In addition to the US Navy NAVFAC Barbados at Harrison’s Point, St. Lucy which was operational from 1957 to 1979 there was another hush, hush and “covert” NAVFAC cold-war submarine tracking facility located in Barbados from 1954 to 1985/87. It was located within the workshop of Dr. Harry Bayley’s bay-house at Andromeda in St. Joseph. Andromeda built in 1952 was the Bayley family get-away house that stands in what is now Andromeda Gardens. Andromeda is a magnificent 1950 building with a flat concrete roof and the covered veranda where all the Bayley entertaining was done has panoramic views with Bathsheba to the left, Tent Bay below and Matins Bay over on the far right.
NAVFAC stations used what was know as the SOund SUrveillance System (SOSUS) – a network of passive hydrophone arrays mounted deep on the seafloor throughout the Atlantic and Pacific oceans which listened for Soviet submarines and which took advantage of the SOund Fixing And Ranging (SOFAR) channel that exists in oceans that allows low-frequency sound to travel great distances. This SOFAR channel acts as a natural sound transportation tube allowing sound to be picked up from hundreds and hundreds of miles away.
The Andromeda facility situated within Andromeda Gardens, was a covert NAVFAC and was totally unknown to the Barbados Authorities. It was, however, an open secret with the fishermen of Bathsheba and Tent Bay, who in 1954 brought ashore the SOSUS array cable, had a nickname for the termination point near to the Atlantis Hotel and knew the route the spliced on-land cable took up the gully to Andromeda. When asked, these old-time Bathsheba and Tent Bay fishermen could also describe the cable and the equipment that was in Dr. Harry Bayley’s workshop at his new bay-house Andromeda.
The location of Barbados as a cold war Soviet submarine tracking facility was ideal as:
- Barbados is the outermost island of the Caribbean with close access to the deep Atlantic shelf and the SOFAR channel to the north covering the North Atlantic Ocean and to the south covering the South Atlantic Ocean.
The location of Andromeda was even better as it was:
- close to the sea, on the Atlantic East coast with straight line access to the deeper Atlantic shelf
- secluded and off-the-beaten-track.
An ideal spot for a covert submarine listening spot!
The cable was brought ashore in 1954. It is very likely that the cable was laid by Cable & Wireless and not the US Navy. The cable was brought in at Tent Bay via Schooners Hole. It was floated in supported on buoys and then pulled ashore with the help of the local fishermen. The termination point was to the side of the Atlantis Hotel, near to where the old tractor hut was. The termination point was known to the Bathsheba and Tent Bay fishermen as the “Yankee Building”. Within the Yankee Building the cable was spliced to a new cable which then ran up the side of the Atlantis Hotel, followed the road up to the bridge. At the bridge the cable then ran up the side of the gully that runs all the way up to Andromeda, where it entered Dr. Bayley’s workshop.
The first experimental SOSUS facility went online in early 1952 on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera. On 29th April 1952 the go-ahead was given for the full-scale roll-out of SOSUS. The Experimental NAVFAC facility on Eleuthera would later become the US Naval Facility Eleuthera. The SOSUS hydrophone array on Eleuthera was laid by Cable & Wireless – which would have been less suspicious if observed by Soviet observers masquerading as fishermen in covert spying fishing boats.
The description of the cable that was bought ashore by the fishermen at Tent Bay corresponds with what a typical undersea telecommunications cable of that time would have looked like.
Dr. Harry Bayley’s workshop at Andromeda was under the half moon shaped veranda / balcony and looked out onto the Atlantic Ocean with Bathsheba to the left and Tent Bay below. Most of the entertaining at Andromeda was done on the covered veranda above the workshop.
Pati Mull (nee Bayley) told us US Navy equipment begun arriving at Andromeda in about 1954 and it was installed in her father, Dr. Harry Bayley’s workshop. The estimated value of this “research equipment” was USD500,000 (1950 prices)! The US Navy equipment was installed on shelves in the workshop on the “non-curved” side of that room. There were lots of 2ft by 1ft by 1ft tall light brown metal boxes that were all connected up and then there was one tall black metal box 2.5ft by 1.5ft by 5ft to 6ft tall with lots of flashing lights. On this tall black box there must have been 30 to 40 flashing green, red and yellow lights. On and off in split seconds all over and not in the same sequence. The Bathsheba and Tent Bay fishermen description of Dr. Bayley’s workshop / lab is similar.
Given a typical SOSUS array included 40 hydrophones we think there might have been a box for each listening device to form the 40 beams and that the tall black box with the flashing lights was where the 40 beams were consolidated.
David Mackenzie who was married to Dr. Bayley’s daughter Anne Bayley remembers the equipment:
Dad [David] remembers the American guy, Schwartz, along with a more junior guy who would come around Andromeda…
He also remembers the cable going down to the sea and all the equipment with flashing lights in Harry’s lab below the veranda.
He remembers them saying they were measuring sea temperatures, wave periods and heights… nothing about submarines etc but that may have been classified information at the time.Quote from Harry Mackenzie talking to his father David Mackenzie.
Eithne Goddard – the widow of Dr, Michael Goddard who worked with Dr. Bayley remembers the workshop:
The sophisticated equipment and cable you describe were in place when she [Eithne] arrived in Barbados to marry Michael. Harry Bayley did not permit anyone Eithne knew, to enter the workshop, explaining that the equipment there was used to measure waves. Why such an innocent activity would require a high level of secrecy is hard to fathom and suggests that you are right in surmising that the so-called research facility was indeed a listening post.From a conversation between Edwin Bayrd and Eithne Goddard, the widow of Dr. Michael Goddard.
The cover story for the equipment in Dr. Bayley’s workshop at Andromeda varied from:
- measuring sea temperatures, wave periods and heights to
- placing Barbados to a fraction of an inch on the map of the world for the new “atomic submarines”.
Both of these cover stories fit with the generic SOSUS cover story which was used until 1991 that this was part of a US Navy oceanographic research programme:
“During World War II, the U. S. Navy’s efforts against the submarine threat were frequently frustrated because of limitations in its knowledge of the ocean environment and lack of information concerning oceanographic and acoustic conditions off the continental coasts. It became apparent at the end of the war that the German Navy had better information than the U. S. on ocean areas of the Atlantic and Pacific. Consequently, since the war, the U. S. Navy has maintained a continuing program of oceanographic surveys designed to provide more detailed information on currents, temperature, salinity and other factors which comprise the oceanic environment and affect the transmission of sound in sea water The U. S. Navy is determined to never again lag behind others in its knowledge of this vital area.”Taken from: The IUSS – CAESAR Alumni Association – SOSUS Unclassified Cover Story
The late Dr. Harry Bayley was a friend of the USA. He had a deep love of the USA and had spent much of his childhood there and was technically entitled to apply for citizenship. After completing his medical training in the USA and the UK he chose to return to Barbados to modernize medicine for his beloved home. He so loved the USA that he sent his children aged about 10 to the USA for six months so that they too could understand the culture of the USA.
Dr Bayley and his wife Iris in 1952 built their get-away bay house – Andromeda in St. Joseph. At that time, and to an extent still today, Andromeda is off-the-beaten-track. Andromeda was built on rocky land overlooking Bathsheba.
Granny Bradshaw (Ivy Bradshaw nee McConney), Iris Bayley’s mother, owned a house and about 10 acres either side of the road. The land she owned had been in the McConney family for over 200 years. The McConney’s at one time owned the land from Tent Bay to Andromeda. Iris was given the land where Andromeda now stands and her sister Peggy was given Granny Bradshaw’s house.
Dr. Bayley was well known in Tent Bay and Bathsheba as before he and Iris built Andromeda in 1952 their routine was on Tuesday afternoon after work they would go up to Bathsheba and stay with Granny Bradshaw. They would return very early on Thursday morning. The same routine took place on Saturday afternoon and Sunday.
During World War II Dr. Bayley established a kitchen garden on the land where Andromeda now stands, so that he could feed his family and the patients at the hospital. Cows and pigs and chickens were also kept and butchered for the family and for the hospital.
In the early 1950s Joe Schwartz, who was with the US Navy, befriended Dr. Bayley and they become best friends.
Sometime in 1954 equipment started to arrive at Andromeda and was placed in Dr. Bayley’s workshop at Andromeda on shelves. 1954 fits in with the development of SOSUS stations off the East coast of the USA and is three years before NAVFAC Barbados at Harrison’s Point was commissioned in 1957!
Joe Schwartz and other US Navy operatives visited Andromeda regularly. They would arrive by car and are described as always pottering about in the workshop. It’s believed the team of US Navy specialists that regularly visited Andromeda were seen as friends of Dr. Bayley’s so no questions were asked by the locals living nearby. It was known that this was a “secret” project. In the Bathsheba area it was an open secret that Soviet submarines were being tracked from Dr. Bayley’s workshop at Andromeda.
Dr. Bayley died suddenly on 14th June 1958 of a heart attack. By then NAVFAC Barbados at Harrison’s Point had been commissioned. Joe Schwartz was at Andromeda visiting “the equipment” and had dinner with the Bayley’s the night before Dr. Bayley died. Joe Schwartz is believed to have left Barbados very soon after Dr. Bayley died. He, his wife June and son Terry were moved to Cape Canaveral in the USA.
The US Navy, up to 1984/5 were still visiting Andromeda and fiddling with their equipment. Note this is four to five years after NAVFAC Barbados at Harrison’s Point was decommissioned in 1979! Was this part of the reason the US Navy took such a hard-line approach to negotiations in 1978 about the renewal of the lease for the US Naval Facility at Harrison’s Point. Given there were newer emerging technologies for detecting Soviet submarines – the US Navy Andromeda facility provided a near zero cost back-up. Why would the US Navy want to be burdened by the additional cost for the lease of NAVFAC Barbados at Harrison’s Point when they had access to the data from Andromeda for free?
These negotiations took place in July 1978 . The Americans displayed an arrogant attitude which left us in no doubt they were not serious about negotiating the lease renewal for NAVFAC Barbados given that satellite technology and more sophisticated anti-submarine aircraft had been developed. NAVFAC Barbados was now of lesser importance to the National Security of the USA and the Americans decided to abandon the base on 31st March 1979.Source: Conversation with Pat Callender who wrote: Flight Paths & Missing Connections @ Barbados.
It is believed the US Navy equipment was removed from Andromeda sometime between 1985 and 1987 before Dr. Bayley’s wife now Iris Bannochie died. The trigger for the removal of the equipment was probably the Walker-Whitworth spy-ring court case which exposed the US Navy’s closest guarded secrets to the Soviet Union. From 1967 to 1985 the Walker-Whitworth spy-ring passed highly sensitive communication data to the Soviet Union about SOSUS which allowed them to focus on making their submarines both quieter and better camouflaged by trying to fool the passive listening hydrophones into thinking the Soviet submarines were actually whales or dolphins!
When Iris Bannochie died in 1988 she left Andromeda to the Barbados National Trust. John Bannochie her second husband continued to lived in the house until he died in 1997.
Based on the given evidence we can say with certainty there was some sort of US Navy covert facility based out of Andromeda from 1954 to 1985/87.
What did the US Navy “research” equipment housed at Andromeda do? Based on documented analysis of NAVFAC stations such as NAVFAC Lewes it would appear that the equipment in Dr. Bayley’s workshop was the processing equipment that transformed the signals coming from the SOSUS hydrophones prior to being fed into the LOFARgram machines. Below is a description of how the raw array signals were processed at NAVFAC Lewes:
When the cable entered the TE [Terminal Equipment] building it went into the Equipment Room where the weak signals it carried were amplified, summed and “formed” into 40 “beams”. Each beam represented the ocean sounds as if they had been detected by a “virtual” hydrophone oriented toward a different small two to five degree sector of the ocean. Thus, the 40 beams represented the sounds from a wide arc of the ocean. These beams were further processed to eliminate signals that represented random noise and to reinforce steady signals. They then went to a “spectrum analyzer” to eliminate signals except those in the narrow low frequency bandwidth of interest for submarine detection.
The output of each beam was sent to a separate low frequency analyzer-recorder (LOFAR) or “gram writer”. This was a stand with a sloping face on top, over which a roll of specially electrically sensitized paper was pulled beneath an “actuator” into which the electrical signals flowed. As the paper was continually moving forward in time, a stylus in the actuator moved across it on a frequency scale, marking the paper with a black dot to represent each signal, lighter or darker depending on the signal strength. Thus, a constant time versus frequency versus strength graph or “lofargram” was continually being created.Source: Terminal Equipment Building of the Navy Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) Naval Facility (NAVFAC) Lewes
The LOFARgram machines would have needed to have been off-site. Maybe located at the US Embassy or maybe in an unknown US Navy safe house somewhere in Barbados? To have had these at Andromeda would have blown the cover and have needed a team of analysis monitoring them 24/7!
LOFARgram machines were used to visually display in real-time the output of the array of hydrophones that were passively listening for Soviet submarines. In order to analyse the signals, AT&T adapted a device called a sound spectrogram, which in the early 1950s had been invented to analyse speech sounds. The Low Frequency Analysis and Recording (LOFAR) instruments installed at the NAVFACs were designed to analyse low-frequency underwater sounds to show which frequencies were present. The distinctive sound signatures generated by submarines could then be seen graphically on the LOFARgrams.
Assuming there were 40 hydrophones on a typical SOSUS array there would needed to have been at least 40 LOFARgram machines. The main space within the T building at NAVFAC Barbados Harrison’s Point was taken up by rows and rows of LOFARgram machines that operated 24/7 with a team of analyst looking for the the tell-tale signatures of known Soviet submarines. Identifying characteristic frequencies patterns was key to detecting and classifying targets.
We don’t know – we think this is a pretty good guess at what the equipment in Dr. Bayley’s workshop did. It’s anyone’s guess where the LOFARgrams were located, if you have any ideas we would love to hear from you.
How was the output from the Andromeda SOSUS array transported from Andromeda to wherever the LOFARgram machines were located? Between Hacklerton’s Cliff and Andromeda there is line of sight access to provide a clear radio signal. From Hacklerton’s Cliff which is one of highest points in the area a UHF or VHF link could easily have passed the raw array signals back to wherever the US Navy in Barbados analysed the SOSUS output that was collected at Andromeda.
We don’t know – a radio link seems a very plausible solution. Was it the US Embassy, a safe house somewhere in Barbados or somewhere else, if you have any ideas we would love to hear from you.
What about the cross over between the Andromeda operation in St. Joseph which operated from 1954 to 1985/87 and NAVFAC Barbados at Harrison’s Point, St. Lucy which operated from 1957 to 1979 – did it make sense to have two centres? There are a couple of possible answers:
- There were independent and two arrays were used – maybe one focused north tracking sounds from the North Atlantic and one focused south tracking sounds from the South Atlantic?
- Another credible option was that the cableship cable laying teams were pretty good at retrieving and patching and splicing the SOSUS under-sea cables – so maybe from 1957 to 1979 Andromeda was a back-up facility?
We don’t know – if you have any ideas we would love to hear from you.
How was Dr. Bayley and the US Navy connected? Given Cable & Wireless were involved in the laying of arrays for the SOSUS project and in those days Cable & Wireless was an extension of Britain’s GCHQ eavesdropping agency, it is very possible someone with links to the British intelligence community in Barbados might have connected Dr. Bayley with the US Navy’s Joe Schwartz?
We don’t know – if you have any ideas we would love to hear from you.
Where did Iris Bayley later Iris Bannochie fit into this deception with the US Government / US Navy after the death of Dr. Bayley in 1958? The assumption is she was actively involved and sworn to secrecy as the US Navy equipment remained operational after the death of Dr. Bayley in 1958 and the equipment remained in place at Andromeda until 1985/87. It was not something that she discussed with her daughters. Pati Mull tells us that:
In 1960 Mummy [Iris Bayley] went to the USA on a mission to Washington DC. I [Pati Bayley] remember being picked up at the airport by a USA flag waving limousine and taken to our hotel and then next morning being picked up again and taken to the embassy and then on a tour of Washington DC – all in the same flag waving black limousine. I never made any connection. I just thought that Mummy was friends with the US Ambassador or something!
We don’t know – our assumption is Iris Bayley later Bannochie must have had an inkling of what was going on and the importance of this project. The US Navy oceanographic research cover story was very credible.
What we are sure about is:
- Dr. Harry Bayley was targeted for this US Navy covert operation based in his workshop at Andromeda where the USA Government installed “research” equipment worth US$500,000 (1950s prices).
- Andromeda was the perfect setting for this covert operation as it had a workshop and was in the right location overlooking the Atlantic ocean.
- Andromeda was also off-the beaten-track.
- There was a credible and very plausible US Navy cover story.
- And, Dr. Bayley was a friend of the USA and could be trusted.
What’s amazing is it has taken 60+ years for the story to get out into the public domain. This story was, an open secret with the fishermen of Bathsheba and Tent Bay who knew that Soviet submarines were being tracked from Dr. Bayley’s workshop at Andromeda.
SOSUS was built under the cover of civilian oceanographic research and was not made public by the US Government until 1991 when some details about the SOSUS technology and networks were declassified. However, the top secret classicisation of NAVFAC Barbados at Harrison’s Point and other SOSUS stations has meant it has been very difficult to find anyone who was based at NAVFAC Barbados from 1957 to 1979 or anyone who was based at other stations, who would agree to talk about the work undertaken – even though a lot of the operational details were long ago obtained and acted upon by the Soviet Union via the Walker-Whitworth spy-ring. The response from those associated with the SOSUS project that we have approached has been absolutely consistent: they could not confirm nor deny any information regarding NAVFAC Barbados or other SOSUS stations for fear of committing US National Security Classified Information violations.
We know the outline facts on the Andromeda facility and on NAVFAC Barbados. They are undisputed. Its unlikely we will ever know the full detail given the Top Secret classification of these projects and the fear of prosecution by the US Government for those that were involved, should they speak out – even given the leaks and elapsed time.
If you remember the cable from Tent Bay to Andromeda and thought nothing of it or can add to this story we would love to hear from you. Did you know Joe Schwartz? Please leave a message in the comments section below or message BajanThings by clicking on Contact Burts.
Andromeda Gardens, St. Joseph, Barbados was described by a Royal Horticultural Society judge as “one of the most unique and outstanding gardens in the world”. It was developed by the legendary horticulturalist Iris Bayley, later Iris Bannochie. On her death, she left Andromeda in trust to The Barbados National Trust so that her legacy could live on and be shared by everyone.
Do go visit Andromeda Botanic Gardens. There is more to Andromeda Gardens than just a botanic garden. From 1954 to 1985/87 Andromeda was a secret cold-war Soviet submarine tracking station that used leading edge technology from the 1950s and 1960s!
Andromeda Botanic Gardens are open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am until 4pm and has on show some 500 different species of flowers, shrubs, and trees from around the world. Please check the Andromeda Botanic Gardens webpage or the Andromeda Botanic Gardens facebook page for further information about opening hours and booking information.
The Bayley family at Andromeda:
The SOSUS cable termination point at Tent Bay
Hackleton’s Cliff – a possible communications way point from Andromeda to unknown location:
Project Jezebel / Caesar timeline: – note the 1954 refence to Barbados
1949 – Early in 1949, the Naval Research Laboratory reported submarine detection ranges of 10-15 NM in tests using SOFAR hydrophones off Point Sur, California. By the end of the year, ranges of several hundred miles had been achieved. That same year a SOFAR station was established at Bermuda by Dr. Maurice Ewing, a world-famous oceanographer and one of the great contributors to our knowledge of underwater sound.
1950 – In a letter dated 23rd January 1950, to Admiral C. B. Momsen, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations, the Committee on Undersea Warfare recommended that a long-term program be formulated to meet the submarine threat. Subsequently, Admiral Momsen and Admiral Solberg, Chief of Naval Research, met with Dr. Kelly and Dr. James B. Fisk, Dr. Kelly’s assistant and later his successor, together with Dr. Julius Stratton, provost of MIT. It was decided that a broad study should be conducted that summer on the security of overseas transport. Professor Zacharias of MIT chaired the study and Commander Groverman of Office of Naval Research was assigned as liaison officer. The code name Hartwell was adopted and the participants became known as the Hartwell Committee.
In October of 1950 Dr. Kelly called on Admiral Sherman once again and offered the services of Bell Laboratories. Admiral Sherman with a letter which stated “I have directed Admiral Solberg, Chief of Naval Research, to proceed with arrangements with Bell Telephone Laboratories to institute a program of research and development in the field of low-frequency sonar.” Bell Laboratories was already at work adapting Dr. Potter’s visual speech analyser to the task before Dr. Kelly’s Washington visit.
Western Electric Company (WECo) wrote a proposal and went to Washington on the 29th October 1950 with a letter of intent. A contract was signed a month later between ONR and WECo for the R&D effort. The amount was for one million dollars.
Under a cloak of great secrecy, late in 1950, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) funded the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) and its manufacturing arm, Western Electric, to develop an undersea surveillance system designed to detect and track Soviet submarines using the SOFAR channel. The initial effort was code-named Project Jezebel
1951 – In July 1951, negotiations were completed with the British to acquire a seashore site at Eleuthera in the Bahamas. Six hydrophones were installed – three in 40 feet of water, two at 960 feet, and one at 1,000 feet.
1952 – January 1952 the first prototype of a full-size SOSUS installation — a 1,000-foot-long horizontal line array of 40 hydrophones was laid on the seafloor at a depth of 1440 feet — was deployed off the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. After tests in which the array proved able to detect a U.S. submarine, the Navy decided to install similar arrays along the entire U.S. East Coast.
Early in 1952, two important events occurred. In January Captain Joseph P. Kelly (then Lieutenant Kelly) became project manager of Jezebel. And on the 29th of April 1952, a group of flag officers visited Eleuthera. A US submarine manoeuvring offshore was given instructions to change course, speed, and depth. Final instructions called for the submarine to open range and make a box manoeuvre every 25 miles to give checkpoints. The admirals didn’t wait. They had seen the LOFORgrams and were convinced that the detections were real. They headed back to Washington to make Project Caesar happen. Besides, the National Research Council had declared LOFAR a breakthrough.
In September of 1952, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) increased the number of stations from six to nine, and changed the locations of several. The new plan called for sites at Sable Island, Nantucket, Cape May, Cape Hatteras, Bermuda, San Salvador, Grand Turk, and Ramey Field, Puerto Rico.
1954 – Two years later the Navy decided to extend the system to the West Coast and Hawaii as well. Three more stations were added at Barbuda, Barbados, and Newfoundland in January 1954. [Does this reference to Barbados in 1954 refer to Andromeda? We think it might. NAVFAC Barbados at Harrison’s Point St. Lucy was not commissioned until 1st October 1957.]
These early SOSUS arrays were located at the edge of the continental shelf looking out into the deep ocean. At the time, cable lengths were limited to less than 150 miles (241 kilometres), and the NAVFACs therefore had to be located at coastal sites where the shelf break came closest to land.
1956 – in November 1956 work commenced on the construction of NAVFAC Barbados at Harrison’s Point St. Lucy.
1957 – 1st October 1957 NAVFAC Barbados commissioned.
1958 – 14th June 1958 Dr Harry Bayley died suddenly.
1964 – Iris Bayley re-marries John Bannochie. Andromeda became their home.
1978 – July 1978 Barbados and USA concluded negotiations not to renew the the lease for NAVFAC Barbados. The Barbados negotiating team were totally unaware that the USA had a second “covert” NAVFAC on the island of Barbados based at Andromeda.
1979 – 31st March 1979 NAVFAC Barbados de-commissioned.
1985 – Walker-Whitworth spy ring exposed – this was probably the trigger to remove the covert equipment from Andromeda.
1987 – 2nd September 1987 Iris Bannochie (Bayley) dies. Andromeda Gardens left to the Barbados National Trust. John Bannochie her second husband remained living at Andromeda until his death.
1997 – John Bannochie dies.Adapted from: Origins of SOSUS [Data certified UNCLASSIFIED by DoD/DoN and IUSS Authorities]
Our thanks to Pati Mull (nee Bayley) who shared this outline of this story following BajanThings post Barbados Oceanographic Research Facility 1957 – 1979: a top secret US cold war submarine listening post, to my cousins who did the leg work talking to lots of old-time Bathsheba and Tent Bay fishermen, who visited a number of the rum shops in the area and who walked the trails in and around Tent Bay pulling together and verifying this story.
Additional information on the SOund SUrveillance System (SOSUS) – the network of passive hydrophone arrays mounted deep on the seafloor throughout the Atlantic and Pacific oceans which listened for Soviet submarines can be found at the end of the BajanThings post: Barbados Oceanographic Research Facility 1957 – 1979: a top secret US cold war submarine listening post.