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Tag: HMCS Athabascan

Tin-Can Canucks: Now on Sale

The long wait is over!

Tin-Can Canucks is officially on sale. Available through CreateSpace & Amazon you can find it online–and hopefully on the shelves of a book store near you.

The book’s foreword is by Vice-Admiral M.F.R. Lloyd, CMM, CD who is the current Chief of the Naval Staff and Commander of the Royal Canadian navy. It covers the history of the destroyer-type warship in the Canadian Navy from 1915 to 2016.

You can get your copy through these vendors:

Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from GoodReads
Buy from CreateSpace
Buy from Amazon
 For more information, see TinCanCanucks.com

 

Cheers,

Sean

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

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