August 21, 2015

Diefenbunker / CEGHQ & REGHQ, Transmitter, and Receiver, Sites

2015.08.20 Update:
After an excellent presentation by Ralph Cameron (VE3BBM) tonight at the former site of CFS Carp, now The Diefenbunker Museum, in the cafeteria, about Cold War communications infrastructure, I figured I should dust off this blog post and move it to the front of the line again.

It's not a revelation to anyone that CFS Carp (Now known as The Diefenbunker Museum) was not the only continuity of government facility in Canada; they were built across Canada for the local politicians and their civil servants to hide in, in case of nuclear annihilation.  Each of the Regional Headquarters sites also had a separate communication bunker, usually a couple of stories down, like a "Diefenbunker", but a lot smaller.  These TX and RX sites would have been built and maintained by the military to ensure communications were kept going after the world had gone to hell in a hand-basket. Antenna farms were on site with the mini-bunker, and there was a separate unmanned receiver site with another antenna farm.

This is where my research gets fuzzy.

If each Diefenbunker had a TX and and RX site, where exactly were they?  I can find some information, but not every site has coordinates associated with it, or is it easy to find.  Many of these facilities have been decommissioned and bulldozed.

Here is the map, to the best that I know, of where these sites would be.  I'd really like to get better pictures of the sites and what condition they are in now.  Are there still fences?  Any sign of the bunker or antenna farm? Is there nothing buy cows?  Inquiring minds would like to know...

August 20, 2015

Kosmos 954 (Космос 954) / Operation Morning Light I & II

Exact image source unknown / US Government
"Kosmos 954 (Russian: Космос 954) was a reconnaissance satellite launched by the Soviet Union in 1977. A malfunction prevented safe separation of its onboard nuclear reactor; when the satellite reentered the Earth's atmosphere the following year, it scattered radioactive debris over northern Canada, prompting an extensive cleanup operation." - Wikipedia
Plagiarism?  Nah, why make things complicated?  Wikipedia does a pretty good job summarizing the issue.

Someone graciously asked DND for all the information they had on the crash of Kosmos 954 in an access to information request (A-2013-00731); so I asked for a copy too.  There are already books on the January 24th 1978 accident, but I'm looking through the file to try and figure out some information for myself; specifically, how much fuel didn't burn up, and how much radioactive material was left on the ground after Operation Morning Light I and II.  Here is the information for your review.

Following the Russian Navy Mod Altay class tankers

Image Credit: Ian Sturton - Mod Altay Class Tanker

Kola - Przemek / Baltiysk, Kaliningrad 2006

Sometime last year I became interested in the Russian Naval Auxiliary ship Kola. ( Likely in part due to Tom in Lincolnshire, UK SoundCloud / Twitter ) The Kola is an oiler; a floating gas station for the Russian Navy. As I don't have my own spy satellite constellation (YET!), and the Russian Navy uses very loose terms for their deployment areas, I'm keeping an eye on a few ships of interest (like the Kola) to see where they operate, as they indicate larger operations. An oiler... oils! Well, more accurately, it ships marine diesel to ships at sea, and does alongside replenishment. If there's an oiler, there's at least one bigger boat around that's thirsty. 

Most recently the Kola returned from a Mediterranean deployment with the Russian Navy's Baltic Fleet Neustrashimyy-class (Неустрашимый) frigate RFS Yaroslav Mudry (СКР Ярослав Мудрый). The Yaroslav Mudry is the most modern Russian Navy Frigate in the fleet, being commissioned in 2009.

There were six oilers of the same class as the Kola, spread out across the fleet.  I'm uncertain which of those ships are still operating with the Russian Navy or have been decommissioned.  Specifications for the Mod Altay class tankers are as follows:

Mod Altay class (Project 160) (AOL)
Built between 1967-72 by Rauma-Repola, Finland
Displacement - full load: 7366 tonnes (7249.7 (uk) t) (8119.6 t short)) (7366000 kg)
Length - overall: 106.2 m (348.4 ft)
Beam - overall: 15.5 m (50.9 ft)
Kola - apachio / Baltiysk, Kaliningrad 2006.12.23

Draught - hull: 6.7 m (22.0 ft)
Top speed: 14 kt (25.9 km/h) (16.1 mph)
Range: 8600 n miles (15927.2 km) (9896.7 miles) at 12 kt (22.2 km/h) (13.8 mph)
crew: 60
Cargo capacity: 4,400 tons oil fuel; 200 m3 solids
Machinery: 1 Burmeister & Wain BM550VTBN110 diesel; 3,200 hp(m) (2.35 MW); 1 shaft

Clarksville Base / Site Charlie (Fort Campbell)

I'd written this up last year and noticed I hadn't published it as it wasn't complete, but I should put it out there in case someone else finds the partial information helpful.

Built in 1949, Site Charlie was a National Stockpile Site (NSS) with all the above ground supporting buildings for that mission.  Building types are my best guesses; I couldn't identify them all. I don't know where the portal is to building 7740, but need to re-review the PDF below for additional hints and labels for the buildings.

[ Work in Progress ]

I stumbled upon this document that has a spectacular diagram of building 7740

August 05, 2015

Fotiy Krylov (Фотий Крылов) docks in Corinto, with a friend?

Marshal Gelovani
Photo Credit: Savitskiy Igor /
Taken November 24, 2014 in Vladivostok
Following up on my last post about this interesting tug, the Fotiy Krylov (IMO 8613346 / MMSI 273441150) showed up at 2015-08-05 00:38Z at the Port of Corinto, Nicaragua.

The Port of Corinto is classified as a small port in the Northern Pacific, and has considerable warehousing and rail links to move cargo to/from the port.

So what?

Well, the Fotiy Krylov doesn't usually travel alone, but as a tug she usually has her AIS beacon on, unlike spy-ships or other ships of war.  So, who's she travelling with this time?

Rumour has it she's with the Project 862/II Marshal Gelovani (NATO: Yug Class) Hydrographic survey vessel. I can't find an IMO or MMSI for her, just a reference to 906O.  I also found reference that she is an AGE: General Purpose Experimental Ship (AGE = Auxiliary General Experimental).  I wonder if she's experimenting with something, and what they're up to?

The only thing I know that's going on in Nicaragua is the new canal which is being bankrolled by the Chinese, which is going to erode the American-controlled Panama canal's monopoly.  Just today they announced potential changes to the Pacific entry of the canal.  Are the Russians helping with oceanographic surveying?  Are they experimenting with new sonar?  Nicaragua is an ally of Russia, so any number of other projects could be going on, or they could have just stopped for some fuel and cigars.  I really don't know.

Title: Marshal Gelovani
Russian Navy Auxiliary
Project 862/II  |  NATO: Yug Class
Launched: 11.02.1983
Commissioned: 29.07.1983
Serving: Pacific Fleet / Vladivostok, Russia
Concept / Program (multiple sources have the ship listed differently):
  AGE: General Purpose Experimental Ship (AGE = Auxiliary General Experimental)
  General-purpose research ship
  Ekspeditsionnoye Okeanograficheskoye Sudno (EOS); Expeditionary Oceanographc Vessel
  Hydrographic survey vessel
Displacement: 1,892 tons / 2,490 tons (full)
Dimensions: 82.5 x 13.5 x 3.97 meters/270.6 x 44.3 x 13 feet
Propulsion: 2 Sulzer diesels, 2 shafts, 3,600 bhp, 15.6 knots
Crew: 46 civilian + 20 mission crew + 4 passengers/transients
Built: Poland, Stocznia Polnocna, Gdansk
  [information compiled from multiple sources]

Fotiy Krylov's last recorded position:

Corinto, Nicaragua:

August 02, 2015

USAF F-15E Strike Eagles hanging out in Gander, Newfoundland?

Gander Airport - F-15
Credit: "No Name D" / Flickr - July 13th, 2015

I'm not sure what the story is here, so I'm putting it out on the Internet to see if someone can fill in the blanks.  It seems on June 4th 2015 three USAF McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagles from RAF Lakenheath landed at Gander International Airport (CYQX) with a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker.

Why is this interesting?

Several reasons.

At the time there was a rumour of an in-flight emergency, but I can't find any details.
There is also a rumour they were on their way to Iraq and/or the Azores (on their way to Iraq I guess?), but they're still there, as of last week.

The tail numbers of the planes are 98-0134, 91-0605 and 91-0332.
FlightAware Photo
Photo Courtesy of - Rick Stead

Each of these planes are usually at RAF Lakenheath in the UK, as shown by the LN on their tail. (ref )

However, the tail also usually has a red or blue stripe along the top indicating their squadron, and the squadron number was painted on the tail as early as last year (ref: ) What does the lack of squadron number mean?  Are these being decommissioned, or redistributed to another base?
Either way, why keep the LN while in transit..?

Could this be related to the USAF re-org from the beginning of January 2015? (ref: )

More pictures here:

...and HD video!

...and big thank you to Marcus and Todd for sending me photos when they were in Gander recently :)

August 01, 2015

A Marathon MIL-Spec Stopwatch from the Cold War

I know I'm stretching the Cold War linkage with what I consider a cool stopwatch from eBay, but I do enjoy looking for a good deal on neat military gear.  Once and a while I find something awesome on eBay, but sometimes I get euchred.  I haven't figured out which way this deal has gone, yet.

The back of the case is stamped:

MIL S 14823
6645 00 126 0286
DLA 400 90 C 5008


It's a stopwatch (that seemed obvious)
It conforms to a revision of the military standard for stopwatches
It has a National Stock Number (NSN)
Manufacturer name
Government contract this was made under
Serial number

  • Because MIL-S-14823 came before MIL-S-14823A, I going to make the leap that the watch was designed to the specification that was the standard for stopwatches between 1968 and 1988.  It is possible that this watch was made in 1989, before watches conforming to the new standard were being built.  From posts online from military pilots issued similar stopwatches in the mid 1980s, they mention a fibreglass backing.  This stopwatch has a metal case, brass perhaps.  I'm not sure if this indicates an earlier or later model, but the specification doesn't mention anything about a fiberglass vs metal back.
  • The National Stock Number is an excellent source of information, but I haven't been able to figure out when Marathon / Gallet was issuing these stopwatches.  Tag Heuer also sold watches conforming to that spec with the same NSN to the US Military (presumably under a different contract).
  • Gallet & Co. is one of the oldest Swiss watch manufacturers in the world, and well known to make an excellent timepiece.  I'm unclear of their relationship with Marathon Watch Co., but Marathon may be a subsidiary or related in some other way as they seem to source some of their watches or parts from Gallet.
  • DLA400-90-C-5008 is the government contract number this was produced under, which was awarded to Marathon Watch Company, Ltd of Canada, but I'm not sure when the contract was issued or completed. (I tried finding reference to the original contract on American government web sites, but none went back that far)
  • The serial number may have additional information encoded in it (is it actually from 1989?  89XXXXXXX) but I dont know enough about their watches to be able to say.

Below is the PDF version of the superseding military specification, which is probably pretty close to the one this stopwatch was made to conform to.