Project ELF (US Navy)

  • Article

    The US Navy's Project ELF, previously named Sanguine and Seafarer, was an extremely low frequency transmitter designed to communicate with submarines while they were under water. Original plans called for a grid of antennas extending throughout a huge range of northern Wisconsin and Michigan. Eventually an experimental transmitter was built at Clam Lake in the Chequemegon National Forest and another in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

    Because there were associated with the capability of launching nuclear weapons, and some argued were part of a first nuclear strike capability, the were subject to numerous protests at the Clam Lake and Michigan facilities.

    On September 17, 2004, the Navy announced the closure of the two facilities, effective Septemer 30, 2004.

    Charles P. Forbes
    March 18, 2007
  • Bibliography

    Major References

    Feingold, Russ. U.S. Senator Russ Feingold on the Project ELF Termination Act. [Speech on the Senate Floor, January 7, 2003] Washington, 2003. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    Kahler, Kathryn. Herd in the Balance. [Wisconsin Natural Resources, Vol. 34, #6, pp. 17-23, Dec, 2010.] Madison, 2010. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    Stromberg, Joseph. Why the US Navy Once Wanted to Turn Wisconsin into the World's Largest Antenna. [Vox Media, April 10, 2015 [Downloaded April 29, 2020]] New York, 2015. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    US General Accounting Office. Alternative to Project Seafarer . [GAO LCD-77-360, October 7, 1977] Washington, 1977. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    US General Accounting Office. Navy's Current Cost Estimates of Building Project Sanguine . [B-168482, June 22, 1973] Washington, 1973. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    US General Accounting Office. Status of Project PISCES . [GAO LCD-77-319, February 11, 1977] Washington, 1977. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    US Navy, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. Navy Announces Plan to Shut Down ELF Communications System. [Press Release 20-04, September 17, 2004] San Diego, CA, 2004. View Full Entry (Full text available)

    Minor References

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  • Miscellany


    An article in //Wisconsin Natural Resources// by Kathryn Kahler noted that the Clam Lake site was important to the Clam Lake elk herd that is centered on the area. It says: "Within the core [elk] range is an X-shaped area of grasses, sedges and forbs kept free of trees and shrubs that until the fall of 2004 was part of the U.S. Department of the Navy's Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) Communications System. These long, narrow strips--each 18 miles long and 33 yards wide--were part of the reason the area was chosen for the elk study. The Navy maintained a large antenna of electrical cables atop utility poles as part of a means of communicating with its underwater submarines around the world. The open area underneath the lines provided almost 500 acres of grazing for the growing elk herd. Once the system was disbanded in 2004, the tak of maintaining open space under the ELF lines was left to the U.S. Forest Service and its partners. The U.S. Forest Service mows sections of the ELF corridor on a four-year rotation with a grant for about half of the expenses from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation." (##1509 Kahler##)