Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Site RT - What's On Top of Raven Rock

Site R cutaway released by the Department of Defense in response to a 1999 FOIA request

Site RT is the area on top of Raven Rock Mountain where the antennas and satellite communication equipment are located.  It is easily visible from the road approaching Site R from the south. On a clear day, you can even see it from the Gettysburg Battlefield about twelve miles away.

View of Site RT from nearby road  (August 2014)

Photo of Site R antennas taken from the Gettysburg Battlefield

It's hard to see what's actually up there by looking up from the road. If you really want to explore Site RT, you need to do it from overhead. Bing Maps has a feature called "Bird's Eye" which gives an aerial view, rather than a satellite view of what's down below. Using low-flying aircraft, Bing captures imagery from a 45 degree angle. Below is a bird's eye view of Site RT. You can zoom in and rotate the view by accessing it directly in Bing.

Of course, the problem with any image is that it is only a snapshot in time. The Bing image below is from 2012.

Site RT - Bing Maps (Bird's Eye)

Another good source for overhead images is Google Maps. Those images are satellite views, so they lack the perspective of the Bing imagery. However, Google does a much better job of updating their imagery more frequently and allows you to compare images over time using Google Earth.

Below you can see that a piece of equipment was added in 2013. The new addition is also visible in the roadside photo at the top taken in 2014.

Site RT - Google Earth

Close-up view of new equipment added in 2013

The 114th Signal Battalion Directorate of Logistics Inside/Outside Plant is responsible for maintaining all communications systems associated with the RF systems in support of the High Frequency (HF) radio mission.

The antenna at the top left of the Bing image is an LPH-24 rotatable antenna. It was installed in 2005.  In 2013, a solicitation went out for the repair of the waveguide on the antenna. The Statement of Work can still be viewed on the FedBid website.

Microwave towers at Site RT
The Cryptome website has a Site R Birdseye page that features aerial photos of Site R along with a detailed description of the various types of antennas and microwave towers. The photo to the right shows the two main microwave towers at Site RT.

The tall one on the left is described on Cryptome as being part of a government system linking sites around the DC area including Ft Belvoir, Andrews AFB, Ft Meade, and the Pentagon. The Andrews-style microwave dish connects Site RT to its related satellite communications facility (Site C in Maryland) forming the RT-Site C backbone.

The structure on the right is an At&T microwave tower with two KS horns. It also has four antennas about 4-inch diameter and a few feet long. These are the GEP antennas for the Wideband FM system. The Air Force uses it for NAOC and Air Force One.

Site R cutaway - DOD response to 1999 FOIA request
Bing Maps
Google Maps/Earth
LPH-24 antenna repair - FedBid
Microwave tower information - Cryptome

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Possible 100% Increase in Mission Support

View job listing

The Washington Headquarters Services posted a  job listing in March 2014 for a Supv Management and Program Analyst. This position was open only to current Raven Rock employees as a temporary one-year assignment. One of the duties listed for this position was:
"Oversee and monitor the Installation Management Action Plan, develops procedures and processes for use of advanced analytical tools for analysis, conducts war gaming and brainstorming sessions to support various hypotheses, e.g., how would RRMC handle an initiative resulting in a 100% increase in mission support."

Job listing - usajobs.gov

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Raven Rock Fire and Emergency Services

This RRMC fire station opened in August 2005

Site R was built deep underground back in the early 1950s to protect its systems and occupants from atomic annihilation. But the biggest danger to this and all underground bunkers is fire. Sometimes the job postings for Raven Rock casually mention this very real possibility:
"Because of the great likelihood of a major smoke event and total darkness during a fire, selectee must maintain a flashlight and also be issued and trained to use an emergency escape breathing apparatus."
Evacuation routes are clearly marked by fire exit signs and fluorescent arrows are posted on the baseboards in hallways to show the direction of the exits.

Fire & Emergency Services is located inside the underground facility in Room 1-B-18 at the B Corridor Inner Roadway.

According to an OPM database, there are 16 employees in the International Association Of Firefighters bargaining unit at RRMC.

There is a 2015 job listing for a HAZMAT firefighter whose duties include:

  • Control of hazardous substance using specialized protective clothing and control equipment to plug, patch or stop the release
  • Utilize hazard and risk assessment techniques to form an incident analysis by surveying the area, materials, containers, weather, research sources, and monitoring equipment
  • Inspect administration and office areas, warehouses, storage, assembly, industrial and other occupancies to look for life threatening and potentially hazardous violations

Crash 19 is a 2004 E-One 1500/1500/200 model

A 2014  job posting on USAJOBS for a Fire Protection Inspector lists these duties:
  • Serve as a member of the installation Hazardous Materials Response Team.
  • Inspect various types of structures, equipment and storage areas, repair shops, warehouses, fuel storage, welding areas, maintenance facilities, power generating plants, commercial kitchen, for life threatening and potentially hazardous violations. 
  • Attend construction planning meetings to advise on fire protection or detection issues.
  • Conduct briefings on fire prevention requirements, emergency egress procedures and fire extinguishers for installation personnel.

 Raven Rock Mountain Complex Fire & Emergency Services challenge coin

Another Raven Rock Firefighter Technician job posting describes some of the unique characteristics of working at this underground facility:
"Responds to emergencies involving fire, emergency medical services, hazardous materials, and other circumstances. Performs tasks to gain control of and extinguish fires, effect rescue operations, and maintain safety. 
While at the underground facility, personnel will be engaged in unusual and difficult situations. The hazards, limitations, and special circumstances the Installation poses require skills and knowledge not encountered while working in conventional fire department operations. These conditions include work in confined spaces, large industrial power plants with large fuel storage facilities, high voltage electrical and communications equipment, and unventilated areas."

In October 2015, DOD Washington Headquarters Services posted an open continuous announcement for firefighter positions at the Raven Rock Mountain Complex. The announcement expires in October 2016. (archived listing)

Aerial view of the Site R fire station

FireHawk M7 air mask
Site R Firefighter Equipment

The FedBizOpps website lists some firefighter-related gear for Site R. According to a 2012 solicitation, Raven Rock maintains an inventory of over 60 sets of Globe G-XTREME® jackets and pants.

Another solicitation for Raven Rock references an order for 25 air masks (MSA FireHawk M7 SCBA)

The Site R fire department has the following trucks listed on its vehicle maintenance solicitation:

Raven Rock Mountain Complex's E-One D251 pumper tanker
The E-One webpage announcing the delivery of the above truck to the Raven Rock Mountain Complex can be viewed here.

Smoke Containment System

In 2008, as part of the Pentagon Renovation and Construction Program (PENREN), a  life safety needs assessment identified the requirement for a more effective means of smoke management in the underground facility. Their original budget was $9.8 million to replace a manual smoke control system that involved shutting down the toilet exhaust fans and closing the associated dampers;  then reopening the dampers and restarting the exhaust fans.

Contractors were required to "design, construct, furnish and install, test and demonstrate functional operation of a Smoke Management System to limit the spread of fire gasses and resulting soot into areas of egress, corridors, elevators, stairwells, for Buildings A, B, C, D, E, and the Inner Roadway".

The new smoke management system can be activated automatically during the early stages of a fire and was to be designed to interface with the facility's Notifier fire alarm system and HSQ Technology SCADA system. The project was completed in FY 2012. Final budget numbers are listed below.

DOD Revolving Funds Justification

Collective Bargaining Agreement

The Raven Rock firefighters are represented by the International Association of Firefighters Local F-301. Their Collective Bargaining Agreement describes the working conditions for the firefighters at Site R including tours of duty, annual leave, living quarters, etc.

Mutual Aid MOA with Frederick County

The Raven Rock Mountain Complex and Frederick County in Maryland signed a mutual aid agreement whereby either party could request the aid of the other party during an emergency. Read the 2009 Memorandum of Agreement for more information on this.

Fire station photo- The Renovation of the Pentagon (GovernmentAttic.org)
Aerial view of fire station - Google Maps
Pumper photo - E-One
Job listings - usajobs.gov
Solicitations - fbo.gov
FireHawk air mask photo - MSA
Budget for Smoke Containment System - DOD Revolving Funds Justification
Smoke Containment System - fbo.gov solicitation
Collective Bargaining Agreement - Public Intelligence
RRMC - Frederick County MOA - Frederick County government
Crash 19 - photo credit Patrick Shap, Jr.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Why the Big Hole at Fort Ritchie, Maryland? Army says S-H-H-H!

March 9, 1952

FORT RITCHIE, Md. The Army has only one thing to say about its newest military installation in Maryland. “Sh-h-h-h!” For about a year now it has had a private contractor blasting and drilling an eight million dollar hole into Raven Rock Mountain, just across the state line in Pennsylvania.

It has contracted with another company to build some kind of a structure in the hole, for another eight million. It started to do about 10 million dollars worth of building right here at Fort Ritchie.

There was talk this was all to be a bombproof Pentagon in the mountains where the nation’s high command could take refuge and direct defense in case Washington was atomized.Then there was an official announcement it would be a supplemental communications center, an alternate operating hub for the wire and radio networks maintained by the Army, Navy and Air Force from stations in and around Washington.  Read more

November 7, 1952

Army Sharply Criticizes Its Engineers For Revealing Data on Secret Project

Washington, Nov. 7 — Existence of a 35-million-dollar underground Pentagon” as an atomic bomb-proof refuge for top defense officials was officially disclosed today under surprising circumstances. The army lashed out at its own Washington district engineer’s office for unauthorized release of material describing the three-story underground building constructed at Camp Ritchie, Md., as an alternate high command post for use if the nation’s capital is bombed.  Read more

February 15, 1954

Atomic-age, Underground Pentagon Is Completed; Cost 35 Millions Or More

WASHINGTON — The high command's atom-age "underground Pentagon,*’ built inside a mountain 65 miles from the national capital, is ready.

A Defense Department spokesman said today in reply to a reporter’s question that the project, which started three years ago to provide an altornate command post and communications center if atomic attack should threaten or destroy the Pentagon, is "100 per cent completed."  Read more

St. Petersburg Times
Reading Eagle
The Gettysburg Times

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Help Wanted: Secret Cooks for Raven Rock

Job Posting for the Granite Cove Dining Facility

Job posting for Cook
At first glance, this job posting seems pretty mundane:
The Cook II (PT) prepares salad bar items, fruit, short order menu items, and performs grill duties for meals
Except that this cook needs a Secret clearance.   SECRET:  Unauthorized disclosure of the information this clearance covers could be expected to cause grave damage to national security.  (Note to future Site R cooks: that's "GRAVE" damage, not "GRAVY" damage.)

The job posting reveals the client::
The Raven Rock Mountain Complex (RRMC) is a Government facility in Franklin Country PA (also called "Site R"). The facility is operated by the U.S. Army. RRMC has a Full Food Service (FFS) dining facility.
The cook position is located in Site R's "Granite Cove Dining Facility".  In 2013, Chickasaw Nation Industries, an 8a Native American Firm, was awarded a 5-year Base Operations Support contract for Raven Rock. (Base Operation Support consists of: Full Service Dining Facility, Custodial Services, Transportation Services, Logistics, and Roads and Grounds).

The Defense Logistics Agency estimated the annual budget for Granite Cove as $169,000 in 2005.

Some of the Essential Duties and Responsibilities of a Site R Cook include:

  • Monitors subsistence availability; coordinates with ration personnel and pulls all required ingredients from storerooms
  • Prepares and cooks all meats (beef, pork, poultry, fish and game) and other type entrees, by roasting, broiling, baking, frying, boiling, steaming, sauteing and stewing. 
  • Prepares a variety of vegetables, starches, gravies, sauces, sandwiches and other foods in accordance with production schedules, standard recipes and 1st cook's instructions. 

Deliveries to the Granite Cove Dining Facility

The Granite Cove Dining Facility is located deep underground in the Alpha corridor off the inner tunnel. As such, there are special delivery requirements for this location:
Driver will report to the Remote Delivery Facility (RDF). When the vehicle arrives at the RDF it will be off loaded, all items scanned and the truck relocated to the rear of the building where it will be reloaded. After inspection, the delivery driver will proceed into the outer tunnel with escort. The delivery vehicle must be a diesel fuel vehicle to enter into the outer and inner tunnels. Product must be delivered to the dock in the inner tunnel through a gate measuring 11 feet wide and 11 feet, 11 inches high. This can either be accomplished by bringing the vehicle through the gate or by bringing the product by hand through the gate and onto the dock, where it will be received by designated RRMC Dining Facility Contractor personnel.

First-Person Account of the Site R Cafeteria

The CONELRAD Adjacent blog found a source they named "Deep Mug" who said this about the Granite Cove Dining Facility:
"Granite Cove is a big, open room with a bunch of tables for the military folks. It is carpeted, with white walls and a rather ordinary drop ceiling. It can seat probably 200 or more people at a time. 
Granite Cove gets a "2" for atmosphere but a "4" for food. Again, the service is generally strong but the entrees are inconsistent. Dessert is usually good though not exotic. Granite Cove gets a "2" for atmosphere but a "4" for food. Again, the service is generally strong but the entrees are inconsistent. Dessert is usually good though not exotic. 
Breakfast at Granite Cove is always great. The military does breakfast right. The worst food items are usually the same worst items from a typical college cafeteria--mystery meat, soggy fries, over-steamed vegetables. Granite Cove used to serve a midnight meal since there were folks inside the mountain 24 hours a day. The quality of midnight chow ranged from exceptional to inedible...often swinging from one extreme to the other in a single day."

 Cooking's not your thing? They are also looking for Secret Custodians.

Granite Cove job posting - clearancejobs.com
Budget estimate / delivery instructions for Granite Cove - Defense Logistics Agency
Base Operations Support contract award - fbo.gov
Description of Granite Cove - CONELRAD Adjacent: The Inside World of Bunker Nightlife

Saturday, May 17, 2014

What the State of Pennsylvania Discloses About Site R

Site R is located in Adams County Pennsylvania and is subject to the permitting and inspection requirements established by the PA Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP). The mission of the PADEP is "to protect Pennsylvania's air, land and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment". Information related to licensed facilities operating in Pennsylvania  is public and is posted on their website.

Raven Rock Mountain Complex Operating Permit

Raven Rock Mountain Complex operating permit

The Major Facility Operating Permit provides the following details about some of the equipment installed at RRMC:

  • 21 emergency generators
  • 2 fire pump engines
  • catalyst purifiers (East and West Plant compressors, fire pump, UPS generator)
  • 6 diesel engines
  • 2 - 23,450 BTU boilers
  • wastewater treatment plant

Raven Rock Mountain Complex Fuel Tanks

Under Pennsylvania's Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act, the PADEP Storage Tank Program is responsible for permitting, inspecting, and implementing regulations for above ground and underground storage tanks.

Growth in fuel storage tank capacity from 1989 to 2012 based on posted PA tank permits

If you look up the Raven Rock Mountain Complex using the PADEP Facility Search function,  you will see a total of 34 storage tanks shown as currently in use. The permit dates range from 1989 to 2012. Tanks installed prior to that date are not included in the above charts.

This screen shows the 5 storage tanks that were permitted in 1989

The above screen shows that there were five storage tanks permitted in 1989. Another PADEP file provides additional information about those five tanks including type (underground/above ground), installation date, capacity in gallons, and substance (diesel/gasoline).

Tanks listed in 1989 permit

In 2003, two addtional tanks were permitted (NMO - new motor oil):
Tanks listed in 2003 permit

In 2012, there were three permits (3/12, 3/21, 3/30) issued for an additional 27 fuel storage tanks each with 20,000 gallon capacity (diesel fuel).  A large fuel tank storage facility was built to accommodate the fuel requirements for the massive power plant modernization project designed to double the generating capacity to meet future mission requirements. More information about the fuel facility and power plant modernization will be covered in future blog posts.

Storage Tank Violations

In 2012, the Raven Rock Mountain Complex received six storage tank violations:
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Failure to meet underground storage tank system operational requirements (2)
  • Spill and overfill control
  • Failure to have trained and designated operators
  • Operations and maintenance violations

Air Quality / Water Quality

In addition to operating permits and violations, the PADEP also tracks and reports on facility emissions. The EPA website also has information related to air quality and water quality at Site R. These topics will be covered in more detail in a future post.

PA Department of Environmental Protection

Friday, May 16, 2014

Commander of the Raven Rock Mountain Complex

CURRENT COMMANDER: Col. Larry Niedringhaus

From the WHS Org Chart (see full chart here)


Col. Kolin V. Bernardoni  July 2015 - July 2018
Col. Ramona Plemmons   July 2012 - July 2015
Col. Jeffrey Brlecic   July 2010 - July 2012
Col. Daniel S. Roper   2005 - 2007
Col Sherry L. Carpenter   2001 - 2004
Cdr S G Albers    ???? - 2000

There was a Change of Command for the Raven Rock Mountain Complex in July 2018. Here was the job posting for a secretary for the previous Raven Rock / Site R commander.

If there has been a change of command since 2018, please send me an email or leave a comment below. If you are the new Commander, congratulations and welcome aboard!

The responsibilities of the RRMC Commander are set forth in DOD Instruction 5110.11. The Commander must be a commissioned officer in the grade of Colonel, or Captain in the Navy. The responsibilities include:
  • Manage the organizational and staff elements of RRMC. Exercise overall authority and responsibility for the operation, management, IT, security, and force protection.
  • In collaboration with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA), develop, coordinate, and execute comprehensive planning, training, and exercises necessary to protect RRMC from hostage situations, bomb threats, civil disturbances, and penetration/seizure efforts by militants, terrorists, unlawful demonstrators, or other criminal elements.
  • Maintain the capability to support the execution of DOD mission essential functions (MEF) in an all-hazards threat environment.
  • Perform joint reception, staging, onward movement, and integration (JRSOI) when required.
  • Exercise overall on-site responsibility for antiterrorism and force protection, physical security, fire protection and emergency services, law enforcement, and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) defense to ensure that RRMC can continue operations in the event of a national security emergency.
  • Plan, program, and budget for the operation and management of RRMC in accordance with guidance provided by the WHS Financial Management Directorate.
  • Exercise overall on-site responsibility for common IT support and IM services.
  • Provide and maintain installation food service operations capable of supporting all military and civilian personnel in an all-hazards threat environment, to include all contingency situations, surges, operations, and exercises.
  • Provide base operations support to Operating Location Alpha, Air Force Operations Group (OL-A, AFOG), and provide sufficient internal and external workspaces to allow OL-A,
  • AFOG, to meet weather support requirements.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

About This Blog

This is an unofficial blog and is not associated with or endorsed by anyone at Site R.

I became interested in Site R after researching it for my other blog About Camp David. I had come across a theory about the existence of a secret tunnel between Camp David and Site R and wanted to look into it. I wrote a post on that blog about the Raven Rock Mountain Complex back in August 2011. Since then, I've updated the post at least a dozen times and have not come close to including everything I have on this topic.

Given the large amount of information I've found on Site R, I decided that it would easier going forward to create a new blog devoted entirely to this interesting place. Also, recent developments have led me to believe that Site R is growing in size and importance despite the fact that you never really hear much about it in the news.

Disclaimer: I have no connection whatsoever to Site R. The information published on this blog comes from publicly-accessible websites. I'm also the author of the Site R Tour parody.

Email:  aboutcampdavid@gmail.com

PGP Public Key    Fingerprint: 8D0A CBD4 6D4D C0FD 7762 F0D2 8F7B FA89 F9B1 8262