Second HMCS Annapolis is making waves off B. C.’s rain coast

Decommissioned destroyer escort was one of Canada’s distinctive 1960s-era St. Laurentclass ‘Cadillacs"

An honoured name in Canadian naval history is in the news again. Plans to sink the stripped-down destroyer escort HMCS Annapolis as an artificial reef in Howe Sound have been met with successive challenges.

This is the second Canadian destroyer to bear the name of the river that runs through Nova Scotia’s fabled Annapolis Valley. The first Annapolis began her career as the USS Mackenzie and was one of six of the 50 WW1-era four-stacker destroyers acquired by Great Britain from the U.S. under Lend-Lease then turned over to the Royal Canadian Navy.

Commissioned in Halifax in September 1940, the "new" HMCS Annapolis underwent refit (including removal of one of her four funnels) and strengthening after having spent 17 years in mothballs. Initially assigned to convoy escort duties out of Halifax, in 1944 she was attached as a training ship to the RCN training base, HMCS Cornwallis. Thousands of new Canadian seamen learned the ropes aboard the Annapolis and she also participated in the salvage of the S.S. James Miller, aground in the Bay of Fundy. Paid off in June 1945, she was sold for scrapping to an American firm in June 1945.

The second Annapolis, currently awaiting a Viking’s grave, is our 20th postwar destroyer escort. Built in Halifax Shipyards, she was commissioned Dec. 19, 1964, and served until her retirement, July 1, 1998.

Once known as Cadillacs, Canada’s distinctive 1960s-era St. Laurent-class DE’s were among the first to have rounded contours to allow the rinsing away of radioactive contamination in the event of nuclear war. Equipped with variable depth sonar "developed and manufactured in Canada," and a heli-port for a Sea King helicopter, Annapolis and her sisters were specially-designed to "deal with modern high-speed submarines".

In short, 115-metre-long Annapolis and company exemplified "the high degree of professional and technical skill achieved by those concerned with the design, construction and fitting out of warships in Canada". (This was during the Cold War, remember.) Among her achievements during her 32-year-long career, Annapolis was the first Canadian warship to employ a towed array sonar system and the first (1990) to employ a mixed-gender crew. She spent most of her career on the east coast and, upon reassignment to Maritime Forces Pacific, served as a training ship until she was decommissioned, Nov. 15, 1996. Placed in reserve and paid off two years later, she was stripped of her weaponry and sensor gear and sold to the Artificial Reef Society in 2008 which scheduled her for sinking in 2010.

That hasn’t happened because of environmental concerns. As of April 14, the latest news report states, this one in Sechelt’s Coast Reporter, the situation has only worsened, with financial, legal and environmental problems now threatening the continued existence of the ARSBC itself.

(Of the seven vessels currently serving as artificial reefs in B.C. waters, five are ex-RCN ships: the four destroyers Chaudiere, Mackenzie, Sasatchewan, Columbia, and the repair ship Cape Breton.) All approvals are said to be in place but for that of Environment Canada because of concern for the ship’s polychlorinated biphenlys insulation. Apparently, a citizens’ group, Save Halkett Bay, brought the EC into the picture. According to an ARSBC spokesman, volunteers have spent 20,000 hours stripping the ship of possible hazards and prepping it for its final voyage to the deep.

More threatening to the society, which is said to be financially challenged, is a lawsuit in the amount of $95,240 that was launched by a marine contractor for services rendered and mooring fees – although he said he’s willing to forego his suit if the ship is scuttled elsewhere than is intended.

So, as of this writing, the sinking of HMCS Annapolis as an artificial reef, at least in Halkett Bay, off the southeastern shore of Gambier Island, remains, so to speak, up in the air.

www.twpaterson.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cowichan Valley residents can help mark World Alzheimer’s Month

Two-part online discussion series called “Demystifying advocacy” on Sept. 28 and 29

Island Corridor launches survey to determine importance of Vancouver Island rail line

“ICF remains 100 per cent committed to the restoration of full rail service on Vancouver Island”

Who’s running in Cowichan?

A list of Cowichan candidates for the upcoming provincial election

Cowichan Aquatic Centre will reopen on Oct. 13

But facility will only be open on a limited basis for time being

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Island RCMP remind drivers not to text after 19 tickets handed out in 90 minutes

The $368 fines were handed out Tuesday on Norwell Drive and Old Island Highway in Nanaimo

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Three years for serial bank robber who hit southern Vancouver Island branch

Lucas Bradwell was wanted for robberies in Abbotsford, Sidney and Vancouver

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

Most Read