Volume #20 - 504.|
RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES
DEFENCE AND SECURITY ISSUES
EXPERIMENTAL SOUNDING STATION
Draft Memorandum from Acting Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs|
to Acting Secretary of State for External Affairs 68
April 22nd, 1954|
ESTABLISHMENT AND OPERATION OF A JOINT RCN-USN SOUND SEARCH |
STATION AT SHELBURNE, N.S.
As you know, a proposal by the United States Navy for the establishment and operation of a joint Royal Canadian Navy-United States Navy Sound Search Station at Shelburne, N.S., has been the subject of discussion between the two navies and in the Permanent Joint Board on Defence for some time. At the April 1954 meeting of the PJBD, the proposal was considered in some detail. The attached draft memorandum to Cabinet has been prepared as a consequence of these discussions. In view of the urgency of the matter, it is proposed, if you concur, to submit it to Cabinet in your name for consideration at the meeting of April 29.
2. In view of the importance of the proposal and because of the questions of policy which arise from it, General McNaughton proposes to discuss the matter with you and with some of the other interested Ministers, including Mr. Howe, Mr. Gregg, and Mr. Winters.
3. The attached draft has been circulated to the Deputy Ministers of National Defence, Defence Production, Labour, Transport (Air), and National Revenue (Customs and Excise), and to the Secretary to the Cabinet. I understand that you will not be in town next week. I thought, however, that if you concur in the proposal, you might arrange to have Mr. Campney speak to the proposal on your behalf in Cabinet. If the Deputy Ministers of the Departments concerned propose any changes in the detail of the draft memorandum, this Department could consult with Mr. Campney prior to having the memorandum prepared for circulation to the Cabinet next week.
4. I should be grateful to know whether you approve of the memorandum and concur in the proposal I have suggested.
1. At the April, 1953, meeting of the Permanent Joint Board on Defence, the United States Navy Member reported on a new and promising system for the long-range detection of submarines. The first segment of this sound search system had been tested in the Caribbean area and it was now proposed to extend the experiment to include the range of waters to be found along the Atlantic Coast as far north as Nova Scotia. The system involved the laying of cables with arrays of sonic detectors in deep waters some distance off the coast. These would be connected to a series of nine "sound search stations" situated at intervals on the shore from the Caribbean to Nova Scotia. A logical situation for the northernmost of these experimental stations was Sable Island, Nova Scotia. It was hoped that if the project was approved, it would be possible to construct this station in the summer of 1954. If the experiment proved successful it would no doubt be desirable to extend it at a later date to cover the entrance to the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
2. Approval of Cabinet Defence Committee for the Royal Canadian Navy and the U.S. Navy to carry out a joint survey of Sable Island was granted on May 18, 1953, and the U.S. Embassy was notified of this on May 19, 1953. When a preliminary reconnaissance disclosed that the waters off Cape Sable were too rough to land the experimental cable, the Minister of National Defence authorized extension of the survey to include the south shore of Nova Scotia. It was finally decided that the most suitable site was on land belonging to the Department of National Defence, at Government Point, Shelburne, N.S.
3. At the April 1954, meeting of the PJBD, the U.S. Navy Member of the Board reviewed the status of the project and reported that exploratory discussions between the U.S. Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy had been completed, and that the U.S. Section of the Board now wished to present a proposal involving the installation and operation of the station jointly by the U.S. Navy and Royal Canadian Navy.
4. After studying the proposal the Board came to the following conclusions:
(a) In the light of the importance and urgency attached to this project for the defence of North America against attack from hostile submarines, every effort should be made to expedite its progress.
(b) The early construction of the Shelburne station was of great importance since it was the only station embracing the following features: cold water, the warm water of the Gulf Stream, deep water, and the shallow water off the south-eastern coast of Nova Scotia.
(c) The U.S. Navy hoped to begin assembling materials in May, 1954, in order to begin construction of the Shelburne station in July, 1954. This meant that it would be necessary to have the approval of the Canadian Government by May 15, if the work was to be done in 1954. Since construction of all the stations, both in the United States and Canada, had been carefully phased, failure to construct the Canadian station in the summer of 1954, would adversely affect the construction and cable-laying programme for all nine stations.
5. In view of the urgency of the project, the representatives of the State Department and the Department of External Affairs agreed upon the text of a draft statement of conditions to govern the establishment and operation of the Shelburne station (copy attached as Appendix "A"),? which could be presented to the appropriate authorities of the two Governments for approval. The Board noted that if it did not prove possible to go forward with the proposed construction in 1954, either Government might wish to suggest certain changes in the draft agreement.
6. In general the proposed conditions are the same as those which have governed other recent joint defence projects in Canada. 69 The principal exception is Section 3, dealing with construction, which provides that the United States will be permitted to carry out the construction in 1954 with United States Naval Military Construction battalions, using standard prefabricated advanced base component material provided from U.S. Government stocks. The permission to use construction battalions would be limited to 1954 and would not be regarded as a precedent either for subsequent construction at Shelburne or for any other installation which the United States might wish to erect in Canada.
7. The Canadian Section of the PJBD pointed out to the U.S. Section the difficulties raised by the proposal to use construction battalions, and agreed to put it forward to the Canadian Government only after a detailed examination of all possible alternatives made it clear that only in this way would it be possible to complete the construction programme during the summer of 1954.
8. The construction work at Shelburne would consist of the erection of temporary accommodation ("Quonset huts") for an operating staff of 97 and a transient staff (during the period of installation and evaluation) of 46. The technical equipment would also be housed in a Quonset hut. The time required for construction is estimated to be about two months - i.e. from mid-July to mid-September.
9. A memorandum prepared by the Royal Canadian Navy giving further technical details of the United States Navy requirement is attached as Appendix "B".?
10. I recommend that the Department of External Affairs be authorized to enter into an Exchange of Notes with the United States Department of State, to permit the establishment and operation jointly by the Royal Canadian Navy and the United States Navy of an experimental sound search station, in accordance with the conditions set forth in Appendix "A" to this memorandum.