WIT Press

The History And Legacy Of The United States Naval Communication Station In Thurso, Scotland


Free (open access)





Page Range

331 - 342




1200 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


J. B. Gunn


The United States (US) Navy built a radio station at Forss near Thurso, Scotland, in 1962 to meet a need for improved communication services to US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forces operating in the North Atlantic and North Sea. The station was fully contained, but most sailors lived in the local community due to limited living quarters. Social integration was a great success with the station’s leisure facilities being open to locals and sailors participating in community events. Around 100 sailors married local girls. Many who worked at the station have continued their friendships with colleagues and locals via social media. The station closed in 1992 and the Forss site was abandoned for ten years. £6.5 million of private and public money was spent in developing it into a modern business and technology park. The park is located near to the Dounreay nuclear establishment and its concept is based on creating a cluster of expertise in the nuclear decommissioning and allied industries, such as oil and gas, renewables and marine. This paper covers the technical and social history of the US Navy’s tour-of-duty in Thurso, its legacy and how the defence site was redeveloped for the socio economic benefit of the area.


NAVCOMMSTA UK, NAVRADSTA Thurso, US naval radio station, US Navy communications, nuclear decommissioning, Forss, Dounreay