HMCS Athabaskan (R79)

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HMCS Athabaskan AWM P05890.060.jpeg
HMCS Athabaskan circa. August 1951 - February 1952, probably in Korean waters.
Name: Athabaskan
Namesake: HMCS Athabaskan (G07)
Ordered: April 1942
Builder: Halifax Shipyards, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Laid down: 15 May 1943
Launched: 4 May 1946
Commissioned: 20 January 1948
Recommissioned: 25 October 1954
Decommissioned: 21 April 1966
Identification: Pennant number: R79; later DDE 219
Motto: "We Fight as One"
Nickname(s): Athabaskan II
Honours and
Korea 1950
Fate: sold for scrapping 1969
General characteristics
Class and type: Tribal-class destroyer
  • 1,850 tons (standard),
  • 2,520 tons (full)
Length: 377 ft (114.9 m)
Beam: 37.5 ft (11.4 m)
Draught: 9 ft (2.7 m)
Propulsion: 3 × Admiralty 3-drum boilers, steam turbines, 2 shafts, 44,000 shp
Speed: 36 knots (67 km/h)
  • 5,700 nautical miles (10,600 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)
  • 524 tons oil
Complement: 190 (219 as leader)

HMCS Athabaskan was a Tribal-class destroyer that served with the Royal Canadian Navy in the immediate post-Second World War era. She was the second destroyer to bear the name "Athabaskan", after the many tribes throughout western Canada that speak Athabaskan family languages. Both this ship and the original HMCS Athabaskan were destroyers and thus this one became known as Athabaskan II.

Built too late to see action in the North Atlantic, Athabaskan served in the Korean War and played an important role in Canadian postwar naval reform following a crew protest in 1949.


Athabaskan was ordered in April 1942. She was laid down 15 May 1943 at Halifax Shipyards and launched 4 May 1946.[1] She was one of four Tribal-class destroyers built in Halifax during the Second World War. She was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy on 20 January 1948 at Halifax.[2]

Operational history[edit]

After commissioning, Athabaskan sailed for the west coast to begin her career as a training ship. She performed this task until the outbreak of the Korean War.[2] It was during this period that the mutiny took place.

1949 'mutiny'[edit]

On 26 February 1949, when the Athabaskan was on fueling stop at Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico, ninety leading seamen and below – constituting more than half the ship's company – locked themselves in their messdecks, and refused to come out until getting the captain to hear their grievances.

The captain acted with great sensitivity to defuse the crisis, entering the mess for an informal discussion of the sailors' grievances and carefully avoiding using the term "mutiny" which could have had severe legal consequences for the sailors involved. Specifically, while talking with the disgruntled crew members, the captain is known to have placed his cap over a written list of demands which could have been used as legal evidence of a mutiny, pretending not to notice it.[3][4]

At nearly the same time, similar incidents happened on HMCS Crescent at Nanjing, China, and on the carrier HMCS Magnificent in the Caribbean, both of whose captains acted similarly to that of the Athabaskan.[4]

Korean War[edit]

Athabaskan operated during the Korean War, earning the battle honour "Korea 1950-53"

Return to training role[edit]

Following Korea, Athabaskan underwent a major refit, re-commissioning on 25 October 1954 as a destroyer escort.[5] On 1 January 1955, Athabaskan was assigned to the Second Canadian Escort Squadron of Pacific Command.[6] In November 1955, the Second Canadian Escort Squadron was among the Canadian units that took part in one of the largest naval exercises since the Second World War off the coast of California.[7] She returned to her training mission which lasted until January 1959. That month, she transferred to the east coast where she became part of the destroyer squadron made up of the Tribal-class destroyers in the Royal Canadian Navy. She spent the next five years on training cruises with occasional North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) exercises. Athabaskan was placed in reserve in 1964 at Halifax.[2]

Decommissioning and fate[edit]

Athabaskan was paid off for disposal on 21 April 1966. She was sold in 1969 and scrapped in 1970 at La Spezia, Italy.[2]


  1. ^ "HMCS Athabaskan (ii) (R79)". Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d 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. 
  3. ^ German, Tony (1990). The Sea is at our Gates : The History of the Canadian Navy. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Inc. ISBN 0-7710-3269-2. 
  4. ^ a b Gimblett, Richard. "Dissension in the Ranks, "Mutinies" in the Royal Canadian Navy". CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  5. ^ "Athabaskan Enters New Commission". The Crowsnest. Vol. 7 no. 2. Queen's Printer. December 1954. p. 3. 
  6. ^ "Two New Squadrons for Pacific Command". The Crowsnest. Vol. 7 no. 4. Queen's Printer. February 1955. pp. 2–3. 
  7. ^ "Biggest West Coast Exercises Held". The Crowsnest. Vol. 8 no. 2. Ottawa: Queen's Printer. December 1955. pp. 2–3. 


  • Brice, Martin H. (1971). The Tribals. London: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0245-2. 
  • English, John (2001). Afridi to Nizam: British Fleet Destroyers 1937–43. Gravesend, Kent: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-95-0. 

External links[edit]