bermuda_badge_s.jpg Naval Radio Station Bermuda, CZB, came active on July 3, 1963  on a trial basis as a HFDF intercept station of the Supplementary Radio System (SRS) and also became a member of the Atlantic HFDF Network. With the Unification of the Armed Forces, the station was renamed Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Bermuda in 1968 and became one of the first Canadian Forces Stations to be staffed by Unified Forces personnel.

Motto: SEMPER VIGILANS meaning ever watchful. 

Crest Significance: The white-tailed tropic bird known as "Longtails" is indigenous to the area since it nests in the crevices of the island's cliff faces. The rocky island issuant from waves of water represent Daniel's Head while the flashes of lighting represent the station's operations.


The station was established on the site of an 11 acre former Royal Navy HFDF site at Daniel's Head, Somerset Island, Bermuda. It was a logical progression, as the Royal Canadian Navy had been using the former Royal Navy Dockyard in Bermuda almost continuously as a training base since the RN withdrew in 1951. A Canadian Forces Liaison Office had previously been established to co-ordinate training activities.

The receiving site was situated at Daniel's Head located at 32.18N, 64.52W. A transmitter site was installed on Ireland Island  at 32.19N, 64.49W. (Map courtesy Magellan Maps)

The RC Sigs Bermuda web document, page 9 provides some background on the station's beginnings.

"Due to Bermuda's excellent geographical location, it was believed that a HFDF facility built on her soil could fill a critical gap in the expanding RCN-USN Atlantic HFDF network. However, the Bermuda government had reservations on allowing the Americans who were already occupying Bermuda land to acquire more. Instead, after many negotiations, the Bermuda government gave the necessary permission for the Royal Canadian Navy to establish a receiving site located at Daniel's Head Somerset, with a transmitter at Ireland Island Bermuda. Both locations being part of a British Royal Navy Wireless Station that operated between 1939-49.

The site was activated on a one year trial basis as of  3 July 1963. The initial complement comprised of one officer, and fourteen men, unaccompanied; with the USN providing accommodation. Over the course of less than a year, the site proved to be a success, thus becoming a permanent station on 1 April 1964".

Extracts from the "Bermuda Base Development File" [3] held by the C&E Museum provide additional information about the base.

"The land and buildings were leased from the Bermuda Crown Lands Corporation under a 21 year lease signed on 1 January, 1963. Under the terms of the lease, the Corporation was responsible for the maintenance  and repair of building exteriors, major structural repairs, maintaining roadways, sewage disposal facilities, water supply systems and plumbing systems except sanitary fixtures.  The property rental was £6000 per annum[5].

Renovations to existing buildings and the erection of receiving and transmitting antennae masts commenced in 1963 and was completed in 1965. Installation of a permanent HFDF antennae system began in 1963 by levelling the area known as "The Head". This leveling work was completed in September of the same year. Installation of the antennae system commenced in 1965  and was completed in March 1966. While waiting for the permanent antenna to be completed the station used a borrowed  AN/TRD-4 HFDF shelter.

Shortly after the work of levelling the pad was completed at Daniel's head,  erosion began eating into the east and north east perimeter of the pad. Repairs to the eroded sections were completed in February 1966 and were accomplished by filling the eroded sections with rip-rap [1] and covering it with top soil sowed with grass seed.

In order to improve habitability and appearance of the station, contracts were awarded for the removal of old concrete antenna pedestals, dead trees, the cutback of overgrowths of shrubbery grass and weeds. That work was completed in  March 1966.

Rainwater, caught on the roofs of buildings and one large concrete water catch, provided potable water for the base. It was stored in one large underground water tank and fed to the buildings via electric pressure systems. Stored water was tested monthly and chlorine was added only if necessary since there was no system for routine chlorination. Sewage disposal was accomplished with septic tanks.

Electrical power for both the transmitting and receiving sites was supplied by the Bermuda Electric Light Company which generates power with diesel generators.  Emergency power was available at the receiving site but for the Operations Building only. Power was provisioned by an 18 KVA diesel generator. There was no emergency power for the transmitting site.

Receiving Site

The receiving site, at Daniel's Head, overlooked the Atlantic ocean to the north  was located approximately half a mile from the village of Somerset and 11 miles from the City of Hamilton. It was divided into two sections by a public road which lead to a public beach. The western section contained the Operations buildings while the eastern section had the accommodations facilities. The southern perimeter of the site bordered on a dairy farm which occupied the remainder of the former Royal Navy property. Residential property surrounded the remainder of the base.  This site was activated on a trial basis on July 3, 1963 and accepted as a permanent station on April 1, 1964.

At the receiving site, the following buildings were in evidence:

(i) Operations Building - This building housed the operational electronic equipment and administrative offices. A new Operations/Stores building,  was planned for occupancy  by July 1966.  The old Operations Building would then be used for Administrative Offices.

(ii) Technical Workshop - In spite of it being an old wooden building in poor condition, it was nonetheless used  as a place for repairing and maintaining electronic equipment. Once the new Operations Building was completed, electronics maintenance was moved there and the old building demolished.

(iii) Stores Building - This building housed all general and some provisions stores plus offices for the stores personnel. It was also an old wooden building in poor condition which was destroyed when the new Stores building was completed.

(iv) Office-in-Charge Residence - This building was constructed in 1940 but was in very good condition.

(v) Barracks Block - This could accommodate a maximum of sixteen men and two Petty Officers.

(vi) Mess and Recreation Building - It contained a galley , dining room plus a bar and lounge. The building was in basically good condition but need some work.

(vii) Miscellaneous Buildings - There were four smaller buildings used for storage.

bermuda_siteplan_s.jpg WWII era (?)  Bermuda W/T site plan. Click to enlarge. This is believed to be a Royal Navy site plan from perhaps from the WWII period since they occupied the base from 1939-1949. The RCN would not be using  the term "W/T Station" to title a drawing for a SIGINT station in 1963. Note the array of concrete pads with masts situated on bearings 060 and 080 true.  When Canadians came to Daniel's Head, the concrete pads were not in the way of anything because the AN/GRD-6 arrays were situated by the beach. These pads were ripped out by 1966. 

Although this drawing is of poor quality, as much information as possible has been rendered from this site plan. The original file is believed to be held by the C&E Museum, Kingston. (Submitted by Bill Robinson)

Transmitting Site

The transmitting site on Ireland Island,  was located approximately 3 miles north east of the receiving site. It overlooked the Atlantic Ocean to the northwest and occupied a portion of the former Royal Navy dockyard known as the "Keepyard".   That area consisted of a large number of abandoned buildings. Bermuda's Canadian transmitter was housed in the same building that the Royal Navy used for their transmitting gear but the anternna  was within the boundary of the "Keep". It was a 10 Kw HF SSB transmitter.

At the transmitting site, the following buildings were in evidence:

(i) Transmitter Building - This building housed two RCN transmitters with facilities to expand to perhaps four transmitters.

(ii) Generator Building - This building, which formerly housed diesel generator equipment for the Royal Navy, was not in use during the mid 1960's. The walls and foundation were in good condition but the doors and windows needed replacement.

(iii) Storage Building - In the 1960's , this building was not in use and it could not be determined what the Royal Navy used it for. It may have been used as a storage building".

Chief C.H. Tupper served in Bermuda. His son, C.D. Tupper provides some additional details about the transmitting antenna. "The actual transmitter antenna was in the Keep -at the very end of Ireland Island.  The whole area around the antenna was fenced off and a warning light was placed there.  As well, the sea area was also marked with buoys and big warning signs.   To get into the Keep my father had to stop and pick up the keys at the Freeport duty free zone entry. It was a two key set consisting of massive old key and a second smaller one.  The big one, about a foot long, as well as the smaller one were used to unlock the gate to The Keep. My father had to make checks in The Keep on a daily basis.

There was once incident where sheep died in the vicinity of the transmitting antenna.  Once a week the Navy would shut off the  transmitter so the local farmer could let the sheep in into the antenna field to graze on the grass. The exact cause of the sheep's death was never determined but it was likely by electrocution. However, the Navy compensated the  farmer for his loss."

bermuda_dh_print_ce museum.jpg
This print depicting CFS Bermuda is available from the Communications and Electronics Museum in Kingston. (C&E Image)


In 1950, the RCN and the USN formally agreed to coordinate and standardize HF/DF activities ashore. Jointly, it was called  the Atlantic HF/DF Network. This initiative resulted in the integration of all Canadian and US stations into two networks which would provide mutual support for the common objective of maritime warfare. The two networks were comprised of five RCN stations: Coverdale, NB; Chimo (1949-52), Frobisher Bay, N.W.T (1952-1966).; Gander, Nfld; Bermuda (1963-1993), Gloucester, Ont. and nine USN stations. On the west coast, that arm of the Net was called the Eastern Pacific Network and consisted of one RCN station at Masset, British Columbia and eight USN stations.

Coverdale was also designated as the Alternate Net Control station for the Atlantic Network. The primary Atlantic Net Control station was located at Cheltenham, Maryland. In actual practice, Coverdale performed this function about 25% of the time just to keep the operation up and ready.

Ray White provides a table outling the membership of the Atlantic HFDF net in 1954. Stations marked with an asterisk joined the net at later dates as indicated.

Amagansett, Long Island, N.Y. NNU/NBM [6] Nov 1939 Closed 1956.
Balboa, Panama Canal  Zone NBA 1938 Ultimately became Galeta Island, Panama [2]
Cheltenham, Maryland NSS 1939 Net Control. Closed 1970. Function moved to Northwest, VA
* Edzell, Scotland GXH2/NES  July 1960 Closed 9-30-1997. [1]
* Homestead, Florida NHF [6] June 1957 Closed 1993 due to hurricane damage.
*Keflavik, Iceland NEB 18 Mar 1959 NSGA site 25 Apr 1959 - 30 Jun 1994 [1]
Port Lyautey, French Morocco  NHY 1946 Moved to Sidi Yahia in 1953 and used call sign CNL. Closed 1976
Recife,  Brazil BZ2 1943 Closed 1956. [3]
* Rota, Spain AOK 1 Jun 1963 CDAA removed from property of active NAVCAMS Detachment Rota. DF Ops closed 1993(?)  [1]
Sabana Seca, Puerto Rico  NAU 1952 Closed 2003
Terciera Island, Azores  NTA 1952 Closed 1994
Winter Harbor, Maine NQC [6] 1935 NSG Operations closed Sept 2/2001. The base was turned over to the US National Parks Service in 2002. 
* Bermuda CZB 1963 Closed 1993
Chimo, Quebec CFI 1948 Closed 1952
Coverdale, N.B.  CGT/CKT [4] 1942 Alt Net Control.  Closed 1971.
Gander  CGV 1938 Still active 
Gloucester CGI 1943 Closed 1972  [5]
Frobisher Bay  CFI 1953 Closed 1967
Notes for this table:

[1] This site was part of the Bullseye project and employed CDAA technology. It did not become a net member until the 1960's.

[2] The DF function of Balboa closed in 1940 and moved to Toro Point. The latter site closed December 1952 and operations were moved to Galeta Island, Panama. Galeta became fully operational as a CDAA site on 23 Oct 1965. It finally closed on 31 March 1995.

[3] Frobisher Bay and Recife Brazil were the most problematic stations from the viewpoint of HF communications. Often they could copy each other but none of the stations in between heard them.

[4] Coverdale's call sign was changed from CGT to CKT because many operators slurred the Morse characters of the call CGT and it came out sounding like CQ.

[5] Gloucester was an operational part of the Atlantic HFDF net in 1951 even though it primary function became that of a training school in 1948. As time marched on, participation in the net was very sporadic and was only for training purposes.

[6] This was the call sign indicated in the NSG website but was not the call sign that this station used when communicating with the Atlantic HFDF net. The call signs that were actually used cannot be confirmed at this time but are believed to be: Amagansett - NAH; Winter Harbour - NAA and Homestead - unknown.

Keith Forbes Bermuda web site provides information about Bermuda's debut in the SUPRAD system.

"On July 4, 1963 the station became operational. It was ready on July 1 but it was not invited to join the American-led Atlantic HFDF Network until this date to coincide with US Independence Day ceremonies. The Atlantic Net Control at Cheltenham, Maryland, or Alternate Net Control at Coverdale, New Brunswick, originated flash directives which were picked up on frequencies by the net's outstations. The received flashes were decoded, targets searched and target bearings observed, then encoded and reported to Net Control, either by HF radio or landline. The station's DF unit  consisted of a loaned AN/TRD-4 HFDF shelter sited about 450 feet northwest of the Operations Building at Daniel's Head. It was operated for a few weeks on auxiliary power while awaiting shore power installation.

By August 1963, the effectiveness of this station's operations was such that it soon became obvious that Bermuda was to stay. It had passed its probationary period with flying colours. But the opposite was experienced at Frobisher Bay. That station subsequently closed down as a direct result Bermuda's proficiency. It had delivered its mission - to effectively provide cut-off bearing for accurate fixes on transmitting targets."

Norm Paine was drafted to Bermuda in June 1965 while he was a P1RS4 (291'er). He recalls. "When I arrived in Bermuda, station strength was about 23 personnel under a Commanding Officer, a station CPO and myself as a P1RS4 Operations Supervisor. We had about 14 (291'ers) 3 technicians, 2 RCN cooks and 1 naval storesman.

When approaching the station two buildings became evident. One was the Singles quarters and the other longer one was the galley/dining  area and a decent size lounge/bar for the troops. About 150 yards up the hill was an older building that was Operations. At one end there was the CO's office with secretary (a local gal) then the CPO's office. My office was adjacent to the Ops Room/DF area which contained the AN/GRD-6 DF set.

Because Bermuda did not have sufficient space to install the high and low band DF arrays with adequate separation, a decision was made to  combine both arrays into one field. The inner circle was the high band array, while the outer circle was the low band array. This configuration was tested by the USN around 1963 and because the design worked well, that's the way  the station operated when I arrived in 1965. After I left, the station complement was increased to around 40 personnel".

By 1969 new and improved equipment in support of wideband operations was installed. In September 1979,  operations was shut down for two months for the removal of old antenna and the installation of a new Pusher system. Bermuda once again became operational by November of that year.

In 1968, the Control and Alternate Net Control stations of the Atlantic HFDF started to change. This table, provided by Joe Glockner, summaries the changes. When Coverdale closed, it handed over its Alternate Net Control function to Skaggs Island CA which was also the Alternate Net Control for the PAC Eastern HFDF net.

Cheltenham, MD  NCO NSS NCO till 1968
Northwest, VA NCO NAM NCO from 1968
Coverdale, NS ANCO CKT Until 1971
Skaggs Island, CA ANCO NPG ANCO from 1971
NCO = Net Control                 ANCO =Alternate Net Control

Click on image for more info and larger photo

bernuda_grd6_set_ctm_03s.jpg 1965: The American AN/GRD-6 HF (2 - 32 MHz) Direction Finder was installed in Bermuda because there was insufficient space for the newly designed Canadian AN/GRD-501. (Image courtesy USN)  

In Bermuda , the AN/GRD-6 arrays consisted of rod antennas with either three or six guy ropes on each one arranged in two concentric rings. Since  GRD-6 arrays were normally installed in two separate circles,. the concentric ring configuration was staged and successfully tested by the USN at Winter Harbour, Maine,  There were also two omni-directional antennas for searching at Bermuda.  The GRD-6 remained in service until 1979 when it was replaced by the Pusher system. 

For a more detailed look at the AN/GRD-6, select this link

frt39_gpt10k.gif 1963: A pair of FRT-39 (Technical Material Corp GPT-10K) transmitters were installed at Bermuda. (Photo courtesy TPD web site)
1970's: AN/UYK-3  general purpose, 15 bit,  transistorized computer. Click here for additional info
1963: AN/FRT-17 Transmitter. While waiting for the FRT-39 transmitters to arrive,  Canadian personnel managed to procure a brand new FRT-17 transmitter from the USN. This was installed as a third backup  in case both FRT-39's failed. Frequency Range: 2-30 MHz; Power: 1 Kw; Final is a 4-400 tube modulated by a pair of 4-125's; Power Input: 115 VAC 60 Hz; Weight: 1500 lbs. The original development  contract was by Federal Telephone and Radio (a division of ITT). A follow on contract was awarded to Mars Corp. (Photo courtesy W3FJJ)
1963: AN/TRD-4 HFDF shelter. This was borrowed and used as a temporary DF set until a permanent HFDF system (AN/GRD-6) could be installed. The TRD-4 first saw service in 1955. (Image courtesy US Army) 
r1230_receiver_s.jpg 1960's: R1230/FLR wide band receiver. Click on photo for more info. (Photo courtesy National Radio Products)
No photo available  1979: Pusher. It is believed that the Pusher installed in Bermuda was the British Plessey AN/FRD-13. A Pusher is designed to provide high quality, low noise RF signals arriving over a full 360º of azimuth. An operator can electronically scan all staves to establish the optimum working direction for a particular signal. Normal coverage is between 1.5-30 MHz. A PUSHER system is designed as a substitute for rhombic antenna  farms and occupies only 10% of the area they require.
Howie Harrison provides some background on the UYK-3 computer. "The OPU (Outstation Processor Unit) was the Navy's nomenclature for the UYK-3 computer. This computer did all the interfacing for the operational communications (not the administrative) by linking the different positions (Narrow Band and Wide Band) plus all the associated teletype terminals in Operations. If I  remember correctly, the computer was fitted with about 8 megs. This was later doubled to 16 megs by adding a second similar computer to work in conjunction with the first one. I remember being involved in that installation in Bermuda since it was done by two reps from Bunker Ramo, California"
Bermuda's reputed targets of interest included Russian and bloc shipping,  Project Wideband to copy JUMBO (Soviet naval and submarine burst traffic) and  spread spectrum traffic [2]. Some of the traffic was gathered with the BULLSEYE automated DF system. Select this link to read to read about Project Boresight and the Cuban Missile crisis of 1962.

The  station's military routing indicator for both classified and unclassified traffic was RUCOBRA.


Harry Billard , currently holding call sign VE7JH,  operated amateur station VP9HH while he was stationed in  Bermuda between 1973 and 1974. This was not a club call sign but one he procured for himself in order to run phone patches. He operated Collins type equipment into big beams which he set up at his own expense.

Scott, now VA3XA, operated the club station VP9CB (and was also its President) from 1990-93 using his personal call VP9MM.   During that time,  he made about a quarter million radio contacts under VP9MM which required the services of a QSL manager. Whenever Scott visits Bermuda he still uses VP9MM.


The base closed on July 4, 1993 and the lease on the land and buildings terminated on December  31, 1993. Nothing remains of it today. In 2000, the Daniel's Head Village Hotel opened on the site, but has since closed due to economic reasons. The former station is now the Daniel's Head Beach Park.

Bill Robinson posted a story about a Bermuda stamp which salutes the station in his Lux Ex Umbra Blog dated September 7, 2005.

"I'm no philatelist and I wouldn't think of dispensing philatelic advice. But I'm guessing that CFS Bermuda is the only HF-DF station featured on a postage stamp, given that information about such places used to be more typically mailed on microdots.

Issued by the Bermudan government in 1996 as part of a set commemorating former Second World War and post-war bases in Bermuda, the CFS Bermuda stamp shows the Canadian Forces symbol, some generic looking antenna masts, and Canadian personnel at work in the operations room. The actual HFDF array is not depicted. [4]  NRS/CFS Bermuda operated from 1963 until 1993, providing cut-off bearings on Soviet missile submarine transmissions and other maritime targets.

Image courtesy Lux Ex Umbra Blog. 
Interestingly, the Bermuda HF-DF station was not the only Cold War-era naval SIGINT system immortalized by its own postage stamp. The U.S. Navy's WHITE CLOUD ocean surveillance satellite system, first launched in 1976, was actually shown in some detail on a U.S. stamp issued that year. If I remember the story correctly, the stamp was withdrawn from sale rather quickly".
Satellite Images

[1] Rip rap is a foundation or sustaining wall of variable size stones thrown together without order, as in deep water, on a soft bottom, or on an embankment slope to prevent erosion.
[2] Source
[3] Estimated to be circa 1967.
[4]  DND's Defence Matters, Vol. 2, No. 3, April 1997 mentioned the release of the stamp.
[5] From Keith Forbes former CFS Bermuda web site. It is not known  if this sum included the land rental at the transmitting site at Ireland Island.


What was the model number of the Pusher antenna installed at Bermuda? Contact:

Contributors and References:

1) Bermuda (Magellan) Map.
2) Bermuda Badge courtesy ReadyAyeReady.
3) Canadian History of Canadian Signals Intelligence and Direction Finding by Lynn Wortman and George Fraser
4) "Bermuda Base Development file" -  original held by the C&E Museum.
5) Bermuda stamp article. Lux Ex Umbra Blog
6) Keith Forbes former CFS Bermuda web site
7) RC Sigs Web page:
8) Canadian Warship Names. David Freeman. Vanwell Publishing, St. Catharines, Ont.
9) Bruce Forsyth's  Canadian Military History Page
10) George Fraser <caperfca(at)>
11) FRT-39 photo - TPD Web site
12) USN NSG page
13) Ray White <r.p.white(at)>
14) Norm  Paine <normar(at)>
15) Howie Harrison, ex-Bermuda technician  <hcharrison(at)>
16) Arkonia Systems
17) Bill Robinson   <>  for the submission of C&E Bermuda Base Development file
18) David Warmington <davidwarmington(at)>
19) Harry Visser
20) Bermuda's targets of interest -
21) AN/FRT-17 specs:
22) AN/FRT-17 photo W3FJJ
23) Communications and Electronics Museum, Kingston, Ontario.
24) Al Grobmeier   <algrobmeier(at)>
25) Keith Forbes <kaforbes(at)>
26) Military Routing Indicators Page
27) Harry Billard VE7JH , <ve7jh(at)>
28)  Scott, VO1XA, VP9MM -  now VA3XA.
29)  Joe Glockner <wa6axe(at)>
30) C.D.T <cdtupper(at)>

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Oct 7/13