The Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) was a passive underwater sonar listening system developed by the US Navy to track Soviet submarines. During the cold war the Top Secret SOSUS system was deployed worldwide, with one of the system’s facilities located at Point Sur. In the 1980s, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and along with the development of other submarine tracking technologies, the SOSUS system was decommissioned. The Point Sur navy facility then sat idle for decades and was allowed to fall into decay.
Adjoining this naval facility is the 19th-century Point Sur lighthouse. This historic lighthouse is still operational, but now has been completely automated. So, other than the lighthouse itself, many of the other buildings used for caring and housing the light keepers and their families had also been left to decay. About thirty years ago the lighthouse was taken over and managed as a California State Historical Park. We first visited the lighthouse soon after it was first reopened to the public. Back then only a few of the buildings had been restored, but almost all of them are now. With their work on the lighthouse heading towards completion the army of volunteers that power this historic park casted about for something new to do. Looking down from on high, from the lighthouse’s seamount, they couldn’t help but notice the neighboring naval facility below, which was then added to the lighthouse’s historical park.
On Saturday, Chris, Anne and I toured the Point Sur base. It was a blustery day. A highlight of this tour for us was, believe it or not, seeing the facility’s water treatment plant. In the sixties, my grandfather, Earl, my dad’s dad worked on it as a civilian. He was the head of what is now, with David’s joining the engineering profession the first of four generations of engineers. Our guides made a little video of them touring us around and here it is.