HMCS Sackville (K181)

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HMCSSackville06.jpg
HMCS Sackville in October 2006, moored alongside the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia and restored to her 1944 condition.
Career (Canada) Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Namesake: Sackville, New Brunswick
Builder: Saint John Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Company Ltd.
Laid down: 28 May 1940
Launched: 15 May 1941
Commissioned: 30 December 1941
Decommissioned: 8 April 1946
Refit:

Thompson Bros. Machinery Co. Ltd., Liverpool, Nova Scotia, commenced 14 January 1943, machinery replacement, minesweeping gear removed, bridge wings extended to fit Oerlikon 20 mm AA

Galveston, Texas, 28 February 1944-7 May 1944, Forecastle extended, new bridge, hedgehog fitted, mast moved abaft of bridge, new boats, new electronics
Identification: Pennant number: K181
Honours and
awards:
Atlantic 1942-44
Fate: Museum ship, Halifax, Nova Scotia
General characteristics
Class & type: Flower-class corvette
Displacement: 950 tons
Length: 62.5 m (205 ft)
Beam: 10 m (33 ft)
Draft: 3.5 m (11 ft)
Propulsion: Single shaft, 2 fire tube Scotch boilers, 1 4-cyl. triple expansion steam engine, 2750 hp.
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)
Complement: 85
Armament:

1 BL 4-inch (101.6 mm) Mk.IX single
1 QF Mk.VIII 2-pounder on antiaircraft mount
2 20 mm Oerlikon
2 Lewis .303 cal mg twin
4 Mk.II depth charge throwers
2 depth charge rails with 40 depth charges

1 Mk 3 hedgehog.
Notes: Now a museum ship owned by the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust, moored in season at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
Official name: HMCS Sackville National Historic Site of Canada
Designated: 1988

HMCS Sackville was a Flower-class corvette that served in the Royal Canadian Navy and later served as a civilian research vessel. She is now a museum ship located in Halifax, Nova Scotia and the last surviving Flower-class corvette.

Wartime service[edit]

Sackville was laid down as Patrol Vessel 2 at the Saint John Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Saint John, New Brunswick in early 1940, the second of the Flower-class corvettes ordered by the Royal Canadian Navy. She was launched on 15 May 1941 by Mrs. J. E. W. Oland, wife of the captain of the port, with the Mayor and entire town council of her namesake town in attendance.[1] Sackville was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy on 30 December 1941 by Captain J. E. W. Oland, husband of the ship's sponsor.[2] Her first commanding officer, Lieutenant W. R. Kirkland, RCNR was appointed on 30 December[3] but did not join Sackville until 2 January.[2] Kirkland was discharged in March 1942 as "unsuitable" after a poor working-up trip to Newfoundland in late February. The first lieutenant reported that Kirkland had been unable to discharge his duties and had been abusive to his officers. After rescuing the survivors from the sunken Greek ship Lily, Sackville was unable to re-locate her convoy, ONS 68. The first lieutenant then took the step of relieving Kirkland and assuming command. The original crew was reposted to other RCN ships and the already trained crew of HMCS Baddeck under Lieutenant-Commander Alan H. Easton, RCNR was drafted onto the ship on 6 April 1942. Also in April Sackville received Canadian-built SW1C radar and worked up at Halifax and St. Margarets Bay.[4]

The ship was finally assigned to Escort Group C-3 of the Mid-Ocean Escort Force along with two others (Galt and Wetaskiwin) on 15 May 1942 to replace corvettes going for refit.[5] In August 1942 Sackville fought a series of fierce actions escorting Convoy ON-115. Deprived of air cover by heavy fog, the convoy was attacked by two successive U-boat "wolfpacks" off the coast of Newfoundland. On August 3, Sackville caught the German submarine U-43 on the surface and, as the submarine dived, made a series of depth charge attacks that blew U-43 out of the water. The submarine managed to survive but had to flee to Europe for repairs. The next day Sackville attacked U-704 as it dived, causing the submarine to break off its attack leaving Sackville to rescue two survivors from an abandoned but still floating merchant ship. Only a few hours later, Sackville detected U-552 on the surface with radar and landed a four inch shell on the submarine's conning tower followed by a depth charge. U-552 nearly sank but managed to regain control and creep back to Germany heavily damaged. Sackville's attacks had played a key role in allowing the 41 ship convoy to escape with the loss of only two ships.[6][7]

Sackville continued in her escort role until starting an extensive refit at Thompson Bros. Machinery Co. Ltd. in Liverpool, Nova Scotia in January 1943. She returned to service in April and was assigned to Escort Group C-1 where she remained until reassigned to a new group Escort Group 9 in July. The group was disbanded following the loss of three of its ships on 20–22 September and the ship assigned to group C-2, where the ship remained on Atlantic escort work until going for refit in Galveston, Texas in February 1944.

Returning to Halifax in May 1944 the vessel worked up in Bermuda and was then assigned to Escort Group C-2 which left for Derry escorting convoy HX-297 on 29 June 1944.

At Derry the boilers were cleaned, which revealed a serious leak in one of them. Repairs were unsuccessful and the ship was no longer considered suitable for convoy escort work. Since the ship had only recently been modernized she was reassigned for training at HMCS King on 29 August 1944.

However almost immediately afterwards the decision was made to convert her to a Loop Layer, laying anti-submarine indicator loops across harbour entrances, her damaged boiler removed to provide storage for the cable and the 4 inch gun replaced with a pair of cranes. She remained in this role until paid off in April 1946 and laid up in reserve.

Trans-Atlantic convoys escorted[edit]

Convoy Escort Group Dates Notes
HX 175 13-15 Feb 1942[8] 27 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Iceland
SC 72 28 Feb-5 March 1942[9] 19 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Iceland
ON 70 11–15 March 1942[10] 30 ships escorted without loss from Iceland to Newfoundland
HX 191 MOEF group C3 28 May-5 June 1942[8] 24 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 104 MOEF group C3 17–27 June 1942[10] 36 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
SC 90 MOEF group C3 6–15 July 1942[9] 32 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 115 MOEF group C3 25 July-4 Aug 1942[10] Northern Ireland to Newfoundland; 3 ships torpedoed (2 sank)
HX 202 MOEF group C3 12-17 Aug 1942[8] 43 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Iceland
ON 121 MOEF group C3 17-20 Aug 1942[10] 34 ships escorted without loss from Iceland to Newfoundland
SC 98 MOEF group C3 2-11 Sept 1942[9] 69 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 131 MOEF group C3 19-28 Sept 1942[10] 54 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 210 MOEF group C3 7-14 Oct 1942[8] 36 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 141 MOEF group C3 26 Oct-3 Nov 1942[10] 59 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
SC 109 MOEF group C3 15-27 Nov 1942[9] Newfoundland to Northern Ireland; 2 ships torpedoed (1 sank)
ON 152 MOEF group C3 10-19 Dec 1942[10] 15 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
ON 184 MOEF group C1 16–25 May 1943[10] 39 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 242 MOEF group C1 6–14 June 1943[8] 61 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 190 MOEF group C1 25 June-3 July 1943[10] 87 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 247 Escort Group 9 14–19 July 1943[8] 71 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 195 Escort Group 9 1-8 Aug 1943[10] 51 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 252 Escort Group 9 20-27 Aug 1943[8] 52 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
Convoys ONS 18/ON 202 Escort Group 9 19-25 Sept 1943[10] Northern Ireland to Newfoundland; 7 ships torpedoed (6 sank)
SC 143 MOEF group C2 2-11 Oct 1942[9] Newfoundland to Northern Ireland; 1 ship torpedoed & sunk
ONS 21 MOEF group C2 23 Oct-2 Nov 1943[10] 33 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 265 MOEF group C2 11-20 Nov 1943[8] 51 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ONS 24 MOEF group C2 1-13 Dec 1943[10] 29 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 271 MOEF group C2 22-29 Dec 1943[8] 53 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ONS 27 MOEF group C2 14-18 Jan 1944[10] 32 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
ON 220 MOEF group C2 18-19 Jan 1944[10] 54 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 297 MOEF group C2 30 June-10 July 1944[8] 116 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland

Civilian service[edit]

Most Flower-class corvettes were scrapped shortly after the war, however Sackville was laid up in reserve. She was reactivated in 1952 and converted to a research vessel for the Department of Marine and Fisheries. The armament was removed, the hull repainted black in place of the original dazzle camouflage and the new pennant number 532 painted on the hull (changed to 113 in the late 1950s). A laboratory was built on the aft superstructure in 1964 and the bridge enclosed in 1968. She remained in service until December 1982, with her last cruise in July 1982.

Museum ship[edit]

The original intention had been to acquire HMCS Louisburg, which had been sold to the Dominican Republic and renamed Juan Alejandro Acosta but this vessel was wrecked (along with another Flower-class corvette - Cristobal Colon, the former HMCS Lachute)[11] by Hurricane David in 1979. This left Sackville as the sole remaining Flower-class corvette.[12]

The ship was transferred to the Canadian Naval Corvette Trust (now the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust) on 28 October 1983 and restored to her 1944 appearance (apart from minor details in her camouflage and the presence of the "barber pole" red and white pattern around her funnel which had been removed before 1944). It had originally been planned to restore the ship to her 1942 appearance but this proved too expensive.[12]

HMCS Sackville's summer location to the right, beside the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic at the foot of Sackville Street.

She currently serves the summer months as a museum ship moored beside the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia, while spending her winters securely in the naval dockyard at CFB Halifax under the care of Maritime Forces Atlantic, the Atlantic fleet of Royal Canadian Navy. Sackville's presence in Halifax is considered appropriate, as the port was an important North American convoy assembly port during the war.

In September 2003, Sackville broke loose during Hurricane Juan and struck the schooner Larinda, a yacht inspired by the 1767 Boston schooner HMS Sultana, moored beside her. The schooner's owners sued the Naval Memorial Trust in 2009[13] but the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruled in Sackville's favour on August 4, 2011, concluding that the Trust had taken all necessary and appropriate precautions to secure Sackville.[14]

Sackville makes her first appearance each spring when she is towed by a naval tug from HMC Dockyard to a location off Point Pleasant Park on the first Sunday in May to participate in the Commemoration of the Battle of the Atlantic ceremonies held at a memorial in the park overlooking the entrance to Halifax Harbour. Sackville typically hosts several dozen RCN veterans on this day and has also participated in several burials at sea for dispersing the ashes of RCN veterans of the Battle of the Atlantic at this location.

Recognition[edit]

In 1988, Sackville was designated a National Historic Site of Canada, due to her status as one of the last Flower-class corvettes known to exist.[15]

On 4 November, 1998, Canada Post issued a 45¢ stamp featuring 'HMCS Sackville' as part of the Naval Vessels series. The stamps were designed by Dennis George Page, based on an illustration by Todd Hawkins and on photographs by Canadian Naval Memorial Trust.[16]

HMCS Sackville memorial centre[edit]

Plans are currently being looked at for a $50 million memorial centre which could include a permanent land based berth for the ship, as well as a Canadian Naval memorial and museum.[17]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Milner. HMCS Sackville. p. 9. 
  2. ^ a b Milner. HMCS Sackville. p. 20. 
  3. ^ Lynch. Canada's Flowers. p. 74. 
  4. ^ Milner. HMCS Sackville. p. 21. 
  5. ^ Milner. HMCS Sackville. p. 23. 
  6. ^ W.A.B. Douglas, No Higher Purpose: The Official Operational History of the Royal Canadian Navy in the Second World War, 1939-1943, Vanwell Publishing (2004), pp. 498-502
  7. ^ Alan Easton, 50 North: An Atlantic Battleground, Ryerson Press (1963)
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "HX convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  9. ^ a b c d e "SC convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "ON convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  11. ^ "Today in History 30 August 2007". Seawaves. Retrieved 2008-06-10. 
  12. ^ a b "HMCS Sackville: The last flower (1941-2000)". History in Illustration. Retrieved 2008-06-10. 
  13. ^ Tall Ship Lawsuit Enters Final Stages (June 4, 2010) CBC News.
  14. ^ "HMCS Sackville not liable for Larinda sinking", CBC News, August 4, 2011
  15. ^ HMCS Sackville. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  16. ^ Canada Post stamp
  17. ^ "HMCS Sackville memorial centre plans", CBC News, March 7, 2012

Bibliography[edit]

  • Lynch, Thomas G. (1981). Canada's Flowers: History of the Corvettes of Canada. Halifax, NS: Nimbus Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-920852-15-7. 
  • Milner, Marc (1998). HMCS Sackville: 1941-1985. Halifax, NS: The Canadian Naval Memorial Trust. ISBN 0-9683661-0-4. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 44°38′50.85″N 63°34′09.35″W / 44.6474583°N 63.5692639°W / 44.6474583; -63.5692639