Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   
Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) 1950–1989, Minesweepers, Auxiliary, Maintenance and Patrol Vessels

RCN 1950–1989,

Minesweepers, Auxiliary, Maintenance and Patrol Vessels

Data currrent to 4 Feb 2020.

Aircraft Carriers HMCS Magnificent (CVL 21) and HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22) are listed on a separate page on this website.

Destroyers are listed on a separate page on this website.

RCN Submarines are listed on a separate page on this website.

YMS-1-class minesweeper

HMCS Cordova (MCA 158)

 (RCN Photo)

HMCS Cordova (MCB 158).  One of hundreds of motor minesweepers built for the USN during the Second World War, HMCS Cordova was launched as YMS.420 in 1944 at Chicago.  She was purchased by the RCN on 3 Dec 1951, and commissioned as HMCS Cordova from 9 Aug 1952 to 12 Apr 1957, serving primarily as tender to HMCS Discovery.  She was sold in 1970 to Harbour Ferries, Ltd. of Vancouver, British Columbia, and renamed Harbour Queen No. 1, and later renamed Nakaya in 1980.  She was sunk in 1992 as a diving wreck at Porteau Cove Provincial Park, located 40 miles north of Vancouver.

Bay-class minesweepers

HMCS Chaleur (MCB 144) (I); HMCS Chaleur (MCB 164) (II); HMCS Chignecto (MCB 156) (II); HMCS Chignecto (MCB 160) (III); HMCS Comox (MCB 146) (II); HMCS Cowichan (MCB 147) (II); HMCS Cowichan (MCB 162) (III); HMCS Fortune (MCB 151); HMCS Fundy (MCB 145) (II); HMCS Fundy (MCB 159) (III); HMCS Gaspé (MCB 143) (II); HMCS James Bay (MCB 152); HMCS Miramichi (MCB 150) (II); HMCS Miramichi (MCB 163) (III); HMCS Quinte (MCB 149) (II); HMCS Resolute (MCB 154); HMCS Thunder (MCB 153) (II); HMCS Thunder (MCB 161) (III); HMCS Trinity (MCB 157); HMCS Ungava (MCB 148) (II)

HMCS Thunder (MCB 153) (II)

 (Brian Dobing Photo)

HMCS Thunder (MCB 153) (II).  Built by the Port Arthur Shipbuilding Co., she was commissioned on 3 Oct 1957, and served as a member of the Training Group Pacific until paid off on 22 Aug 1997.

 (DND Photo)

HMCS Thunder (MCB 153) (II). 

HMCS Cowichan (MCB 162) (III)

 (DND Photo)

HMCS Cowichan (MCB 162) (III).  Built by Yarrows Ltd., Esquimalt, she was commissioned on 12 Dec 1957, and was a member of Training Group Pacific until paid off on 22 Aug 1997.  Her specifications on completion were: Displacement: 396 tons; Length: 152 ft, Beam: 28 ft; Draught: 8 ft; Speed: 16 kts; Armament: 1-40mm; Complement: 3 officers, 35 men. Cowichan was sold to private interests and tied up at the wharf at the old Lambert Sawmill, Sooke, BC.

 (Brian Dobing Photo)

HMCS Cowichan (MCB 162) (III)

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951235)

HMCS Miramichi (MCB 163) (III).  Built by Victoria Machinery Depot, she was commissioned on 29 Oct 1957, and served on the west coast as part of Training Group Pacific until paid off on 16 Dec 1998.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951236)

HMCS Miramichi (MCB 163) (III).

 (Brian Dobing Photo)

HMCS Miramichi (MCB 163) (III).

HMCS Gaspé (MCB 143) (II)

 (Bill Fleming Photo)

HMCS Gaspé (MCB 143) (II).  Built by the Davie Shipbuilding Co., Lauzon, Quebec, she was commissioned on 5 Dec 1953, and paid off on 22 Aug 1957.  She was transferred to the Turkish Navy, and was renamed Trabzon, on 31 Mar 1958.

Bird-class patrol vessels

HMCS Blue Heron (PCS 782); HMCS Cormorant (PCS 781) (I); HMCS Loon (PCS 780); HMCS Mallard (PCS 783)

HMCS Blue Heron (PCS 782)

 (CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum Photo)

HMCS Blue Heron (PCS 782).  This “Bird” Class vessel, was built by the Hunter Boat Works of Orillia, on Lake Simcoe, Ontario.  She was launched on 7 May 1956 and commissioned on the 30th of the following July.  The vessel was one of four constructed to take the place of the Fairmile motor launches, which had served notably in the Second World War, but which were obsolescent.  These vessels were a little smaller than the Fairmiles, displacing 66 tons at full load and measuring 92 by 17 feet.  They were armed with one 20-mm Oerlikon gun, depth charges and a hedgehog.

HMCS Blue Heron sailed for Hamilton, Ontario, on 7 August 1956.  There she came under the orders of the Commanding Officer, Naval Divisions, and, with her sister ships, HMCS Cormorant, and HMCS Mallard, cruised on the Great Lakes during the rest of the summer as part of the Reserve Training Squadron.  On 11 September, the three ships started down the St. Lawrence River, bound for Halifax.  At Quebec, they formed the escort for the “Algerine” Coastal Escort, HMCS Wallaceburg, with the Right Honourable Vincent Massey, Governor-General of Canada, embarked for a cruise to Tadoussac and up the Saguenay River to Port Alfred.  After accompanying him back to Quebec, the “Birds” were free to carry on to Halifax, where they arrived on 24 September.  There, on 19 November, HMCS Blue Heron was paid off and towed to Sydney, NS, to be laid up.

The vessel never again commissioned in the Navy.  From 28 February 1957 to 6 May 1968, she was on loan to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who used her for patrol duties off Halifax and, during the navigable season, in the St. Lawrence River.  The police relinquished her in 1968 in favour of a new, more modern vessel.  HMCS Blue Heron was then placed in reserve, where she remained until 1970, when she was sold to J. Thomas Porter of Montreal.

HMCS Cormorant (PCS 781) (I)

 (DND Photo)

HMCS Cormorant (PCS 781) (I).  Built in 1956 by Midland Boat Works, Midland, Ontario, Cormorant was launched on 15 May 1956.  The Navy turned HMCS Loon, HMCS Mallard, and HMCS Cormorant over to the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation in the 1960s.  Her specifications on completion were: Displacement: 66 tons, Length: 92 Ft, Beam: 17 ft, Draught: 5.3 ft, Speed: 14 kts, Complement: 2 officers, 19 men, Armament: 1-20 mm, hedgehog.

HMCS Loon (PCS 780)

 (DND Photo)

HMCS Loon (PCS 780).  Launched on 4 Oct 1954.  On 15 May 1963, HMCS Loon was placed in reserve status.  Sold to a private owner it sank off the Eastern shore of Nova Scotia

HMCS Mallard (PCS 783)

 (DND Photo)

HMCS Mallard (PCS 783).  HMCS Mallard was built by Grew Boat Works, Penetanguishene, Ontario, and launched on 30 Apr 1956.  She was turned over to the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation in the 1960s.  Last reported  in St. Margaret's Bay, Nova Scotia.

Cape-class escort maintenance ships

HMCS Cape Breton (ARE 100); HMCS Cape Scott (ARE 101)

(IWM Photo, FL13145)

HMCS Cape Breton (ARE 100) was a RCN Cape-class escort maintenance ship.  Originally built for the Royal Navy as HMS Flamborough Head in 1944 she was transferred in 1952.  Upon her commissioning she was the second ship to bear the name Cape Breton.

Porte-class gate vessels

HMCS Porte Dauphine (YMG 186); HMCS Porte de la Reine (YMG 184); HMCS Porte Quebec (YMG 185); HMCS Porte St. Jean (YMG 180); HMCS Porte St. Louis (YMG 183)

Miscellaneous vessels

Wind-class icebreaker

HMCS Labrador (AW 50)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951063)

HMCS Labrador (AW 50), Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1956.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951034)

HMCS Labrador (AW 50), Piasecki HUP-3 helicopter, RCN (Serial No. 116623), 247, Oct 1955.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951035)

HMCS Labrador (AW 50), Piasecki HUP-3 helicopter, RCN (Serial No. 116623), 247, Oct 1955.

Hydrofoil prototype

 (DND Photo)

HMCS Bras d’Or (R-103) (I), later renamed HMCS Baddeck (R-103) (II) when FHE 400 was built.  HMCS Bras d’Or (FHE 400) (II)

 (Author Photo)

HMCS Bras d'Or, maritime Museum of Quebec, L'Islet sur Mer, Quebec.


HMCS Cedarwood (AGSC 539)

Diving support ship

HMCS Cormorant (ASL 20) (II)

 (Janet Lawrence Photo)

HMCS Cormorant (ASL 20) (II).  Built at Cantiere Navale Apunia, Marine-Carrara, Italy in 1965, she was the former Italian-flag stern trawler Aspa Quarto.  She was purchased for Maritime Command in Jul 1975, and converted principally at Davie Shipbuilding, Lauzon, Quebec, to her new purpose.  She was commissioned there 10 Nov 1978.  She served as mother ship to SDL-1 (Submersible Diver Lockout), a mini-sub capable of reaching a depth of 2000 feet, and which has been extensively used to chart the bottom of Halifax harbour.  Between 23 Aug and 05 Oct 1989, HMCS Cormorant, along with CFAV Quest, was deployed to Canada's eastern High Arctic waters, conducting defence research in Baffin Bay, Lancaster Sound and Davis Strait.  In the course of the operation, dubbed NORPLOY 89, she visited Canada's northernmost Inuit community, Grise Fjord, on Ellesmere Island.  Her SDL-1 also found and filmed the Breadalbane, crushed and sunk by ice off Beechey Island in 1853 while searching for John Franklin's lost Northwest Passage expedition.  During this deployment she holed her bow on pack ice.  Her crew made emergency repairs and she was able to return to Halifax and repairs were effected on the syncrolift.

During her career she was used for a variety of purposes ranging from retrieval of illegal drug caches; covering vents in the sunken barge Irving Whale to recovering the bell from the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  HMCS Cormorant had among her complement the first women to be assigned to a Canadian naval vessel.  She was paid off on 2 July 1997.  Initially sold  to United States owners for diving operations, she remained docked in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, rusting away.  The Cormorant was purchased at auction by Neil Hjelle in September 2009 to be refit and used for research in the Mediterranean and Middle East.  As of Mar 2015, HMCS Cormorant still lay idle and deteriorating at Bridgewater, NS.

Mine sweeping auxiliary ships

HMCS Anticosti (MSA 110) (II); HMCS Moresby (MSA 112) (III)

Yard Diving Tenders

CFAV Raccoon (YDT 10)

YAG 300 Series Training Vessels

CFAV Grizzly (YAG 306); CFAV Wolf (YAG 308); CFAV Otter (YAG 312); CFAV Caribou (YAG 314); CFAV Badger (YAG 319); CFAV Lynx (YAG 320)

(Lest69 Photo)

CFAV Caribou (YAG 314), Yard Auxiliary General.