HMCS Masset

There has been only one establishment named HMCS Masset in the Royal Canadian Navy.

HMCS Masset (NRS)

The present Municipality of Masset-Sumas-Abbotsford, British Columbia, saw the initial involvement with the military in 1940 with the building of a landing strip by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) as part of Canada's contribution to Allied Anti-Submarine Warfare operations in the Pacific. The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) established the Naval Radio Station (NRS) Masset and it became active on February 23, 1943, as a High Frequency/Direction Finder (HF/DF) intercept station and a relay station for ship-to-shore communications. HF/DF (known as "Huff Duff" to sailors) was probably the most effective allied technology against enemy submarines. The apparatus could take bearings on the high frequency radio transmitters employed by submarines. When the 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. Closing in the fall of 1945, the site remained in RCN hands on a care and maintenance basis until it reopened again in 1949 as a RCN’s HF/DF station with a complement of about 35 military personnel. In August 1949, an earthquake damaged the station and operations were suspended until 1951.

From 1949 to 1957, the station was known as NRS Masset. Between 1957 and July 11, 1966, it was called Her Majesty’s Canadian Naval Radio Station (HMC NRS) Masset. After that as part of the unification of the Canadian Forces, the name became Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Masset and was part of the Canadian Forces Supplementary Radio System. This system was the forerunner of today's military communications intelligence system. These stations operated in the following manner. When a prospective target made an emission, which was heard by the control center, control "flashed" the details of the emission (frequency and call sign) to the stations of the network. The stations tuned the signal, took bearings then reported the bearing to control. At control, the bearings were collated by computer and a positional fix area established.

The main task of the station was to detect, monitor, and plot the location of Soviet submarines and other radio emitters in the Pacific ocean. In February 1994, the Department of National Defence announced that (CSF) Masset would be fitted for remote control operation and downsized; on April 4, 1997, the station was stood down.

Page details

Date modified: