HMCS Hochelaga

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HMCS Hochelaga CN-3400.jpg
HMCS Hochelaga, with a 12-pounder gun visible forward.
Name: Hochelaga
Namesake: Hochelaga
Builder: Hawthorn & Company, Leith, Scotland
Launched: 1900
Acquired: 1914
Commissioned: 13 August 1915
Decommissioned: 31 March 1920
Renamed: HaChayal Ha'Ivri, 1946
Fate: Seized by Royal Navy, 1946
General characteristics (as armed yacht)
Type: Armed yacht
Displacement: 628 long tons (638 t)
Length: 192 ft 6 in (58.7 m)
Beam: 27 ft 6 in (8.4 m)
Draught: 14 ft 8 in (4.5 m)
Propulsion: Reciprocating engine
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h)
Armament: 1 × 12-pounder gun

HMCS Hochelaga was a commissioned patrol vessel of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) that served in the First World War and postwar until 1920. Hochelaga is a historic name associated with Canada, the voyages of Jacques Cartier, and the city of Montreal. Initially constructed as the yacht Waturus (alternatively spelled Walrus or Waterus) in 1900 in Europe, the vessel was sold to an American in 1902. The ship was acquired in 1914 for use as a patrol vessel on the East Coast of Canada. Following the war, the vessel became a ferry between Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. Following World War II, the ship, renamed HaChayal Ha'Ivri was used for illegal Jewish immigration to Palestine. The vessel's fate remains unknown.

Design and description[edit]

The vessel was initially constructed as a yacht with a clipper bow.[1] The ship had a gross register tonnage of 578 tons and had a length overall of 192 feet 6 inches (58.7 m), a beam of 27 feet 6 inches (8.4 m) and a draught of 14 feet 8 inches (4.5 m). The yacht was propelled by a steam-powered reciprocating engine and had a maximum speed of 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph). During Canadian naval service, the ship displaced 628 long tons (638 t) and mounted one 12-pounder gun.[2][3]

Service history[edit]

Launched at Leith, Scotland by Hawthorn & Company in 1900, the ship was originally named Waturus, and was owned by Charles Stephen, the Archduke of Austria. The Archduke sold the vessel to Randal Morgan, an American, in 1902 for $150,000 and Morgan paid a further $40,000 to refit the yacht.[4][5][a] Morgan took part in yacht races with Waturus along the East Coast of the United States.[6]

During the First World War, the RCN sought out suitable vessels for patrol service along the East Coast of Canada following warnings of increased U-boat activity.[7] Finding few available in Canada, the RCN sent agents south to the United States to acquire ships. The RCN sent Aemilius Jarvis to acquire two yachts up for sale in New York City in July 1915. Waturus, which was for sale by the shipbrokers Cox & Stevens for $80,000 in 1914 was one of the two. The RCN acquired both vessels and renamed the ship Hochelaga. Commissioned on 13 August 1915 and sailed to Montreal to undergo conversion to an armed yacht..[8] Hochelaga arrived at Sydney, Nova Scotia in September for duty on the Atlantic coast as a patrol vessel.[2][9] The vessel was part of the East Coast patrol from 1916 to 1918. The ship was present in Halifax Harbour during the Halifax Explosion and suffered damage, with several crewmembers injured in the blast.[10]

On 21 August 1918 Hochelaga, while performing an anti-submarine patrol with a small flotilla of four ships off the coast of Nova Scotia, encountered the German submarine U-156 while the submarine was in the process of boarding and sinking Canadian fishing schooners. The commanding officer of Hochelaga, Lieutenant R.D. Legate, ordered the ship to turn and head back towards the flotilla instead of intercepting the enemy. For failing to confront the enemy, Lieutenant Legate was placed under arrest and court-martialled in Halifax in October. Legate was found guilty and dismissed from the service.[11] Hochelaga remained on the Atlantic patrol until the end of the war and remained in RCN service until 1920.[2] The ship was briefly reactivated for active duty in July 1919 for the visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada and carried several guests, among them Admiral Sir Charles Kingsmill and the Governor General of Canada, along the St. Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers. In October 1919, Hochelaga was sent to tour the lighthouses and ship radio stations along the coasts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Newfoundland. [10] Hochelaga was paid off on 30 October 1920 and put up for sale. The vessel was not sold until 1923, when on 23 February, John Simon of Halifax acquired the vessel.[1]

In 1923 Hochelaga, operated by Hochelaga Shipping and Towing Co., of Halifax, became a Pictou-Charlottetown ferry.[1][2] Sold again in 1942 to Thomas C. Wilwerth of New York he attempted to change the vessel's coal-fired steam engines to modern oil-burning ones at Sullivan Shipyard in Brooklyn. When the US government took over the yard as part of the war effort, Wilwerth was forced to move the vessel on his own, but this proved too difficult and he took Hochelaga to Todd Shipyards to complete the conversion. It was during this period that the United States Coast Guard inspected the vessel and found several plates needed to be replaced and the number of crew increased to 24. On 3 July 1943, the vessel was seized by the United States Marshals Service due to unpaid bills. Hochelaga was in turn sold to a subsidiary of the United Fruit Company for use in the sugar trade with Puerto Rico. The United Fruit Company sold the vessel at the end of the war.[12]

Between 1945 and 1946, the vessel's record becomes hard to track, but the ship reappeared in 1946 registered to Em. Fostinis of Marseille and flagged in Honduras. Operated by Cra Mar. Las Palmas the vessel was renamed HaChayal Ha'Ivri ("Jewish Soldier") and used in a 1946 attempt to carry Jewish immigrants to Palestine, now known as Israel, at the time controlled by the British. Departing Antwerp on 14 July 1946 and carrying some 550 passengers, she was seized off Haifa by the British destroyer HMS Saumarez. The vessel was taken to Cyprus and remained listed to 1953, but the ultimate fate of the vessel is unknown.[13]



  1. ^ Macpherson & Barrie claim the vessel's name was Walrus[2]


  1. ^ a b c McKee 1983, p. 46.
  2. ^ a b c d e Macpherson & Barrie, p. 21.
  3. ^ Johnston et al., p. 380.
  4. ^ "Society in Philadelphia". The New York Times. 8 June 1902. Retrieved 1 April 2017. (Subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ McKee 1983, p. 32.
  6. ^ "New York Yachts Rice – Eastern Yacht Club Gives Regatta for Visiting Yachtsmen. Massachusetts Bay Course Rainbow Won in the Race for the Big Sloops – All Kinds of Weather for the Racers". The New York Times. 12 August 1902. Retrieved 1 April 2017. (Subscription required (help)). 
  7. ^ Johnston et al., p. 377.
  8. ^ McKee 1983, pp. 29, 32.
  9. ^ Johnston et al., p. 379.
  10. ^ a b McKee 1983, p. 45.
  11. ^ Gimblett 2009, p. 37.
  12. ^ McKee 1983, p. 47.
  13. ^ McKee 1983, p. 48.


  • Gimblett, Richard H., ed. (2009). The Naval Service of Canada 1910–2010: The Centennial Story. Toronto: Dundurn Press. ISBN 978-1-4597-1322-2. 
  • Johnston, William; Rawling, William G.P.; Gimblett, Richard H.; MacFarlane, John (2010). The Seabound Coast: The Official History of the Royal Canadian Navy, 1867–1939. 1. Toronto: Dundurn Press. ISBN 978-1-55488-908-2. 
  • Macpherson, Ken; Barrie, Ron (2002). The Ships of Canada's Naval Forces 1910–2002 (Third ed.). St. Catharines, Ontario: Vanwell Publishing. ISBN 1-55125-072-1. 
  • McKee, Fraser (1983). The Armed Yachts of Canada. Erin, Ontario: The Boston Mills Press. ISBN 0-919822-55-X. 

External links[edit]