Nuclear Navy at Nanoose

By Goldberg, Kim | Canadian Dimension, March 1991 | Go to article overview

Nuclear Navy at Nanoose


Goldberg, Kim, Canadian Dimension


As I write these words, Canada is at war with a foreign country for the first time in forty years.

Like many, I staggered through the end of 1990 simultaneously stunned and outraged as I watched George Bush calmly prepare to initiate war, while Ottawa, under the bellicose Tory Trinity of Brian Mulroney, Joe Clark and Bill McKnight, obligingly shipped Canadian men and women across the globe to kill and be killed in some faraway desert.

And like many, I have asked myself why Canada (the country my own family immigrated to 19 years ago to avoid conscription and complicity in an immoral and racist war the US administration had embarked on) has so automatically fallen into line behind America in its most current immoral and racist war.

The answer, or part of it, is right here on Vancouver Island, 25 kilometres from my home. For in order to understand Canada's subservience to the US military apparatus at a time of war, one must understand Canada's integration (or, more accurately, absorption) into that apparatus during years of relative peace.

The Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental and Test Ranges (CFMETR) at Nanoose Bay is one of more than 80 military sites in this country organically fused to the Pentagon's war-fighting strategies and nuclear infrastructure.

Nuclear-powered and nuclear-capable ships and submarines are frequent visitors to the otherwise tranquil waters of Nanoose Bay and the Georgia Strait where, for more than 25 years, the US Navy has been testing and refining its anti-submarine warfare (AW) technology -- a technology essential for launching a pre-emptive first strike.

Although the facility is nominally a Canadian Forces installation, the $100 million of computers and sophisticated underwater tracking equipment used for the AW tests belong to the US Navy. Canadian ASW trials account for 10-25 percent of the range time annually.

And if there's any lingering doubt about who's running the show at Nanoose, perhaps a US Navy instruction manual issued by the United States Pacific Fleet headquartered in Pearl Harbor can clear things up: "Scheduling authority...and the conduct of range operations (for the Nanoose Underwater Tracking Range) are under the cognizance and responsibility of the Commanding Officer, Naval Torpedo Station, Keyport, Washington."

Keyport, located 200 kilometres southeast of Nanoose, is the nerve centre for the US Naval UnderSea Warfare Engineering Station.

The binational treaty governing the use of CFMETR, first signed in 1965, is renewed at 10-year intervals with the next renewal date coming up in 1996. …

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