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HMCS Tuna at speed.
HMCS Tuna at speed.
Name: Tarantula
Builder: Yarrow Shipbuilders
Launched: 1902
Out of service: 1914
Fate: Bought by Jack Ross, 1914
Name: Tuna
Acquired: 1914
Commissioned: 5 December 1914
Decommissioned: 10 May 1917
Fate: Stripped, 1918
General characteristics (After conversion)
Type: Torpedo boat
Tonnage: 124 GRT
Length: 153 ft (47 m)
Beam: 15 ft (4.6 m)
Draught: 5 ft (1.5 m)
Speed: 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph)
  • 1 × 3-pounder gun
  • 2 × 14-inch torpedo tubes

HMCS Tuna was a commissioned torpedo boat of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) that served during the First World War. Built as the high-speed civilian yacht Tarantula, the vessel was one of several converted yachts the RCN used during the war. Following the war, the ship was discarded and stripped.

Design and description[edit]

Originally constructed as a civilian yacht, Tarantula was among the first turbine-powered private yachts. The hull was similar to the torpedo boats that Yarrow Shipbuilders had constructed for the Royal Navy. The ship was modeled on Turbinia, the first turbine-powered ship.[1] The yacht had a gross register tonnage (GRT) of 124 and was 153 feet (47 m) long with a beam of 15 feet (4.6 m) and a draught of 5 feet (1.5 m). The ship had a maximum speed of 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph) thanks to her turbine engines[2]

Construction and career[edit]

Built by Yarrow Shipbuilders in the United Kingdom, Tarantula was ordered by W.K. Vanderbilt, Jr. and launched in 1902.[2] Vanderbilt used the yacht for commuting in and around New York City.[1]

In August 1914, Jack Ross, a Canadian industrialist and millionaire, purchased Tarantula from Vanderbilt. At the time the United States had forbidden the sale of any vessel capable of being used by those nations fighting in World War I at the time.[3] Ross arranged for her to be fitted out in the United States in secret and arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia on 10 September after sailing with her civilian crew. Ross sold the ship for $1 to the RCN and offered to re-purchase the ship if the ship was still functional at war's end.[4]

She was designated as a torpedo boat after the installation of two 14-inch (360 mm) torpedo tubes and a 3-pounder gun.[2][5] The ship was commissioned on 5 December 1914 as HMCS Tuna, with Ross in command.[2][6] The ship was assigned to patrol duties based out of Halifax, she was a common sight in Bedford Basin.[7]

In July 1916, Tuna underwent an overhaul at Sorel, Quebec.[8] On 10 May 1917 Tuna was paid off due to an irreparable engine mount fracture. She was sold for salvage in June 1918, and stripped. Her hull remained in Halifax's Northwest Arm until the 1930s.[2]



  1. ^ a b Johnston et al., p. 331
  2. ^ a b c d e Macpherson and Barrie, p. 25
  3. ^ Johnston et al., pp. 331–332
  4. ^ Johnston et al., p. 332
  5. ^ Johnston et al., p. 333
  6. ^ Milner, p. 47
  7. ^ Johnston et al., p. 334
  8. ^ Johnston et al., p. 369


  • 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. 
  • Milner, Marc (2010). Canada's Navy: The First Century (Second ed.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-9604-3. 

External links[edit]