Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   www.SilverHawkAuthor.com   
 
Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) 1972-2017, Destroyers (Iroquois Class)

Royal Canadian Navy (RCN)

Iroquois Class Destroyers

Data current to 28 May 2020.

 (U.S. Navy Photo, Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Daniel Gaither)

Royal Canadian Navy Iroquois-class destroyer HMCS Athabaskan (DDG 282), and the Halifax-class frigates HMCS Montréal (FFH 336) and HMCS Halifax (FFH 330) underway in the Atlantic Ocean during exercise "Joint Warrior", a United Kingdom-led, multinational cooperative training exercise designed to prepare NATO and allied forces for global operations, 23 September 2015.

Iroquois-class area air defence destroyers.

HMCS Iroquois (DDG 280), HMCS Huron (DDG 281), HMCS Athabaskan (DDG 282), HMCS Algonquin (DDG 283).  HMCS Huron (DDG 281) was sunk in a live-fire exercise in 2007, HMCS Iroquois (DDG 280) and HMCS Algonquin (DDG 283) were decommissioned in 2015 and HMCS Athabaskan (DDG 282) in 2017.

Iroquois-class destroyers, also known as Tribal class or DDH 280 class, were a class of four helicopter-carrying, guided missile destroyers of the RCN, named to honour the First Nations of Canada.

The Iroquois class are notable as the first all-gas turbine powered ships of this class.  Lauched in the 1970s, they were originally fitted out for anti-submarine warfare, using two Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King helicopters and other weapons.  A major upgrade programme in the 1990s overhauled them for area-wide anti-aircraft warfare with the Standard SM-2MR Block IIIA missile.

Due to their extended service lives, the Iroquois-class destroyers were used in a variety of operational roles.  They served as flagships for NATO's maritime force, deployed as part of United Nations and NATO forces in the Adriatic, Arabian and Caribbean seas and Atlantic and Indian oceans.  The destroyers also performed coastal security patrols and search and rescue missions nearer to Canada.

These warships ships had a displacement of 3,551 long tons (3,608 t) and 4,700 long tons (4,800 t) fully loaded.  The destroyers were 423 feet (129 m) long overall and 398 feet (121 m) long at the waterline with a beam of 50 feet (15 m) and a draft of 14 feet 6 inches (4.42 m).  They had a complement of 258 and 30 aircrew attached to the ship's company.

The Iroquois class used a two shaft COGOG system that was powered by two Pratt & Whitney FT4A2 gas turbines creating 50,000 shaft horsepower (37,000 kW) and two Pratt & Whitney FT12AH3 cruising gas turbines creating 7,400 shp (5,500 kW).  This gave the destroyers a maximum speed of 29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph) and a range of 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 km; 5,200 mi) at 20 knots.  The Iroquois class was originally equipped with one OTO Melara 5-inch (127-mm)/54 calibre gun that was capable of firing 40 rounds per minute.  

For anti-air defense the ship was armed with one Mk III RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missile system.  The Iroquois class had two Sea Sparrow launchers installed, each with four missile cells which allowed the ship to launch eight missiles at a time for point defense.  The ships carried a total of 32 missiles.  The launchers were located at the forward end of the superstructure and retracted into the deckhouse.  The missile system was guided by the Hollandse Signaal Mk. 22 Weapon Control System.  The system was criticised for the time it took to deploy from the housing, which took several minutes in order to warm-up the guidance system.  Reloading took nearly ten minutes and because the fire control was Dutch, the fire control system and the US missile system never worked effectively.  The missile was also ineffective against sea-skimming anti-ship missiles, such as the Exocet.

The Iroquois class was also equipped with one Mk. 10 Limbo anti-submarine mortar for ASW purposes along with two triple Mk. 32 torpedo tubes in a trainable mounts.  The Mk. 32 tubes were used to fire Mk. 46 torpedoes.  The class was equipped with the Hollandse Signaal Mk 22 Weapon Control System for its missiles, and a tactical air navigation system (TACAN).  The CCS 280 by Litton, which was a compressed version of the Automatic Data Link Plotting System (ADLIPS) electronic tactical system, was also installed aboard the class.  Iroquois-class destroyers were equipped with an LW-03 long range warning radar antenna and SPS-501 long range warning radar.  They were also equipped with SPQ-2D low level air search, surface search and navigation and M22 fire control radars.  The destroyers had SQS-501 bottom target classification sonar and a hull-mounted SQS-505 sonar inside a 14 feet (4.3 m) dome.  They also had the 18-foot (5.5 m) SQS-505 towed variable depth sonar.

Under the Tribal Refit and Update Modernisation Program (TRUMP), a total reconstruction of the superstructure, new propulsion, weaponry and electronics was carried out During the Gulf War, before HMCS Algonquin had been able to undergo her TRUMP refit, she was given a Mk. 15 Phalanx close-in weapons system (CIWS) on her quarterdeck as part of the upgrades given to ships deploying to the Persian Gulf.

The displacement of the ships increased to 5,100 long tons (5,200 t) at deep load after all the changes.  The propulsion was overhauled also, with two GM Allison 570KF cruising turbines being installed in place of the Pratt & Whitney models which created 12,800 shaft horsepower (9,500 kW).  The funnels were reconstructed replacing the twin outward-angled funnels with one large square funnel.  This required the two uptakes being brought together and encased in a forced-air cooling system. This was done to reduce the infrared signature.

As part of the TRUMP refit, the entire armament was overhauled.  The OTO Melara 5-inch gun was removed and replaced by a 29-cell Mk. 41 vertical launch system (VLS) for the SM-2 Block 2 surface-to-air missile The Mk. 41 VLS system was placed in the reconstructed forecastle deck.  In 'B' position an OTO Melara 76-mm (3-inch) Super Rapid gun was installed in the space vacated by the removal of the Sea Sparrow launchers.  A Mk. 15 Phalanx CIWS was placed abaft the remodelled funnel.  The ships also received new radar and sonar, with new shield decoy launchers, the SLQ-504 Canadian Electronic Warfare System (CANEWS) and ULQ-6 electronic countermeasures.  (Wikipedia)

HMCS Iroquois (DDH 280)

 (Dirtsc Photo)

HMCS Iroquois (DDH 280).  First of her class, HMCS Iroquois (DDH 280) was built by Marine Industries Ltd. at Sorel and commissioned on 29 July 1972.   In 1978 she took part in exercises off Portugal, with French units in the Bay of Biscay, and with German units off the coast of Denmark, returning home on 7 Jul 1978 after logging some 14,300 nautical miles.  In Sep 1980, HMCS Iroquois was the subject of shock trials for the 280 class.  These took place off the coast of Nova Scotia.  After the 3rd and largest of the explosions, HMCS Iroquois had to be towed back to port.  During this evolution, one of the tow lines parted and killed a crewman, Robert J. Purcell, on the tug Glenevis.  On 4/5 Dec 1983, while on fishery patrol off the Grand Banks, HMCS Iroquois answered an SOS from the Panamanian-registered Ho Ming 5, in danger of capsizing owing to shifting cargo. In gale-force winds, the destroyer’s Sea King took off eleven of the twenty-man crew, the remaining nine being rescued by her Zodiacs.  Eighteen of her ship’s company were decorated for their bravery during the episode.  She underwent her TRUMP refit between 1 Nov 1989 and 3 Jul 1992.  Between 25 Sep 1993 and 15 Apr 1994, she served with the blockading force off the coast of the former Yugoslavia.  While so employed she conducted 98 boardings.  Relived by HMCS Halifax on 15 Apr 1994, she returned to Halifax, arriving on 25 Apr 1994.  She was appointed the flagship of Maritime Operations Group 1 (MOG 1) on 17 Jun 1995.  Maritime Operations Group 1 left Halifax on 22 Feb 1996 and headed south for exercises, stopping in Grenada where she played host to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and a number of Caribbean heads of state.  Aug 1998 saw HMCS Iroquois replace HMCS Athabaskan as the flagship of the NATO Standing Naval Force Atlantic (SNFL).  She returned to Halifax on 15 Dec 1998.  On 21 Mar 2000, HMCS Iroquois, as a member of a Canadian Task Group, left Halifax and headed south for spring exercises.  While enroute south, news arrived that the bulk carrier Leader L had gone down some 700 kilometres northeast of Bermuda.  The task group was re-directed to offer assistance.  13 survivors were picked up along with six bodies, 12 sailors were missing. HMCS Iroquois landed the survivors and bodies in Bermuda before rejoining the task group.  On 17 Oct 2001, with HMCS Charlottetown and HMCS Preserver, HMCS Iroquois departed Halifax for the Arabian Sea to support a US- led coalition against international terrorism. She returned to Halifax on 27 Apr 2002.  In the course of that 193-day deployment, she spent 171 days at sea, 51 of them consecutively, one of the longest continuous patrols in the history of the RCN.  Soon after departing Halifax for a second deployment to the Arabian Sea, on 27 Feb 2003 she suffered a Sea King crash on deck, fortunately without serious injuries.  Upon arriving in the Arabian Sea, she served as the flagship of the multi-national Task Force 151 from Mar to July 2003.  She made a third deployment to the Arabian Sea as flagship of the multi-national Task Force 150, Jun-Sep 2008.  In her last years of service, she performed two major representational voyages: to Baltimore, Maryland, in Jun 2012 for the War of 1812 Bicentennial; and to Liverpool, UK, in May 2013 for the 70th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of the Atlantic.  In 2014, it was found that rust had caused extensive damage to her hull and she was laid up alongside Halifax, where she was deemed not worth repairing.  HMCS Iroquois was paid-off on 1 May 2015 at HMC Dockyard, Halifax.  At 1600 on 24 Nov 2016, under tow from the tug Atlantic Spruce, the former HMCS Iroquois departed Halifax en route to Liverpool, NS and the breaker's yard.

 (Emmet Francois Photo)

HMCS Iroquois (DDH 280), New York, 1986.

 (Dirtsc Photo)

HMCS Iroquois (DDH 280).

 (Jim Henderson Photo)

HMCS Iroquois (DDH 280).

 (DND Photo)

HMCS Iroquois (DDH 280).  This photo was taken in the Gulf of St Lawrence as she was headed for Halifax following her acceptance into the CF.  The Sea King happened to be in Summerside when Iroquois went by so the pilot, Jim Clarke, went over to have a look when this photo was taken.  Note the absence of hangar-top and hangar-face lines and appropriate flight deck markings.  He did not land as the flight deck was not yet “certified “.  (Paul O'Reilly)

 (National Museum of the USN Photo)

Standing Naval Force Atlantic underway.  HMS Danae (F-47), HMCS Iroquois (DDH-280), HMCS Protecteur (AOR-509), HNLMS Van Nes (F-805), USS Sellers (DDG-11) and FGS Augsburg (F-222), 9/1/1982.

HMCS Huron (DDH 281)

(USN Photo, Photographer's Mate 1st Class Franklin Call)

Built by Marine Industries Ltd., Sorel, HMCS Huron was commissioned on 16 Dec 1972.   HMCS Huron actually got her start two days early because of the ice conditions in the St Lawrence.  Commissioning divisions were short and cold, -20 C with a strong north wind.  When she came down the river she needed ice breaker assistance to get by Quebec City.  Also the supply system failed the ship in that the crew were not issued modern weather jackets.  At Halifax, 1973 she required a great deal of ship's trials on machinery, sound, weapons etc.  Each ship new ship of her class was given a first in class trial to be done.  HMCS Huron was chosen to do helicopter trials,  She sailed south in Jan 1974 for exercises with the USN, returning in mid-Mar 1974.  Early in Apr 1974 she sailed for the Mediterranean with HMCS Iroquois and HMCS Preserver.  After visiting Lisbon, Portugal, she exercised with the USN Med Fleet off the southern tip of Italycalling at the ports of Naples and Barcelona, and then returning to Halifax in mid-Jun 1974.  In mid-Jul 1974 HMCS Huron sailed for NATO - the first of the 280 class to do so on that deployment, serving on station until mid-Dec 1974.  In early 1975, she sailed to carry out missile firings off Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico.  This involved tracking trials using the CF9.  Because of the limited fuel range of these aircraft., they would have had to fly over Cuba.  The Captain could not get the over flight clearance, and therefore had to work out of Key West for three weeks.  For the rest of the year she took part in Ex SAFE PASS and had a refit.  She sailed in early Jan 1976 for WUPS and exercises out of Roosevelt Roads. She took part in another Ex SAFE PASS from Mayport, Florida up the coast, which ended just off Halifax.  HMCS Huron sailed for a second NATO deployment early in Jul 1976.  While in Kiel, Germany, HMCS Huron's crew conducted a 3-week self-maintenance routine.  On sailing from Kiel, the NATO SQN transited the Kattegat at night at high speed.  The NATO SQN had been dispatched to intercept the Russian air craft carrier Kiev that had broken out of the Black Sea into the Mediterranean Sea with her escorts and headed north.  At that time she was one of Russia's latest and newest warships.  During the transit, the ship ran over a shoal, tore off the underwater telephone and took 2 or 3 large chunks off the props.  The ship entered Oslo for a port visit, and upon assessing the damage, HMCS Huron had to leave the SQN early and return Halifax for repairs. She was tied up along Halifax for approx 6 weeks before repairs began.

HMCS Huron represented Canada at the Silver Jubilee Naval Review at Spithead on 28 Jun 1977, and in 1981 carried Governor-General Edward Schreyer on a tour of five Scandinavian ports.  On 12 Mar 1980, HMCS Margaree and HMCS Huron rescued the crew of the stricken MV Maurice Desgagnes.  Later in her career, she was transferred to Esquimalt, BC.  She served on MARPAC missions protecting Canada's sovereignty in the Pacific Ocean and enforced Canadian laws in its territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone.  HMCS Huron was also deployed on missions throughout the Pacific and to the Indian Ocean; specifically the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea on anti-terrorism operations.  HMCS Huron took part in a port visit, along with HMCS Kootenay 258 and HMCS Annapolis 265 at Vladivostok, Russia from 3 to 7 Jun 1990.  In the winter of 1991 HMCS Huron was deployed to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation FRICTION, the CF's contribution to Operation DESERT STORM (the Gulf War) to replace her sister ship HMCS Athabaskan as the flagship of the Canadian Naval Task Group.  HMCS Huron arrived after hostilities ceased and patrolled for several months before returning to Esquimalt.  HMCS Huron was deployed to the Adriatic Sea in 1993 in support of the United Nations naval embargo of the former Yugoslavia.  On 15 Jul 1993, HMCS Huron began her TRUMP refit at Marine Industries Ltd., Sorel, Quebec.  In 1999 HMCS Huron intercepted a civilian ship smuggling illegal migrants off the coast of British Columbia.  Paid off on 31 Mar 2005, she was sunk as an exercise target ship 14 May 2007 during Operation TRIDENT FURY, a live-fire exercise conducted by MARPAC 100 km (54.0 mi) west of Vancouver Island.

 (Author Photo)

HMCS Huron (DDH 281), Halifax, ca 1974.

 (Arthur J. Matthews Photo)

HMCS Huron (DDH 281).

 (Raymond L. Blazevic Photo)

HMCS Huron (DDG 281).

HMCS Athabaskan (DDG 282)

  (Master Corporal Jonathan Barrette, Canadian Forces Combat Camera Photo) 

Third of her class, and built by the Davie Shipbuilding Co., Lauzon, HMCS Athabaskan was commissioned on 30 Sep 1972.  On 26 Nov 1981, she was dispatched, along with HMCS Algonquin and HMCS Preserver, to the aid of the MV Euro Princess, which was badly holed and drifting down on the drill-rig Rowan Juneau, off Sable Island.  Rescue helicopters took off the ship's crew, while HMCS Athabaskan’s Sea King helicopter evacuated 44 from the drill-rig despite 60-knot winds.  This procedure had to be done “free-deck” at both ends, owing to a malfunction of her Beartrap.  The abandoned merchant ship was recovered by CGS Alert.

On 24 Aug 1990, HMCS Athabaskan departed Halifax as one of three ships representing Canada in the Persian Gulf conflict, returning on 7 Apr 1991.  Not resting on the laurels of her predecessors, the crew of HMCS Athabaskan proved their mettle on 18 Feb 1991.  On that morning, USS Princeton was patrolling 28 nautical miles off Failaka Island in the Persian Gulf when, at 7:15 a.m. local time, two MN103 Manta bottom-mounted influence mines detonated, one just under the port rudder and the other just forward of the starboard bow.  The blasts cracked the superstructure, buckled three lines in the hull, jammed the port rudder, flooded the No. 3 switchboard room through chilled water pipe cracks, and damaged the starboard propeller shaft.  BM3 Ford was seriously injured, along with two other crewmembers who sustained various injuries.  At great risk to his ship and crew, the CO of HMCS Athabaskan navigated her, with the use of the Seaking helicopters to locate mines, though the minefield to deliver damage-control supplies to the severely damaged USS Princeton.  HMCS Athabaskan then guided USS Princeton thorough the minefield until relieved by the minesweeper USS Adroit.

In Oct 1991 she was turned over to MIL, Lauzon, for her TRUMP refit, after which, on 3 Aug 1994, she was provisionally accepted by the Navy.  In the fall of 1995 she took part, with HMCS Kootenay, in the two-month Exercise UNITAS, along with ships from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Spain, the US and Uruguay.  On 15 Mar 1999 HMCS Athabaskan departed Halifax for a six month deployment with SNFL, rejoining the Force again at the beginning of 2000.  On 3 Aug 2000 she was handed a rather bizarre assignment: to board (via helicopter) the GTS Katie 160 kilometres off Newfoundland.  The freighter had a cargo of Canadian military equipment destined from Kosovo to Bécancour, Quebec, which her chartered Captain had refused to land because of a dispute over payment.  She was compelled by the boarding party to deliver her cargo as originally intended.  In Sep 2005, with HMCS Toronto, HMCS Ville de Québec and the CCGS Sir William Alexander, she deployed to Louisiana to assist disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.  On 21 Apr 2006, as flagship of the NATO Standing Maritime Group One (SNMG 1) she was moored at Devonport, UK, to mark the 80th birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth II.  In Jan 2010, with Halifax, she deployed to provide disaster relief following the major earthquake in Haiti.  That same year, on 29 Jun 2010, she was the the command ship for HM Queen Elizabeth II for the International Fleet Review marking the Canadian Naval Centennial.  Following a refit in St Catherine’s, Ontario, while being towed back to Halifax in Dec 2012, she broke loose from her tow off Cape Breton Island, sustaining some hull damage.

HMCS Athabaskan was paid off in Halifax, NS, on 10 Mar 2107.  She was the last of the Iroquois Class destroyers.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5056549)

HMCS Athabascan (DDH 282), STANAFORLANT, Jan 1983.

 (DND Photo)

HMCS Athabascan (DDH 282).

 (DND Photo)

HMCS Athabascan (DDH 282).

 (Mike Ellis Photo) 

HMCS Athabaskan (DDG 282), missile launch.

 (Cpl Tony Chand, Formation Imaging Services Photo)

HMCS Athabaskan (DDG 282).

 (Scott Murphy Photo)

HMCS Athabaskan (DDG 282).

 (Mike Ellis Photo)

HMCS Athabaskan (DDG 282).

 (Scott Wright Photo)

HMCS Athabaskan (DDG 282).

 (Torphoto Photo)

HMCS Athabaskan (DDG 282).

 (Gerald Doutre Photo)

HMCS Athabaskan 282 RASing with USS Wisconsin during the Gulf War 1990-1991, Persian Gulf.

 (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Daniel Gaither, USN Photo)

HMCS Athabascan (DDG 282) underway with HMCS Halifax (FFH 330) and HMCS Montreal (FFH 336) in September 2015.

HMCS Algonquin (DDH 283)

 (Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Jayme Pastoric, USN Photo)

HMCS Algonquin (DDG 283) underway in close formation with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).  

The last of her class, HMCS Algonquin (DDH 283) was built by the Davie Shipbuilding Co., Lauzon, and commissioned on 3 Nov 1973.  In Nov 1974, HMCS Algonquin rescued the crew of the fishing vessel Paul & Maria, which was sinking 80 miles east of Halifax.  In the fall of 1977, she took part in the Caribbean exercise CARIBOPS ‘77, in the process being the first of her class to cross the equator.  On 26 Sep 1978, she relieved HMCS Huron as the flagship of the SNFL, staying with the Force until the end of the year.  By the end of her tenth year in service, HMCS Algonquin had steamed more than 200,000 nautical miles and spent an actual three years at sea.  During that period, she had taken part in more than twenty multinational exercises and completed four tours of duty with SNFL, three of them as flagship.  On 1 Mar 1986, she responded to a call for help from the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans, two of whose officers had boarded the Panamanian trawler Peonia 7.  Ignoring orders to put in to St. John’s, the vessel’s captain had headed to sea with the DFO officers still on board.  HMCS Algonquin overtook her and enforced the original orders.  On 26 Oct 1987, she commenced her TRUMP refit at MIL Davie, Lauzon.  Labour problems and contract disputes delayed completion of the work until 11 Oct 1991.  On 29 Mar 1993, HMCS Algonquin sailed to join SNFL, again as flagship, and transited the Suez Canal to join the other NATO vessel in the Adriatic enforcing the blockade of the former Yugoslavia on 24 Jun 1993. She transferred to the west coast in Aug 1994.  Early in 1995 she took part in an a US battle group training exercise off southern California.  That fall, HMCS Algonquin test-fired her SM2 missile on the Pacific Missile Range in the Hawaiian Islands.  On 18 Mar 1996 she left Esquimalt to participate in Exercise WESTPLOY '96, acting as flagship of a group including HMCS Preserver, HMCS Regina and HMCS Winnipeg.  During three months the ships visited Japan, Russia and South Korea and afterward took part in RIMPAC '96 off Hawaii.  In mid-Jan 1997, she began what was foreseen as a 12-month, $15 million refit but which proved to cost almost $25 million, re-entering service in May 1998.  More exercises with Pacific rim countries followed during 2000 and 2001.  On 23 Mar 2002, she departed Esquimalt for the Arabian Sea to support the US-led coalition against international terrorism, arriving back on 14 Oct 2002.  For the next decade she continued to act as the west coast flagship through a range of national and international exercises.  On 12 Jun 2010, she was the command ship for Her Excellency Governor-General Michaëlle Jean for the International Fleet Review marking the Canadian Naval Centennial.  On 30 Aug 2013, HMCS Algonquin was involved in a collision with HMCS Protecteur which resulted in considerable damage to her hangar.  The damage was never repaired and she was paid off on 11 Jun 2015.  On 9 May 2016, the former HMCS Algonquin departed Esquimalt, BC, under tow, destined for Liverpool, NS, to be broken up.  In Jun 2016, she arrived alongside at the yard of R.J. MacIsaac Construction at Liverpool to be broken up.

Note: The 5"54 cal gun on the 280s were named after the Oto Melara technicians who installed them and did the FSR work in Canada.  The names for the guns were as follows:  HMCS Iroquois - Pasquale, HMCS Huron - Tulio, HMCS Athabaskan - Leno and HMCS Algonquin - Luigi.

 (USN Photo)

HMCS Algonquin (DDH 283)

 (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jon Dasbach, USN Photo)

HMCS Algonquin (DDH 283)

 (USN Photo)

HMCS Algonquin (DDH 283).