Howl and the World Howls With You.


Exit Intent Popup: The Power to Engage vs. The Power to Annoy

Everyone I know hates popups.  They always make me think of that old whack-a-mole game.  People find them annoying, intrusive, repetitive and obnoxious. An exit intent popup are just another flavour.

Funny thing is, they work.

I started using them on my www.tincancanucks.com book website a couple of weeks ago when I released a sample chapter for download.  Most of my traffic is driven by AdWords and tends to be new rather than returning at the moment.  As a test, I set up a download page on the website for the sample chapter PDF and created an exit intent popup via Convify—an online service which you can integrate with your website.

Exit Intent Popup: How it Works

The way it works is that when someone comes to my homepage (or any other page in the website), when they go to close the browser window (or take another action that show’s they intend on exiting the site) this is intercepted with a popup:

Exit Intent Popup for Tin-Can Canucks

Exit Intent Popup for Tin-Can Canucks

They can click through to the download page, or they can click on “No Thanks” and then exit the site.  There are a lot of ways to configure this exit intent behavior—you can trigger it based on time, number of pages visited, new vs. returning visitors etc.—and in my case I have it configured to show only once a day for any given visitor; that reduces the annoying factor to a reasonable amount I think.

Convify provides conversion metrics (it’s part of a larger digital marketing platform it looks like), and so far, in two weeks I’ve seen a 1% conversion rate.  For a site with fairly small traffic this seems okay to me, and I’m not seeing anything indicating I’m driving traffic away—and the thing with an exit intent popup is that the visitor was leaving anyway, so it’s not likely to raise the exit rate, and even if it reduces my return visitor rate, at the moment that’s pretty small to begin with.

Fundamentally, this is no different from marketing automation gateway forms—in this case I’m not looking for personal information, and so may generate a higher conversion rate than if I was using a gateway form to capture contact info before the download.

And like gateway forms, it works—it drives conversions.  In a marketing automation system, we can track these conversions and score the interactions.  Like a gateway form an exit intent form is another tool in the marketing automation toolbox.

So, in my experience (anecdotal though it may be) I’m seeing increased visitor engagement, which is what I’m looking for for this site.  The popup’s configuration to make it less annoying is a crucial part of its value though, and I think makes the difference between engagement and annoyance.

Exit Intent Popup: Roll Your Own

Now, if you want to use an Exit Intent popup yourself there’s no need to go with a service like Convify—especially if you already have a marketing automation platform.  The ActiveConversion software for instance, will track goal page and URL-specific campaigns, and so can be used to track conversion from clicks in a popup.  While the software doesn’t provide the capability to create the popups, that’s to be expected since it’s not a content management tool, and for those with a little jQuery experience, there’s an excellent tutorial for creating exit intent popups with jQuery which can be found here: http://beeker.io/exit-intent-popup-script-tutorial

Now some may ask: do I still find exit intent popups annoying?

Yes, yes I do.

Perhaps I’m a hypocrite for using them, but the facts are they work—even on me, and I’m one cynical digital marketer.

Like I said, I believe the critical part is to make them as engaging as possible with as little annoyance impact as possible.  In my case above, I’m engaging the visitor with some interesting, useful content—promising the full story about the post-war RCN in the downloadable PDF.  I’m asking them for an additional moment of their time—a couple more clicks—if they’re interested in the content.

And if not?  My apologies for the annoyance.



Word of the day: Friktison

The All-Too-Obvious Marketing Automation Fail

(To catch my—admittedly few—readers up, I’ve recently moved positions to ActiveConversion, a Marketing Automation vendor who focuses on the industrial and manufacturing market segment.  My position with ActiveConversion is as the Product Specialist, and so understanding the how, where and most importantly, why the software works and does what it does for our customers—and what pitfalls need to be avoided to be successful—is central to my role.

Read more about Marketing Automation for Industrial and Manufacturing customers at the ActiveConversion Blog.)

Recently, while doing some industry research I came across another Marketing Automation vendor’s State-of-the-Market report which, based on its executive summary looked interesting.  As it was gated content I filled in the form, including the standard fist name, last name and email.  They also requested a Company name (not uncommon); despite being a competitor I thought the research was of interest so I included our company name.

The form submission went through; the research report was emailed to me as well as a polite greeting—all pretty standard Marketing Automation behaviors.  As a Marketing Automation vendor we eat our own dog food—so why wouldn’t a competitor?  Made sense to me.

I’ve been involved with Marketing Automation for over a decade now—from coding, designing and developing a platform to training, implementation, evangelizing—I’ve seen the sausage getting made and know a bit about the pit-falls.  The number one challenge most users of Marketing Automation face is a lack of content—scratch that, it’s a lack of relevant content.  Too often drip emails will be too general, not specifically relevant to the conversation or flat-out incorrect.  Sometimes it’s because one email is being used for multiple drip processes, or that the emails are slightly modified versions of the templates or canned content that came with the system.

If you know what you’re looking for, you can catch these pretty easily.

And that’s what happened with our competitor’s drip campaign.  Three business days after I download the research report I received an email from the company, signed by a mid-level manager pitching me on marketing automation software and services.  The email was pretty plain, but read well and I’m sure to most would look and sound like a personal response.

It wasn’t—and here’s how I knew:  the email specifically said that the sender had done some research and had found our company and thought we might be facing sales challenges that could be solved by marketing automation.  It’s was personalized with my name, and used our company name throughout.

For any other possible lead/company this email might have worked.  But it was glaringly obvious that this was automated; that no research had been done and that in all likely hood no one was paying attention to the fact that I was in this nurture campaign.  If they had done some research, and had paid attention they would have known that I was a competitor and not a potential lead.  They would have known that I’m not unfamiliar with Marketing Automation and that I understand how it can help my business—and they would have known I’m unlikely to change marketing automation platforms.

Because no one was watching this, or really following up, this competitor ended up wasting at least 1 email (perhaps not much in the big picture financially) and looked pretty foolish.  Worse yet would be if I clicked through on the links to schedule a consulting session—I’d be wasting valuable salesperson time and bandwidth (I didn’t).  Because no one was paying attention to the “fit” of a lead like me—and not reviewing company names/personal names through Google or LinkedIn the entire ROI of the interaction with me was shot to hell.

This could have all been avoided if someone had reviewed my lead profile, actually done some research and flagged me as a poor fit/competitor.

While I don’t know for sure that this competing vendor’s product can provide company identification information (although in my case I provided the Company name) and the ability to search Google and LinkedIn (or other social media) for an identified lead to determine who they are and if they fit—the concepts are obviously universal.

(I will point out that the  ActiveConversion software does provide those handy capabilities to allow users to research and flag leads who aren’t of value—like me)

Ultimately, in my mind this instance is that perfect example of where using Marketing Automation fails—it’s a powerful tool which can positively impact sales, marketing and efficiency but it’s not a silver bullet.  Drip emails are not one-size-fits-all and the information provided by a Marketing Automation system is only of value if it’s used—and used properly—to enhance profiling and intelligence and focusing sales efforts on those leads most likely to become customers.

But if the glove doesn’t fit….



Tin Can Canucks

The ‘Rolls-Royce Destroyers’ at Canadian Naval Review

I’ve been working on Tin-Can Canucks for several years, and have been saturating myself with Canadian Destroyer history, and part of what I’ve found so fascinating is the parallels between modern defence policy and vessel procurement challenges in previous eras.

The story of the first made-to-order warships for the Canadian navy (HMCS Saguenay and HMCS Skeena) is one of particular interest, as it covers all the things I like best–the evolution of a soverign Canada, the growing confidence of a Navy which had only recently avoided the budgetary axe, and a look into the early career of men who would make their mark on Canadian Naval policy in the not too distant future.

Tin-Can Canucks is almost too small a venue for all these stories, and I’ve had the immense privilege of seeing a separate article about these two ships published in the 2016 Summer issue of Canadian Naval Review.  Based on research done for the book, but separately written with a different view on it’s modern relevance I like to think it provides a good sense of the stories the books will present–even if from a more nostalgic perspective.

If you’re interested in current (and future) naval policy Canadian Naval Review is an excellent place to start–I’ve used it several times for reference in writing Tin-Can Canucks.

And if you’re interested, why not start with Volume 12, Issue 2–and an article titled: The ‘Rolls-Royce Destroyers’: Canada’s First Made-to-Order Warships



Tin-Can Canucks: HMCS Athabascan (II)

This post is another of a series of excerpts from my book Tin Can Canucks.  As the book is still under development these posts should be considered as part of a work in progress.  These excerpts are presented as they’ve been developed and may not be in chronological (or any logical) order.

HMCS Athabascan (II)Specifications

Length: 377’
Beam: 37’ 6”
Draft: 11’ 2”
Displacement: 1927 tons

Laid Down: 15-5-1943
Launched: 4-5-1946
Commissioned: 20-1-1948
Paid Off: 21-4-1966

Armament: 6 x 4.7” LA guns, 2 x 4” HA guns, four 21” torpedo tubes, 4 x 2pdr , 1 x 12pdr 6 x 20mm Oerlikon AA guns

Built by Halifax Shipyard Ltd., she was the last of the Canadian-built Tribals to complete, and the last Canadian Tribal to commission, entering the RCN in 1948—three years after the end of the war she had been designed to fight. After commissioning she took her time on trials and work ups before departing for her west coast station on May 15th 1948.  Due to an outbreak of poliomyelitis[1] Athabascan was quarantined upon her arrival in Esquimalt on June 29th.  This outbreak had resulted in the death of one crewman while on passage from Halifax.

Once the quarantine was lifted Athabascan and her sister HMCS Cayuga undertook a serious exercises and showed the flag along Canadian and American west coasts.  While in Esquimalt harbor in November of 1948 she was bumped by a fire tender, which caused some buckled hull plates.  She undertook a winter Caribbean cruise between January and May of 1949, after which she made further port calls in California and Alaska.  Between mid-September 1949 and mid-March 1950 Athabascan was in dockyard hands to be refitted for a training role.  This saw the replacement of her 4.7-inch twin gun mounting in Y position replaced with a pair of Squid anti-submarine mortars.  She also had her Action Information Center enlarged, and a pair of depth-charge throwers removed—although she retained her aft depth charge rail.  The intention was to have Athabascan join the Canadian Special Service Squadron on a cruise of European waters, but the outbreak of the Korean War saw the termination of the cruise on June 25th.

Athabascan and Cayuga were joined by HMCS Sioux and the trio escorted the cruiser HMCS Ontario from Esquimalt on their deployment to Korean waters.  After making calls at Pearl Harbor, Kwajalein and Guam, the Canadian ships arrived at Sasebo, Japan on July 30thAthabaskan’s deployment saw her undertake various duties including cruiser escort, interdiction of small costal transport craft, and gunfire support, including acting in support of the Inchon landings.  She grounded on December 4th while covering the Chinnampo evacuation, the damage causing subsequent engine issues.

After a period of maintenance and R&R in Hong Kong, she undertook inshore patrol and screening of the Colossus-class carrier HMS Theseus for much of February and March before taking up station on the Korean east coast.  She departed the war zone on May 2nd bound for refit in Esquimalt.

Upon completion of the refit she sailed from Esquimalt on October 29th for her third tour in Korean waters.  Taking up her assigned roles of screening and patrolling the first week of November, save for a brief respite in Hong Kong in May of 1953 she remained in Korean waters until the ceasefire on June 27th 1953. Athabascan remained on station until the peace was established; rescuing the crew of a downed helicopter and a Vought Corsair fighter in August and standing by to assist the stranded tanker Tongshu in October.

Athabascan arrived back in Canada for conversion to an anti-submarine destroyer escort  on December 11th, 1953 staying in dockyard hands until October 1954.  Like other Canadian Tribals she emerged armed with a pair of twin 4-inch gun mounts forward and a twin 3-inch/50 mounting aft alongside a pair of Squid anti-submarine mortars and four torpedo tubes.  Her anti-aircraft fit included four 40mm Bofors single mounts.  She also received a lattice foremast to support her new radar and radio antennas.  While on trials in December of 1954 she responded for a call for assistance by the oceanographic survey vessel Cedarwood which was in danger of foundering.

The first of October 1955 she grounded on Spanish Bank off Vancouver and had to be towed off by the tug Glendon—luckily she suffered only minor damage to her sonar dome.

Between 1955 and 1958 she undertook patrol duties off the Canadian west coast, including an unsuccessful submarine hunt off the British Columbia coast in June of 1957.

In January of 1959 Athabascan and Cayuga departed Esquimalt to join their fellow Tribal-class destroyers in forming an all-Tribal east coast squadron.  Arriving in Halifax on the 16th of February the two destroyers swapped crews with east coast St. Laurent-class destroyers HMCS Saguenay (II) and HMCS St. Laurent (II)—the crew of Athabascan assigned to Saguenay for the return voyage back to Esquimalt where Saguenay and St. Laurent would then be stationed.  In May of that year Athabascan was one of the escorts for HMY Britannia which was carrying Queen Elizabeth II to Canada for the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. [2]

On September 29th 1962 Athabascan responded to a request for help from a ditched Lockheed Super Constellation airliner, rescuing 48 people but later that year her tour of European ports was cut short by the Cuban Missile Crisis in October. The crisis saw the deployment of twenty-two anti-submarine surface vessels, two submarines, the carrier Bonaventure, all of “Bonnie’s” air wing as well as shore based  Grumman Trackers and Canadair Argus patrol aircraft.  Supported by the RCN’s axillaries and commanded by Vice Admiral K.L. Dyer the Canadian deployment on “Cubex” allowed for anti-submarine coverage of the majority of the Canadian and US east coasts while the USN’s blockade of Cuba drew American vessels award from their own coasts. [3]

In March of 1964 Athabascan undertook the rescue of 18 survivors from the stern of the Liberian-flagged tanker Amphailos which had foundered in the mid-Atlantic.

Athabascan was then paid off into reserve and used as a source of spares and equipment before finally being placed on the disposal list.  She departed Halifax under tow in July of 1969, bound for La Spezia, Italy to be broken up.[4]  She was the last of the Canadian Tribals to commission, and the last to be taken out of active service.  With her demolition, only her half-sister HMCS Haida remained—and by 1969 Haida was a museum ship on the Toronto waterfront.

[1]  (English, Afridi to Nizam: British FleetDestroyers 1937 – 43, 2001) p. 50.  This illness is more commonly known as Polio and is caused by the poliovirus, which is generally transferred by contaminated water.

[2]  (English, Afridi to Nizam: British FleetDestroyers 1937 – 43, 2001) p. 50

[3]  (German, 1990) p. 272

[4]  (English, Afridi to Nizam: British FleetDestroyers 1937 – 43, 2001) p. 51



It’s the answer to life, the universe and everything and it took Deep Thought 7.5 million years to compute and check that answer.  The question–now that was something else.  It’s still being calculated.  Me, I’m just happy the Vogons haven’t arrived yet.

Forty-two.  Whoda thunk it.


Word of the day: Friktison

Sean’s Word of the Day Redux: Friktison

fr·ik·t·i·son (friktison) /ˈfɹɪkʃən̩/ noun.

1. The rubbing of one fictional manuscript or literary work against another, esp. those of an author and their children: My mother just started writing short stories and dropped her submission in the mail with mine; it’s been causing friktison.
2. Conflict, as between fiction authors having dissimilar ideas, interests or genres: My brother and I have had some friktison between our short stories.



Assiniboine Underway in 1982

Tin-Can Canucks: HMCS Assiniboine (II)

This post is another of a series of excerpts from my book Tin Can Canucks.  As the book is still under development these posts should be considered as part of a work in progress.  These excerpts are presented as they’ve been developed and may not be in chronological (or any logical) order.

HMCS Assiniboine (II)Specifications

Length: 366’
Beam: 42’
Draft: 13’ 2″
Displacement: 2263 tons

Laid Down: 19-5-1952
Launched: 12-2-1954
Commissioned: 16-8-1956
Paid Off: 14-12-1988

Armament: 4 x 3”/50 HA/LA guns, 2 x Limbo ASW mortar, homing torpedoes

When Marine Industries Ltd. of Sorel, Quebec delivered HMCS Assiniboine (II) to the Royal Canadian Navy it was the first post-war warship built by that yard for the RCN which subsequently commissioned her the 16th of August 1956. Her arrival in Halifax on the 25th saw her assigned to the Third Canadian Escort Squadron.[1]  She, her squadron-mates and ships from the First Canadian Escort Squadron undertook a goodwill tour of North Europe ports in October and returned back in Halifax in mid-November.

With sister HMCS Margaree (II), Assiniboine took part in an International Naval Review at Hampton Roads, Virginia in June of 1957.

HMCS Assiniboine in swell

DND photo, courtesy of RCNA Peregrine.

She was transferred to Esquimalt in January of 1959 where she became part of the Second Canadian Escort Squadron.  She hosted Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip in mid-July when they travelled from Vancouver to Nanaimo, British Columbia.

In 1962 she underwent conversion to a destroyer helicopter escort (DHH) which saw her after end remodeled to include a flight deck and hangar.  The single stack was split in two each of which was outboard of the helicopter hangar.  To make room for the flight deck the aft 3-inch/50 mount and the Limbo anti-submarine mortars were removed.  Assiniboine was the first of her class to undergo conversion; much of the work was done by the Victoria Machinery Depot Company of Victoria, British Columbia.  The remainder of the work was undertaken by HMC Dockyard Esquimalt.

HMCS Assiniboine and Sea King Helicopter

This photograph shows two major postwar Canadian naval technology developments: operating large helicopters from relatively small ships, and the variable depth sonar. (courtesy http://www.warmuseum.ca/)

June 28, 1963 she recommissioned and departed for Halifax in September.  There she had the “Beartrap” rapid helicopter haul down equipment installed and became the trials vessel for this system.  In that capacity she spent two years chasing storms around the North Atlantic, purposely hunting for poor weather in which she could trial the “Beartrap” system.  Ultimately the trials were successful and the “Beartrap” became a common fitting on all future Canadian destroyers and frigates.[2]

In January 1975 she rendered assistance to the freighter Barma, rescuing her crew after the freighter began to take on water some 185 miles off Boston.

Assiniboine was selected for the Destroyer Life Extension Refit (DELEX) which she undertook entering dock at the Canadian Vickers yard in Montreal on April 23rd, 1979.  She returned to service in mid-November.

In June of 1981, Assiniboine was leading four other vessels NATO Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT) out of Halifax harbour when she grounded on Point Pleasant Shoal in heavy fog.  It took several tugboats to get her free.  Her participation in a NATO exercise was thus canceled while she underwent a damage inspection and repairs.[3]

Assiniboine Limbo Well in 1956

Limbo well of HMCS Assiniboine in a photo dated October 1956. (Courtesy Rick E. Davis)

In 1984 she was assigned to escort the Tall Ships Race from Bermuda to Halifax during the early summer.  When the British sailing vessel Marques sank, Assiniboine took up a prominent role in the search for survivors.  She would receive the Chief of Defence Staff Unit Commendation for her efforts, becoming only the second ship in the RCN to receive it.

She returned to Halifax in July of 1984 having discovered fractures in her upper deck stringers and plating.  She entered dry-dock for repairs on July 17th at Marine Industries Ltd.’s Sorel shipyard—her birthplace—for a ten month refit.  This stretched out to seventeen months due to a strike at the shipyard.[4]

HMCS Assiniboine was decommissioned on December 14th, 1988, and taken out of service the following January.  After being surveyed post-decommissioning it was discovered that her steaming plant was in excellent condition, and as she was of similar configuration of the remaining steam-powered destroyers, it was decided to use her as the alongside steam training vessel, replacing HMCS St.Croix (II).[5]

She served as a floating classroom for technicians at the Fleet School for 6 years before being handed over to Crown Assets for disposal.  She subsequently sank in the Caribbean Sea while under tow to the breakers.  In 32 years while under commission she had sailed some 700,000 nautical miles.

[1]  Wartime RCN ships built by Marine industries’ Sorel yard included Flower-class corvettes Arrowhead, Bittersweet, Dunvegan, Fennel, Sherbrooke, Sorel, Calgary, Fredericton, Kitchener, La Malbaie, and Regina as well as Bangor-class minesweepers Brockville, Esquimalt, Transcona, and Trois-Rivières.  They would later build the  hydrofoil HMCS Bras d’Or in 1968 with their last ship for the Canadian Navy being the frigate HMCS Calgary which was commissioned in 1995.

[2] Known in other navies as a Helicopter Hauldown and Rapid Securing Device (HHRSD) the “Beartrap” was developed by the RCN’s Experimental Squadron VX-10 in conjunction with Fairey Aviation in the 1960s.

[3]  (Cleaves, 1981)

[4]  (Barrie & Macpherson, 1996) p. 19

[5]  (Lynch, Twilight of the St Laurents, 1990) p. 192


It’s official–I’m now CI Campbell

So after some delay my volunteer card for the Navy League of Canada arrived in the post this past Friday.  I now have official proof that I can be called CI Campbell by the cadets.  (although to be honest we knew that I was approved a month or more ago, it just took some time for the card to arrive).  For those unaware (although considering the number of views of this site my audience includes me, myself and maybe even I) CI is really the acronym C.I. which stands for Civilian Instructor.

Naval League of Canada Volunteer ID

Why do official/passport photos always look terrible?

Overall, while the delay was annoying I’m thrilled at how seriously the Navy League takes volunteer screening.  Moving forward I’m expected to wear this ID every time I’m working with the unit which is again a very smart thing to do as it makes clear to the cadets who is approved to work with them directly.  This way they know CI Campbell is authorized to work with their unit–even if they’re unfamiliar with who CI Campbell actually is.

Funny thing is my application for a CIC Officer role at the unit went out on Monday–four days before I received my volunteer card, so essentially my shot at being an officer happened before I had everything required to be an volunteer (but again, we all knew I had the volunteer approval before I was offered the CIC opportunity, the card was just late in arriving).

Friday night, at the band practice at the Corps one of the senior cadets called me CI Campbell for the first time–it took me a moment to realize he was speaking to me!  (I still turn my head when Rhane and I are at the Corps on a training night and someone calls out “Campbell” to her–I always think they’re calling out to me)

Now, the next step will be to get through the application process for the CIC Officer role and be accepted and sworn in as NCdt. Campbell.  Hopefully my photo for the military ID will be better than the photo on the volunteer card.



HMCS Ottawa (I)

Tin-Can Canucks: HMCS Ottawa (I)

This post is another of a series of excerpts from my book Tin Can Canucks.  As the book is still under development these posts should be considered as part of a work in progress.  These excerpts are presented as they’ve been developed and may not be in chronological (or any logical) order.

HMCS Ottawa (I) Specifications

Length: 329’
Beam: 33’
Draft: 10’ 2″
Displacement: 1375tons

Laid Down: 12-9-1930
Launched: 30-9-1931
Commissioned: 15-6-1938
Paid Off: 13-9-1942

Armament: 4 x 4.7” LA guns, eight 21” torpedo tubes, 2 x 2pdr AA guns

The first Canadian destroyer to carry the name HMCS Ottawa was launched as HMS Crusader at Portsmouth Naval Dockyard in 1931.  Like her sister HMS Comet (later HMCS Restigouche) she was commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1932 and assigned to the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla of the British Home Fleet.  She served with the Home Fleet until the Abyssinian Crisis in 1935 where she was deployed to the Mediterranean.  From then until her transfer to the RCN she saw various duties, including transporting the C-in-C Home Fleet and acting as tender to the battleship HMS Royal Oak during torpedo trials and attending the carrier HMS Courageous as a plane guard.[1]

HMCS Ottawa (I)

On 13 September 1942, while escorting convoy ON.127, in the North Atlantic, HMCS OTTAWA was torpedoed and sunk by U-91. One hundred and thirteen members of her ship’s company perished.

She was commissioned as HMCS Ottawa at Chatham Dockyard in the same ceremony as HMCS Restigouche.  Together they visited several Quebec and Maritime ports and on October 12 departed Halifax to transit the Panama canal and join the other two destroyers of the Western Division—HMCS Fraser and HMCS St. Laurent—in Esquimalt.  In February and March of 1939 this half-flotilla, joined by the two Eastern Division destroyers joined the RN’s 8th Cruiser Squadron in the Caribbean for exercises and training.  Later in the spring Ottawa and her sisters escorted the King and Queen from Vancouver to Victoria and back during their May 1939 state visit.

In August of 1939, war was imminent and Fraser and St. Laurent were ordered to the east coast with all due haste.  In November Ottawa and Restigouche would join them.  The Canadian destroyers would act as local escort until late May 1940 when four of Ottawa’s sisters were deployed to British home waters.  Ottawa was unable to join them immediately as she was undergoing repairs of damage sustained in an April collision with the tug Bansurf.  It wasn’t until late August that Ottawa would escort the troop convoy TC 7 to Britain.  Here she was sent to the Clyde to act as a local escort there.  On September 25th she had just departed the convoy OB 217 when she was ordered back—SS Sulairia and SS Eurymedon had been torpedoed and Eurymedon was still afloat but shipping water; her captain and two other officers refused to abandon the vessel.  Ottawa took aboard the other survivors and sprinted off to catch up with the convoy.  The next day she was ordered back to Eurymedon which was still afloat—and now surrounded by boats from Sulairia.  Ottawa took aboard the kit-and-kaboodle and headed for Greenock with an extra 118 souls aboard.[2]

She spent a fortnight having her aft torpedo tubes replaced with a 3-inch AA gun and then resumed her duties escorting convoys mostly in transit to and from the middle east.  In early November Ottawa and HMS Harvester[3] were dispatched to aid the freighter Melrose Abbey which reported being attacked by gunfire from a submarine on the surface.  The pair made several depth charge attacks with no apparent results.  Sunrise revealed a large oil slick spreading across the water and the destroyers departed the scene.  This was the last sign of the Italian submarine Faa Di Bruno—a “kill” not awarded to Ottawa until 1984 after closer review of both Italian and Admiralty records.

Ottawa would continue convoy escort operations out of Greenock until she was posted with her sister River-class destroyers to the Newfoundland Escort Force—newly established and to which Ottawa was assigned in June of 1941.  Between June of 1941 and September of 1942 Ottawa cycled between mid-ocean escort and local escort before joining the Newfy-Derry run.[4]

HMCS Ottawa (I) Ship's Company

HMCS OTTAWA – Ship’s Company – June 1942

September 5, 1942 saw Ottawa assigned to convoy ON 127, departing Londonderry for St. John’s Newfoundland.  Leading the escort was Lieutenant Commander A.H. Dobson aboard HMCS St. Croix as Senior Officer, Escort (SOE). On September 10 the convoy was found and attacked by the 13-boat wolf-pack Vorwärts around early to mid-afternoon local time.  Two tankers—Sveve and F.J. Wolfe—and a freighter—Elisabeth van Belgie—were torpedoed immediately by U-96.  Once survivors were rescued Dobson sent the corvette HMCS Sherbrooke to sink the Sveve and F.J. Wolfe by gunfire as the freighter remained afloat and under control.  He also positioned Ottawa astern to deter the attacking U-boat from shadowing the convoy.

The night that followed was one of confusion as the escort fought to scatter the wolf-pack, or at least force it to stay submerged and thus unable to follow the convoy.  Several more merchant ships were torpedoed that night .  Throughout the 11th and 12th the convoy struggled on, having 3 more merchant ships struck by torpedoes.  The convoy was diverted to a more westerly course the night of the 12th in the hope it would reach air-cover sooner.  Help had also been sent in the form of the British WW1-vintage destroyer HMS Witch and HMCS Annapolis—another Canadian Town-class destroyer like St. Croix.  These two ships arrived the night of the 13th and Dobson positioned them ahead of the convoy with HMCS Ottawa.  The sea was calm by this point, and the night clear, with Ottawa making ten knots and waiting for the two fresh destroyers to arrive.  Her CO, Acting Lieutenant Commander C.A. Rutherford was on the bridge and her second-in-command Lieutenant T.C. Pullen was aft at his action station near the depth charges.

HMCS Ottawa (I)

Photograph taken by Charles James Sadler, RCNVR. First Class Stoker, Official number V-4963, serving in the Canadian destroyer HMCS Columbia.

Just after midnight Ottawa’s older 286P radar detected what was believed to be Witch and Annapolis and making a challenge was hailed by Witch less than a kilometre away.  Ottawa altered to port to avoid a collision.  At that moment, the so-far invisible stalker—U-91—struck.  Two torpedoes struck the ship forward.  Pullen witnessed the explosion and heard debris falling onto the deck.  St Croix dashed to the scene and into U-91’s sights but the torpedo fired at St. Croix struck Ottawa instead, finishing her off.  Lt. Pullen and 68 others were rescued but five officers—including Lt. Cmdr. Rutherford—and 109 other crewmen were lost.

Tragically, Ottawa may have avoided her fate had she a better radar outfit.  Type 286 was known for its limitations, and the centimetric set Type 271 likely would have detected the skulking U-boat.  Before she sailed with ON 127 Ottawa’s Gunnery and RDF officer Lieutenant L.B. Jenson was notified by the dockyard that a new Type 127 set was to be installed aboard the ship and when it arrived alongside Jenson informed the CO. Lt. Cmdr. Rutherford—apparently under the impression that Jenson has ordered the installation himself—counter-manded the modification order and had it canceled; Ottawa sailed with her obsolete radar.[5]  Lt. Jenson survived the sinking of HMCS Ottawa.

[1]  (English, 1993) p. 49

[2]  (MacPherson & Butterley, River Class Destroyers of the Royal Canadian Navy, 2008) p. 50

[3] Harvester was a H-Class destroyer originally built for Brazil as Jurura but taken over by the Royal Navy when hostilities began.  She was a near-sister to HMS Hero—the destroyer that would eventually be commissioned in the RCN as HMCS Chaudière

[4]  (MacPherson & Butterley, River Class Destroyers of the Royal Canadian Navy, 2008) p. 51

[5]  (Douglas, Sarty, & Whitby, No Higher Purpose: The Official Operational History of the Royal Canadian Navy in the Second World War, 1939-1943, 2004) p. 515


Blast from the Past: 1/72 HMCS Summerside MM711 (Part 2)

So, back in 2011 I posted a build log of my then current ship model project–a 1/72 scale HMCS Summerside model–on the ModelWarships.com forum.  Just recently I stumbled across those postings and thought it would be an easy way of generating more blog content if I copied it over here as well (for posterity sake or something).  This is Part 2; Part 1 can be found here.

The original can be found here: http://www.shipmodels.info/mws_forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=72158 .

Just to riff on what’s already been said regarding errors, it really does test, and push your modeling skills to the edge taking on a project like this. Throughout the process I’ve been sharing the build with friends and members of one of the local hobby clubs, and sometimes it was hard to take the criticism–I had a vision of what I wanted, and I could see that even when all anyone else could see was a collection of badly-glued wood pieces. The constructive criticism though was of great value, and so long as you take some of it with a grain of salt, have faith in your vision and your skills, and then make the needed modifications I believe the build will be a success. Having worked my way through this project, I’m very proud to be able to call myself a modeller, rather than just a kit-builder

[…] I’d forgotten there was another shape issue with one of the bulkheads–I have no idea how or why, but one of the bulkheads ended up too wide at the top, causing a weird undulation amidships. I re-profiled it, cut new stringers, added a new bulkhead in-between to smooth out the profile and prayed to the gods of wood putty and sand-paper that I could make it smooth later

The following two photos show Summerside after the work on the bow and amidships:



At this point, once I’d reshaped the amidships bulge, added a 1″ plug just forward of where the Bofors would mount and re-shaped the bow block with generous helping of wood putty, I sanded the living hell out of it and sealed the wood with several coats of acrylic varnish.

I initially planned on coating the wood with a thin layer of Bondo, but my good friend Dennis Kaye (an amazing ship-modeler in his own right, and someone who has been like a mentor to me on this project) suggested I use lithoplate. In an attempt to replicate the actual hull plating, I marked up the hull with panel lines and numbers indication what plate goes where–hence the weird look of the hull.

As can be seen in this photo as well:

I’ve planked the deck the same was as the hull, and overlaid thin styrene sheet, using Bondo to fill the seams. The superstructure, mast, fun mount and stacks are under construction, but the bridge is only mocked up with cardboard–I’d hoped to get the shape right using cardboard for a master before cutting clear acrylic sheets for the bridge deck bulkheads, but that didn’t go quite as expected…

Here is a similar shot after the litho was glued, a skim coat of Bondo applied and the whole hull sanded down and primed:

The stacks have been sheeted with styrene, and I’ve replicated the dished, stressed-metal effect common to Kingston-Class stacks, by drawing a curved scalpel across the sheet in parallel and perpendicular lines. The effect came out a little overdone, so as construction continued I mellowed it out using some Mr Surfacer and my good friend sand-paper

Another shot, from the bow this time. Still some sanding left to do:

The hawse-pipes were drilled out and brass tube fitted. I’m using a Billing’s Boat winch, but it’s being modified as it’s not exactly the same as what Summerside has. I still have the cardboard bridge as I was still having trouble getting the angled-outwards part of the bridge right. These photos were taken by my Dad who was out in Calgary visiting. He was heading back to PEI the end of May 2010 (around when these photos were taken) and wanted to approach the Charlottetown Naval reserve, HMCS Queen Charlotte, about the possibility of me donating the completed model to them–lord knows I don’t have room in my house to display it properly. Being an architect, my father wanted some good scale photos to take to the Queen Charlotte.


So this was the state of proceedings last May when I took her to the Western Canadian Regional Model Contest in Nanton Alberta. There was still a lot of work to do, but I was happy with how it was coming–especially in light of being able to–in my mind successfully–deal with the shape issues I’d run in to. It was becoming to look like the ship in my vision–even if only I could see that.



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