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Delivering a VK5 Radar Repeater to HMCS Haida

by Naval Radioman Donald Courcy

 

When I worked for Industry Canada in Toronto from 1997 to 2004, I took every opportunity I could to visit the historic naval ship HMCS Haida, a Tribal class destroyer. As a veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy, I fully support the preservation of naval ships. My father-in-law, Chief Stoker Malcolm Johnson, also served on HMCS Haida during World War II and during the Korean War so my wife also had a big interest in the famous ship.

 

While I worked in Toronto, I also witnessed the relocation of HMCS Haida from Ontario Place in Toronto to the Hamilton waterfront near Hamilton's Naval Reserve Division, HMCS Star. The museum ship was first towed from Ontario Place in December 2002 to a drydock in Port Weller for a $5 million refit to her hull. She was finally taken to her new home on the Hamilton waterfront and arrived to an 11-gun salute on 30 August 2003.

 

During those years in Toronto, I supported the creation of the Quebec Museum of Radio (Musée québécois de la radio) in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec. While the museum was looking for a permanent home in Quebec, they were also building their radio collection. I quickly realized that Industry Canada had a large number of old radio and test equipment ready to be disposed of in the basement at 55 St. Clair Avenue East. So I did the necessary paper work to have most this equipment donated to the museum. Jacques Hamel, President of "Musée québécois de la radio" showed up in Toronto one morning with an empty 24-foot truck and went back to Quebec that night with a full load of equipment for the museum's collection.

 

Fast forward to 2015.

 

With tons of documentation, a collection of almost 2,000 pieces of radio equipment and the acquisition of temporary accommodations, the future was looking good for the Quebec Museum of Radio. Unfortunately, after 17 years of efforts and hard work, the museum was never able to find a permanent home. It was finally over on January 11, 2015 when the Board of Directors announced that the collection would be liquidated and the corporation would be dissolved.

 

The liquidation of the collection was to be done three ways. The first priority was to donate to other museums whatever they wanted. The remaining equipment was to be sold through fleamarkets, auctions and on-line via the museum's website. As the webmaster, I was actively involved in the liquidation of the collection and assisted whenever I could.

 

Shortly after the announcement of January 2015, Jerry Proc, a Volonteer from HMCS Haida Radio Department, learned that there was a VK5 Radar Repeater in the Quebec collection, including the mounting bracket and power supply. The VK5 in the Operations Room onboard HMCS Haida had technical problems and Jerry was interested in acquiring a second VK5. Since other museums had first priority in the liquidation, Jerry made the request to acquire the VK5. The request was approved by Jacques Hamel and by the Quebec museum's Board of Directors.

 

Now the challenge was transportation. How to get the VK5 from Sorel-Tracy, Quebec to Hamilton, Ontario.  The display unit itself weighs 471 pounds and the power supply weighs 145 pounds. There was also the mounting bracket. When I heard about this challenge, I quickly volunteered to transport the VK5 from Sorel-Tracy to Hamilton at my own expense. It was a tribute to my father-in-law, Chief Petty Officer Stoker Malcolm Johnson, who served on HMCS Haida.

 

I wanted to keep the VK5 upright during transportation. It would not fit into my Grand Caravan so I rented a commercial van and proceeded to the warehouse at Sorel-Tracy on June 7, 2015 to load up the equipment. Jacques Hamel was waiting with a volunteer. We struggled but were successful in lifting the equipement onboard the van.

 

(thank you to Jacques Hamel for providing the photos taken in Sorel before my departure)

 

The red arrow points to the VK5 inside the warehouse at Sorel-Tracy

 

The VK5 inside the warehouse at Sorel-Tracy

 

The VK5 inside the van before leaving Sorel-Tracy

 

The VK5 inside the van before leaving Sorel-Tracy

 

The mounting bracket of the VK5 inside the van before leaving Sorel-Tracy

 

Everything is tied down. Ready to go.

 

Closing the door before departing Sorel-Tracy

 

 

After a good night sleep at La Prairie, Quebec, I departed for Ontario on June 8, 2015 and spent the night in Mississauga. The next morning, on June 9, 2015, I drove to Hamilton and proceeded to the waterfront where I delivered the VK5 to HMCS Haida.

 

June 9, 2015

I arrived early so I waited a bit for the work party just outside the main gate

 

June 9, 2015 - The main gate and the Gift Shop

 

June 9, 2015 - Waiting by the Gift Shop

 

June 9, 2015 - Another view of the Gift Shop by the main gate

 

June 9, 2015

A work party from HMCS Haida unloaded the VK 5 and placed it in the Gift Shop

The VK5 will sit there until it is time to move it to the Operations Room onboard HMCS Haida

 

June 9, 2015 - Another view of the VK5

 

June 9, 2015 - The VK5 power supply and the mounting bracket

 

June 9, 2015 - Before returning to Quebec, I took a couple of photos of the famous ship

 

June 9, 2015 - She still looks great !!!

HMCS Haida, you are a beautiful lady !!!

 

Click here to read an article by Jerry Proc titled

THE ANATOMY OF AN ACQUISITION

 

For more details on the VK5 Radar Repeater

click here to go to a page on Jerry Proc"s website

and scroll down to near the bottom of the page

 

Donald Courcy

1 July 2017

 

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