Canadian Forces Station Mill Cove, N.S.

The article which follows was written by L-Cdr Albert Young in 1968 and reflects the state of the station during that time period.
millcove_colour_badge.jpgWHILE not recognized officially as such, one of the Canadian Forces Centennial Projects was completed on Tuesday December 19, 1967, when Canadian Forces Station  Mill Cove, call sign CFH  was commissioned by Rear-Admiral J.C. O'Brien, Commander Maritime Command.

Since 1951 plans had been under way to replace Naval Radio Station Albro Lake with a new receiving station. Albro Lake, a CW only station,  was built in 1942 and had a long and distinguished history, especially during war years, but because of industrial and housing expansion in the city of Dartmouth, N.S., communications conditions deteriorated. Interference increased to the point where decreased capability and performance dictated a replacement station.

Exhaustive trials and tests proved that the Blanford Peninsula, about 40 miles south of Halifax N.S. offered the best solution.  In a relatively isolated area, is free of man- made interference and is unlikely to be bothered with industrial encroachment for many years. Over 4,000 acres of land were purchased for the site. About 100 acres were cleared for the antenna farm. The property embraces dense woodland, several lakes and is adjacent to a bird sanctuary. There is plenty of rabbits, porcupines, and deer in the area, although the number of deer has been depleted somewhat since the opening of the station. No problems exist in obtaining a supply of Christmas trees. Certainly the optimist of the year must be the local farmer who endeavoured to sell Christmas trees to PMQ (Permanent Married Quarters) dwellers just before Christmas 1967.

The station is divided into two distinct areas, a living/administration area and the operations building/antenna farm area. The two areas are separated by three miles of road through dense woodland. The administration and accommodation area includes 65 Permanent Married Quarters , an accommodation/administration building, water pumping and storage plant, sewage disposal plant and other ancillary buildings. The Married Quarters were occupied prior to commencement of the school year in September, but because of labour unrest and strikes the accommodation/administration building was not completed on time, and could not be occupied until 1 December 1967. As a result, single personnel had no accommodation on the site, although the operational aspect of the
station was activated in mid-September.
 
 

mc_753-28antenna.jpg
The Grainger Associates model 753-28 conical monopole antenna provides omni-directional coverage from 7 to 28 Mhz for all CW, RATT ship-shore, and Air/Ground /Air positions (DND photo)

All communications facilities were transferred without incident from Albro Lake to Mill Cove by mid-September. Single personnel were billeted in Halifax and had to be transported three times daily to and from Mill Cove. Hot meals were only one of the problems associated with this awkward but essential arrangement, without which the transfer of facilities could not have taken place. In addition, all station activities including supply, stores and all administrative functions had to be carried out from the operations building until the administration building was finished. The fact that not one serious complaint was heard during this period reflects great credit to those involved.

The composite accomodation/administration building is a tri-level affair and has cabin space for 60 single personnel (35 men and 25 WRENS). There are three messes: an Officers Mess, a Chief and Petty Officers Mess, and a Men and Wrens Mess. The Men's Mess is combined with, but separated from a cafeteria area which Is adjacent to a galley (kitchen). A sick bay, regulating office, administration offices, storerooms, and laundries are also included.

The operations building is centered on the property approximately midway through the peninsula. It is surrounded by an antenna farm of 100 acres of cleared, marshy land. Antennas fitted include 4 Grainger Associates three-bay horizontal log periodic arrays covering 4 to 30 MHz and 4 Grainger Associates conical monopoles, two of which cover 2 to 8 MHz and two of which cover 7 to 28 MHz. Log periodic masts are 140 feet in height. There is also a Technical Materials Corp. vertical whip covering 15 to 300 kHz. The antennas were erected by Canadian Marconi Limited in early 1967.
 

mc_article_a_g_a_consoles.jpg
In the midst of Air/Ground/Air consoles and receivers, CPO H.W. Dyck, RAD Sea, LS K. MacFarlane, RAD Sea and CPL B.A. Crowell, RAD Op, discuss future operations. (DND Photo)

The operations building was completed in 1965 but installation of equipment did not begin until late 1966, and it was not until the summer of 1967 that the finished product began to take shape. Actually the installation is not yet completed as the Air/Ground/Air (A/G/A) installation which forms part of the CIAP is only now (January) beginning to approach its final configuration. Future improvements planned for installation include a new RATT radioteletype) Ship-Shore complex.

It can be seen from the photographs that much forethought and planning resulted in a neat and functional layout. All wiring, cable and conduit is out of sight beneath a  false or floating floor of removable aluminum panels supported on pillars above a solid concrete floor. Equipment is positioned so that the hardware required to perform a specific function is located in one area of the operations floor. Much of the credit for this functional and efficient configuration must go to Ian Martin Associates (the consultant firm) who coordinated the design and layout of the project with DCSB, with the occasional curve being thrown by MARCOM communicators. As one example of the functional aspect of the station, the Facility Control Centre (F.C.C.) and Point-to-Point equipment racks are adjacent, resulting in a saving of personnel, one senior Radioman being responsible for F.C.C. and point-to-point equipment operation.

Communications services provided by CFS Mill Cove include Point-to-Point receive facilities for Lahr (Germany), Whitehall (London), Greenland, St John's, NFLD and of course, several with Ottawa. These circuits are rimarily CFCS commitments and most circuits terminate in 726 Comm Squadron Tape Relay Center. Whitehall terminates in MARCOMCOMMFAC and Greenland in Mill Cove.
 
 

mc_article_eow.jpg
Controller Leading Seaman D.J. Ellerton, RAD Sea answers a call on the engineering order wire in the Facility Control Centre (F.C.C.) Mill Cove. (DND Photo)

The FCC represents a new facility for Radiomen (Sea) and at first sight is a frightening array. However, it is considered to be a real forward step in troubleshooting and circuit control, and after two or three watches on duty at this position it has been found that a good Radioman can handle all its various functions without panic. Every Incoming or outgoing signal passes through the FCC at each stage of its path. By means of distortion analyzers, oscilloscopes, receivers, etc., the FCC provides a system for rapid diagnosis of faults and alternate route selection. Order wire teletype circuits and hot lines to terminal locations provide a rapid means of isolating faults, and coordinating repair of defective circuitry.

Inter-site communications with the RCN transmitting station at Newport Corner, 726 Comm Squadron transmitter site at Mount Uniacke, 726 Comm Sqn TRC and MARCOMCOMMPAC are provided by a complex system of microwave, landline and N-carriers. It also includes Voice Frequency Carrier Telegraphy gear. Mount Uniacke is situated about half way between Halifax and Windsor NS.  The system meets all requirements for keying circuits, engineering order wires (both voice and teletype) and remote control facilities. Alternate paths exist. The in-house tails of these services are maintained by DND personnel. The services between sites are provided and maintained by Maritime Telegraph and Telephone (MT&T) Company. Elaborate equipment terminals have been installed by MT&T at each site and it is their responsibility to maintain services from their terminals outwards. After an initial "de-bugging" period intersite communications have been reliable and satisfactory.
 
 

mc_article_ratt_ship_shore.jpg
At the RATT Ship-Shore position, Leading Seaman J.D. Fanning, RAD Sea checks his CW answering facilities. (DND Photo)

Ship-to-Shore communications are divided into two sections, a CW section and a RATT section. The CW section is made up of seven receiving bays, each with two RACAL receivers, telephones and antenna and keying controls. The RATT section has the capability of covering six Ship-Shore RATT frequencies simultaneously. RACAL receivers are fitted in the RATT section. Ship-Shore RATT is designed to handle 100 WPM on-line transmissions, but can also work any ship capable of transmitting RATT, regardless of speed.

All operating positions have the capacity of selecting any of the antennas within reason, and the capability of keying any of the transmitters fitted at Newport Corner. An added desirable feature is a side-tone devise that permits operators to hear their own transmissions when using cross band working - the normal method of naval Ship-Shore procedure. Warning devices ensure that no two operators endeavour to key the same transmitter. A message conveyor belt takes messages from the operating positions to the teletype room.

Information on frequencies being guarded at any one time is broadcast by means of a punched card feeding a message generator, the information being sent on the family of answering frequencies available to Mill Cove. In the CW section, a supervisory bay is installed where a Leading Seaman can assist any of his operators on any CW frequency. Each operating position is fitted with an internal phone so that assistance can be obtained rapidly from the Watch Supervisor or any other senior person without reverting to "lung power". Indeed the entire station is interconnected on a PABX (Private Automatic Branch Exchange) supplying telephone communications between various locations  including the Admin/Accomodation area and outlying buildings.
 
 

mc_article_cw_broadcast.jpg
The CW Broadcast position at Mill Cove. WA D.A. Mathias monitors a message being transmitted on the broadcast. Originally received on a teletype circuit, the tape shown is being converted from teletype to morse code and simultaneously transmitted on CW at 22 words per minute (WPM). (DND Photo)

A Shore-to-Ship CW broadcast for minor war vessels (fleet auxiliaries such as tugs, oilers and survey ships manned by civilian personnel), merchant vessels, foreign warships not fitted with RATT, coast guard ships and others is provided at 22 WPM1. This broadcast augments the 100 WPM secure RATT primary fleet broadcast. By making use of message generators, punched cards and teletype to morse converters, hand transmissions are kept to an absolute minimum. This facility also provides scheduled high speed broadcasts to surfaced submarines 2. , who record the transmissions, dive and rerun the tapes at normal operating speeds. Telegrams to merchant ships are introduced from the Department Of Transport (DOT)  station at Camperdown, N.S. which is connected to the broadcast position by teletype. Meteorological input is received from the teletype room. Arrangements have bean made for possible future expansion of the broadcast facility if required.

Adjacent to the CW broadcast room is the Watch Supervisor and his little band of helpers.  These three Radiomen or WRENS (Womens Royal Naval Service) ensure that the watch is functioning as it should and route, check and file all incoming and outgoing messages.  They also keep several state boards current thus ensuring watches being maintained by ships are correctly indicated. Task Organizations and ship/VIP movements of information to the station are also shown.

The online room is situated in the basement of the building and contains the usual equipment used on teletype circuits, RATT Ship-Shore circuits and future installations.

Emergency power is assured by use of a 150 KVA (kilo-volt-amp) diesel with a no-break power attachment.  These units, together with the heating plant, air conditioning plant and power room are also located in the basement. Air conditioning is vital as there are no windows or natural ventilation in the operations room. A small lunch room, operations officers office, technical staff office and workshops for electronics repairs are located adjacent to the operations room.  An elaborate telecomm room3. owned by MT&T, a large storage room, teletype maintenance room, antenna lead-in vault and a main frame room account for the remainder of the basement, except for one room which is designated as STATS,  ETC ROOM4. The harried personnel in this space meet the endless requirement for statistical returns, CB (code book) receipt and control, off-line crypto5.   and other essential evils.

A four-watch (shift) system6. is employed at present which provides sufficient personnel to man the operations building while freeing a few for day workers, leave, courses, and permits the occasional person to go sick.  The establishment for CFS Mill Cove is 151 officers, men and WRENS, and there are 33 civilian employees supplied by CFB Halifax for Motor Transport7., Commissionaires,  cleaners, fire-fighting detachment and Construction Engineering support8.

Teletype maintenance is carried out entirely by Radiomen (Sea) who are also responsible for the online crypto equipment (RAD Ops and COM Ops take note). Electronic maintenance and repair is carried out by 3 naval Electronic Technicians supported by Radiomen (Sea). Although the station was activated (as far as communications circuits are concerned) in mid-September 1967 it was not until the Accomodation/Admin building was occupied that any official ceremony could be held. The building was occupied 4 December and on 19 December,  Rear-Admiral J.C. O'Brien, Commander Maritime  Command, officially accepted the station as an integral part of the Maritime Command by officiating at the Commissioning Ceremony.

In attendance from CFCS Headquarters was Colonel R.B. Mooney, Commander CFCS,  Commander E.J. Semmens SSO OPS/PLANS, and Lieutenant-Commander S. Iscoe SO OPFBD, accompanied by their wives. CFCS representation from the Halifax area included Lieutenant-Colonel J.P. Whitehead, Controller 72 Comm Group, and Lieutenant-Commander R.L. Johnson, Commanding Officer 726 Comm Sqdn In addition to the CFCS HQ representatives, several officers from various CFHQ directorates attended, among whom were Brigadier-General P.D. Smith DGCES, Commander J.C. Mair DMFORS 5, Lieutenant-Commander H.A. MacPherson DCSE (CFHQ projects officer), and others. A most welcome guest was Lieutenant-Commander  R. F. Duston, (RCN retired) who was the original CFHQ projects officer.
 

mc_article_opening_1967.jpg
Rear-Admiral J.C. O'Brien, Commander Maritime Command cuts the ribbon officially opening CFS Mill Cove. Also taking part in the ceremonies are (L-R): LCDR Albert E. Young, Commanding Officer CFS Mill Cove;   Mrs. Young; LCDR P.J. Obendorf; Admiral's Aid and Mrs. O'Brien. (DND Photo)

The Halifax area was well represented by the Commander CFB Halifax along with many officers from Maritime Command Headquarters, including Commander A.G. Lowe, SSO Comm on the Admiral's Staff. Representatives from 1 RCEO, BCEO and distinguished guests from the Hubbards and Chester areas were also present. After inspecting the "Ships Company", Admiral O'Brien and the Commanding Officer of Mill Cove, LCDR A. E. Young, both addressed the gathering, prayers were said and the national flag was hoisted at the gaff of the naval-style ensign staff for the first time. The Admiral cut the traditional ribbon and sent a message accepting Mill Cove into his Command. A bouquet of roses was presented to Mrs O'Brien by WREN Janet Waite on behalf of station  personnel.

Following the ceremony, a reception was held for guests and their wives and an opportunity was given for out-of-town visitors to view the operations building. Many of the visiting officers took advantage of the opportunity and appeared to enjoy the tour. In the evening, a dance was held for station personnel which can best be summed up by stating: All concerned had a good time! And so it was that CANMARRAD MILL COVE came into being. We are always eager to see visitors from "outside" so any communicator who finds himself in the area is always sure of a hearty welcome. There is still much to be done, but as the Admiral said in his Christmas message to Maritime Command, "We have come through the past year with a strong team, and I feel confident that whatever problems arise in 1968, as a team we shall have continued success."
 

mc_article_inspection.jpg
Preceded by commissioned officer J.D. Deveau, Mill Cove Operations Officer , Rear-Admiral J.C. O'Brien inspects men and WRENS at ceremonial divisions during the official opening of CFS Mill Cove. (DND Photo)

Certainly the attitude of those serving in Mill Cove was summed up by a local chaplain in his weekly bulletin when he wrote, "Apart from the role of the station in National Defence, and its sizeable contribution to the local economy, its citizens have already proved to be a decided asset to the social community. Here we find the excellent family men many navy and air force men turn out to be, committed and concerned parents, interested and interesting teenagers and lively children. With lobster traps and rabbit snares set, they have quickly become native. They have only to acquire a taste for sauerkraut to become naturalized citizens of Lunenburg County."

He might very well have mentioned that through the efforts of interested station personnel, the area now has several Cub packs. Brownie and Girl Guide groups and a Scout troop. One CPO is Chairman of the Home and School Organization and our hockey team, while not too successful, is always ready to do battle with local talent. We still use the same call sign CFH and the same routing indicator RCEOR only the name has been changed to CANMARRAD MILL COVE. Come down and see us when you can.

[End of Article]

MILL COVE'S COMMANDING OFFICERS


LCdr A.E. Young  Dec 1967 - July 1970 Deceased 2001
LCdr J.M. Reid  Aug 1970 - April 1971  
LCdr R.F. Smyth  May 1971 - April 1974  
LCdr E.P. Tracy  May 1974 - July  1977  
LCdr  F.A. Dennis  Aug 1977 - June 1978  
LCdr F.W. Wilson  July 1978 - Aug 1981 Deceased Nov 1999
LCdr Jim McBurney 1981 - 1984  
LCdr Jack Wells 1984 - 1987 Deceased
LCdr Al Turner 1987 - 1989  
LCdr Jim Bechard 1989 - 1992  
LCdr Rob McLauchlin 1992 - 1995  
LCdr Wayne Currie 1995 - 1998  
LCdr Mike Thomas 1998 - Remoting  

LCdr Wayne Currie, who helped to complete this list, adds the following. " I was the CO of Mill Cove from 14th of July 1995 until July 1998.  Although the remoting did not take place until much later, the lower site (PMQs, single quarters, logistics, admin) was closed on 01 August 1995.  I occupied the COs office in Mill Cove for only two weeks and then we all moved into MARLANT HQ in Halifax.  From that moment on, all operators were bussed into the Operations (Upper) site from Halifax until remoting was complete. I was responsible for both Mill Cove and Newport Corner, and on 01 March 1996, we officially adopted the name NRS Halifax, to include both sites".

In March 2014, DND issued a Request for Quotation to overhaul antennas at various sites across Canada. These are the antennas shown for Mill Cove:

 
QTY MODEL No.  of 
MASTS
MAST 
HEIGHT
TYPE OF
MAST
MFG DESCRIPTION
12 780-2 16 240 feet  Steel Andrew 
Antenna
Fixed log periodic
2 753C-28 2 24 feet Aluminum  Andrew Conical monopole
2 753C-25  2 81 feet Steel Andrew Conical monopole
1 VRA-12 1 35 feet Fiberglass TMC LF Whip . 14 to 300 KHz
1 ? 24 element 7 feet  Wooden Petrie Comms Steerable Beverage

FOOTNOTES

Some footnotes were provided by CPO Jerry Sigrist, Radioman who worked at Mill Cove. These were not  part of the article by LCdr Young.

1.  For those ships without RATT capability, the CW broadcast was the main source of information but eventually all were fitted with RATT and CW broadcasts ceased. For years, the CW broadcast was run at 25 WPM and all navy operators had to acquire this speed to pass Comm School but gradually the requirement slackened to 22 WPM before CW was done away with.

2. The submarines did not have to completely surface to copy the broadcast, just come to periscope depth and get the communications mast out of the water. The submarine traffic was sent in a burst at 100 WPM, CW and copied by a tape recorder. It was then cut in speed twice to get to 25 WPM. If copying the British broadcast they (and the Americans) used Very Low frequencies around 16 Khz which penetrated to at least periscope depth quite well.

3. The room used by MT&T was not owned by them although they used it exclusively. They owned all the landlines so this room was essentially the cable vault for the building and contained various switching arrangements. These included all the landlines from Newport Corner as well as the teletype lines to Marcom in Halifax where a relay station sent everything to Mill Cove. MT&T technicians performed all their maintenance in this room and were on station almost daily.

4. The term STATS referred to records and reports. STATS, ETC was one large room which contained a message center for the station (local traffic) and manned by a signalman. He also kept all the statistics, logs and records of everything that passed in and out of the station. Month end reports which included classified traffic were produced here as well. To those who worked here, it was always known as the Message Centre.

5. The basement also contained the crypto room where a Petty Officer was on the watch and did all the setups for the crypto machines.

6. A four watch system went to five watches about 1970.

7.  These were mostly civilian drivers with a truck or two and a couple staff cars. All the supplies for the station had to be brought out from Halifax and were usually done with station trucks or cars.

8. Civilian employees such as a plumbers, electricians, painters etc carried out maintenance mostly on the married quarters and buildings. There was also a small fire department and some stationary engineers to run the pump house and water purification plant.

POST ARTICLE NOTES

1) This article was written by LCDR A. E. YOUNG and included in a Communication Command publication (circa 1968) which was produced by the Air elements prior to unification and not by the Navy. Communication Command was a separate command which controlled all military communications in Canada except Naval Comms.

2) LCDR Albert (Al) Young, the last commanding officer of Albro Lake  opened CFH in 1967 and left in 1970 to join the Maritime Command Naval Reserve Organization.  Leadership was then turned over to LCDR John Reid who lives now Bridgewater, N.S.

3) The transmitter and receiver sites in Mt. Uniacke N.S. were closed down in 1967 and 1973 respectively.

4) From the book Canadian Warship Names by David Freeman, "When unification occurred in 1968, all naval radio stations became CF stations loosing the word radio from the title. The new radio station south of Halifax was scheduled to commission as Blandford but by the time the station was ready, unification had taken place and Blandford became CFS Mill Cove. No reason was given".

5) Mill Cove colour badge courtesy Cdr.CAH.Darlington, Marlant HQ.

SEVERAL YEARS AFTER OPENING

The following set of colour slides featuring CFS Mill Cove in the early 1970's was not part of the above article. Although hard to see in the reduced-size images, the green uniforms issued to servicemen under the Armed Forces Unification plan of 1967 just started to make their appearance in 1970. All photos in this particular set are credited to the Canadian Forces Photographic Unit.

In some scenes, the operators are Air Force and some are Navy. There were also a couple of Army operators stationed at Mill Cove as well. The airmen were there mainly for the air-ground-air radios but they were quickly integrated into the navy systems. Some actually enjoyed working other jobs such as ship/shore. Only the odd one was a good CW operator.

mc_fcc1_300pixel.jpg mc_a_g_a_bays_300pixel.jpg
Facility Control Center Bays -  Every incoming or outgoing signal passes through the FCC at each stage of its path. By means of distortion analyzers, oscilloscopes, receivers, etc., the FCC provides a system for rapid diagnosis of faults and alternate route selection. Air/Ground/Air Consoles - The Armed Forces integration was just getting underway at the time this photo was taken. Some of the personnel are dressed in green uniforms.
mc_opsroom_300pixel.jpg mc_a_g_a_console_300pixel.jpg
Operations Room - Station CFH was operated on a 24 hour basis every day of the year. On the average the station's personnel handled upwards of 30,000 messages per month with some months  peaking around 37,000 messages.  Air/Ground/Air Consoles  - This is the equipment  used for communicating with long range, Argus patrol aircraft flying out of Greenwood, N.S. A number of RCAF radio operators were stationed at Mill Cove to man these radios. Note that each console of three sections each is replicated twice.
mc_ship_shore_cwbays_300pixel.jpg mc_ratt_ship_shore_300pixel.jpg
CW Bays - Ship To Shore.  The last CW message  transmitted by Mill Cove was sent on Sept 1, 1993. It is reproduced elsewhere in this web page.  Radioteletype - Ship To Shore. Ships fitted with RATT called to shore using RATT and were
answered by CW.
mc_t_t_room_300pixel.jpg mc_watch_super_300pixel.jpg
Teletype Room - When Mill Cove opened, it employed 153 officers, men and women and approximately 33 civilian personnel to support operations. Watch Supervisor and Message Routing - One of the prized messages handled by Mill Cove was  the tribute sent to them by the commanding officer  and crew of HMS Ark Royal when that ship de- commissioned after 23 years of service. 
mc_pmqs_adminbldg_300pixel.jpg mc_adminbldg_aerial_300pixel.jpg
Permanent Married Quarters and Admin Building. The Operations building is 3.5 miles  up the winding road.  Aerial View of the Administration Building.  Mill Cove was also a relay station which submitted traffic into the military system around the world. 

 
mc_1980.jpg
CFS Mill Cove as it appeared around 1980. (DND photo)

 
millcove_badge.gif
The station badge of CFS Mill Cove. (Graphic courtesy of  Ian MacCorquodale)

 

A WORD OF THANKS

mc_wilson_sigrist.jpg
Much appreciation is expressed to Jerry who provided all the historical material and photos of CFS Mill Cove in its heyday.

CPO Jerry Sigrist (right) is receiving his CWO (Chief Warrant Officer) scroll from LCDR  F.W. Wilson, Mill Cove's Commanding Officer between 1978 and 1982. For a few years after integration (under Defence Minister Paul Hellyer) the navy was forced to use Army and Air-Force ranks. CWO is the old WO1 in army terms and  the only non-commissioned rank to get one.. A scroll was given by the government of Canada on obtaining it, the only rank to get one. The navy has since returned to blue uniforms and naval ranks so CWO is now CPO1 or Chief Petty Officer 1st class.


NEWPORT CORNER


Since the Newport Corner site is still in use today but now remotely controlled from Halifax, many aspects of its operation have changed. Newport Corner is strictly a transmitting site. In the past,  when a key or switch was pressed in Mill Cove, a transmitter was activated in Newport Corner. Prior to that, it was Albro Lake which controlled the transmitters. This site is located just outside of Windsor NS., about 50 miles north west of Halifax. 
 
 





CUM MISSONE CITO AD OMNES"  "With Messages Quickly To All"

EARLY HISTORY

The transmitting site at Newport Corner, N.S. has been on the air continuously since May 1943. Set up under a veil of secrecy during the height of the North Atlantic U-boat threat, this backwoods village became the home of an invaluable weapon during the Battle of the Atlantic. Despite a price tag of more than $6 million, an exorbitant expense in those days, it was estimated that the facility paid for itself in three months in the amount of Allied shipping that was saved on the North Atlantic. Its signal could be heard and read from Murmansk to the Falklands and half way around the world

Its technology was considered state-of-the-art at the time capable of emitting 80,000 watts of power from each of its 20 transmitters and associated antenna. In 1944, more than one million code groups were transmitted from the site each month. There must have been nearly a thousand ships copying the signals from this station at any given time during the war. A standby diesel power plant made certain that the station was able to operate if the commercial power mains were lost.

The three towers of its main transmitter were 560 feet high and two other towers were 320 feet high. Transmitters and auxiliary power plants were housed in brick buildings. These transmitters employed output tubes which weighed 250 pounds each and were forced-air cooled.  The electrical requirements were staggering There were oil switches that stood eighteen feet high. The main aerial had insulators, nine feet long and eighteen inches in diameter, each tested to withstand a strain of 90,000 pounds and 350,000 volts.

The RCA type TE-147 was installed at the base in 1942. For additional information, select this link.

(Click to enlarge)

nc_dvcarroll_s.jpg Lt. D.V. Carroll MBE, RCN, was the officer who stood by Newport Corner during its construction and was in charge of the station throughout the war. Doug joined the Royal Canadian Navy as a boy seaman telegraphist in 1925 and was a Chief Petty Officer Telegraphist in the RESTIGOUCHE during the evacuation of Dunkirk. On January 1, 1945. he was honoured with the award of the MBE for his dedicated service in getting the Newport transmitters on the air. (RCN photo submitted by Spud Roscoe)
nc_txsite1_jul22_1942_north_s.jpg This aerial photo shows a northerly view of the transmitting site and was taken at 11:30 hours on July 22, 1942 from an altitude of 500 feet. (RCN photo D2/995 submitted by Spud Roscoe)

While some expansion and equipment upgrades have taken place over the years, the Newport Corner site virtually remained unchanged since W.W.II days. The last major change occurred in 1976 , when the Air/Ground/Air transmitter component was moved to Newport Corner from Mt. Unicke. N.S. To see some of the operating frequencies used in 1948, please refer to Appendix D.

In the 1970s, there was always about 20 to 25 personnel stationed there to conduct the required maintenance and there were always a couple on watch in case of problems. In the "old" days, these personnel were always referred to as technicians but as job classifications changed in the technical trade, they became known as Radiomen.

Don Courcy, VE2CW, recalls his time at Newport Corner. "I had the pleasure of working at the Newport Corner CFH transmitting site back in 1966 after I graduated from the Naval Communications School and before I was posted to a ship. I will always remember those fluorescent lights hanging from the ceiling above each transmitter, completely disconnected, and flashing in the RF field of the transmitter output. It was a quick way to determine that each transmitter was operating when viewed from the central console. If the fluorescent light was not flashing, it was an indication that the transmitter was off-the-air or had a problem.

I remember walking inside those huge transmitters with components bigger than me and helping the more experienced technicians in carrying out repairs or scheduled maintenance.  At the time, the Newport Corner transmitters were still keyed by operators from Albro Lake. It was later that Mill Cove replaced Albro Lake as the CFH receiving and operator site.

There were transmitters in Newport Corner for CW  and RATT operating throughout the HF bands on 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, 22 and 25 MHz, as well as on LF  (73.6 kHz for RATT and 115.3 kHz for CW)  plus a few more which I have forgotten.

I remember the 22 and 25 MHz transmitters interfering with TV reception at the nearby married quarters, To improve reception, those transmitters were switched to low power during the NHL playoffs. There was also the difficulty of receiving AM signals on the car radio within 1 mile of Newport Corner. The front ends of the car radios lost their OCRs (Off Channel Rejection - ie..selectivity) in the strong RF field around Newport Corner. You could hear Morse code and teletype signals all over the AM dial.

One thing we did not have in Newport Corner were VLF transmitters. The VLF signals I used to copy on submarines in the 17 to 21 kHz band originated from the USA. Newport Corner just did not have the space to accommodate VLF antennas many miles long. But as mentioned above, there were LF transmitters at 73.6 and 115.3 kHz. Those were the days".

nc_antenna_farm_550pixel.jpg
Newport Corner antenna farm  as seen in the early 1970's (DND Photo)

 
 
nc_pmqs_68_100_550pixel.jpg
Newport Corner Permanent Married Quarters. There were twelve houses there for the workers. The building to the rear of the six houses contains six more quarters. The generator building is in the upper right corner of the picture while the main building is about 100 meters up the road going to the right of the generator building . (DND Photo)
Satellite communications were installed in later years as were technological upgrades to automate signal processing , monitoring and resource management components of the operation. With all the changes in technology, the basic methodology had remained the same. The effectiveness and reliability of the operation that had serviced the East Coast for so long lay in its simplicity. It was a beautiful operation but time marched on. Automation, Alternate Service Delivery and down sizing eventually spelled the end as a manned station. When automation and remote control from Halifax were finally installed  both Mill Cove and Newport Corner became echoes of an earlier era.

(Newport Corner badge courtesy Cdr.CAH.Darlington,Marlant HQ)



 
 
nc_freq.jpg
(L-R) Leading Seaman Joe Burgoyne, Petty Officer L. Schofield and Master Warrant Officer W. Whitefield setting a frequency at the main console of the Newport Corner transmitter site. The late Joe Burgoyne retired from Halifax Coast Guard Radio VCS. (Canadian Forces Photo HS 70 4509 submitted by Spud Roscoe).

 
 
nc_power_tube.jpg
(L-R) Leading Seaman Joseph F. Burgoyne and Master Warrant Officer William Whitefield jointly test a power tube in one of the many transmitters at the Newport Corner transmitter site. (Canadian Forces Photo HS 70 4510 submitted by Spud Roscoe)


TIME MARCHES ON

CFS Mill Cove was constructed as three distinct sites - the "Upper Site", consisting of the operations site, the "Lower Site", consisting of several administrative buildings and the PMQ's, and the transmission facilities at Newport Corner. On 1 June 1995, the "Lower Site" closed due to DND budget reductions. The "Upper Site" and the transmission  facilities at Newport Corner remained operational, becoming a remote broadcast control station and a Detachment of  Maritime Forces Atlantic Stadacona (CFB Halifax). The radio unit was re-named Naval Radio Section Mill Cove in March 1998 to officially recognize its naval heritage.

On 10 April 2001 the navy opened its new $46 million facility and radio communications facilities returned to the Halifax area for the first time since 1968 when Naval Radio Section Mill Cove re-located to the new Remote Operations Communication Centre at HMCS Trinity, CFB Halifax . Commissionaires are now the only employees working at CFS Mill Cove. The maintenance for Mill Cove is carried out by teams sent out from the communication section.

NEW COMMUNICATIONS CENTER NOW OPEN FOR BUSINESS
by LCdr John Morrison

The new Remote Operation Center in Building S-89 (home of HMCS Trinity) CFB Halifax, was launched on April 10, 2001 officially ending 60 years of naval communications from Mill Cove and Newport Corner N.S.

The $46 million Navy-sponsored Remoting The Naval Radio Stations Project resulted from the Federal Government's 1994 infrastructure reduction initiatives. Closing the receive and transmit sites at Mill Cove and Newport Corner and Aldergrove and Matsqui B.C. and remotely controlling their functions -- including Fleet broadcast, Ship/Shore, Air/Ground/Air and phone patch components --from centres at CFB's Halifax and Esquimalt would result in substantial savings in personnel, operations and maintenance.

Project staff and contractor Harris RF Communications of Rochester. N.Y., spent considerable front end time identifying the existing system components and addressing the ad hoc engineering practices conducted at the sites over the years. The manufacture of more than 75 solid state high and low frequency transmitters and the production of the ancillary equipment required for remote operations began immediately.

The new centres at Esquimalt and Halifax underwent extensive modifications and reconfigurations to meet old and new equipment specifications and the ergonomic requirements of a staffed 24/7 operation. Defence Integrated Switched Data Network circuits were engineered and/or reconfigured and new circuits identified, brought up and activated. Production of the security equipment, fire suppression systems, an Environmental Control and Monitoring System and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning necessary to meet fire suppression, flooding, safety and security requirements of the unattended receive and transmit sites post--remoting went ahead. Much of the activity was paralleled, reducing the possibility of project slippage and providing some scheduling flexibility.

"All this activity required considerable project management and teamwork on the part of DND and Harris engineers" said Project Manager Lt-Cdr Dave Spec. "While not an overly complicated project from a technology standpoint, the task was challenging from a co-ordination perspective"

The remoting of NRS Mill Cove to Halifax, achieved on February 12, 2001, was a resounding success. Considerable effort on the part of the major stake holders coupled with the professionalism of Harris personnel has ensured the project mandate has been met ---on time and on budget-- with respect to the east coast operation.

The project brings East Coast naval communicators home again -- to Halifax, to the Dockyard, back to their mates within the naval community --and whatever the future holds, the Fleet can depend on its naval communicator's dedication and commitment to service. The spirit of Mill Cove's motto remains: Sepmer Vigiles (Always Viligant).

Bob Canning of the Canadian Forces adds a postscript to the above story.

"HMCS Trinity is a unit located in a single,  highly secure building at Stadacona known as Naval Radio Section Halifax and not "station".  NRS Halifax is located inside of the unit, Trinity. Newport Corner is still the transmitter site but operated from NRS Halifax by remote control. Mill Cove is still the receiver site and also controlled remotely from NRS Halifax. The remote control is officially known as the Remote Control and Monitoring System (RCMS).

As of September  2005, the staffing levels are as follows:
Mill Cove - Completely unmanned with the exception of a commissioner 24/7
Newport Corners - 0 operators; 10 technicians

Also, for fault tolerance and backup,  NRS Halifax can use the RCMS to operate the receivers and transmitters
in Aldergrove and Matsqui respectively. NRS Aldergrove also has the ability to operate the Mill Cove and Newport Corners sites".

Other source material:

1) The Maple Leaf Magazine Vol 4 No. 13, 2001
2) The Maple Leaf Magazine Vol 4 No. 17, 2001
3) Bruce Forsyth who served as a signalman in the the Canadian Naval Reserve from 1987-2000.
 

In March 2014, DND issued a Request for Quotation to overhaul antennas at various sites across Canada. These are the antennas shown for Newport Corners:

 
QTY MODEL No.  of 
MASTS
MAST 
HEIGHT
TYPE OF
MAST
MFG DESCRIPTION
1 747V-50 2 1 x 171 feet Steel Andrew Log Periodic Vertical
1 ?   1 x 35 feet   Wooden ? Log Periodic Vertical
1 -- 3 1 x 80 feet  Aluminum -- Sloping Vee
  --    2 x 45 feet  Wooden -- Sloping Vee
12 --  16 13 x 50 feet Aluminum  -- Horizontal Dipole
      3 x 75 feet  Wooden  -- Horizontal Dipole
4 -- 3 x 45 feet Wooden -- Vertical Dipole
4 --   1 x 60 feet Wooden  -- Vertical Dipole
3 -- 60 to 90 feet Wooden -- Tilted  Dipole
3 530-4-03 3 92 feet Aluminum TCI Comm HF Log Periodic Omni
(Image courtesy TCI Comm)
1 -- 1 80 feet  Aluminum  DND Delta Loop
5 1794-14K 5 70 feet  Steel Andrew HF Monocone
(Image courtesy ASC Signal)
1 217C 1 490 feet  Steel Abroyd Vertical LF (for NATO)
1 219D 3 550 feet 2 x Steel
1 x Alum. 
Abroyd Vertical LF 147K
AS-5088/FRC 5 53 feet Fiberglass Valcom Monopole . 2 to 30 MHz.
Manually tunable)  10KW rating
1 2159 1 450 feet  Steel  ? Vertical for LF/MF
1 1794-5K 1 61 feet Steel  Andrew  HF Monocone 
(Image courtesy ASC Signal)
3 LPH-89E 6 82 feet Steel  Antenna
Priducts
Rotatable Log Periodic  4 to
30 MHz (Image courtesy
Antenna Products)
4 MPS-10M/2A 4 39 feet Fiberglass AP Broadband Vertical Whip
(PDF courtesy Antenna Products) 
1 2001-1-1K 1 92 feet Steel  Andrew Log Periodic , Omni 2 to 30 MHz .Rated for 10KW. (PDF courtesy CPII.COM)




Credits and References:

1) Newport Corner re-colourized crest provided by Sgt. Darrell Condran,
Supervisor Newport Corner. e-mailCondran.dbj(at)forces.gc.ca
2) Gerry Sigrist <adpna.sigrist(at)ns.sympatico.ca>
3) Ian MacCorquodale <maccdale(at)hotmail.com>
4) Donald Courcy, VE2CW  <ve2cw(at)rac.ca>
5) DND RFQ for antenna overhauls.   https://buyandsell.gc.ca/cds/public/2017/03/14/87288759e7f2c9bd239926ff13d5a1fa/ABES.PROD.PW__HN.B460.E72685.EBSU000.PDF
6) ASC 1794 Antenna.  ASC Signal.  http://www.cpii.com/docs/datasheets/356/1794-2012.pdf
7) TCI 530 antenna. http://www.spx.com/en/tci/pd-530-short-range-log-periodic-antenna/
8) Valcomm 5088 antenna.   http://www.valcom-guelph.com/products/AS-5088_FRC.html
9) VRA12 antenna.  http://www.tmchistory.org/tmc_ssb_cats/ssb_db/tmc.tb_4045.pdf
10) MPS10M antenna    http://antennaproducts.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/MPS-10M.pdf
11) 2001 series antenna

Back to Table of Contents
March 27/17