CFS Holberg (1954-1991) - A Cold War Canadian Radar Station established as RCAF Station Holberg during the Korean War. One of the Pinetree Line radar sites. Located at the northern end of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. Initially assigned an ID of C-18 later changed to a JSS ID of R-35. Name changed to CFS Holberg after unification in October 1967. Closed as a manned station in 1991 and shortly thereafter became Canadian Coastal Radar Site Holberg, a minimally attended FPS-117 3D radar site.
Constructed between October 1950 and 1 Jan 1954 during the Korean War. Partially accepted from the contractor and activated for administrative purposes on 1 Jan 1954. The site became operational on 25 Apr 1954 as RCAF Station Holberg manned by the 501 Aircraft Warning Squadron.
Initial radar equipment included the FPS-3 search radar. To prepare for the transition to SAGE System operation a FPS-508 (FPS-20) was installed by Northern Electric Company and finalized on 18 Jan 1960. A FPS-507 height-finder was installed and operational by 19 Sep 1960.
This configuration (a SAGE qualified long-range search radar and two SAGE qualified height-finders) met the requirements for transition to SAGE System operation.
SAGE System Transition
The transition of the manual GCI system to the automated SAGE system began with the installation of the FST-2 coordinate data transmitter and search radar upgrades. The FST-2 equipment digitized the radar returns and transmitted the digital returns to the SAGE direction center. Under the SAGE System, interceptor aircraft were directed to their targets by the direction center computers and controllers, greatly reducing the need for local controllers and equipment at every radar station.
The FST-2 was a very large digital system using vacuum tube technology. Over 6900 vacuum tubes were used in each FST-2 requiring 21 air-conditioned cabinets, 40 tons of air conditioning, 43.5 kva of prime power and usually a large new addition to the operations building. The FST-2B modification added two more cabinets but with newer solid state (transistor) technology to process coded responses from aircraft transponders.
By 28 Jul 1960 the new SAGE Annex construction was begun and in April 1961 the GATR site construction was begun. On 13 Apr 1961, the handover meeting was held to accept the FST-2 installed in the new SAGE Annex but the AFTO 87 accepting the FST-2 was not signed until 5 Jun 1963. The GATR site was accepted from the contractor on 4 Mar 1963.
SAGE System Operation
The site began operation as a SAGE site on 15 May 1960 initially manually feeding the McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12. The site had previously had both a surveillance and a GCI mission under the direction of the Canadian 5ADCC center in Vancouver and the change to SAGE operation placed some restrictions on the operation.
The official SAGE automatic operational date was 1 Jun 63. The change in unit role from Manual to automatic (SAGE) operation reduced site manpower by a total of 48 personnel. Operation under the McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12 continued until 18 Jun 1983 when the whole SAGE System shut down. At that time, data from CFS Holberg was directed to North Bay Region Operations Control Center (ROCC) at North Bay.
The closure of CFS Holberg was announced in 1988, the site and the squadron were deactivated on 17 Jan 1991. A minimally attended FPS-117 3D radar was installed in 1991 and the site became Canadian Coastal Radar Site Holberg, with no assigned personnel.
The physical plant of the site was divided into an upper main site, a cantonment area, and a radio site. The main site housed the operations buildings, the radar towers, and the backup generators. The cantonment area housed the enlisted barracks, the bachelor officer's quarters, the orderly room, the dining hall, the motor pool and other support buildings.
A separate radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts. Like most early radar stations, Holberg originally had a radio transmitter site and a separate radio receiver site used by local controllers for voice direction of fighter interceptors to their targets. With the SAGE System, the SAGE Direction centers had the primary task of directing intercepts and the local radio sites were reconfigured, usually into a single site that was known as the Ground to Air Transmitter Receiver (GATR) site. The GATR site communicated with the interceptors from either the local site or the SAGE direction center via voice commands and/or a digital data link.
Lower site removed and the upper site contains only a single minimally attended three-dimension, FPS-117 Canadian Coastal Radar (CCR) set. One of four such coastal radar sites, the other three are located at Gander NL, Sydney NS and Barrington NS.