HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22)

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HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22) underway 1961.jpeg
HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22) in 1961
Career (Canada)
Name: Bonaventure
Namesake: Bonaventure Island
Builder: Harland & Wolff, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Laid down: 27 November 1943
Launched: 27 February 1945
Acquired: 23 April 1952
Commissioned: 17 January 1957
Decommissioned: 3 July 1970
Homeport: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Nickname: "The Bonnie"
Fate: Broken up in Taiwan 1971
General characteristics
Class & type: Majestic-class aircraft carrier
Displacement: 16,000 tonnes
Length: 629.9 ft (192.0 m)
Beam: 79.9 ft (24.4 m)
Draught: 24.5 ft (7.5 m)
Propulsion: Parsons single-reduction geared steam turbines, four Admiralty 3-drum type 350 psi (2.4 MPa) boilers, two shafts; 40,000 hp (30,000 kW)
Speed: 24.5 knots (45.4 km/h)
Complement: 1,200 (1,370 war)
Armament: 4 × 3 inch (2 barrelled) guns
8 × Bofors 40 mm guns
Aircraft carried: 34 MD F2H-3 Banshee jet fighters
Grumman CS2F Tracker ASW
Sikorsky HO4S helicopters

HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22) was a Majestic class aircraft carrier. She served in the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Forces Maritime Command from 1957 to 1970 and was the third and the last aircraft carrier to serve Canada. The ship was laid down for the British Royal Navy as HMS Powerful in November 1943. At the end of World War II, work on the ship was suspended in 1946. At the time of purchase, it was decided to incorporate new aircraft carrier technologies into the design. Bonaventure never saw action during her career having only peripheral, non-combat roles. However, she was involved in major NATO fleet-at-sea patrol during the Cuban Missile Crisis.[1]

History[edit]

As HMS Powerful she was laid down at Harland and Wolff in Belfast on 21 November 1943, and launched on 27 February 1945. Work was suspended after the end of World War II, and was not resumed until the ship was bought by Canada. She was acquired in the early 1950s by the Royal Canadian Navy, which was looking to replace its aging World War II–vintage light carriers Magnificent (another Majestic class carrier) and Warrior, which were deemed unsuitable for the jet age. Several surplus US and UK ships were considered, and the then-incomplete HMS Powerful, a Majestic-class light fleet carrier, was purchased in 1952 from the Royal Navy on the condition that it be refitted with an angled flight deck and steam catapult. Bonaventure—named after Bonaventure Island, a bird sanctuary in the Gulf of St. Lawrence—was commissioned into the Canadian Navy upon completion of its refit and modernization on 17 January 1957. In 1966 the carrier docked in Quebec for a mid-life refit. This second refit took 18 months and cost $11 million. After the 1968 unification of the Canadian armed services, Bonaventure was decommissioned in Halifax, on 3 July 1970,[2] and was scrapped in Taiwan in 1971. Components from Bonaventure's steam catapult were used to rebuild the catapult aboard Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne.[3]

Role[edit]

Bonaventure was the third and final aircraft carrier to be operated by the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Forces Maritime Command. Bonaventure played various roles during its service including serving as a platform for anti-submarine warfare.[4]

Aircraft[edit]

A Canadian F2H-3, 1957.

Bonaventure carried five squadrons. Initially, she had up to 34 planes and helicopters embarked at any time. The number of aircraft gradually reduced until the refit in 1967, when the air group peaked at 21 aircraft. Initially, two types of fixed-wing aircraft were operated from Bonaventure. The McDonnell F2H-3 Banshee was flown by VF 870 and VF 871 Squadrons, while Grumman CS2F Tracker anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft were operated by VS 880 and VS 881 Squadrons. Bonaventure also carried Sikorsky HO4S helicopters operated by HS 50 Squadron.[5]

Even with the refit, landing a Banshee on Bonaventure's relatively short flight deck was pushing the envelope; some American Pilots refused to land on the short flight deck.[6] The wide wing-span CS2F Trackers were also a tight fit. Despite this, and because of the hard work and dedication of her crew, Bonaventure was able by 1958 to conduct around-the-clock sustained operations, keeping four Trackers and two HO4Ss in the air at all times, saturating an area of 200 square nautical miles (690 km2) with anti-submarine warfare aircraft. The Banshees were retired in 1962. In 1964 new Sikorsky CHSS-2 Sea King helicopters were added to Bonaventure's complement.

Description[edit]

Before 1967 refit[edit]

Displacement: 16,000 t, 19,920 t full load
Dimensions: 192.02 by 24.38 by 7.47 m
Propulsion: Parsons single-reduction geared steam turbines, four Admiralty 3-drum type 350 psi (2.4 MPa) boilers, two shafts; 40,000 shp (30 MW)
Speed Maximum: 24.5 knots (45 km/h)
Crew: 1200; 1370 war
Aviation: Around 34 aircraft, including:

  • HS 50 Squadron: Sikorsky HO4S
  • VF 870 and VF 871 Squadron: McDonnell F2H-3 Banshee
  • VS 880 and VS 881 Squadron: Grumman CS2F Tracker

Flight Deck: 214.58 by 34.29 m
Radar: US AN/SPS-10 surface search, AN/SPS-12 air search, and SPS-8 height finder
Armament: 4 × 3 in (76 mm) 50 twin mounts, 3 × 6 pdr (3 kg) saluting guns

After 1967 refit (alterations in bold)[edit]

Displacement: 16,000 tons, and 19,920 tons full load
Dimensions: 192.02 by 24.38 by 7.47 m
Propulsion: Parsons single-reduction geared steam turbines, four Admiralty 3-drum type 350 psi (2.4 MPa) boilers, two shafts; 40,000 shp (30 MW)
Speed Maximum: 24.5 knots (45 km/h)
Crew: 1200; 1370 war
Aviation: Around 21 aircraft, including:

  • HS 50 Squadron: Sikorsky HO4S
  • HS 50, HU 21, and VX 10 Squadron: Sikorsky CHSS-2 Sea King
  • VS 880 and VS 881 Squadron: Grumman CS2F Tracker

Flight Deck: 214.58 by 34.29 m
Radar: US AN/SPS-10 surface search, and AN/SPS-501 air search
Armament: Two 3 in (76 mm) 50 twin mounts, three 6 pounder (3 kg) saluting guns ???

Commemoration[edit]

Bonaventure's anchor, Point Pleasant Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia

There were two anchors of the NCSM Bonaventure. One anchor of HMCS Bonaventure (starboard side) was donated by Maritime Command 6 May 1998 and is on display at Royal Military College Saint-Jean. The second ship's anchor from Bonaventure is preserved at Point Pleasant Park in Halifax where it serves as a monument to the men and women who died while serving the Canadian Navy during peacetime. The ship's bell from Bonaventure is preserved at the Shearwater Aviation Museum in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia which also hosts a large model and exhibit about the carrier.

Survival Legend[edit]

A Canadian legend especially popular around the time of her scrapping, eventually even mentioned in an article by the Naval Officers Association of Canada, claimed that the well-maintained and recently refitted Bonaventure was quietly swapped for the worn-out Indian carrier Vikrant in 1971, which was the ship actually scrapped. The article quotes Halifax Herald reporter Mike Bembridge and Senator Forrestall who attempted to track down Bonaventure after it disappeared for two weeks only to reappear already partly disassembled where it was supposed to be scrapped:

In a 1989 Oral History Project of the Library of Parliament, Senator J. Michael Forrestall, a former Progressive Conservative Party defense critic in the House of Commons, cast doubt on Bonaventure's supposed early demise... One evening, Forrestall called the Indian Embassy and asked the military attaché how Bonaventure was working out. The attaché replied, 'Splendid, we are quite pleased with it,' and then, realizing his slip, immediately hung up the phone.[7]

According to this legend Bonaventure now actually survives as the museum aircraft carrier Vikrant, a decommissioned ship in Mumbai, India, which is the last of the 1942 Design Light Fleet Carriers; she is now scheduled to be scrapped due to insufficient financial interest in her upkeep.[8]

References[edit]