were transferred on February 16, 1944. This battery was equipped with a Battery Commanders Station, a casemated Switchboard and Plotting Room (the bunker located behind both gun casemates), 8 Base End and 8 Spotting Stations. The battery was also equipped with one SCR-296 fire control radar, 2 ammunition magazines, and 1 diesel powerplant. The guns were removed in 1948, but the concrete casemates still remain.
Profile view of similar casemated 16-inch battery with gun installed
(From: Emmanuel Lewis, Seacoast Fortifications of the United States, Published 1979)
3) Battery 219
Battery 219 (similar to Battery 220
at Fort Tilden) consisted of two 6-inch guns, Model M1903A2 on M1 shielded barbette carriages. Installation was completed on February 16, 1944. This battery was equipped with a Battery Commanders Station, 5 Base End and 5 spotting stations. The battery was also equipped with one SCR-296 fire control radar, 2 ammunition magazines, and 1 diesel powerplant. These guns were removed in 1949.
A 200-Series twin 6-inch gun casemate similar to Battery 219, Atlantic Highlands MR, NJ
Two type M1903 6-inch guns were installed at Battery 219, Atlantic Highlands MR, NJ
4) The Role of the Highlands during the Cold War
This same plot of land on the Atlantic Highlands was later used as a control center for Nike air defense missiles during the Cold War. The facility was jointly operated by the Army and the Air Force to allow coordination between the two services in their air defense missions. Some of the WW2 casemates were reused as fallout shelters.
The Highlands Army Air Defense Base, Atlantic Highlands MR, NJ
Note casemates of Battery Lewis behind buildings.
A USAF Station:
Named the "Highlands Air Force Station", this base became a U.S. Air Force installation around 1948 and was operated by the 646th Air Control and Warning (AC&W) Squadron from March 1951 to July 1966.
The Army Moves into the Highlands Again:
Once the "Army Air Defense Command Post" (AADCP) at Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island, NY, was closed, the AADCP operations moved into the Atlantic Highlands. The facility was redesignated the "Highlands Army Air Defense Base", and it was the "Nerve Center" of the New York Defense Area. This Defense Area included the Philadelphia area and was the command post for those launcher sites after the Pedricktown AADB (PH-64DC)was closed in September 1966. While there were no Nike missiles installed at the Highlands, it served as the central control point for the firing batteries and was designated "NY-55DC" (The sites were number from 1 to 100, in a clockwise circle centered around New York City).
Many Army units were based here:
HQ 52nd Brigade: November 1968 to September 1972.
HQ 19th Group: December 1961 to November 1968.
HQ 16th Group: June 1971 to September 1974.
HHB/3/51st: November 1968 to September 1972 (was at Ft Tilden 58-64, Ft Hancock 64-68)
HHB/1/51st: September 1972 to June 1973.
Radar Equipment Installed at the Highlands:
The type of radar equipment installed at this facility was updated several times as enemy countermeasures and radar technology evolved. The site typically had a combination of search, height-finder, and surveillance radar units. There were also computer systems that were used to plot targets to allow the personnel to decide which Nike missile battery would engage each target. This was designed to protect friendly aircraft and prevented several batteries from engaging the same target. The following photographs depict the various types of radar antennas which were protected by the "golf ball" radome used to protect the antenna from the elements.
The AN/CPS-6 was developed during the later stages of World War II by the Radiation Laboratory at MIT. The first units were produced in mid-1945. General Electric developed and produced the A-model and subsequent B-model at a plant in Syracuse, New York. The unit consisted of two antennas. One of the antennas slanted at a forty-five degree angle to provide the height-finder capability. Initially, the radar was designed to detect fighter aircraft at 100 miles and 16,000 feet. The radar used five transmitters that operated at S-band frequencies ranging from 2700 to 3019 MHz. It took twenty-five people to operate the radar. An AN/CPS-6 radar was installed as part of the Lashup system at Twin Lights, New Jersey, in 1949 and proved capable of detecting targets at ranges of eighty-four miles. The first units of the follow-on 6B radar set were ready for installation by mid-1950. Fourteen 6B units were used within the first permanent network. A component designed to improve the radar's range was added in 1954. Initial tests showed the 6B unit had a range of 165 miles with an altitude limit of 45,000 feet. One radar unit and its ancillary electronic equipment had to be transported in eighty-five freight cars. The Air Force phased out the 6B model between mid-1957 and mid-1959.
An AN/CPS-6 Antenna
The AN/FPS-7 Tower at the Highlands
The AN/FPS-7 Antenna
A very large L band (1250-1350 MHz), search radar with a search altitude of 100,000 feet and a range of 270 miles. Made by General Electric to replace the AN/CPS-6. The first set began operating at Highlands, New Jersey, in 1959, and was used for both air defense and air traffic control.
Medium range L-band (1280-1380 MHz) search radar made by General Electric in 1954 and 1958.
An AN/FPS-8 Antenna
Medium range L-band (1280-1380 MHz) search radar made by General Electric in 1954 and 1958. Variant of the AN/FPS-8
An "Alternate Battery Acquisition Radar" (ABAR) or Defense Acquisition Radar - Alternate Acquisition Radar.
ECCM (Electronic Counter-Counter Measures) consoles employed with the AN/FPS-69. A video presentation monitor systems used to compare data from two radar systems during enemy jamming operations.
Height-Finder Radar Units
A S band (2700 to 2900 MHz), height-finder radar with a maximum indication range of 200 nautical miles and a height measurement capability to 75,000 feet. The 30 foot high by 6 foot wide antenna could rotate 360 degrees in azimuth and nodded up and down in elevation. Made by General Electric in the mid 1950s.
A C-band (5400 to 5900 MHz) height-finder radar built by Avco in the 1960's. Replaced the AN/FPS-6.
Based on the FPS-6, this Martin Marietta (GE) height-finder radar operated on the S-band. Mid 1960's vintage.
The Massive AN/FPS-6 Height-Finder Antenna
AN/FSG-1 Missile Master and AN/TSQ-51 Missile Mentor:
The AN/FSG-1 Missile Master system was installed to automate the function of the manual plotting board. The Missile Master used data from its own radar and computers to acquire, track, and plot targets. Targets were selected and this data was fed to the individual NY-NJ area Nike missile sites. On July 4, 1960, the New York area Missile Master was activated and manned by personnel from the 52nd Air Defense Artillery Brigade (formerly stationed at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island, NY). This Missile Master facility was located at the Highlands Air Force Station along with the U.S. Air Force 646th Radar Squadron. The 646th was a component of the "Semi-Automatic Ground Enviroment" (SAGE) system, based at McGuire AFB, NJ. In the 1960's, Missile Master was replaced by the AN/TSQ-51 Missile Mentor, a solid-state upgrade that could coordinate 24 Nike missile batteries.