February 13, 2016

American nuclear bombs were stored in Goose Bay, and here's proof.

Nuclear weapons are well known to have been stored in Canada; John Clearwater makes that clear in his book, U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Canada (1999).  Exactly what kind of nuclear weapons is still a topic of discussion.  Yes, there were ground to air missiles (Bomarc), depth charges (Lulu), and air to air missiles (Falcon & Genie) - but were there bombs?  There are a lot of details and answers to questions that Mr Clearwater couldn't address, due to a lack of declassified information. I'd very much like to nail down exactly what nuclear weapons were in Canada, when, and how many.

Currently my interest is focused mainly on Goose Bay, since it was a hub of Strategic Air Command activity, B-47s were frequently seen there, and they built a Operational Storage Site there that is unique in Canada; specifically designed to store and maintain nuclear bombs.  John Clearwater stated that the facility had started to be built with eight buildings in 1950, but I also find reference to 1953, then in 1958 it was expanded to house nuclear air-to-air missiles (The "Nuclear Falcon") or the ADC in an adjoining compound.

The USAF / SAC have never admitted that nuclear bombs were stored at Goose Air Base, in fact, the Canadian Government was officially against the idea, and only gave case-by-case permission for any bombs to transit through Canadian air space.   However, the facility the Americans built at Goose Bay would have been expensive to build, and was very well fortified.  Personal testimony from residents in the area attest to the Weapons Storage Area being guarded by dogs, and armed guards in guard towers up until the early 1970s.  Pictures of the area show multiple barbed wire fences encircling the area with checkpoints leading in and out of the facility.  The design of the area fits the cookie cutter architecture and design of other nuclear weapons storage sites at the time. In fact, it's almost a carbon copy of Ben Guerir Air Base's weapons storage area in Morocco (32.0988, -7.8969), Sidi Slimane Air Base's weapons storage area, also in Morocco (34.2151, -6.0419), and Nouasseur Air Base's weapons storage area again in Morocco (33.3659, -7.5530).  The bases in Spain look close, but the bases in Morocco seem to be cut from the same cloth. Why Morocco?  Like Goose Air Base, the bases in Morocco were designed to be forward operating bases for Medium - Heavy bombers to carry out strikes against the Soviet Union, and were all built at about the same time.  Goose was also a refuelling base, but the bomber-mission was extremely significant, just not as well publicised.

So, if the Canadian Government were against having nuclear bombs on Canadian soil, how did the Americans manage to do exactly that, and where's the proof?  Well, the US likes to play word-games.  If you take the detonator out of a "nuclear bomb" you're left with what?  Nothing objectionable at all!  You're left with thousands of pounds of steel, highly enriched uranium, and explosives.  NOT a nuclear bomb.  The conventional explosives, making up a lot of the weight of the bomb, would be used to crush the fissile detonator, and cause a nuclear explosion.  In the US' strategy of retaliation for a Soviet first strike, or initiating a pre-emptive strike, they would need hundreds of thousands of pounds of nuclear bombs waiting at forward operating bases.  Nations where these forward operating bases existed probably didn't want a bunch of nuclear bombs sitting around waiting to annihilate their bases in case of an accident, so with the consent of some (but not all) governments the US forward-deployed their nuclear bombs to these bases, without their fissile core - and called them "non-nuclear bombs"; cute eh?  You'll notice that the term non-nuclear bomb is not the same as a *conventional* bomb.

You're sceptical? You don't quite see the smoking gun? let me walk you through it.

Here's a declassified document from February 1978

Page 15 - (RE: 1950-1952)

Page 15-16 - (RE: 1950-1952)
Page 27 - (RE: 1952-1955)
Page 29 - (RE: 1952-1955)
The above sets the stage; we see that "non-nuclear components" ie, the "body" of the bomb that weighs thousands of pounds will be shipped to forward operating locations ahead of the fissile material which is much lighter and can be quickly jet'ed to the location to arm the nuclear bombs when the need seems immanent. in 1950, prior to the Weapons Storage Area at Goose AB being completed (or even started) there was a documented deployment of 11 Mark 4 nuclear bombs with B-50 bombers from the 43rd Bomb Group.  Were these complete with detonators, or were they solely the non-nuclear components?  Either way, this part was done with the blessing of the Canadian government.

Other references show that B-47s were routinely sent to Goose Bay on "Reflex" missions; temporarily rotating deployments.

"February 1955, Lincoln AFB
The 307th ARS was officially activated as part of the 307th BW, and was then known as the “Paradise Squadron.” Later this year, they made their first 60-day deployment to Goose Bay, Labrador." - http://www.307bwassoc.org/history.htm

Page 29 cited above could have to do with Goose, since Goose's Weapons Storage Area was at least partially built, or upgraded, in 1953.  So to sum up, we have the desire expressed to forward-deploy nuclear non-nuclear weapons, we have routine B-47 visits (a bomber that's intended to carry nuclear bombs to the target), and a fortress purpose built to store nuclear weapons in 1953, when the US said they'd be building one to store nuclear non-nuclear weapons.  Still not convinced eh?
Okay.  Let's keep going.

Appendix B - 2

How well do you know your Boeing CIM-10 Bomarc history?  Well, let me highlight the important bit; only the USA and Canada had the Bomarc. The nuclear warhead for the missile was on loan from the USA to Canada, and after it was decommissioned in 1972, the BOMARC batteries in La Macaza and North Bay were stood down, and the warheads were flown back to the USA for disposal.

Still with me?
  • The above highlighted area (from the bottom up) shows NUCLEAR Depth Bombs (depth charges) deployed to Canada from February 1968 to June 1970, certainly at NAS Argentia (the Mk-101 Lulu or Mk-90 Betty Nuclear Depth Bomb) but I'm not sure if or where else.
  • The Nuclear Falcon was deployed, with Canadian Gov't conscent (arguably the ADC didn't need it) to Goose AB and Ernest Harmon AB for use with Air Defence Command fighters deployed to both bases.
  • The Nuclear Genie was deployed to Canadian CF-101 Voodoo fighters coast to coast at bases equipped with adequate protections for the missiles
  • The Nuclear BOMARC was deployed to La Macaza and North Bay.
  • ...and what's this? Non-nuclear bombs, last removed in June 1971.
Having the Bomarc and the non-nuclear bomb reference in the same section is the "smoking gun" we were looking for. Nobody else had the Bomarc, so clearly the classified blacked out section beside it says "CANADA".  This shows that some quantity of non-nuclear (nuclear) bombs were removed from Goose in 1971.  Why am I convinced they were in Goose?  Because no other base existed in Canada which could support the maintenance and storage of those weapons at the standard they had to be kept.

Unfortunately, the deployment from 1950 to 1971 was not contiguous.  We know that the Mark IV nuclear weapons that were flown in by B-50s in 1950 were flown out before winter set in the same year, so when did nuclear non-nuclear weapons return?  Also, what exactly returned?  Were they Mark 6s? Mark 15s? We can see from the satellite photos of the Weapons Storage Area that there were at least five Earth Covered Magazines with upgraded heavy duty doors in place at Goose (Building 1091-1095).  I believe they were 40ft x 80ft in internal dimensions.  Unfortunately, I dont know what kind of nuclear weapons had been there, or what the maximum capacity was for those igloos.  Clearly there are more documents I need to find.

Here is the whole document I cited above, for your review