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"Texas Tower" Radar

The "Texas Tower" radars provided increased radar coverage for offshore deployments. Radar technology developed by Air Force Rome Air Development Center [RADC] had been vital to the successful completion of the "Texas Tower" system. The Texas Towers were originally equipped with one AN/FPS-3 search radars and two AN/FPS-6 height finder.

The Early Warning Radar Detection System consisted of a series of radar stations, mounted on platforms similar to oil rigs used in offshore oil drilling off the coast of Texas. The first two towers, #2 and #3 off of Nantucket and Boston, were driven into a rocky ocean bottom in relatively shallow water (50 and 80 foot depths). Tower #1 and #5 was never built.

Texas Tower #4 was a greater challenge, since the other towers in the system were in much shallower water and had shorter legs. Located approximately 70 miles from the New York and New Jersey coastlines standing in 180 feet of water, and rising nearly 70 feet above the surface. The triangular platform measured 187' per side, and the structure weighed 3,200 tons. The long legs had been designed to hold fresh water and fuel. Each leg was 300' long, 12.5' in diameter, and weighed 450 tons. TT #4 was considered an "engineering triumph" when it was floated into position in the summer of 1957, and was built to withstand winds up to 125 mph and waves up to 60' high.

The battering delivered by storms combined with the soft mud and sand which formed the foundation for the Tower's legs soon began to take their toll. Repairs were made after each of the two hurricanes which hit the Tower, but its stability continued to decline, and TT #4 soon earned the nickname "Old Shaky".

Texas Tower #4 went down during a storm in January 1961, with the loss of all 27 lives. For years the crews had called the tower "Old Shaky". At the time of the accident, most of the crew had been removed while workmen filled the legs with sand and concrete.

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