January 08, 2016

Canadian Forces Ammunition Depots

I'm interested in the architecture and location of all the ammunition magazines that were used during the Cold War in Canada, and abroad, but it's pretty easy to locate the current locations which are in use as ammunition depots, so let's start there...

Run by the Canadian Materiel Support Group (CMSG), a subordinate formation of CFJOSG, the following ammunition depots are currently active.  Most, if not all, Canadian Forces bases have some provision to store ammunition, but these are the main hubs where all ammunition comes from or is stored.
  • Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Rocky Point near Victoria, B.C.
  • Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Dundurn in Dundurn, Sask.
  • Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Detachment Angus at CFB Borden
  • Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Bedford in Bedford, N.S.
Let's start with those which are in use, that I have no hope of taking pictures of, working backwards to those I would like to go and see, with an incredibly minute chance of getting any pictures.

Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot (CFAD) Rocky Point

"A crew prepares to crane a Mk 48 Heavyweight Torpedo from HMCS Victoria to the jetty.  It was the first offload of Mk 48 Heavyweight Torpedoes at Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Rocky Point."
CFAD Rocky Point is located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island and occupies approximately 500 acres. It is a lodger unit of CFB Esquimalt, and reports directly to the Commander Canadian Material Support Group (CMSG), part of Canadian Operational Support Command (CANOSCOM).

Canadian Materiel Support Group (CMSG) is responsible for providing operational-level support through the delivery of materiel and assigned logistics services to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the Department of National Defence.

CFAD Rocky Point is located in the municipality of Metchosin, British Columbia and in the Federal Electoral District of Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca.

Tasks performed at the facility include maintenance of missiles (including the Sea Sparrow family of missiles), maintenance and refueling of torpedoes (including the Mk48 Heavyweight), ammunition transit to other Canadian Forces facilities, explosive demolition operations, and ammunition loading and unloading at the jetty to Royal Canadian Navy ships, submarines, and allied vessels.

Normal staffing at CFAD Rocky Point is 60 full time personnel, 4 of those being CAF military members.(ref: CFAD Rocky Point Fire Risk Assessment p.6)

There are more than four major purposes for the buildings at CFAD Rocky Point:

Ammunition Storage Magazines (Mag)

Ammunition storage magazines, located within the explosives area, are earth covered magazines built of reinforced concrete and bermed with dirt on multiple sides to reduce the amount of damage to the surrounding area if an explosion were to occur. Lightning rods are grounded and placed on the top of all buildings to ensure inadvertent ignition of the munitions does not occur in accordance with the DND Ammunition and Explosives Safety Manual. Built in 1955, ammunition storage magazines are numbered B043, B045, B046, B057, B058; and likely more.

Torpedo Maintenance Facility (TMF)

The TMF handles maintenance on Royal Canadian Torpedoes; principally the Mk-48 Heavyweight torpedoes (Mk6 or Mk7 variant?) for the RCN submarine fleet, Mk.46 Mod 5 torpedoes for the Halifax-class frigates, and likely additional types for air deployed torpedoes for ASW. Labelled in Treasury Board secretariat documentation as an Industrial Workshop, the single story steel and concrete building was built in 1955, and is now joined with several other buildings by above ground tunnels to allow easy passage at all times of the day or night, in all weather, and without prying eyes being privy to ammunition movements. I'm fairly certain B075 is one of the buildings, but without a site plan I am not sure. (p.16)

Missile Maintenance Facility (MMT)

The information regarding the Missile Maintenance Facility seems to be more redacted in the documents returned by the access to information department at DND, which just peaked my interest further. Why would the Torpedo Maintenance Facility be less sensitive than a missile maintenance facility? I'm still not sure, but here's what I gather. The facility is one level, but does have a basement which is larger than the 1st floor (1122.7m2 ground floor vs 1546.3m2 basement) with a roof which is 1364.5m2. I suspect it's building number is B142, but I do not have a site plan to show which building that is. The building is constructed of reinforced concrete; which makes sense. The MMT building was constructed in 1991 at a cost of ~$4M. (p.15) Officially, it is documented in the CFB Esquimalt newspaper The Lookout as "a large purpose-built structure within the Explosives Area dedicated to the inspection, service and maintenance of naval missiles."

Looking for further information on the tasks performed in this facility I found mention of it in a legal case which has a lot of information entered as evidence; Anderson et al. v. Treasury Board (Department of National Defence), 2009 PSLRB 93. Testimony states that personnel in the MMT would:

"inspect, repair, modify, refurbish, test, perform quality control functions, package and label missiles in accordance with the Regulations. In some instances, he packaged and labelled missile canisters in accordance with the Regulations and shipped them from the MMF directly to the Rocky Point jetty, where the missiles were then loaded onto Canadian naval ships. In other cases, missiles and component parts such as rocket motors, jet fan controls, etc. that were being sold to different countries were packaged, labelled and shipped to magazines for storage, pending their sales."

I find it interesting that the missiles would be prepared to be sold to other countries there, and not sent directly from the manufacturer.

Furthermore, the missiles which are worked on are likely of various types, but the building certainly handles maintenance on the Sea Sparrow, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile and Harpoon anti-ship missiles for its primary customers, the RCN Halifax-class frigates.  The Halifax-class are undergoing a refit at this time, which is supposed to be complete by 2017; some weapons systems and the missiles they use will be upgraded.

Ammunition Laboratories 

If I understand correctly the ammunition laboratories are workshops for working on the ammunition; exact locations within the facility are unknown, but there are six identical connected buildings viewable on satellite imagery. "Six licensed ammunition laboratories are located within the Explosives Area. The licensed laboratories provide workshop duties including painting booths, black powder work area, periodic ammunition inspections and a workshop for naval fixed gun ammunition.  The laboratories are interconnected by covered walkways to facilitate the movement of ammunition between buildings."

Heavily quoted and aggregated from the following sources:

- CFAD Rocky Point Fire Risk Assessment, by the Compliance Officer CFFM5, reviewed by the Canadian Forces Fire Marshal, October 2014 (via ATIP)
- http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/business-equipment/halifax-frigate.page
Anderson et al. v. Treasury Board (Department of National Defence), 2009 PSLRB 93 

[2016.01.08 Major Update]

Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot (CFAD) Dundurn

CFAD Dundurn is one of the major ammunition depots set up across Canada, and located near Dundurn, Saskatchewan.  From the satellite pictures you can  see it is a massive storage facility.  Clearly from the choke points and guard posts, the facility is understandably highly secure.  As is the case with all ammunition storage facilities, no photos are allowed.

A Brief History of Canadian Force Ammunition Depot Dundurn

The history of Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Dundurn is intermingled with that of the Camp. The Commanding Officer of the Depot up until integration was the Camp Commander. The construction of the Depot was done in conjunction with the Camp. The Camp was first sited and brush-cleared, stumped and burned, in 1927. This was done under the supervision of Captain Blake, RCE, and the Foreman of Works, Sgt E Bailey. The following year land improvements were made but no permanent buildings were constructed. It was first used as a military training area in 1928 by Cavalry and Infantry units such as the 16/22 Saskatoon Light Horse; Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians), Regina Rifles and the Prince Albert Volunteers.

In 1933, widespread unrest and rioting in the Regina area led the Federal Government to establish a work program at Camp Dundurn for the civilian populace. Quartered in tents, fed and employed for construction projects, each person was paid the wage of twenty cents per day.

From 1934 to 1938, the camp remained a Work Relief Project and the camp itself increased in size and shape with the appearance of newly constructed stone and wooden buildings that are currently used to this day. During this period of 1934-1938, the storage, maintenance, issuing and receiving of ammunition was visualized and the construction of five explosive magazines (M36-M40) was completed in 1937.

In 1941, ten Temporary Deployment Magazines (TDM's) (TDM 1-10) were constructed.

In 1947, No. 6 Ammunition Depot was established under the command of WO2 T. Harmston. The ammunition storage area consisted of five ex plosive magazines and ten TDM's.

In 1949, the Depot was renumbered to 36 Ordnance Ammunition Depot (36 OAD).

It was in 1958 that 36 OAD increased dramatically in size. An office building, Explosives Laboratory and transit building plus twenty-five new magazines were constructed. Shortly after integration, Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Dundurn came into being.

In 1977, a new Ammunition Workshop was built.

In 1981, a lecture training trailer was installed in front of the main office.

1990 saw the construction of the Hardstand area and in 1991, the construction of the first Igloo, Magazine 46. In 1993, Mag 49 was built and is in use as the Detonator Storage Building. The construction of Mag 50 was completed in 1993. Although situated in the CFAD compound, this mag is used for 2nd line storage and is the responsibility of the Detachment Ammunition Section. 1994 saw the opening of Mags 47 and 48. These two mags were built in the "3 Bar Igloo" style. In 1995, a brand new Transit facility (Mag 51) and the Ammunition Processing Building (Mag 52) were officially opened as Dundurn continued the process of consolidated repair, disposal and shipping of ammunition. In 1996, a new Non-Explosives Stores magazine (Mag 53) was constructed. The ten Temporary Deployment Magazines constructed in 1941 were demolished. In May 1997, a new CFAD Headquarters building, with a detached 12-vehicle garage was opened. The Commissionaires remained in the old headquarters building until November, when the new alarm system was connected.In 1998, the Demolition Ground received an addition to their incinerator/sorting building and a new Command Post Building complete with running water, was opened. In 2001, the aging Hardstand shelters were replaced with Eleven Pole-barns. In December 2001, CN Rail commenced work to remove the rail spur line from the Depot. By the end of March 2002, 270 000 tons of gravel for the road repair project in the magazine area was stockpiled. Detachment Transport began repairs, widening and gravelling main roadways with the depot until October 2002 when the weather conditions worsened. This project continued in the spring of 2003. In 2002, funding was received for the installation of intrusion alarms in the ammunition pole barns and for upgrades to water lines and services in the magazine area.

Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot (CFAD) Detachment Angus

CFAD Detachment Angus is a CF central/Ontario ammunition storage facility and provides ammunition for many of Ontario's training facilities.  The detachment is located at CFB Borden, and from the satellite pictures cannot be missed.

Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot (CFAD) Bedford

CFAD Bedford, famous to some as the site of the Bedford Magazine Explosion of 1945, is still an active ammunition depot for the Canadian Forces serving Canadian and Allied naval forces of the Atlantic.
Department of National Defence (DND) property, part of CFB Halifax. The Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Bedford, frequently referred to as the "Bedford Magazine", is a major Canadian Forces property occupying the entire northern shore of Bedford Basin. It houses all of the weaponry for MARLANT vessels and has a loading jetty and several nearby anchorages.


  1. Also possibly of note is that there's a portion of Rocky Point that is a mock up of a FOB and used to be used for BMOQ of Naval Reserve Officers and I believe might still be used by those attending PLQ courses

    1. Sorry for the delay replying to this; very interesting! Does it show up, I mean, is it visible, on the map?

    2. Whoops and yes it does. 48°19'45.0"N 123°34'38.6"W
      48.329158, -123.577400. It's a small mockup FOB.

    3. https://gyazo.com/2c0c0fb896b9e478ce08683f4f2f2e72 No idea what the current use for it is anymore however since BMOQ is no longer help in Esquimalt