Monday, June 16, 2014

The Navy's 'Area 51' in North Idaho

Posted By on Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 2:29 PM

click to enlarge An advanced electric ship design for the Zumwalt class of destroyers at a remote military testing station in the Greenland fjords... er... North Idaho. - U.S. NAVY
  • U.S. Navy
  • An advanced electric ship design for the Zumwalt class of destroyers at a remote military testing station in the Greenland fjords... er... North Idaho.

Stop us if this sounds too much like a Tom Clancy novel:

Somewhere in the remote north of a rural Western state, military engineers work to develop the next generation of submarines and high-tech sea craft. Located on the edge of a cold, deep mountain lake, the base doesn't look like much from the outside; locals in the surrounding small fishing village know that something "top secret" goes on there, but they don't ask too many questions.

Meanwhile, with a history of reported "sea monster" sightings on the lake, it's clear there is something in the water—something out-of-the-ordinary. What it is, officials won't confirm, and rumors suggest that the "sea monster" legend was part of an elaborate campaign of misdirection—but misdirection from what? The mystery persists... until now...

Well, not exactly. It's still fairly mysterious, but (probably) not quite as dramatic as all that. 

The Acoustic Research Detachment at Bayview, on the southern end of Lake Pend Oreille in North idaho, is indeed a facility where the U.S. Navy works on new designs for its submarine fleet. And while it's been called the Navy's "Area 51," its activities are more or less known among locals in the area. Still, it's unusual to see any of the designs on the open water.

Defense journalist Tyler Rogoway has put together a lengthy, detailed post about the ARD on the blog Foxtrot Alpha, complete with a history of the facility and pictures of some of the crafts that have been worked on at the site. 

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