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21. Forss and West Murkle, Caithness. (ND 1569)

Forss and West Murkle were both US Navy NAVCOMMSTAUK (Naval Communications Station UK) radio stations. West Murkle was opened in 1963, during a period of major US military expansion in Europe and Scotland. Its purpose was to provide the facilities for the relaying of command and control messages between US Naval Command and vessels at sea, notably SSBNs in the north-east Atlantic and Norwegian Sea. Forss operated a similar function from 1975. West Murkle had 12 masts and a communication system housed within a green 'golf ball' style radome, whilst Forss had over 20 masts in total, the tallest being a 610ft VLF aerial. During the peak times of their operation, West Murkle and Forss employed just over 200 on site personnel. Both bases were closed in 1992.

The base at Forss has undergone some recent redevelopment, including the construction of a wind farm. It is also the subject of a £6 million project to convert the base into a hi-tech business and technology park. This is being done by a Scottish firm called New Park, in order to meet the requirements of the UKAEA and the private contractors participating in the decommissioning of the Dounreay nuclear power plant.

 

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