December 21, 2015

Where are the old Canadian SOSUS arrays?

Quick primer on underwater surveillance and anti-submarine warfare. Around 1950 the US Navy started planning and building underwater hydrophones that would listen for Soviet submarines. This was the beginning of SOSUS. After the fall of the Soviet Union many of the sites were decommissioned or centralized, since around the same time there were "technological advancements" (as the official documents state) that allowed bases further away from the sensors to do the monitoring. I suspect this technological improvement was fiberoptic cable.

Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) arrays were first setup at HMCS Shelburne (Nova Scotia) in 1955, and NAS Argentia (Newfoundland) in 1959, operated by the US Navy, and eventually jointly with the Canadian Navy. In 1995 the operations were transitioned to Canadian Forces IUSS Centre (CFIC) (now HMCS Trinity?), part of CFB Halifax, where sensors were remotely monitored from then on. In 1999 joint-US Navy / Canadian Navy operations at HMCS Trinity were handed off to the Canadian Navy exclusively.
  • Where were these arrays? 
  • Are they still in use now? 
  • What did these systems look like? 
  • Have these underwater anti-submarine warfare nets been decommissioned, or upgraded to match new technology? 
I have a lot of questions.

I wonder if nautical charts show where these arrays are, but don't say what they are - you wouldn't want one to get dredged after all. Time to find some nautical charts.

Here is a timeline of events from Integrated Undersea Surveillance System Alumni web site

NAVFACs established in Bermuda, Shelburne Nova Scotia, Nantucket MA, and Cape May NJ.

NAVFAC Argentia, Newfoundland established

Shallow Water system installed and terminated at Navfac Argentia: Ten 8-element arrays on two 40-pair cables: counter against Hudson Bay submarine patrols by SovietsFirst and only curved array terminated at Shelburne, Nova Scotia

First 2x20 array installed at NAVFAC Argentia, Nfld.

NAVFAC Argentia, Nfld Shallow Water Complex deactivated

PMW 124 established and the modernization of SOSUS begins.
Joint Canadian Forces/US Navy operational manning commenced at NAVFAC Argentia, Nfld.

HMCS Trinity established at Halifax Nova Scotia; CFS Shelburne, Nova Scotia disestablished.NAVFAC Argentia, Nfld disestablished; operations turned over to Canadian Forces IUSS Centre (CFIC), Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The old site at Naval Facility (NavFac) Lewes was decommissioned and now sits abandoned. It's cable that ran 20 nautical miles out the the edge of the continental shelf has been exposed. Someone has put a lot of time and effort into figuring it out, and I'm quite envious of the detail they have uncovered.


December 19, 2015

The Cold War Sleeping Bag

I'd heard that the winter military sleeping bags are a system of layered sleeping bags, making a cocoon that can withstand -30C temperatures. Well, I just bought a combination of old military surplus bags from a friend, and I'm extremely impressed.

They are labelled:

Case, Sleeping Bag, M-1945, Water Repellent
Case, Sleeping Bag
Rebmar Inc

Sleeping Bag, Arctic, Outer Shell, M-1949,
Type II
Size Large
Feather Filled

Sleeping Bag, Mountain, OD
Water Repellent Type I
M1949, With Carrying Bag (actually I have no carrying bag)
Size Regular
Feather Filled

It seems these may not be part of the same set, but they are of similar vintage (Post WWII - 1970s), and fit inside each other to provide the absolute warmest cocoon you could imagine. If you're car-camping and don't need to worry about carrying the weight of three sleeping bags, filled with feathers, I highly recommend this system. I weighed it, and it weighs over 15 lbs or ~7 Kg.
"Building on the success of the 1942 Mountain and Arctic sleeping bags, in 1949 the Army issued the Sleeping Bag, Mountain, M-1949. This mummy shaped, feather filled bag had a heavy zipper closure with quick release. It was intended to always be used with the same Case, Sleeping Bag M-1945 outer water-repellent carrier as the earlier sleeping bags. It was issued in two sizes, regular and large.
The M-1949 sleeping bag was issued for years, through the Vietnam War. It is common to find bags dated in the 1960s (if dated at all). The label sewn in at the head gave instructions for use including to lace the liner onto the sleeping bag, as shown in the photo. The outer liner had a set of eyelets that matched eyelets along the zipper line, as well as snaps that can be used to form a wind resistant closure. A length of olive drab parachute cord can be used to lace the outer water-repellent case to the sleeping bag itself, to form one unit. Other instructions included "avoid sweating" and to spread a poncho under the bag to protect from moisture, as well as to put padding, a pneumatic mattress, boughs or other materials under for insulation."
You can find this sort of layered sleeping bag system at your local army surplus store or eBay!

If you're Ottawa-local, there is even someone selling them in town for ~$200