HMCS Stadacona. A Question of Security?


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMurray_Building_CFB_HalifaxOn the weekend I had an opportunity to visit my old stomping grounds from the 1960’s. HMCS Stadacona was then and is today the largest Naval/military base on the East Coast. In my days with the 6th Canadian Submarine Squadron we were billeted in C Block, an old wooden structure that has long since been torn down. In my time the main gate (in the photo)was manned by duty personnel and a duty officer. Just below the main gate stood the parade square, a sacred place. It was strictly forbidden for any one to walk across the square, we had to walk around the perimeter. At the top end was the mast where colours was held every morning at 0800 hrs. When colours sounded everyone stopped came to attention and faced the mast. The same ritual was carried out each evening at sunset.   Everyone was checked in or out through the main gate, dress code/dress of the day always in force. This past Friday we had difficulty finding an entrance, the main gate is no more and the area under heavy construction. Eventually we found an open gateway at the lower end of the base. We drove in, up past the Admiral’s residence the hospital and Saint Andrews chapel to finally arrived at A block and the parade square, now a parking lot. Looking toward A Block I saw a bare mast, no ensign proudly flying overhead. We parked the car and headed to the Canex where I bought a new dress shirt. Next door was a Tim Hortons, we sat for 15 mins having coffee. The place was full of base personnel sitting around in groups. In my day we were allowed a 15 min standeasy from 1000 hrs to 1015 hrs then its was back to work. Changing times indeed!!! Next we headed to the wardroom (officers block) where I took my family on a tour. Showed them the huge Mess Dining Hall, the Admirals private dining room,great paintings on the walls, glass cabinets full of silverware and trophies and the impressive staircase to the upper levels with a beautiful view of the harbour and the ships tied up alongside. Now to this point one could say this was a nice tour with family to spark happy memories of a nostalgic time long ago, and indeed it was. However, despite the changes to the mast, parade square and main gate, much has remained the same.  However,  there was  one glaring and very odd exception? Where was the security??? We drove in to a active Naval base without anyone stopping us to check ID’s or ask our business. We walked around the base freely and could have gone almost anywhere. We walked into the wardroom and spent 15 or 20 minutes and again no one asked us what we were doing or why we were there. When we finally drove away I wondered what had happened to base security, I hoped the dockyard just below the base was a little more secure. Surely when considering recent events in Ottawa,Quebec, Australia and the more recent events in France, security would be at an all time high. I expected to be asked to  identify myself and had all my necessary ID cards at the ready, but never once was asked. I have to wonder if what the government tells us, is actually factual.I understood all Canadian security organizations were on a high alert level. Hmmm, makes one wonder just how secure we are, or perhaps how relaxed. God Bless and keep reading.

About irishroverpei

Author of "Lily & Me", "The Royal Navy & Me" and Chapter XXl Armageddon. Writer, blogger and RN Submariner, antique automobile enthusiast.
This entry was posted in HM Submarines, military, politics, veterans and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to HMCS Stadacona. A Question of Security?

  1. Tony Miles says:

    Sounds a bit like when I joined Whitehall in the early 60,s when the IRA was busy. We were stationed at RAF Stanmore in North London. A mate and myself drove up from Plymouth (HMS Drake) when we arrived at RAF Stanmore, we had to actually look for the guardroom and when we did find it, we had to ask the corporal if he wanted to see our ID cards, his reply was, “Don’t you know who you are then”. We even had to ask directions to the RN Mess. A few months later, my wife and I just drove in and had lunch on a visit to London for the weekend. I wasn’t even stationed there at that time. Oh and by the way, lunch was a Carvery and we were waited on at the table.

  2. irishroverpei says:

    I could not beleive there was no security , especially after what just happened at Charlie Hebdo. Islamic fanatics are a real and constant danger these days. Shouldn’t someone be even a little aware????

  3. Tika says:

    Some people at pay grades way higher than yours have decided that the security stance in place meets our requirements. Secure buildings have all kinds of security applies to them, trust me. Things change. Just because you don’t see a commissionaire at the gate, does not mean there isn’t a secure stance on the base. Go back in the evenings…..see how far you get.

    • irishroverpei says:

      Obviously you consider things are okay just as they are and a terrorist wont just drive in with a bomb during the day or night????

  4. Marc says:

    I joined submarine Sqn in 1976 and CPO Wibberly was the BCWO and MCpl Sandy Bear was his clerk. Nothing escaped the good MCpl. The commissionaires were on traffic/access control 24/7 in those days. Unfortunately cutbacks and the dark decade took their toll on the base. Sad really…just sad. Traditions are being tossed aside in favour of political correctness. Glad I retired when I did.

  5. Brian Tibbs says:

    Even back in 2000 on a trip out west we stopped at CFB Shilo. No security at the gate, drove in, stayed for 1 hr. People walked by no questions asked of use. We left never asked for Id at any time. So this is not something new with our military security.

  6. ultrafish says:

    It’s funny because I noticed Halifax is supposedly under Medium threat. But back when I was there a few years ago, even then security was just show ID at the gate if you’re in civvies. You have older memories of there than I do but I don’t ever remember Stad security being very gung-ho, though it was better than Naden (who just now made ID checks mandatory for everyone). Now, try to get into Dockyard proper and it may be a different story.

  7. Dennis Cox says:

    WOW! It has been a few years since being stationed there but my god.. the parade square is a parking lot!! I remember walking around the parade square and ducking into the Stand Easy or any other building so I could avoid gaggles of officers walking around.

    I know that things change over time and I am good about that, but somethings really are unnerving.

  8. To moderator: Please delete all comments by myself, I apologize for the way I came across. Thank you

  9. TCO says:

    Stad is a training facility, dockyard usually has better security. but good point… even if there was somebody standing guard there would be no rounds in their weapon… maybe they could yell bang… like in training?

  10. Rick Bungay says:

    Stad has had a open base policy on and off for many years. When we had commissionaires as security all they did was check ID. If something happened what could they really do except call for help and many times they weren’t up to that! As for your comment that a terrorist could walk in and blow up people, yes I suppose that could happen, however short of searching every person, car or truck is next to impossible. This never occurred even when you were in. I’m willing to bet that if we stopped all non military personnel from entering the base for security reasons, people would complain about that. Rest assured if you tried to enter one of the more sensitive areas of the base you would of been stopped and there are measures in place to respond to any attack.

  11. Gerry White says:

    It is surprising. At one time you would be hard pressed to get in Stad without someone checking your ID card (Cool McCool the ex boxer commissionaire) and once that was done, you may have already have caught the eye of the base chief for some dress infraction and his PO2 was even now on an intercept course with you. Marc, you mentioned CPO1 Bob Wibberly – he was the 1st Cox’n I sailed under – 1st class sailor and with 39yrs paid and done still think he was the best Cox’n. When I was in Esquimalt at the time of 9/11 again you could get in but security was tight. I read a piece comparing Trudeau & Harper’s record dealing with military and its surprising. It was in Esprit de Corps Magazine written by an ex-member Robert Smol- 2014/5/26. Trudeau actually comes out on top by the numbers. But even in the 1970’s there was a way to sneak into the dockyard, esp if you lost your ID card or left it aboard. Take a cab in. In those days if you drove or walked they checked but cabs were waved on through. 🙂 It still gives me the willies seeing cars on the parade square.

  12. Bruce Grainger says:

    Nothing will change until the crap hits the fan.

  13. Pingback: My Year End Blog Review. | The Irish Rover's Blog

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