HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22)

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HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22) underway 1961.jpeg
HMCS Bonaventure in 1961
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
Motto: Nos Toz Seus (Not for us alone)[1]
Nickname(s): "Bonnie"
Fate: Broken up in Taiwan 1971
Badge: On a field barry wavy of ten argent and azure a horseshoe with base or in which a wyvern wings displayed gules gorged with a coronet of Canada[1]
General characteristics
Class and type: Majestic-class aircraft carrier
  • normal: 16,000 tonnes
  • full load: 19,920 tonnes
  • waterline: 629.9 ft (192.0 m)
  • flight deck: 704 ft (215 m)
  • 79.9 ft (24.4 m)
  • deck width: 112.5 ft (34.3 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)
Sensors and
processing systems:
Aircraft carried:

HMCS Bonaventure (CVL 22) was a Majestic-class aircraft carrier that served in the Royal Canadian Navy and the successor Canadian Forces Maritime Command from 1957 to 1970 and was the third and the last aircraft carrier to serve Canada's military. The ship was laid down for the British Royal Navy as HMS Powerful in November 1943 but work was suspended in 1946 following the end of the Second World War. At the time of purchase, the Canadian Navy required new aircraft carrier technologies be incorporated. Bonaventure never saw combat during her career; however, she was involved in major NATO fleet-at-sea patrol during the Cuban Missile Crisis.[2]


HMCS Bonaventure from the stern, photo taken in October 1957

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 following the end of the Second World War, and only resumed when she was bought by the Royal Canadian Navy in 1952, to replace the wartime light carrier HMCS Magnificent. Both the United States and Great Britain offered carriers for consideration and the incomplete HMS Powerful, a sister Majestic, was purchased from the Royal Navy, on the condition she be fitted with angled flight deck, steam catapults, and optical landing system.

Bonaventure was named for Bonaventure Island, a bird sanctuary in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and was commissioned on 17 January 1957. In 1966, the carrier began a mid-life refit in Quebec City which took 18 months and cost $11 million, both behind schedule and well over budget. Following the 1968 Unification of the Canadian Forces, and budget cuts, Bonaventure was decommissioned in Halifax, on 3 July 1970,[3] and scrapped in Taiwan in 1971. Components from Bonaventure's steam catapult were used to rebuild the catapult aboard Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne, another Majestic-class carrier.[4]


Bonaventure's primary role was in anti-submarine warfare (ASW), protecting Canada's maritime trade, primarily in the Atlantic and helping Canada meets its NATO commitments.[5] In addition, her Banshees contributed to Canada's air defence. During the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, Bonaventure operated alongside U.S. Navy carriers as a part of the blockade. In 1964, Bonaventure was also used as an equipment ferry, taking troops and their gear, including 54 vehicles and 160 tons of equipment, to Cyprus for the Canadian peacekeeping mission there.


Banshees overflying Bonaventure in the late 1950s

During her service life, Bonaventure carried five squadrons. Initially, she embarked 34 fixed wing aircraft and helicopters; this was reduced to just 21 aircraft by 1967. The Banshee, flown by VF 870 and VF 871, and the Grumman CS2F Tracker ASW aircraft, operated by VS 880 and VS 881, were flown from Bonaventure, along with Sikorsky HO4S ASW helicopters operated by HS 50.[6]

Even with the angled portion, Bonaventure's flight deck was short for the Banshees and some U.S. Navy pilots refused to land aboard her.[7] The Trackers were also a tight fit. Despite this, Bonaventure conducted sustained around-the-clock operations, keeping four Trackers and two HO4Ss in the air at all times, while monitoring an area of 200 square nautical miles (690 km2). The Banshees were retired in 1962 but were not replaced, and in 1964 Sikorsky CHSS-2 Sea King helicopters began replacing the HO4S. When Bonaventure was retired, her former aircraft continued to operate from shore installations, including CFB Shearwater.


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

Bonaventure had two ships' anchors. Her starboard anchor, donated by Maritime Command 6 May 1998, is on display at Royal Military College Saint-Jean. The second ship's anchor 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 is preserved at the Shearwater Aviation Museum in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia which also hosts a large model and exhibit about the carrier.


  1. ^ Replaced during 1967 refit with AN/SPS-501 air search radar.
  2. ^ Reduced to 2 during 1967 refit.
  3. ^ Retired in 1962
  4. ^ Introduced in 1964.


  • Arbuckle, J. Graeme (1987). Badges of the Canadian Navy. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Nimbus Publishing. ISBN 0-920852-49-1. 
  • Beaver, Paul (1982). The British Aircraft Carrier. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens. ISBN 0-85059-493-6. 
  • Hall, Timothy (1982). HMAS Melbourne. North Sydney, NSW: George Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-86861-284-7. OCLC 9753221. 

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