VERY-LOW-FREQUENCY (vlf) transmissions provide a highly reliable path for communications
in these northern latitudes as well as over and under all oceans and seas of the world. At present,
practically all Navy vlf transmitters are used for fleet communications or navigation. The vlf transmission
is normally considered a broadcast, that is, one-way transmission, no reply required. The vlf transmitter
normally transmits single-channel rtty.
Vlf is currently used for communications to large numbers of satellites and as a backup to shortwave
communications blacked out by nuclear activity. Our Navy depends on vlf for crucial communications
Secondary applications of the vlf range include worldwide transmission of standard frequency and
time signals. Standard frequency and time signals with high accuracy over long distances have become
increasingly important in many fields of science. It is essential for tracking space vehicles, worldwide
clock synchronization and oscillator calibration, international comparisons of atomic frequency standards,
radio navigational aids, astronomy, national standardizing laboratories, and communications systems.
A vlf broadcast of standard time and frequency signals has more than adequate precision for the
operation of synchronous cryptographic devices, decoding devices, and single-sideband transmissions.
The LOW-FREQUENCY (lf) band occupies only a very small part of the radio-frequency spectrum.
This small band of frequencies has been used for communications since the advent of radio.
Low-frequency transmitting installations are characterized by their large physical size and by their
high construction and maintenance costs. Another disadvantage is low-frequency signal reception being
seriously hampered by atmospheric noise, particularly at low geographical latitudes. Over the years,
propagation factors peculiar to the low-frequency band have resulted in their continued use for radio
communications. Low-frequency waves are not so seriously affected during periods of ionospheric
disturbance when communications at the high frequencies are disrupted. Because of this, the Navy has a
particular interest in the application of low frequencies at northern latitudes.
The Navy's requirement to provide the best possible communications to the fleet requires operation
on all frequency bands. Constant research is being done to improve existing capabilities and to use new
systems and developments as they become operationally reliable.
In the past, the fleet broadcast system provided ships at sea with low-frequency communications via
cw telegraph transmissions. As technology advanced, the system was converted to single-channel radio
teletypewriter transmission. Today If communications is used to provide eight channels of frequency-
division multiplex rtty traffic on each transmission of the fleet multichannel broadcast system.
The MEDIUM-FREQUENCY (mf) band of the radio-frequency spectrum includes the international
distress frequencies (500 kilohertz and approximately 484 kilohertz). Some ships have mf equipment. If
desired the distress frequencies may be monitored. When this is done the transmitter usually is kept in the
standby position. Ashore, the mf receiver and transmitter equipment configuration is usually affiliated
with search and rescue organizations, which are generally located near the coast.
Only the upper and lower ends of the mf band have naval use because of the commercial broadcast
band (AM) extending from 535 to 1,605 kilohertz. Frequencies in the lower portion of the mf band (300
to 500 kilohertz) are used primarily for ground-wave transmission for moderately long distances over