OP-20-G

OP-20-G

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OP-20-G

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Description:
OP-20-G or "Office of Chief Of Naval Operations (OPNAV), 20th Division of the Office of Naval Communications, G Section / Communications Security", was the US Navy's signals intelligence and cryptanalysis group during World War II. Its mission was to intercept, decrypt, and analyze naval communications from Japanese, German, and Italian navies. In addition OP-20-G also copied diplomatic messages of many foreign governments. The majority of the sections effort was directed towards Japan and included breaking the early Japanese “Blue” book fleet code. This was made possible by intercept and High Frequency Direction Finder (HFDF) sites in the Pacific, Atlantic, and continental U.S., as well as a Japanese telegraphic code school for radio operators in Washington D.C.

History

The Code and Signal Section was formally made a part of the Division of Naval Communications (DNC), as Op-20-G, on July 1, 1922. In January 1924, a 34-year-old US Navy lieutenant named Laurance F. Safford was assigned to expand OP-20-G's domain to radio interception. He worked out of Room 2646, on the top floor of the Navy Department building in Washington DC.

Japan was of course a prime target for radio interception and cryptanalysis, but there was the problem of finding personnel who could speak Japanese. The Navy had a number of officers who had served in a diplomatic capacity in Japan and could speak Japanese fluently, but there was a shortage of radiotelegraph operators who could read...
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