"True" ECM stories

What is ECM?
It stands for Electronic Counter Measures

The USS Helena CA-75 was launched on 28 April 1945

She was Commissioned 2 days after WW2 ended. On 4 September 1945

The ship was equiped with ECM equipment which was not used until after the
Korean war took a turn for the worse.

The Navy realized, ECM was needed. I was selected to attend the ECM school in Pt. Loma, CA
The ships ECM room was classified SECRET. There were only 3 enlisted and 1 Officer permitted entry.
In addition to the ECM equiment, we had a SECRET book, containing all know radio/radar transmissions to date.
I do not recall any threats to Helena during the Korean War.

What follows are three stories of incidents that happened to us, while in the ECM room.

USS Helena CA-75
ECM stories from the mid 50's
by Dave Brouchoud

Story 1

Gregory, D. Brouchoud and E. Rice.

Within the ships ECM room, there was a large piece of equipment used to jam enemy radar. It was so powerful, we were
ORDERED, never to turn it on unless by direction of the Commanding Officer. Because testing of this equipment was
required, it had a dummy load feature. This prevented jamming signals from leaving the ship and allowed us to properly
test the unit.

One day while the Helena was at anchor, in San Diego, my buddies and I wondered what would happen if we turned of the
equipment and sent a signal out beyond the dummy load. We knew this was wrong and could get us in serious trouble, but
when you are young and reckless, stupid etc. So we fired up the equipment and sent out a short burst signal. Only on for a
few seconds.

That evening and the next day, all hell broke loose in the form of messages from a number of monitors all along the west coast
of the USA. One report was from Seattle. A powerful signal was monitored, coming from the San Diego, CA area. This signal
was a low frequency, the kind that follows the curvature of the earth, as opposed to high frequency’s which are point to point or
line-of-sight. The signal was not on long enough to pin-point the exact location, but because it was only used by the military,
they knew it came from a ship in San Diego. Only larger ships had this equipment. Battleships, Carriers and Cruisers.

The next morning after we were release for morning quarters, our Officer pulled the three of us aside and wanted to know if we
had anything to do with this signal? Of course not!! It is not permitted said we. Of course said he, and with a wink, release us for
usual days work.

The good thing coming out of this “mistake”, we now knew the transmitter really worked.


Story 2

While the CA-75 was steaming south from San Francisco to Long Beach, I was in the ECM room, for privacy. I Wanted to write
some letters and take a nap on the deck.

For reasons I no longer recall, I started to listen to transmissions on our ECM equipment. Suddenly, I head a sound never heard before.
I looked it up in our 'Secret list of all know transmissions to date. To my complete surprise, it was listed a Russian Radar.

How could this be as we were in USA waters? Even though I was not on duty, I reported it to the Duty Officer. I guess they laughed
about my report, but sent our ECM Officer to check it out.

First thing he asked me, why are you in here. He then double checked my evaluation of the signal and confirmed what was on the
list of transmissions and reported same to the Duty Officer.

He decided there was no reason to take action of any kind.

A short time later a Russian cargo ship was sighted. OKAYYYYY! I was vindicated. We all needed to assume that the Russian was
not a threat and that his radar was military surplus.

The Duty Officer called me on the phone to say "Great Job".

We further assumed, the Coast Guard knew about the ship. Not sure why the Coast Guard did not think we needed this information.

Oh well. It was a small feather in my cap anyway.


Story 3

WOW, he must have found something. Has head phones on.

Sometime during our Far East Tour in 1953, the Helena was directed to Hong Kong for R & R. The ship would pass between
Formosa and China. Our ECM crew was instructed to search for any radar signals coming from China. Sure enough, Our Starboard
antennas picked up a radar signal coming from China.

To confirm the location of the signal, the Captain reversed the ships direction, as though we were returning to Korea waters.
We were again instructed to search for a radar signal, but this time using our Port antenna. As before, we detected the same
radar signal----coming for China.

Once again, the Captain ordered the ship to reverse course and proceed to Hong Kong. As soon as the course change was complete,
the Captain ordered our ECM crew to turn on our radar jammer. As instructed, we turned on the jammer, for about 7 to 10 minutes.

The radar signal coming from China was no longer transmitting.

On our return trip from Hong Kong, we again searched for signals coming from China. None were found.


Brouchoud Collection B&W Negatives