A Century of Service: The U.S. Navy on Cape Henlopen


Cold War:  Naval Reserves on the Cape


On October 18, 2015 Cape Henlopen State Park sponsored an event honoring the U.S, Navy Reserve on its 100th Anniveresary. 

That event specifically honorer those reserve organizations and personnel who served in the cape from 1957-1996.

To read an article and see pictures of that event, go here____
































































































































































































In 1957 a Fourth Naval District Naval Reserve Harbor Defense Unit (HDU) was formed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.  Soon that unit began travelling to Cape Henlopen for its monthly drill weekend.  While the unit had access to the mine pier area and Battery Hunter locations used by the active duty HDU, all that remained in those areas was scrap from the former occupants.


Initially, the reserve unit spent its monthly weekends rehabilitating a building provided by the adjacent SOSUS Naval Facility for overnight living quarters while training on the cape . 

In 1964, after the Navy troposcatter radio station moved from its interim location in Battery Hunter to the larger former Fort Miles 12 inch gun casemate Battery 519, the Navy formally acquired  from the Army the 15 acres surrounding Battery Hunter, including 505 feet of beachfront and about an acre at the mine pier.


The HDU gained access to Battery Hunter and The Navy designated the area as a “Naval Reserve Applied Instruction Building and Area.”

The size of the Battery Hunter bunker was 60 by 150 feet and 40 feet in height.  That was sufficient space in which to create rudimentary administrative offices, classrooms and berthing spaces, plus washrooms and shower facilities.  Improved heating and ventalation as well as an internal communication system were installed.

As the unit was establishing itself in a permanent home, Navy experience in the Vietnam War brought a recognition that an organization with a broader mission and range of capabilities beyond strictly harbor defense was required.  The command was designated as an Inshore Undersea Warfare Division  (IUWD-401). The IUW community adopted the shark as its symbol.


The shark itself designates the boats that would be assigned to IUW divisions.  The teeth represent the various weapons, while the lightening bolts indicate the electronic components of the radar and communications systems. The shark has earphones to indicate the underwater sonar systems employed. 

Working with the Philadelphia Navy Yard the unit obtained and refurbished a surplus surface search radar, giving itself a capability that no other IUW reserve unit possessed at the time.  Other equipment obtained included several types of sono-buoys as well as land detection-triangulation sensors.  

Those systems were connected into a standard Navy combat information center (CIC) established in the bunker and equipped with high frequency and ultra high frequency communications equipment. 


As Fort Miles was being deactivated the division acquired a small frame building and moved it to the Battery Hunter location.  It was refurbished to provide an office for the Commanding Officer and Executive Officer, an administrative office, an officers' wardroom, a medical facility and a large training classroom. The building was named McBride Hall for the Commanding Officer who led this boot-strap effort by the  hard working and dedicated personnel of the division  to create a well-equipped command.


By this time the command had grown to a strength of about 12 officers and 48 enlisted.  In 1970 it was ranked fourth among the 21 IUW divisions nationwide.

By the mid-1970s the command occupied a full- fledged naval installation.


 It was redesignated as   a Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit (MIUW-604) and began training to  be ready for deployment as an independent command.  The unit grew to a strength of 20 officers and 60 enlisted and required training expanded from 48 to 60 drill sessions per year.

In 1977 the command received its first mobile equipment and command van. (Shown in the background parked next to McBride Hall and behind the Commanding Officer and an officer and petty officer from the local cape area.) The equipment included a surface and air search radar system with an antenna that could be erected on location; advanced sono-buoys; sensors for land acoustic surveillance and night observtion gear. 

All those sensors were connected to the van.  With that equipment the unit could provide air, surface and sub-surface surveillance of a harbor, coastal or amphibious landing area and direct defense against enemy attacks.


to support mobilization and deployment, the command was provided with its own habitability equipment such as tents, field kitchens, medical supplies and other necessities as well as a fleet of vehicles to transport them.

Naval Reserve Facility (NAVRESFAC)

In September 1981, the SOSUS NavFac was closed.  Agreement was reached permitting Naval Reserve District Four to retain the NavFac Multi-Purpose Building, the earth-covered Battery Smith Auxiliary Building  and the surrounding 16 acres for use as a Naval Reserve Facility (NAVRESFAC).  The rest of the 300-plus acres of the NavFac land and the 16 acres at Battery Hunter and the mine pier used by MIUW-604 would be returned to the State of Delaware for inclusion in Cape Henlopen State Park.

The NAVRESFAC took over the Multi-Purpose building as headquarters and administrative offices as well as classrooms and conference rooms for visiting reserve units conducting weekend drills.


The NavRESFAC had a staff of a commanding officer and about 6 petty officers.  They were responsible for administration, logistics, maintenance and security.  There were no personnel assigned to support berthing and messing, so the staff contracted those functions to local motels and restaurants.


As the largest and only active unit, MIUW-604 took over the Auxiliary Building as its headquarters, command center and storage facilities for operational equipment, habitiability supplies and vehicles.


There were other reserve units that drilled at NAVRESFAC Lewes: Fleet Hospital Detachemt-500, Shore Intermediate Maintenance Detachment-104 and a Volunteer Training Unit.

In 1984 MIUWU-604 became a commissioned unit, designated MIUWU-205.  In keeping with its new status, the number and quality of the operational equipment, vehicles and field support materials were enhanced.

The primary equipment provided was the 8x20 ft, transportable  AN/TSQ-108A radar-sonar surveillance center (RSSC) van to be used as a command center.   A vehicle mounted mobile sensor platform (MSC) carried a thermal imaging senor and visual imaging sensor along with a SPS-64 radar. Another vehicle carried sonar equipment. Data from all the sensors could be sent back to the RSSC by line of sight microwave communications. All of the equipment was containerized and could be transported in vehicles assigned to the unit or could be air-lifted by helicopter to a ship for deployment.


During this period the unit participated in fleet exercises in Mayport FL, Keyport WA, and Charleston SC.  It was mobilized and prepared, but not deployed, for Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1991.

In 1996, the NAVRESFAC was closed and the buildings and land were turned over to the State of Delaware for inclusion in Cape Henlopen State Park.  The NAVRESFAC headquarters became the Biden Environmental Conference Center.


MIUWU-205 was consolidated with MIUWU-204 from Fort Dix NJ and ultimately was based at Charleston SC.

Photo Credits


-The picture in the title block is the patch of Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit 205, one of the designations of the Naval Reserve Unit at Cape Henlopen in the 1960s-1980s.

-Naval Reserve IUW locations: Portion of U.S. Navy  Bureau of Yards and Docks, Naval Facility, Lewes, Del. General Development Plan: Y&D DWG No. 980514 dated 196x.

-Emblem of IUW: From http://globalsecurity.org/military/agemcy/navy/miuwu205.htm.

-Reserve Petty Officers at radar scope: From "Sailors Guard Bay Entrance", Evening Journal, Wilmington, DE. 1 January 1971.

-Petty Officers in command center: Elaine Mitchell, "Lewes Naval Reservists...." Delaware Coast Press 2 September 1976.

-IUWD-401 facilities at Battery Hunter.Ibid.

-Commanding Officer and local reservists in front of van and McBride Hall: From Elaine Mitchell, "Lewes Naval Reservists...." Delaware Coast Press, 2 September 1976.

-Unit on deployment: From www.n6cc.com/mobile-inshore-warfare.htm

-Naval Reserve Center: Official Navy photograph.

-Naval Reserve Center Emblem: From Naval Reserve Center Change of Command brochure, 21 July 1990.

-Illustration of RSSC and associated equipment: From MIUW Program Office, U.S. navy Space and Electronic Warfare Systems Command,  Accessed via www.fas.org/irp/program/collect/rssc.htm

-Senator Biden speaking at closure of Naval Reserve Center: From Dennis Forney "U.S. Navy returns 17 acres of land...." Delaware Coast Press 29 August 1996.




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