Operation NEVUS

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Operation NEVUS is the annual deployment of a Canadian Armed Forces technical team to Ellesmere Island to perform essential preventive and corrective maintenance on the High Arctic Data Communications System (HADCS).

The deployed force

Built around a core of technicians from the Communications and Electronics Branch of the Canadian Armed Forces, Joint Task Group Nevus is made up of Regular and Reserve Force personnel from across Canada. Air support is provided by the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Operational command and control are implemented by the Commander CJOC through Joint Task Force North Headquarters in Yellowknife, NWT.

Mission context

The requirement

The HADCS is the critical communication link between the high Arctic specifically Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island and government communications centres in Ottawa. It was built because CFS Alert is too far north to link to geosynchronous communications satellites orbiting over the Equator.

The HADCS is a chain of satellite-uplink sites and unmanned, remote-functioning, line-of-sight microwave repeating stations stretching more than 500 kilometres between CFS Alert and Fort Eureka, a research station on the west coast of Ellesmere Island. The microwave sites run on a combination of solar panels and batteries solar panels to power the system and charge the batteries during the spring, summer and autumn, and batteries to power the system during periods of darkness.

During Operation NEVUS, technicians visit each HADCS site to maintain the equipment and critical infrastructure, replacing components where necessary. Working in partnership with employees of Environment Canada, they also ensure that the entire system complies with environmental standards.

The mission

Maintenance of the HADCS has been conducted each summer since 1982, when the system first came into service. From 1982 until 2007, the task was called Operation HURRICANE; the name NEVUS was adopted by Canada Command (a precursor to CJOC) as part of an overall review of continental operations.

Each year, the members of Joint Task Group Nevus deploy to Fort Eureka, their base camp, from May to the end of June. Technicians travel to and from the satellite-uplink sites and microwave stations by helicopter with their tools and spare parts. Members of the task group might also inspect and maintain related equipment and infrastructure (roads, culverts, vehicles and buildings), conduct fire prevention and health and safety reviews, and perform any environmental cleanup that may be necessary.

The results

Operation NEVUS ensures that the critical communications link connecting the Canadian high Arctic to the Government of Canada in Ottawa remains unbroken and operable.

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