1966-1971: Heads and Tails: The End of HYDRA?

Though military planners had laboured from 1962 to late 1965 to move HYDRA to Carp, the documents in this volume indicate that this plan was abandoned in 1966 for reasons that are not entirely clear. It’s possible that some of the problems highlighted in the previous volume played a role. STRAD was not a good fit for HYDRA, as it introduced rigid, automatic procedures into a system previously manned by nearly 50 operators. The refusal of the Diplomatic Wireless Service to accept ACP 127C procedures might have been the last straw. It’s also possible that the need to move HYDRA to a hardened site was a less pressing issue. In 1966, after two years of studies and exercises, there was one final TOCSIN test.[1] In previous TOCSIN tests, the international situation had been almost unbearably tense, and planners operated under the assumption that they would have very little advanced warning of a nuclear attack. But by 1966, TOCSIN planners expected far more warning – operating under the assumption that there could be up to 9 days of worsening international tensions leading up to a nuclear strike.[2] Time enough, perhaps, to make alternate communication arrangements.

From the archival record, it appears that HYDRA was moved to CFB Rockcliffe, just outside of Ottawa, where it continued on as a diplomatic communications system. However, this too is ambiguous. The final telegram in this document series of documents bears a handwritten notation indicating that the name “HYDRA” had been all but forgotten by 1971. Had HYDRA been shut down? Or had the system become so commonplace and so well-established that it was no longer referred to by its mythical name? 

What is clear is that the original transmitting in station in Oshawa was ultimately shuttered in 1969. But while this Second World War intelligence-sharing and communications facility came to an end, intelligence sharing between the former wartime allies did not. The legacy of HYDRA can be found in the postwar intelligence sharing agreements, maintained to this day.  

[1] McConnell, Plan for Tomorrow, Chapter 2, 18.

[2] Ibid.