HMCS Antigonish (K661)

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Frigate river rcn antigonish.jpg
HMCS Antigonish as River-class frigate
Name: Antigonish
Namesake: Antigonish, Nova Scotia
Ordered: 1 February 1943
Builder: Yarrows Ltd., Esquimalt
Laid down: 2 October 1943
Launched: 10 February 1944
Commissioned: 4 July 1944
Decommissioned: 2 May 1946
Identification: pennant number: K661
Recommissioned: 12 October 1957
Decommissioned: 30 November 1966
Reclassified: Prestonian-class frigate
Identification: pennant number: FFE 301
Motto: Be worthy
Honours and
Atlantic 1945;[1] Gulf of St. Lawrence 1944[2]
Fate: Broken up in Japan, 1968
Notes: Colours: Gold and black
Badge: Blazon Argent, a bear rampant sable, langued gules, grasping and breaking with its forepaws a beech bough proper.[3]
General characteristics
Class and type: River-class frigate
  • 1,445 long tons (1,468 t; 1,618 short tons)
  • 2,110 long tons (2,140 t; 2,360 short tons) (deep load)
  • 283 ft (86.26 m) p/p
  • 301.25 ft (91.82 m)o/a
Beam: 36.5 ft (11.13 m)
Draught: 9 ft (2.74 m); 13 ft (3.96 m) (deep load)
Propulsion: 2 × Admiralty 3-drum boilers, 2 shafts, reciprocating vertical triple expansion, 5,500 ihp (4,100 kW)
  • 20 knots (37.0 km/h)
  • 20.5 knots (38.0 km/h) (turbine ships)
Range: 646 long tons (656 t; 724 short tons) oil fuel; 7,500 nautical miles (13,890 km) at 15 knots (27.8 km/h)
Complement: 157
  • 2 × QF 4 in (100 mm)/45 Mk. XVI on twin mount HA/LA Mk.XIX
  • 1 × QF 12 pdr (3 in (76 mm)) 12 cwt /50 Mk. V on mounting HA/LA Mk.IX (not all ships)
  • 8 × 20 mm QF Oerlikon A/A on twin mounts Mk.V
  • 1 × Hedgehog 24 spigot A/S projector
  • up to 150 depth charges

HMCS Antigonish was a River-class frigate that served in the Royal Canadian Navy from 1944-1946 and as a Prestonian-class frigate from 1957-1966. She is named for Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Her photo is featured on the cover of the 1994 album Frigate by the band April Wine.

Antigonish was ordered 1 February 1943 as part of the 1943-44 River-class building programme. She was laid down by Yarrows Ltd. at Esquimalt on 2 October 1943 and launched 10 February 1944. She was commissioned at Esquimalt into the RCN on 4 July 1944 with the pennant K661.[4]


Main article: River-class frigate

The River-class frigate was designed by William Reed of Smith's Dock Company of South Bank-on-Tees. Originally called a "twin-screw corvette", its purpose was to improve on the convoy escort classes in service with the Royal Navy at the time, including the Flower-class corvette. The first orders were placed by the Royal Navy in 1940 and the vessels were named for rivers in the United Kingdom, giving name to the class. In Canada they were named for towns and cities though they kept the same designation.[5] The name "frigate" was suggested by Vice-Admiral Percy Nelles of the Royal Canadian Navy and was adopted later that year.[6]

Improvements over the corvette design included improved accommodation which was markedly better. The twin engines gave only three more knots of speed but extended the range of the ship to nearly double that of a corvette at 7,200 nautical miles (13,300 km) at 12 knots (22 km/h).[6] Among other lessons applied to the design was an armament package better designed to combat U-boats including a twin 4-inch mount forward and 12-pounder aft.[5] 15 Canadian frigates were initially fitted with a single 4-inch gun forward but with the exception of the HMCS Valleyfield, they were all eventually upgraded to the double mount.[6] For underwater targets, the River-class frigate was equipped with a Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar and depth charge rails aft and four side-mounted throwers.[5]

River-class frigates were the first Royal Canadian Navy warships to carry the 147B Sword horizontal fan echo sonar transmitter in addition to the irregular ASDIC. This allowed the ship to maintain contact with targets even while firing unless a target was struck. Improved radar and direction-finding equipment improved the RCN's ability to find and track enemy submarines over the previous classes.[5]

Service history[edit]

After transiting to Halifax, from which she required some minor repairs, Antigonish was sent to Bermuda to work up. Upon her return she was assigned to EG 16. She remained with the unit for the rest of the European war, making a couple of trips to Gibraltar.[7] In December 1944, with Antigonish as Senior Officer's Ship, EG 16 was deployed to Canadian waters for operations.[8]

Antigonish returned to Canada in June 1945 and began a tropicalization refit at Pictou, Nova Scotia on 1 July. This refit was completed on 17 November. She was ordered to Esquimalt where she was paid off into the reserve on 5 February 1946.[7][4]

Post-war service[edit]

Antigonish was reactivated in 1947 for use as a training ship until 1954. In October 1948, Antigonish joined the cruiser Ontario and destroyers Cayuga, Athabaskan, Crescent in sailing to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; the largest deployment of the Royal Canadian Navy following the war.[9] In January 1952, Beacon Hill and Antigonish deployed on a training cruise to South America along the Pacific coast, making several port visits. In May, Sioux, Antigonish and Beacon Hill travelled to Juneau, Alaska and in August, to San Diego on training cruises.[10]

She was one of twenty-one River-class frigates chosen to undergo conversion to a Prestonian-class frigate which gave her a flush-decked configuration and required the enlargement of her bridge and the heightening of her funnel. This also required the enclosing the quarterdeck in order to house the two Squid anti-submarine mortars.[7] She was converted in 1956-1957 and was recommissioned with pennant 301 on 12 October 1957.[4] During service with the Fourth Canadian Escort Squadron she was fitted with a midship deckhouse to provide classroom and training facilities for officer candidates.[11] In January 1960, Antigonish and three other Prestonian-class ships made a tour of South American ports, visiting San Diego, Balboa, the Galapagos Islands, Callao and Valparaíso, Talara and Long Beach.[12] Antigonish was a member of the Fourth Canadian Escort Squadron based out of Esquimalt, British Columbia. In June 1960 the Fourth Canadian Escort Squadron performed a training tour of the Pacific, with stops at Yokohama, Japan, Midway Atoll and Pearl Harbor. They returned to Canada in August.[13] She remained in a training role until she was paid off by the RCN on 30 November 1966.[4][7] She was sold for scrap and broken up in Japan in 1968.[7]

Ship's bell[edit]

The ship's bell of HMCS Antigonish is currently held by the Maritime Museum of British Columbia. The Christening Bells Project at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum includes information from the ship's bell of HMCS Antigonish, which was used for baptism of babies on board the ship.[14]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Battle Honours". Britain's Navy. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  2. ^ "Royal Canadian Warships - The Battle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence - Second World War". Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  3. ^ Arbuckle 1987, p.7
  4. ^ a b c d "HMCS Antigonish (K 661)". Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Fact Sheet No. 21 - Canadian River Class Frigates". Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c Macpherson, Ken (1989). Frigates of the Royal Canadian Navy 1943-1974. Lewiston, New York: Vanwell Publishing. pp. 6–7, 15. ISBN 0920277225. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Macpherson, Ken; Burgess, John (1981). The ships of Canada's naval forces 1910-1981 : a complete pictorial history of Canadian warships. Toronto: Collins. ISBN 0-00216-856-1. 
  8. ^ Rohwer, p. 379
  9. ^ "Plenty of Seatime". The Crowsnest. Vol. 1 no. 1. King's Printer. November 1948. p. 2. 
  10. ^ "R.C.N. News Review". The Crowsnest. Vol. 5 no. 3. Queen's Printer. January 1953. pp. 2–4. 
  11. ^ R.v.b. Blackman, ed. (1963). Jane's Fighting Ships, 1963-1964. Jane's fighting ships. 
  12. ^ "Frigates Visit South America". The Crowsnest. Vol. 12 no. 4. Queen's Printer. February 1960. p. 2. 
  13. ^ "Frigates Take Cadets to Japan". The Crowsnest. Vol. 12 no. 9. Queen's Printer. July 1960. p. 4. 
  14. ^ "Christening Bells". CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 


  • Arbuckle, J. Graeme (1987). Badges of the Canadian Navy. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Nimbus Publishing. ISBN 0-920852-49-1. 
  • Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939—1945: The Naval History of World War Two (Revised & Expanded ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2. 

External links[edit]