Russian Bombers Over Barbados – One Man’s Cold War Memories

In 1959, The United States Established A Secret Radar Project On Barbados – And Didn’t Tell Our Government!

In 1957, Martin Kaiser started working for RCA Laboratories in New Jersey. The cold war was heating up, the space race was at full throttle and cities and towns throughout the USA practiced air raid alerts in case those damned Ruskies started dropping nuclear bombs.

In the early 1960’s Kaiser and his friends began experimenting with “over the horizon” radar so as to spot the Russian bomber fleets as early as possible, but they needed a good place to test the equipment and Trinidad was just the ticket.

But when the government of Trinidad refused permission because they didn’t want to upset Cuba, and Antigua did the same, the USA decided they would simply do the test on Barbados – and not inform the Barbados Government because, well, they might refuse permission!

Martin Kaiser and his colleagues lived in Barbados for a year and erected towers like this one photographed on the North end of the island…

The Russians eventually found out about the secret US project and started flying photo reconnaissance missions over the installation.

I stumbled across Martin Kaiser’s website when I did a Google search for “Barbados Cold War”. You can check it out for yourself and read some of his memories from another time on this island. Scroll down this page until you see the photo of the antenna above, and then you’ll be at the section where he talks about his secret mission on Barbados…



Filed under Barbados, History, Military

15 responses to “Russian Bombers Over Barbados – One Man’s Cold War Memories

  1. Green Monkey

    Does anyone know what exactly the US used the naval base in St. Lucy for (besides a convenient location to test their radar) ? I had a sister that went out a couple of times with a US navy sailor (ie not an officer) who was stationed at the base for a while and I recollect her saying that he told her there was one room at the base he was told was off limits to him and he was never to go in there, to the best of my knowledge even he didn’t really know why there was a base there.

    I had a physics teacher at school who speculated they used it as a link in a chain of stations to keep tabs on submarine activity in the Caribbean, but he was just guessing.

  2. yatinkiteasy

    Reminds me of the HARP (doomsday gun ) project…the Government at the time was totally fooled about the purpose and nature of the Gun.They even got all their stuff in duty free for the project….which as it turned out, had nothing to do with weather, and more about developing a “missile launcher” that could be used to destroy distant cities. Israel had Dr Buhl (dont know the correct spelling) killed because of his involvement.
    Barbados is full of Historical events…some just not well known.

  3. Technician

    Yatinkiteasy says……Israel had Dr Buhl (dont know the correct spelling) killed because of his involvement.
    I am curious …does anyone really knows who killed Gerald Bull?
    He was in bed with so many governments it is hard to tell who killed him as everyone wanted him dead too.

  4. 249

    Dr BULL, not Buhl. What happen yatinkiteasy you ‘fraid to use the BULL word.

  5. 249

    In 1962 Barbados was not independent, neither was Trinidad, neither was Antigua. None of these islands therefore could give or withhold permission for a military project. That was the duty of the mother country, the U.K.
    2. Martin Kaiser is clearly a madman.

  6. John

    Do the time periods for HARP and Martin Kaiser in Barbados overlap?


    BFP says…

    Wikipedia is unclear about Harp in Barbados… 1963 to 1967 it looks like, so perhaps some slight overlap.

  7. 249

    The Israeli Mossad killed Gerald BULL

  8. KoldWar

    The U.S.Naval Sta. at Harrison’s Point, St.Lucy was essentially a submarine-tracking station.

    The Secret Bldg. referred to above was (I believe) referred to as the K Building.

    After the U.S.Gov’t. left, and it was taken over by B’dos. Government,
    I was told the K Bldg topside actually went down about 4 or 5 floors, stairs down, until it reached approximately beach level..which makes sense when you consider that in order to track pulses left by submarine propellers
    (before their re-design to ‘quieter’ models)
    one would have to install underwater equipment…which leads me to the strange large-dia. pipe I personally observed off the Harrison’s Point area while diving out there –
    it was about 8-12.inches dia. if memory serves – it’s probably still there today, since no-one would remove it(why?!)
    It looks like it might have been sewage disposal,
    and indeed it might be,eh?
    but knowing the nature of the base…
    …we followed the pipe as far out as possible, it headed West North West basically..but it went down the drop-off until it could no longer be seen, beyond about 40 ft. depth.
    Would be interesting to track it via SCUBA and see at what depth it ends, and what’s at its end.
    A diffuser? – or a what?

    U.S.Navy simply withdrew their land-side instrumentation from the K Bldg. and presumably shipped it back Stateside,
    or destroyed it right there,on site.

    Basically, when Tom Adams called for more rent
    (when the lease was up)
    the U.S.Government’s submarine tracking technology had advanced beyond their need to maintain a sub-tracking base in B’dos.
    and although they woulda stayed on at decent rental rate, Adams wanted too much, so Uncle Sam said forget it – have Harrison’s Point back!


    HARP@Paragon started out as a genuine hi-altitude effort to launch small-package satellites via hi-velocity cannon…weather-related applications and suchlike.
    In the process of that stuff, its raison d’etre later got ‘skewed of course’!

    I was about sixteen yrs.old as I stood on the top S.E. gallery of Paragon House to witness a launch, around 10:30 one fine morning.
    The countdown ended with a bright streak of orange muzzle-flash..but no sound.
    THAT came about four seconds later!
    Sounds travels at around 1,100 feet per second, and so it took awhile to travel the mile away where we were standing.
    Something I’ll never forget

  9. KoldWar

    How easy for you to diagnose Martin Kaiser as a madman.

    Compared to your and my limited intellect…. smile my son, smile!

    In the course of my youth, I used to rub shoulders with many a “Mad Scientist” at various McGill institutions on this naive island.

    “Madmen” like Tom LaWand at Brace Inst. who pioneered solar heating
    -which probably fostered what is today our indigenous solar-water-heater industry on the island!

    In defence of Martin Kaiser…the man sounds like one of those ‘mad scientists’,
    waaay above ‘normal’ intellect,
    out there on the cutting edge of technology that would later emerge on the commercial scale(as it does) twenty years after the military is done with it(and that..15 years after it was invented – thus a 35 yr. ‘stagger’
    before you and I get to buy it at DaCosta Mannings!)

    The Military invents all things, essentially.
    The Public reaps the benefits decades after they’re done with it, as technology advances.

    And so it goes

  10. anyone remembers cecil phelps and what happened to him.

  11. I’m not using my real name for security reasons. I was stationed in Barbados, in the US Navy for 18 month’s. The building you gent’s are referring to was know as the “T” building, not the “K” building. Either way, T or K, the building which I also was not allowed access to, was used to monitor Soviet Sub activity in that area, during the Cold War.

    I didn’t know about the “over the horizon” radar test’s conducted there in 1959. As someone pointed out, the US would not have required permission from the Barbados Government, since Barbados was still a British Colony.

    Adams should not have been so greedy in wanting to up the rent….(typical stateside landlord greed). The people of Barbados were enjoying as much protection from Soviet bombers, as any citizen of the US….cost free!

  12. In response to “Green Monkey” May 16, 2008
    The Navy base at St Lucy operated one of the many hydrophones (underwater microphone) placed throughout the Atlantic Ocean to monitor submarine (primarily Soviet) activity.

  13. stephen

    were they any under water caves that subs could hide in. I herd people talk about these dept under water caves.

  14. The antenna in the photo is a 6-30mhz Log periodic, and was used for communications with the NavFac on Antigua. Barbados was the only southern chain of Navfacs that did not use underwater cable for their communications with ComOceanSysLant. We used HF to Antigua, and they patched our Teletype circuits onto the cable. We also had a couple of Rhombic antennas in the field for this use. I was there for several years as a Radioman providing communications for the facility and the embassy.

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