HMCS Assiniboine (DDH 234)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMCS Assiniboine.
HMCS Assiniboine (DDH 234) underway in 1986
HMCS Assiniboine (DDH 234) in 1986
Name: Assiniboine
Namesake: Assiniboine River
Operator: Royal Canadian Navy
Builder: Marine Industries, Sorel
Laid down: 19 May 1952
Launched: 12 February 1954
Commissioned: 16 August 1956
Decommissioned: 14 December 1988
Reclassified: 28 June 1963 (as DDH)
Identification: 234
Honours and
Atlantic 1939-45, Biscay 1944, English Channel 1944-45[1]
Fate: Sank in 1995 in the Caribbean Sea while under tow to breakers.
General characteristics
Class & type: St. Laurent-class destroyer
  • As DDE:
    • 2263 tons (normal), 2800 tons (deep load)[note 1]
  • As DDH:
    • 2260 tons (normal), 3051 tons (deep load)[2]
Length: 366 ft (111.6 m)
Beam: 42 ft (12.8 m)
  • As DDE: 13 ft (4.0 m)[3]
  • As DDH:14 ft (4.3 m)[2]
Propulsion: 2-shaft English-Electric geared steam turbines, 2 Babcock and Wilcox boilers 30,000 shp
Speed: 28.5 knots (52.8 km/h)[3]
Range: 4,750 nautical miles (8,797.0 km) at 14 knots (25.9 km/h)[4]
  • As DDE: 249
  • As DDH: 213 plus 20 aircrew
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • As DDE:
    • 1 × SPS-12 air search radar
    • 1 × SPS-10B surface search radar
    • 1 × Sperry Mk.2 navigation radar
    • 1 × SQS-10 or -11 hull mounted active search and attack sonar
    • 1 × SQS-501 (Type 162) high frequency bottom profiling sonar
    • 1 × SQS-502 (Type 170) high frequency Limbo mortar control sonar
    • 1 × UQC-1B "Gertrude" underwater telephone
    • 1 × GUNAR (Mk.64 GFCS with 2 on-mount SPG-48 directors)
  • As DDH:
    • 1 × SPS-12 air search radar
    • 1 × SPS-10B surface search radar
    • 1 × Sperry Mk.2 navigation radar
    • 1 × URN 20 TACAN radar
    • 1 × SQS-10 or -11 hull mounted active search and attack sonar
    • 1 × SQS-501 (Type 162) high frequency bottom profiling sonar
    • 1 × SQS-502 (Type 170) high frequency Limbo mortar control sonar
    • 1 × SQS-504 VDS, medium frequency active search (except 233 after 1986)
    • 1 × UQC-1B "Gertrude" underwater telephone
    • 1 × GUNAR (Mk.64 GFCS with 1 on-mount SPG-48 director)
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
  • As DDE:
    • 1 × DAU HF/DF (high frequency direction finder)
  • As DDH:
    • 1 × WLR 1C radar warning
    • 1 × UPD 501 radar detection
    • 1 × SRD 501 HF/DF
  • As DDE:
    • 2 × 3"/50 Mk.33 FMC twin mounts guns
    • 2 × 40mm "Boffin" single mount guns
    • 2 × Mk NC 10 Limbo ASW mortars
    • 2 × single Mk.2 "K-gun" launchers with homing torpedoes
  • As DDH:
    • 1 × 3"/50 Mk.33 FMC twin mount gun
    • 1 × Mk NC 10 Limbo ASW mortar
    • 2 × triple Mk.32 12.75 inch launchers firing Mk.44 or Mk.46 Mod 5 torpedoes
Aircraft carried:

HMCS Assiniboine was a St. Laurent-class destroyer that served in the Royal Canadian Navy and later the Canadian Forces from 1956-1988. She was the second ship to bear the name.

Assiniboine was laid down 19 May 1952 by Marine Industries at Sorel, Quebec and launched 12 February 1954. She was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy on 16 August 1956 and initially carried the pennant number DDE 234 as a destroyer escort. She underwent conversion to a destroyer helicopter escort (DDH) in 1962, the conversion performed primarily by Victoria Machinery Depot.[5] She was officially reclassed with pennant DDH 234 on 28 June 1963.[6] She was the first of her class to undergo the conversion.[5]


The St. Laurent class were built to an operational requirement much like that which produced the British Type 12, and powered by the same machinery plant. The rounded deck-edge forward was adopted to prevent ice forming.[7] The vessels were designed to operate in harsh Canadian conditions. They were built to counter nuclear, biological and chemical attack conditions, which lead to a design with a rounded hull, a continuous main deck, and the addition of a pre-wetting system to wash away contaminants. The living spaces on the ship were part of a "citadel" which could be sealed off from contamination for the crew safety. The ships were sometimes referred to as "Cadillacs" for their relatively luxurious crew compartments; these were also the first Canadian warships to have a bunk for every crew member since previous warship designs had used hammocks.


As a St. Laurent-class destroyer escort, Saguenay was fitted with twin 3 inch/L50 guns for engaging both surface and air targets. Her anti-submarine armament consisted of a pair of triple barrelled Limbo ASW mortars in a stern well. The stern well had a roller top to close it off from following seas. The design included provision for long-range homing torpedoes, in this case BIDDER [Mk 20E] or the US Mark 35. They were never fitted however.[7]

As built, the twin 3-inch 50-calibre anti-aircraft mounts were installed without shields. These were added in 1963. The gun housings are fibreglass. [note 2]


The vessels of the St. Laurent class had two Babcock & Wilcox water tube boilers installed[8] providing 600 PSI (4.1 MPa, 42 kgf/cm²) at 850 °F (454.4 °C).[2]

The steam produced by these boilers was directed at two geared steam turbines which powered two shafts, providing 30,000 HP (22 MW) to drive the ship at a maximum speed of 28.5 knots (52.8 km/h).[9] By the early 1990s, the quoted maximum speed was only 27 kt.[2]

The propelling machinery was of British design. Canadian Vickers supplied the machinery which was manufactured in Canada. The main turbines and machinery were of English Electric design.[9]

Operational history[edit]

After commissioning, Assiniboine was assigned to the east coast. In 1959, she transferred to the west coast and in July, carried Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip from Vancouver to Nanaimo.[5] After returning from her conversion to a helicopter carrying destroyer, she was assigned once again to the east coast.

In 1974, the Assiniboine was anchored in Lisbon, Portugal as part of the NATO Standing Naval Force Atlantic, with crew ashore, when the Carnation Revolution occurred. The tension and confusion of the situation saw the vessel recall her crew and leave the area.[10]

On 21 January 1975, Assiniboine recovered the crew from the freighter Barma, the rescue effort hampered by high winds.[5][11]

Assiniboine was selected by the Canadian Forces for the Destroyer Life Extension (DELEX) program and completed this refit on 16 November 1979. The refit was performed by Vickers Ltd. in Montreal.[5]

Assiniboine in 1982

On 2 July 1981, Assiniboine ran aground in Halifax Harbour in heavy fog, requiring several tugboats to get free. She had been scheduled to take part in a NATO exercise, but was removed after the ship was required to undergo damage inspection.[12] In 1984, while acting as an escort for the Tall Ships race, she was part of the search for the crew of the lost sailing vessel Marques.

She was decommissioned from active service in the Canadian Forces on 14 December 1988 and was used as a harbour training ship at CFB Halifax beginning in 1989.[5]

The ship was sold for scrap in January 1995[13] and sank in the Caribbean Sea while under tow.[14]


  1. ^ These were "officially revised figures" quoted in Janes Fighting Ships 1963-64
    • Conways says 2000 tons standard displacement, 2600 deep load.
    • Combat Fleets of the World 1978-79 says 2390 tons displacement, 2900 full load.
  2. ^ Jane‍ '​s Fighting Ships 1963-64 shows photographs taken in 1962 and 1963 respectively of Skeena and Assiniboine with these.
  1. ^ "Battle Honours". Britain's Navy. Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d Sharpe, Richard (1992). Jane's Fighting Ships 1992-93. Janes Information Group. p. 84. ISBN 0710609833. 
  3. ^ a b Raymond V.B. Blackman, ed. (1963). Jane's Fighting Ships 1963-64. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co. ISBN 0070321612. 
  4. ^ Couhat, Jean Labayle (1978). Combat Fleets of the World 1978-79: Their Ships, Aircraft and Armament. Naval Institute. ISBN 0870211218. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Macpherson, Ken; Barrie, Ron (2002). The Ships of Canada's Naval Forces, 1910-2002 (3 ed.). St. Catharines: Vanwell Publishing Limited. p. 245. ISBN 1551250721. 
  6. ^ "The Beartrap - A Canadian Invention". Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Friedman, The Postwar Naval Revolution p.161
  8. ^ Canadian Navy of Yesterday & Today: St. Laurent class destroyer escort
  9. ^ a b Jane‍ '​s Fighting Ships 1963-64, p.34
  10. ^ "Internet Archive: HMCS Assiniboine and the Portuguese Coup". Archived from the original on 15 October 2004. Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  11. ^ "Pounding Seas, Driving Winds Hamper Rescue". The Telegraph. 21 January 1975. Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  12. ^ Cleaves, Herb (2 July 1981). "Destroyer aground in its home port". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  13. ^ Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475. 
  14. ^ "The Steamers: Where did they end up?". Archived from the original on 1 October 2005. Retrieved 25 March 2006. 
  • Canadian Navy of Yesterday & Today: St. Laurent class destroyer escort
  • Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1947-1995. US Naval Institute Press. March 1996. ISBN 1557501327. 
  • Friedman, Norman (1986). The Postwar Naval Revolution. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-952-9. 
  • Jean L. Couhat, ed. (1978). Combat Fleets of the World, 1978-1979: Their Ships, Aircraft and Armament. Arms & Armour Press. ISBN 0853682828. 
  • Macpherson, Ken; Barrie, Ron. (2002) Warships of Canada's Naval Forces 1910-2002. 3rd Edition. St. Catharines: Vanwell Publishing Limtied. ISBN 1-55125-072-1
  • Raymond V.B. Blackman, ed. (1963). Jane's Fighting Ships, 1963-1964. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd. ISBN 0070321612. 
  • Richard Sharpe, ed. (May 1992). Jane's Fighting Ships, 1992-1993 (95 ed.). Jane's Information Group. ISBN 0710609833.