HMCS Churchill

There has been only 1 establishment named Churchill in the Royal Canadian Navy.

HMCS Churchill (NRS)

Naval Radio Station (NRS) Churchill was activated August 1, 1943, as an ionospheric study station by the Royal Canadian Navy, in support of the U-boat HF/DF net (High Frequency Direction Finder). Next to code breaking and radar, HF/DF (known as Huff Duff to sailors) was probably the most effective allied technology facing the U-boats. The apparatus could take bearings on the high frequency radio transmitters employed by the German U-boats. When the U-boats reported home, whether it was weather, status reporting or convoy contact, the HF/DF could get bearings on the approximate position of the boat. This was very vague however but proved useful against a concentration of U-boats, or wolfpacks, waiting for a convoy allowing the convoy to avoid the location of the U-boats. Following the war, Churchill was demobilized until the navy could obtain funding for additional expansion to the location.

On December 1, 1950, it commissioned as NRS Churchill and remained that way until July 1956. A joint project between Communications Research (a civilian organization) and the navy to develop ionospheric data for the propagation of radio signals at northern latitudes was run at that time. In a later development, Churchill provided HF/DF services with an additional 40 communications research personnel on staff. In November 1953, the first WRCNS (Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service) to serve in northern Canada arrived at Churchill.

From mid-June to the end of September 1955, the icebreaker HMCS Labrador served as the senior ship of a task group of 14 ships, including the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard ice breakers, charged with the delivery of thousands of tons of supplies for the joint United-States/Canada Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line sites in the Foxe Basin area of the eastern Arctic. Because of the very poor communications conditions in the northern latitudes, Churchill was assigned ship/shore/ship responsibilities during the ship’s summer deployments as a secondary responsibility.

From July 1956 to July 1966, the station became Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Churchill, then changed to Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Churchill in July 1966, with the unification of the Canadian Forces. It ceased its operations in 1968 and the property reverted to the control of Public Works Canada.

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