Book Review

Naval Shipboard Communications Systems

Kim and Muehldorf
506 pages, Prentice Hall, 1995


An introduction to communication technology used by the Navy, such as that used on the EP-3 spy plane whose crew was recently held hostage by the Chinese after a fighter piloted by an incompetent Chinese pilot crashed into the spy plane. U.S. ships use almost the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from ELF (70-80 Hz), which has a baud rate of one character every 10 minutes, to blue-green lasers. Unlike civilian users, the principal concern of military users is not maximizing bandwidth, but reliably transmitting narrow-band voice signals, typically 2400 bps, under adverse conditions (such as, for instance, when a 50 megaton nuclear missile is homing in on your position). Has nice chapters on modulation systems, spread-spectrum, and anti-jamming techniques; the latter requires some understanding of basic information theory. The remainder is relatively non-technical with little mathematics or technical depth. Readers unfamiliar with radio wave propagation or satellite communications will find it interesting. Lots and lots of acronyms, block diagrams at the systems level, and blurry photographs of obsolete-looking equipment, but little technical information about the role of computers or cryptography, and no circuit diagrams or discussion of surveillance equipment. Also, much of the information is quite dated; the most modern communication systems are not even mentioned.