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CFS Alert Crest

CFS Alert

CFS Alert is the most northern permanently inhabited settlement in the world. It is situated on the northeastern tip of Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic, approximately 817 km from the geographic North Pole. The station's mission is to maintain signals intelligence collection and geolocation facilities in support of the Canadian cryptologic program; to maintain radio frequency direction finding facilities in support of search and rescue (SAR) and other programs; and to provide support services to other organizations as directed.


CFS Alert was named after a British ship, HMS Alert, which wintered off Cape Sheridan 9.7 km east of the present station in 1875-76. Alert was first settled in the early 1950s as a weather station of the Joint Arctic Weather Station system. The Canadian military station was established in 1958.

Click here to englarge. The most noticeable difference in Alert's environment compared to southern Canada is periods of full daylight and full darkness, lower temperatures and lower annual precipitation. From April 8 to September 5, there is no nighttime. The sun rises to approximately 30 degrees above the horizon at noon and dips to 16 degrees above the horizon at midnight. From October 10 to March 1, there is no direct sunlight. Between these periods, there are both nights and days of varied duration. The last sunset is on or around October 14th of each year while the first sunrise is on or around March 3rd.

Alert is a "hardship" post. No family members are permitted to live at the station, and postings vary from three to six months long. Prior to the station's downsizing, Communicator Research operators were virtually guaranteed to serve a tour at Alert every four years. Many Communicator Research operators have spent a total of five years in Alert during their military career.

CFS Alert Above-Ground Water Supply Until 1980, only men were permitted in the Communicator Research occupation and thus only men were posted to Alert. In September 1980, however, DND began trial postings of a small number of women at Alert. In May 1983, as a result of the success of those trials, the employment of women at Alert was authorized and the Communicator Research occupation was opened to women. In February 1994, the Government announced that Alert would be converted to remote operations by 1997-98. CFS Alert is now a remotely operated facility and the staffing has been reduced from 215 to 74 personnel, of whom only seven are directly employed in operations. The remaining 67 personnel are employed in airfield, construction engineering, food services and logistical/administrative support functions. Canadian Forces personnel, both men and women, from the navy, army and air force are employed in these support functions.

The closest Inuit settlement is Grise Fiord, located about 725 km south. Although Edmonton AB is the closest Canadian city at 3475, Stockholm Sweden is only 3282 km away.

Other Distances to Alert

  • Vancouver, BC 4264 km
  • Montreal, QC 4135 km
  • Winnipeg, MB 3990 km
  • Halifax, NS 4183 km
  • Toronto, ON 4344 km
  • Resolute Bay, NT 1046 km
  • Ottawa, ON 4151 km
  • Thule, Greenland 676 km
  • North Pole 817 km

SOURCE: Department of National Defence.

See also
Canadian Armed Forces Council
Chief of the Defence Staff
Canadian Army
Royal Canadian Navy
Royal Canadian Air Force
Disaster Assistance Response Team
Joint Task Force 2
Communications Security Establishment

External Links
National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces Official Website
Learn more about joining the Canadian Armed Forces

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Copyright Craig I.W. Marlatt