Royal Canadian Navy   2 comments

 

During my five years in the RCN, I spent two years on HMCS Athabascan, (in addition to the Frigate Lauzon and Minesweeper Quinte).

HMCS_Athabaskan

The Athabascan was a veteran (destroyer) of the Korean war, or should I say a ‘victim’ of that conflict.?

During my time on it in the 1960’s only one of its two steam-powered boilers was operational.  Evidently, during its Korean war experience, a mortar had actually scored a direct hit down one of its stacks, completely disabling one of its two boilers, and yet, amazingly, had not succeeded in sinking her!

Recruited as a so-called ‘Oiler’ in the late 1950’s for work in the boiler room, I had limited knowledge of its history.  I quickly found that working in the boiler room was not my preference.

Actually I had already applied, along with a buddy, (Joe Hoebeck), for a change of trade to ‘Radar Plotter’ while still on the Frigate Lauzon.

Soon I was working in the operations room, radar tracking other surface ships and aircraft.

The Athabascan was unable to reach its designed top speed of something like 38 knots with only one operational boiler, and, as a ‘Tribal Class’ destroyer, it was not particularly seaworthy in heavy sea conditions. These war ships were designed for fighting, not high seas.

During one such heavy sea event, a wave completely overwhelmed the ship from bow to stern.  A Deck Officer on duty on the exposed upper bridge was knocked off his feet and sustained a broken leg.

In winter months it was necessary for crew to chip sea-ice from the upper deck – the consequence of not doing so could actually result in the ship losing equilibrium, and ‘turning turtle’, which apparently happened to more than a few war ships during the second world war.

In fact we lost one crewman during winter operations.  He was swept off the upper deck by a wave as he tried to make his way back to aft living quarters.

On Tribal Class destroyers the only way you could go from fore to aft was by hanging onto a sliding rope, attached to a cable.  Of course we did a standard search pattern for him, but there was no chance he could survive in the freezing Atlantic for more than seconds.

However I also have some fond memories of slinging my hammock on the upper deck in relatively calm Southern waters, only to be awakened in the middle of the night by increasing sea-spray and hastily repairing back to secure lower decks.

Such experiences will not be forgotten, just as reading Bible study books at sea.  In fact I actually began a Bible study with a Swedish bosun’s mate friend by the name of ‘Oly’.  (We were discovered under the cover of a life-boat while doing so.)

Indeed, those were memorable times for me.

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Posted November 13, 2011 by New2view in Uncategorized

2 responses to “Royal Canadian Navy

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  1. Wohh exactly what I was looking for, thank you for posting.

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