CFS Masset

masset_badge_1.jpg Naval Radio Station (NRS) Masset became active on 23 February 1943 as a HFDF intercept station and a relay station for ship-to-shore communications. At war's end, Masset was placed into caretaker status until reactivated in 1949 under call sign CFS. 

From 1949 to somewhere around 1957, the station was known as NRS Masset. Between 1957 and July 11, 1966 it was called HMC NRS. After that, the name became CFS (Canadian Forces Station)  Masset and was part of the Canadian Forces Supplementary Radio System.

The station's motto is  "SINE DUBIO SINE MORA"  meaning "Without doubt without delay". 


Masset's location in the Queen Charlotte Islands made for an ideal Pacific listening post and also for ship-to-shore communications.

The Queen Charlotte Islands is an archipelago of 150 Pacific Ocean Islands located along the mid-west coast of British Columbia. Masset is located at 54º 01' 38"N, 132º 07' 30" W. (Maps courtesy of

The Masset townsite was originally named Graham City after the president of the Graham Steamship owned by the Coal and Lumber Company and Benjamin Graham. When the township plan was registered on July 30, 1907 it was deposited under the name of Masset. Government officials were unaware of the settlement two miles north, Haida Masset, and accepted the transfer. On June 7, 1909, the name Masset was adopted and Graham City dropped.

The small village of Masset, whose local economy is tied to fishing, is the largest town on the Queen Charlotte Islands. Located at the northern end of Graham Island, the largest of the more than 150 significant islands that comprise the Queen Charlotte Islands/Haida Gwaii, Masset is the northern gateway to North Beach and Naikoon Provincial Park. The small community is one of the two incorporated settlements on the islands. Incorporated in 1961, Masset is the oldest municipality on Haida Gwaii.


Masset saw its initial involvement with the military during WWII. Originally the RCN established Masset as a wireless station; part of a Navy Ship-Shore Communications Network sometime before 1942. Reports indicate Masset's role in the wireless "Y" business began when the 1942 Washington Conference put an end to any building of "Y"/DF sites on the West Coast. So the Navy revamped the wireless station in Masset for "Y"/DFintercepting.

The intercept started with three receivers assigned to Japanese naval targets in November 1942. By the end of December, the RCN went ahead with full coverage ot these assignments . However, Masset was not without problems. A West Coast visit report mentions the very low output from Masset due to exceedingly low morale and erratic reception.

Operated briefly as an RCN radio intercept site during WWII (1943-45), the station was closed at the end of the war along with many other stations and military bases. In July 1943, the RCAF established a steel mesh landing strip on Marwell Beach. Closing in the fall of 1945, the site remained in RCN hands on a care-and-maintenance basis unit it reopened again in 1949 as an RCN HFDF station with a complement of about 35 military personnel.  In August 1949, an earthquake damaged the station and operations were suspended until 1951.

Chester Williams provides many additional details about the early days at station CZT. "It was situated east of New Masset and adjacent to the road which terminated at Tow Hill. This road was mainly used by the trucks transporting the clam digging crews and the fruits of their labour back to the cannery in town. There were two buildings - a small one which housed the diesel generator and provided a shop for the Motor Mechanic. The main building was a two storey structure with a basement. It was an exact copy of a “Port War Signal Station”. There was a bridge deck complete with electrical outlets for the signal lamps. It was accessed by an inside ladder from the top floor.

The basement provided room for the coal or wood burning furnace and boiler which provided hot water for the heaters and domestic use. Laundry facilities and storage space were also located in the basement. The main floor consisted of one large space for sleeping and recreation. Off to one side was a good sized galley, the “Heads” and I think the cook's quarters. Upstairs, at the front, was the operations room and beyond that was the Officer in Charge room and office. The signal bridge was only used the odd time and only for sunbathing.

We were provided with a Jeep for transporting staff and supplies. It was not long before the motor mechanic found the necessary parts in the village to construct a trailer for carrying 45 gallon drums of diesel etc. He even had the good fortune to resurrect an old motor bike for his personal use. Our supplies arrived via weekly passenger ship or by “Fisherman Reserve” (FY) vessels. Personnel could arrive by the passenger vessel SS Cassiar or by an RCN ship as I did, aboard a Bangor minesweeper.

The original crew consisted of Petty Officer Tel George “Jock” Reid, who was there to greet us as the Officer-in-Charge. The remainder included a PO Motor Mechanic, a Cook, five Telegraphists and I believe, two Seamen for general duties. There was a mixture of  regular RCN and RCNVR ratings. Two of the operators and the mechanic found houses in the Village of Masset  so they brought their wives in from Vancouver. We worked four on, and eight off. watches. While I was on board there was several changes in the complement. Not long before I left, the Special Operators arrived on the scene and began monitoring foreign communications. They would have been the forerunners of the staff which would occupy the new facilities being constructed at Old Masset.

The equipment we used was comprised mainly of Canadian Marconi. We had an FR12 which ran from a 12 volt system. All the FY vessels had had that set. We used to copy the Broadcast from CKG Prince Rupert and then rebroadcast it for any Auxiliary vessels in our vicinity. I think we were transmitting somewhere around 2400 Kcs. We had to monitor 500 Kcs at fifteen after the hour and again at fifteen to the hour for three minutes for any SOS calls. The morning watch had to send a weather report to the RCAF base at Alliford Bay, where the Navy also had operators on duty at daylight.

We were well received in the community and welcomed to take part in all activities. The foreman from the construction crew started Scottish dancing events. The skipper of the RCAF rescue boat played the sax in the orchestra. We had all types of fun. Before our arrival there, had been some sort of “dust-up” at the Hotel Beer Parlour so it was closed down. The closest supply of beer was at Port Clements which could only accessed by boat. You either had to make arrangement with a fisherman or make your own beer. This was not new to me as I grew up in the same type of community.

Out at the station we occupied ourselves in different ways. There was a ping-pong table for indoor sport. We would, at times, go along with the clam diggers and make some small change. One operator was a good hunter and would bag a deer or a Canada goose. We would visit a couple of old homesteaders who lived up the road from us and were eking out a living by selling goats milk and eggs in the village. Another fellow and I started to cut firewood. There was a crosscut saw and axe left over from the construction job and there were lots of downed trees left from the clearing for the buildings and the aerials. When Ernie, the faller and rigger saw what we were doing he said that there were quite a few widows who could use the wood and he would deliver it for us. We set up a site for stacking a cord at a time and soon had others join the party. It was something to pass time, create muscles and help someone keep warm during the winter.  My partner in the wood cutting caper never left Masset until retirement time. He ended up working provincial Government as Road Foreman".

Radio CZT in February 1943. The radio room was on the second floor in the front of the building on the left hand side. (Photo via Chester Williams)

In July 1943, personnel of #9CMU took only two weeks to install this steel  mesh runway strip on Marwell Beach. (Photo by Ron Ball)
Masset was a tender to GLOUCESTER, as were Inuvik, Gander, Frobisher Bay, Aklavik, Bermuda and Chimo. Gloucester provided all the administrative functions, pay etc, in its capacity as home to the Senior Officer, Supplementary Radio System (SOSRS).  In actual fact, SOSRS was also the Commanding Officer of  HMC NRS Gloucester which became HMCS Gloucester sometime around 1956.

It is very important to understand that Masset operated from three different sites throughout its history. They are referred to as the Old Site, the Delkatla Slough site and the New Site. The original station was set up at what is now referred to as the Old Site, a location about 3 km east of the village of Masset. In 1944, the Delkatla Slough site, consisting of two small buildings, was constructed on the north side of the flats approximately 2.5 kms from Tow Hill Road but never saw operational use since the war was coming to an end.

When operations resumed in 1949, it was at the Delkatla Slough site. The transmitter/receiver site was in Haida Village. Since the Delkatla site was adjacent to the ocean, it was prone to environmental problems. During extremely high tides, water from the Pacific Ocean would rise to cover the base amplifiers on the antennae and flood the walkways between the buildings. To alleviate a shortage of space, permission was obtained from Esquimalt (RCN Pacific HQ) to move two buildings from the Delkatla site. By the mid 1950's, some Permanent Married Quarters had been constructed.

This satellite image illustrates four sites at Masset. #1: Old Haida Village transmitting site.   #2: Delkatla Slough site. #3:  Old Site: The Ops Building , quarters, 4 PMQ's, Men's Mess, water tower and tennis court were all in this small area. #4 New Site with the AN-FRD10 antenna including the Ops Building. (Image courtesy Google Earth) 

By 1964, operations were centralized at the Old Site and the Delkatla and Haida sites were closed.  A new antenna system was built and the station received a complete upgrade in facilities, including new married quarters, a new operations site, new barracks, mess and recreation facilities.

In 1966, a Signals Intelligence collection trial between Vancouver Wireless (VWS Ladner) and Masset was conducted. During the two-month trial period approximately 80% more useable material was collected at Masset than VWS thus sealing the fate of VWS.  In 1971, Masset's importance was bolstered when the station assumed the area of responsibility formerly under the control of Ladner when Ladner was closed down.

Between 1967 and 1972 many facilities and station equipment were upgraded at what is now referred to as the "New Site". Work on the Operations site began in June 1968, completed by December 1969 and officially opened on 13 February 1970. This included the AN/FRD-10 HFDF system. In 1971, the Administration building was completed and occupied. All other buildings and PMQ's were accepted by January 1972.  As a result of this upgrade, the station's complement was increased to about 240 military personnel and 60 civilians in support services. By 1978, approximately 137 of the personnel at the station were members of the 291 Communicator Research trade. Additionally, a USN Naval Security Group (NSG) detachment of about ten personnel was permanently posted at Masset as part of the CF/USN Personnel Exchange Program during that period.

"Old Site" Photos (Click on photo to enlarge)
masset_aerial1_s.jpg Aerial #1: Transmitter site in Haida Village. Can anyone identify the  antenna type? (DND photo submitted by Joe Costello) 
masset_aerial2_b.jpg Aerial #2:  Shows the transmitter site and the airstrip. The white square just inside the trees in across from the middle of the airstrip, is where the aircraft were parked.  (DND photo submitted by Joe Costello) 
masset_aerial3_s.jpg Aerial #3: Shows the steel mesh runway at the Marwell Beach airstrip looking from West to East.  (DND photo submitted by Joe Costello) 


In 1950, the RCN and the USN formally agreed to coordinate and standardize HF/DF activities ashore.
This initiative resulted in the integration of all Canadian and US stations into two networks which would provide mutual support for the common objective of maritime warfare. On the East coast of North America, it was called the Atlantic HFDF network and in the West it was known the Eastern Pacific HFDF network or EASTPAC.

In the East, the Atlantic HFDF network was comprised of five RCN stations: Coverdale, NB; Chimo (1949-52), Frobisher Bay, N.W.T.; Gander, Nfld; Bermuda (1963-1966 only), Gloucester, Ont. plus ten USN stations.

Harry Brooks, a former USN net controller, provides some background information on the organization of the Pacific HFDF Net. "In 1952, the Pacific Net (PACNET) was one big net with Wahiawa3, Oahu, Hawaii as the Net Control station. At that time, we used specific call signs assigned to the net. Wahiawa was NIT. Sometime in 1953 or 1954, PACNET split into EASTPAC and WESTPAC nets, with Skaggs Island as control station for EASTPAC and Kami Seya, Japan as net control for WESTPAC. Call signs reverted to the standard Navy system with Kami Seya becoming NDT, Wahiawa changing to NPM, and Skaggs Island to NPG.

In July, 1956, Skaggs Island passed Net Control to Wahiawa so Skaggs could install the first AN/GRD-6 DF system. I was sent to Wahiawa a net control operator on temporary duty for 3 months. At that time, EASTPAC consisted of:

Skaggs Island, California/NPG - Net Control
Imperial Beach, California /NPL
Bainbridge Island, Washington /NPC (closed 15 March 1953 - transferred responsibilities to Marietta, WA).
Marietta WA,  (Commissioned 15 April 1953 using NPC and later NGO)
Masset, British Columbia /CFS
Cape Chiniak,  Kodiak Island7., Alaska/NHB
Adak, Alaska/NUD
Wahiawa, Hawaii /NPM - Alternate Net Control
Midway Island./NQM (Midway was in both nets at one time) ".

Sam Stokes , KG6WYZ a former controller in both WESTPAC and EASTPAC nets during the 1960's, remembers the following networks as summarized in this table.

Wahiawa, Hawaii  -- Net Control
Skaggs Island, Calif.  -- Alternate Net Control
Elmendorf AFB, Alaska --  
Marietta, Washington -- Closed 1972. Functions assumed by Masset
Imperial Beach, Calif. --  
-- San Miguel, Philippines Net Control
-- Guam Alternate Net Control
-- Adak, Alaska  
-- Misawa, Japan  
-- Kamisaya, Japan  
-- Midway Island Midway was in both nets at one time.

Al Grobmeier provides a list of frequencies from the U.S. Navy Frequency Plan (JANAP 195) which could be used by the WESTPAC and EASTPAC HFDF nets. During the 1950's, all net communications was on CW only, later moving to Teletype. It is believed that all the USN stations transmitted reports simultaneously on five frequencies but only Imperial Beach has been confirmed to operate that way.


Circuit  Designator Frequency  Circuit  Designator Frequency
-- Alpha 4045 CD Alpha 4040
-- Bravo 8020 HJ Bravo 8030
-- Charlie 12015 OK Charlie 11563
-- Delta  16020 NM Delta 15815
-- Echo  20025 FL Echo  19660
-- Foxtrot 24415 YB Foxtrot 24780


Circuit Designator Frequency Circuit  Designator Frequency
--  Hotel 4595 BY Hotel 5915
--  India 7385 YG India 7380
--  Juliette 12145 ZF Juliette 11672.5
--  Kilo  15595 ML Kilo 15990
--  Lima  17690 WV Lima 19785
--  Mike 22740 LG Mike 24685

In its simplest form, Masset 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 in the signal, took bearings then reported the bearing to Control. At Control, the bearings were collated and a fix area established. By the time computers had been introduced to help automate the process, the end was near for this method of obtaining a bearing on a target.

EASTPAC used CW for both flash and reporting circuits which necessitated the use of call signs. Around, 1960, the flash circuit went to plain uncovered. RATT (radioteletype) using off-line crypto systems. Reporting continued on CW until the Net shifted to the FRD-10. After the AN/FRD-10 came into use, stations were referred to by location only.

Uncovered RATT was RATT sent in plain language. Covered RATT, on the other hand used an on-line crypto system which permitted real-time encryption/decryption. For the later Bullseye system use, the flash circuit was used the JASON (KWT-37/KWR-37) crypto system, and later the KW-26 crypto system.

Sam also provides a glimpse into the equipment by USN PACNET stations. "We used the appropriate sector of the antenna to receive a signal from the distant stations in the net. There was an entire wall of AN/FRR-60 receivers5. for receiving each outstation in our net.  The output from the AN/FRR-60's went to a bay containing AN/FGC-606. tone converters to demultiplex the incoming radioteletype (RATT) signal. The signal then went through the KW-26 crypto gear where it was converted to plain text and then into an internal circuit that went out into the operating spaces.

All communications was by RATT, probably 99% of it encrypted. The only time we would go "low" or "Red" would be if there were some sort of really serious problem with the circuit. We would run a Fox test tape loop in the clear for circuit testing purposes. And, of course, all teletype traffic was routed using routing indicators that had no connection to the naval radio call sign of the ship or station".

Badge courtesy Joe Glockner


George Fraser recalls the transition period of the late 1960's at Masset. "While I was the Operations Officer at CFS Bermuda, I was told I was a prime candidate for an opening at CFS Masset which was being fitted with AN/FRD10 CDAA technology. My training in Wide and Narrow Band Operations (WBNB) at the NAVSECGRU (Naval Security Group) training school in Pensacola, Florida and my current serving tour in CFS  Bermuda was instrumental in preparing me for my next move.

In June/July 1970, I was appointed to the unique positions of Ops Officer CFS Ladner (for purposes of shutting  it down) and at the same time to act as Operations Officer at CFS Masset. There, I was to shut down the "Old Site" and flash up the "New Site". Needless to say, I  spent the next few months commuting between Ladner and Masset while attending to the transition at Masset.

What I remember of Masset was the outstanding "gung ho" attitude of the SUPRAD personnel. For example, to bring up the new site operation,  NCO PAC gave us three weeks to shut down total operations at both sites. This was the same time period that they had given all their USN stations to convert to new WBNB operations. Due to the very positive attitude of our personnel, we were able to accomplish the transition before the window. CPO Keith MacDougall  and his operations staff  were at the Old Site at the end of the "Zulu" day when the last Flash message was received. Myself, CPO Rufus (Bob) King and CPO Don Tarabas were at the new site ready and waiting. The USN assumed we were shutting down but the first Flash of the new day came over and our operator at the new site responded with a bearing. The Yanks were blown away! I took great pride over the years in how positive our people were in making sure this was done without the benefit of shutting down for the three week period.

Another memory about CFS Masset still grates me to this day. Being part of the PAC (Eastern Pacific) HFDF Net and having supported the USN activities in Vietnam and the launch up of the new and modernized PACNET, the USN Chief of Naval Operations issued a medal which was awarded to every operations person at every PACNET station including CFS Masset. Our Director of Supplementary Radio Stations (DSRA) turned down the medal and denied it to our operators. We had fifteen USN personnel serving at Masset at the time and they all received the medal but our guys did not. I sent so many messages and letters about this, that finally the Commander ordered me to desist (or else). In any event, I have been able over the years, to accept the fact that the SUPRAD personnel who served at this time at Masset had earned the medal even if they couldn't wear it.

Most of Ladner's intercept positions were moved to Masset. Masset Operations consisted of intercept, LRTS8.  (Long Range Technical Search), Wide Band  and Narrow Band HFDF and several other positions. We were manned by Canadian Forces personnel -- former RCN, RCCS (Royal Canadian Corps of Signals) and RCAF tradesmen of the Communications Research and Electronic Technician trades, as well as some civilian operators from Ladner, British Royal Signal Corps personnel and USN Communications Technicians (R and M Branches).

After two years, I was posted to CFS Alert as the Operations Officer. On my return, I was again appointed Ops Officer of Masset but my appointment to NAVSECGRU at Nebraska Ave., Washington was in and Masset's Commanding Officer,  Al Brockley asked me to come "down town" and do some special projects before being posted out. It was a great tour with some of the greatest people I ever served with".


The most prominent feature at Masset is the the Circularly Disposed Antenna Array (CDAA) part of the AN/FRD-10 system which is sometimes referred to as a Circularly Disposed Dipole Array (CDDA). It's major feature allows the listener to electronically steer the beamwidth and alter the pattern shape at will. Bearing accuracy is reported to be better than one-half of a degree.

Masset's AN/FRD-10 installation. After this antenna was erected, there was little use for any of the old equipment so all the obsolete antennas were torn down and removed. (Photo courtesy Irv's Home Page)
Another view of Masset's AN/FRD-10. (Photo by Jim  Troyanek)

CDAA technology was developed by the German navy during the early years of World War II. The technical team leaders were Dr. Pietzner, Dr. Schelhorse, and Dr. Wachtleter. The latter was a co-founder of the Plath Company and later a consultant to Plath and Telefunken. Although all three men retired in West Germany, some of their second-echelon technicians were taken to the USSR after the war. This led to the Soviets deploying 20 CDAAs before the United States military became interested and developed their own version of the technology.
At Khabarovsk Kray, Russia, the Defense Ministry built a CDAA facility code-named "Krug" which has an  antenna 1 kilometer in diameter. In Russian, krug means circle.

The original two CDAA systems were built by the Germans. The first one, built at Joring Denmark, was destroyed following the war in accordance with the Geneva Convention. Dr. Wachtler arranged to have a second one built at Telefunken's expense, at Langenargen/Bodensee, for further experiments after the war. These were the only two CDAA's ever built by the Germans.

The CDAA was also called the Wullenweber antenna. Jurgen Wullenweber was born in Hamburg in 1488, and was a mayor of Lubeck from 1533 to 1537. He was a legendary figure, known as a fighter against injustice and the wealthy class (sort of a Robin Hood) and an upholder of the Protestant Cause. He was killed in Wolfenbutiel in 1537 while on a foray to uphold his ideals and became somewhat of a martyr. His name was used by the Germans as the cover name for their CDAA project during WW II.

In the years following the war, the United States disassembled the CDAA at Langenargen/Bodensee and brought it back to the University of Illinois. Ed Hayden, a young engineer, led the reassembling of the CDAA and studied it. Three antenna designs came out of this study:

AN/FLR-9 - used by the U.S. Air Force and Army;
AN/FRD-10 - used by the U.S. Navy
AN/FRD-13 - 'Pusher' System used primarily by the British.

FRD-10 antenna sit on sites around 40 acres and each have a two story Ops Building about  40 square meters dead center. These antennas are majestic in size and have been dubbed various names by the inhabitants of nearby civilian communities. Names such as the Dinosaur Cage,  Elephant Cage, or the Turkey Cage are common. One uncoomon term was Shotgun.

With a nominal range between 150 to 5000 kilometers1, CDAA arrays consist of two rings of HF antennae effectively covering  2-30 MHz ( the upper frequency needs conformation) and intended to be a receive-only antenna for DF work and signal intercept.

The inner ring, for monitoring longer longer wavelength signals (2-8 MHz), is typically some 230 meters in diameter usually containing 40 folded dipoles perhaps some 36 meters in height. The outer ring for monitoring shorter HF wavelengths (8-30 MHz) is about 260 meters in diameter and contains some 120 sleeve monopoles. In between each ring is a large wire screen, supported by 80 towers. This shields antennae on one side of the array from HF signals on the other side from crossing and creating interference. The entire antenna site sits atop a ground screen that is 400 feet diameter2.

Each element is fed by large 75 ohm , low loss coax which is meticulously phase matched across the antenna array before it enters the Operations building at the center.  Maintaining tolerances of less than an inch are important. The cables then enter a series of primary antenna multicouplers that function to distribute the RF energy from each element. One tap of the low band multicoupler goes to a goniometer which switches the elements electronically and provides a "chopped" version of the RF which is then used in either sum or difference modes to resolve azimuth information. There is a separate goniometer for the high band array. Other outputs of the multicoupler connect to secondary multicouplers whose outputs are then presented to the receivers. Because the goniometer was electro-mechanical in nature, its sector switches were electrically noisy, a slight determent to its operation. Walter Salmaniw confirms the use of the TMC CU-5069/FRD-10A at Masset . This was a 32 port antenna multicoupler.

By means of some very elaborate electronics which connected and disconnected antennas sequentially around the ring, the receiving "beam" was swept around all points of the compass.  If this swept beam was applied to a wide band receiver(s)  it would be safe to assume that the FRD-10 provided a near instantaneous bearing of any signal  that appeared in the radio spectrum for even a fraction of a second. When combined with the information from other FRD-10 sites operating in real time, a bearing could be obtained immediately and it would be virtually impossible to hide any HF transmissions.

Stuart Morrison, K4BOV adds this narritive on CDAA technology from a 2001 e-mail..

"The largest CDAA ever built had 120 monopole elements for the 8 yo 30MHz range. Although the goniometer spun thru the monopoles at a very high speed, only two elements were electronically coupled to the DF set at any one instant. However, depending on the speed of the goniometer, each monopole set could be sensed a several times a second - at that rate, any signal observed on the DF azimuth screen would appear as a stationary presentation. Bearings were read out to the 1/10th of one degree - pretty damn good resolution!.

The manner in which signals arrive at the DF antenna; or any antenna for that matter is not that predictable. Signals arrive at various angles, and thus, the FRD-10 electronics was designed to accommodate these differences. A good HFDF operator was always cognitive of atmospheric conditions, time of day and wavelength/frequency considerations; so, he knew when to expect the arrival of high angle or low angle signals. The FRD-10 antenna ring could be phase switched between approximately 45 degree and 15 degree (some modifiable to 30 degree) arrival paths.

Long distance low angle incoming signals would then be better treated when the antenna phasing was set for 15 degrees. And for example, hams operating on 75 meters at say late afternoon at distances of 100-200 miles would be dealing with high angle signal reception and therefore the FRD-10 system would be switched to the 45 degree position to improve the signal strength and direction finding accuracy.

As far as possible gain of such an antenna system, we examined this for the 60, 90 and 120 monopole systems. Most of the CDAA's were not designed to lock and hold the entire antenna ring, all 120 monopoles, phased in any one direction; so, it took our R&D team nearly 4 days to accomplish that - every associated coax line had to be "delay phased" and impedance matched so that a signal from the selected direction was received precisely at the exact moment at the signal buffer stage.

Theoretically, the 120 monopole system is capable of about 21db gain. However, our best efforts produced a little over 19db gain Still, a tremendous gain for any HF antenna and even many high gain VHF and UHF antenna systems. The front-to-back ratio was far greater than anything I'd seen in any antenna, be it Rhombic, Yagi, Log Periodic, etc"


Anyone who dreams of building an FRD-10 in their backyard will have extreme difficulty. Aside from the land requirement , the US Government describes costs of between $800,000 to $900,000 for a single example when they were first being installed in the 1960's! (Masset's FRD-10 installation and Operations Building cost $11 million in 1970). Details of the antenna curtain itself are readily available in the public domain but the finer details of the phasing and goniometer circuitry is presumed to be classified.

At Masset, the FRD-10 served in both the intercept and DF functions.  Through time domain reflectometry, segments of the antenna could be selected and used as a receiving array -- i.e five or six monopoles acting like a phased array.

This is the FRD-10 installation at Imperial Beach California in 1964. Any aerial view of an FRD-10  always provides a better illustration of the outer ring of antennas. (Photo courtesy Wullenweber/CDDA Antenna Homepage)

Both Gander and Massett had "X-Loop" antennae, for DF work at frequencies below what the Wullenwebbers could handle.  These were VLF loops, electrically steerable using a goniometer.They were much larger than the crossed loops often seen on ships.


Some documents use the terms Clarinet Bullseye or Classic Bullseye when referring to DF sites which employed the AN/FRD-10.  Bullseye was actually a particular project name and was not a Net. It was a  follow-on to a project called Boresight, which sought to upgrade and automate regular HFDF work. Boresight was centered around the AN/GRD-6 DF equipment used by the USN. Most of the National Security Group (NSG) DF stations installed the GRD-6 in the mid to late 1950's.

Project Clarinet Bullseye (full name) ran from 1 Dec 1958 to 15 April 1965. It was a period for the development and deployment of communications methods and operations doctrine. The end date indicated when the system was declared fully operational. For those personnel who worked on the project, the Secretary of the USN awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for their efforts. Due to security reasons, the Secretary could not mention any specifics in the citation nor does the document bear a creation date. In essence it said that "a momentous intelligence void was recognized which threatened the security of the US. The means to obtain the necessary intelligence was no longer available and there was no quick solution at hand. It was the Clarinet Bullseye Task Group of NSG which ultimately provided a solution through Project Clarinet Bullseye".

At this time, it is not clear how the the name of Clarinet was dropped and replaced with Classic but Sam Stokes offers a theory. "During the 1980's the U.S. Department of Defence created a whole series of DOD-wide "Permanent First Word Assignments" called CLASSIC for the Naval Security Group. Examples of this "Classic" word were:  Classic Wizard, Classic Outboard, etc. There were many of them".

The Classic Bullseye Project was shut down in the early to mid 1990's when AN/FRD-10 sites started closing down.

Excerpts from the article "The FRD-10: An Endangered Species" by Bill Robinson provides some excellent background information on the initial deployment of the AN/FRD-10.

"In the early 1960s the U.S. Naval Security Group (NSG) began deploying a network of large high-frequency direction-finding, circularly disposed antenna arrays (part of the AN/FRD-10 DF system), to detect, monitor, and plot the location of Soviet submarines and other radio emitters in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Fourteen of the huge arrays were eventually deployed by the NSG. The locations are as follows with dates in parenthesis when HF operations ceased.

Adak, Alaska  December 1994 CDAA removed. Property remains under Navy control.  See note 2.
Edzell, Scotland 9-30-1997 CDAA removed. Property returned to UK
Galeta Island, Panama 3-13-1995 CDAA remains; abandoned. Property now under Panamanian control . 
Guam  12-31-1999 CDAA remains unused on property of active NAVCOMTELSTA Guam.
Hanza, Okinawa June 1998 The Navy left Hanza in June 1998 but the site continued operations using contractor personnel until 2006. The site was finally shut and cleared in  June 2007. The  property will be returned to the Japanese government. 
Homestead, Florida 6-9-1993 CDAA removed. Property reportedly sold to Motorola.
Imperial Beach, California 9-30-1999 CDAA remains abandoned on property of Navy's Silver Strand Training Complex.
Marietta, Washington March 1972 CDAA removed. Property reverted to Lummi Indian Reservation. 
Northwest, Virginia 6-1-2001 CDAA removed. Property is now an annex to Naval Support Activity , Norfolk, VA.
Rota, Spain Late 90's While Rota closed manual DF operations in the late 90s, it was still doing remote DF in June 2000. The CDAA is now removed from property of active NAVCAMS Detachment Rota.
Sebana Seca, Puerto Rico Late 1990's CDAA removed. Property sold and being developed by commercial enterprise.
Skaggs Island, 
18-06-1993 CDAA removed. Property to be transferred to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service upon remediation and removal of all buildings.
Wahiawa, Hawaii  4-10-1998 CDAA remains unused on property of active NAVCAMSPAC. To be removed for new buildings.
Winter Harbor, Maine 1998 NSG OPs closed Sept 2001. CDAA removed. Property officially transferred to US National Parks Service in 2002
Notes for this table :

1) By late 1999 all net operations had ceased although a few sites were remotely controlled for a very short period of time.

2) Adak (call sign: NUD) was a Dual Station that operated in both the Eastern Pacific and Western Pacific HFDF networks therefore the station had two sets of everything - two KWR-37s to receive FLASH messages from the Net Controls; Two KWT-26s to report the results to the Net Controls. Communications to and from net controls were via radioteletype. Once a week, the Net Controls were switched to Alternate Net Controls and the CW transmitters were brought up and the networks  would be exercised at "manual" operations - that is, Flashes and Bearing Reports would be sent via morse code using the JOVE One Time Pads.

During WWII, the USN's presence on the island first started when the US Navy temporarily set up the 17th Naval District Headquarters there for Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. They had Radio Finger Printing (RFP) and the DAJ receiving components for direction finding. During the late '50s, the DAJ was replaced with the GRD-6 direction finding equipment that was used through the late 1964. CDAA initial construction started in 1962 at Clam Lagoon and HFDF operations in EASTPAC and WESTPAC narrowband and wideband operations started around December of 1964. In November of 1966, the GRD-6 system at Zeto Point was removed.

Another two FRD-10's were built by the Canadian Forces Supplementary Radio System; one at Gander, Newfoundland and one at Masset, British Columbia. Both were built in the 1970-71 time frame.

The FRD-10 arrays became the backbone of the Classic Bullseye project, a composite of the Atlantic and Pacific HFDF nets. They were supplemented by a number of smaller, simpler CDAAs known as Pushers, including a Canadian Pusher in Bermuda. Canada also has Pushers deployed at Leitrim, Ontario and Alert, Nunavut.

The FRD-10s offered four major improvements over their predecessors, the AN/GRD-6 in NSG service and the AN/GRD-501 in Canadian service:

* Transmissions could be recorded for immediate or subsequent direction finding.
* Bearings were four times as accurate.
* Antenna gain was about four times higher than previous systems.
* The system had the ability to select desired signals and reject interfering signals or noise.

As noted in the Supplementary Radio Activities Consolidation Plan (30 May 1966), the improvement expected as a result of deploying the FRD-10's was a combination of more accurate and reliable fixes, producing reduced search areas in ocean areas of prime responsibility so fresh in
time, as to enable maritime commanders to deploy their forces more economically and with much greater prospect of making contact with the target than is now the case."
Sam Stokes recalls some of the uses for the CDDA's.  "One of them was used to catch the burst transmissions from Soviet block submarines sailing the Pacific4. At Imperial Beach California, that site was used to capture information  from various target countries  in order to create an electronic order of battle for US Armed Forces. For a very short time after the station became operational, the FCC used the facility for determining bearings for signals of interest".

The FRD-10 at Imperial Beach was the only one of the fourteen NSG antennas which was also used for general-service ship-shore reception with NSG HFDF on one deck and NPL ship-shore receivers on another.

Ray White reiterates a story which made the rounds in the 1970's. It said that "a Soviet Air Force bomber traveled to the Abbotsford BC International Air Show and  sent position reports in CW back to their home base as they flew across Canada. During this flight, the Russian KRUG network was using the aircraft transmissions for check bearings and was reporting the bearings in tenths of a degree. Our backplotting of these bearings is said to have confirmed their accuracy".

David Shirlaw passes on this little story. One day, a CW message was copied at Masset. It was from the Russians and it simply said  "Merry Christmas to CFS Massett."

Jim Frame, who served at Masset between 1988 and 1992, recalls an experiment.  "I was in charge of a little known experiment conducted at  Masset in 1992 and named Project Palantir. It involved the use of the AN/TSQ-164,  a tactical, HFDF, Single Site Locator analysis system. During the duration of the experiment, we operated from a  tent above the old Masset Ops site 24 hours per day, 7 days per week using diesel generator power. The system used an ionospheric sounder to map the ionosphere thus determining the angle of radio signals being received at the site. Not only would it render a line of bearing, but would calculate a location by itself.  By running a cable from the Operations building, across the road and up the mountain to our cipher gear, we managed to interconnect the TSQ-164 to the world wide Classic Bullseye project, the first time it had ever been done, at least to my knowledge."

Of the fourteen AN/FRD-10 arrays built by the U.S. Navy in the 1960's, most lasted into the late 1990's. First built was Hanza, Japan in 1962 while last built was Imperial Beach, California  in 1964. First to be dismantled was Marietta, Washington in 1972. As more and more communications moved up the frequency spectrum, these CDAA sites became less and less important as satellite based equipment came to take over the missions of these old sites. The Canadian arrays at Masset and Gander, Newfoundland are safe for now but it's definitely the end of an era.


After 1970, it was all landline communication. There were no transmitters at the New Site. Masset's military routing indicator for unclassified and classified traffic is RCWEOEA.


Any mention of equipment types used at Masset would be most appreciated. (Send to

Click to enlarge

pv500h_s.jpg 1950's: Canadian Marconi PV-500HM Transmitter: Range - 3 to 19 MHz. 500 watts. Crystal or VFO control. CW or MCW. Used for transmitting bearings to the Eastern Pacific HFDF net control station.(Image courtesy RCN)
masset_cnf4_pa142540_s.jpg 1950's: CNF-4 HFDF Set. The three band set could receive from 2.7 to 25.0 MHz.  (Photo by Leblanc, DND. National Archives of Canada, photo # PA-142540)
masset_csr5_s.jpg 1950's: Marconi CSR5A Receiver.  A general coverage communications receiver manufactured between 1942 and 1944. Coverage - 80 kHz  to 30 MHz in six bands. By 1952, they had fallen into general disuse in the SUPRAD system except for training and were gone after 1955. (Photo by Jerry Proc)
sp600_s.jpg 1950's: Hammarlund SP-600 Receiver. Coverage: 0.54 MHz to 54 MHz, in six bands. SP600's were produced between 1950 and 1972. (Image courtesy Kurrarjong Radio Museum)
grd501_s.jpg 1960's: AN/GRD-501 DF SET. It was installed around 1960 since the funding was approved in fiscal year 1958-59. (Image courtesy RCN) 
r1230_receiver_s.jpg 1960's: R1230/FLR wide band receiver. Click on photo for more info. (Photo courtesy National Radio Products)
No photo available  1990's: AN/TSQ-164 and also (V). This is a tactical, HFDF, Single Site Locator System code named DRAGONFIX. The AN nomenclature system codes it as: T=Ground transportable, S=Special types, magnetic, Q= Special or combination types. Built by Andrew SciComm, it is described as a HF intercept, DF and analysis system. It was used during the Desert Shield and Desert Storm military operations. Frequency range: 1.6 to 30 MHz. Power output 125 watts. Works with a field-erected dipole antenna 8 metres above ground. 
1970's: AN/UYK-3  general purpose 15 bit,  transistorized computer. Click here for additional info


Harry Billand , VE7JH, who served at Masset recalls amateur radio operation there. " We had our own ham station, call sign VE7TAR, and used the Drake TR-7 line of equipment. The rig was connected to a 72 foot tower which stood next to the gym. Our main mode of operation consisted of setting up phone patches for the personnel stationed at CFS Alert.

Drake TR-7 transceiver type used at Masset in the 1980's. (Photo courtesy web page)


In February 1994, the Department of National Defence announced that Masset would be fitted for remote control operation and downsized.  On 4 April 1997, the station was stood down and redesignated CFS Leitrim Detachment Masset.  Masset is now under remote control from CFS Leitrim, Ontario.

Most of the buildings at the former station have been sold to the Village of Masset, except for a few of the PMQs (Permanent Married Quarters) and the gym. A top floor was added to the Golf Clubhouse,  the all-ranks mess. All that remains of the "Old Site" is a deserted roadway.

Jim Troyanek who served in Masset between 1971-74, 1976-85 and 1989-90 visited the site in 2004. He says "The present DF site is relatively unchanged from the way I remember it.  I have been back several times since I retired from there in 1990 but in June 2005, there was a fire which destroyed a storage area which was right next to the Operations Building.

After the FRD-10 and new Operations Building was up and running, all the previous antennas were or course torn down.  Four PMQs remained and were still in the same shape as in 1984,  when they were of no further use back then because newer PMQs were added to the downtown site.  The old, Single Quarters building continued in use as a workshop until sometime around 1985.

I left Masset in 1985 for Kingston returning in 1989 for a few months before I retired While gone, the old site was completely dismantled.  In fact the water tower was brought down with a big bang in early 1985.  All that remains of the Old Site (NRS Masset) are the paved roads and the pavement in the tennis courts.  The two entrances are chained off and locked, as is the road which leads back to the bog where the antennas were.  They even had a small bore shooting range back there.  The storage building for the range still remains, in bits and pieces".

During its heyday, CFS Masset employed more than 300 military and civilian personnel of which approximately 130 were of from the 291 Communications Research trade. The remote operation carries on with about 30 military personnel, none of whom are 291ers. Also gone is the Military Occupation code 291. It was replaced with the Military Occupational Structure Identifications codes (MOSID). They are five digit codes, and 291ers have been classified under MOSID 00120.

People Photos 
Low Level Aerial Photos
Satellite Photos
Other Photos
AN/FRD-10 Technical Details
Jim Troyanek's CFS Masset web page


1. Depending on the source. Another source indicates a typical 3200 mile range.
2. Depending on the source. Another source says 1200 feet in diameter.
3. To improve naval communications in the Pacific area, a Communications Security Unit (COMSEC) was established at Wahiawa Hawaii in 1942 under the management and control of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). Their purpose was to assist in a program of cryptographic security, message traffic control and message traffic analysis.
4. Same for the Atlantic Ocean.
5. AN/FRR-60(V)2 Radio Receiving Set, HF, 2-32 MHz, 300,000 channels, USB/LSB/DSB/ISB/PULSE/PHASE/CW/FSK/AM, 1 microvolt sensitivity, 115/230 VAC 48-62 Hz, 69x47x30, 660 Lbs. Made by Technical Materials Corp.
6. AN/FGC-60 - Diversity/non-diversity Telegraph Terminal.
7. Kodiak was never a USN HFDF station although the station at Cape Chiniak on Kodiak Is. was
often referred to as "Kodiak" and was in operation from May 1946 to April 1966 when operations were transferred to Elmendorf AFB, Anchorage, AK.
8.  Long Range Technical Search is/was the search of the entire spectrum from VLF to lower VHF and identifying everything heard, except Morse Code. The course covered modulation methods, such as AM, FM, FSK, etc, and the equipment types which produced these signals such as teletype machines, time division multiplexes, frequency division multiplexes, speech privacy systems, various facsimile systems and electronic aids to navigation. Up to 1956, Canadian personnel took their LRTS course in the UK. After that, LRTS was taught at HMCS Gloucester communications school.

Contributors and References:

1) George Fraser <caperfca(at)>
2) Jim Troyanek <intarsia(at)>
3) Masset badge image courtesy Lynn Wortman <lynn.wortman(at)>
4) Bruce Forsyth's  Canadian Military History Page
5) Canadian History of Canadian Signals Intelligence and Direction Finding by Lynn Wortman and George Fraser
6) Lux Ex Umbra BLOG by Bill Robinson
8 )
9) RC Sigs Web page:\
10) Wullenweber/CDDA Antenna Homepage
12) Granite Island Group
13) Harry Billand , VE7JH. <>
17) Wahiawa Badge courtesy
18) Canadian Warship Names. David Freeman. Vanwell Publishing, St. Catharines, Ont.
19) Jim Troyanek's CFS Masset web page.
20) Jerry Proc
21) DND Routing Indicators page.
22) Masset AN/FRD-10  photo used with permission. Courtesy Irv Finkleman <finkirv(a)>
24) Sam Stokes . Hole in the Head Press. <sestokes(at)>
26) Jim Frame < jimmar(at)>
27) Harry Brooks  USN <harryn1pg(at)>
29) Project Clarinet Bullseye citation:
30) Kurg reference:
31) Al Grobmeier - Assistant Officer-in-Charge of NAVRADSTA (R) Imperial Beach, CA. <algrobmeier(at)>
32) David Shirlaw  Editor Seawaves Magazine <dshirlaw(at)>
33) Don "Wag" Wagner  <navwags(at)>
34) AN/TSQ-164 Info
35) Walter Salmaniw <salmaniw(at)>
36) George Munsch <gmunsch(at)>
37) Chris Collin <cc(at)>
38) Chester Williams  <jcchief1(at)>
39)  Ron Ball <rball82(at)>
40) Masset History
41) Nick England,  K4NYW
42) Stuart Morrison, K4BOV

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Sept 11/13