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Franklin’s Guardians

A watercolor of the HMS Terror exploring the Canadian Arctic, which she would never leave (Canadian Museum of Civilization)

Ownership of the two ships, Adm. Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, two of the most archaeologically important wrecks in the world, was formally transferred to the Canadian government with the signing of a Deed of Gift at a ceremony last month with the Inuit of Nunavut, who played a key role in their discovery, recognised as joint owners of the wrecks and artifacts.

After a local Canadian Forces Ranger pointed out where Franklin’s lost Arctic survey ship HMS Terror was in 2016, a group of 17 Inuit was enlisted by Parks Canada last year to camp out in rotating four-person shifts to protect the historic site and that of Franklin’s other ship, HMS Erebus, which was discovered in much the same way in 2014.

The two ships, under the command of Sir John, set sail from England in 1845 through the Canadian Arctic to find the Northwest Passage. During the treacherous journey, the ships became trapped in thick sea ice. The crews abandoned the ships to trek overland to safety, but tragically none survived.

Painting depicting the fate of Sir John Franklin’s expedition. ”They forged the last links with their lives’ by William Smith Via Royal Maritime Museum Greenwich

“The story behind these vessels is both fascinating and incredibly important to the history of both our nations. The UK joined forces with the Canadian government and Inuit population to search for these ships for 172 years and I’m delighted they will now be protected for future generations,” said UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

Artifacts from the wrecks will be available for display at museums in both countries. Currently, there are examples on display at the Canadian Museum of History as part of the “Death in the Ice” exhibit.

The Expedition’s timeline, from the Canadian Museum:

Franklin’s expedition and the dozens of follow-on missions to find him made headlines around the world, such as in this German print, for decades

May 19, 1845: The Franklin Expedition departed from Greenhithe, near London, England.

July 4, 1845: The ships arrived at the Whale Fish Islands, Greenland, after a stormy Atlantic crossing.

July 12, 1845: Officers and crewmembers mailed their last letters home.

July 29 or 31, 1845: HMS Erebus and Terror were sighted in Baffin Bay by whaling ships. This was the last time the ships and their crews were seen by Europeans.

Winter 1845 to 1846: The expedition spent its first winter in the Arctic off Beechey Island. Three members of the crew died and were buried on Beechey Island.

Summer 1846: The expedition headed south into Peel Sound.

September 1846 to Spring 1848: The ships were beset — surrounded and stuck in ice — northwest of King William Island.

June 11, 1847: Sir John Franklin died. He was 61 years old and had served in the Royal Navy for 47 years.

April 22, 1848: The expedition had been stuck off King William Island for over a year and a half. Fearing they would never escape, the men deserted the ships.

April 25, 1848: The men landed on King William Island. Nine officers and 15 seamen had already died. There were 105 survivors. Officers left a note stating their plan to trek to the Back River.

January 20, 1854: Franklin’s Expedition is missing for more than eight years. The Admiralty announced that its officers and men will be declared dead as of March 31, 1854.

1847–1880: More than 30 expeditions sailed, steamed or sledged into the Arctic from the east, west, and south. Very few found any trace of the expedition.

2008: A renewed search for Franklin’s ships began under the leadership of Parks Canada.

September 1, 2014: An important clue is found on an island in Wilmot and Crampton Bay: an iron davit pintle (fitting). Parks Canada refocuses its efforts near that island.

September 2, 2014: 167 years after the British Admiralty’s search began, the first wreck, HMS Erebus, is found.

2016: Almost two years to the day after the discovery of Erebus, Terror is located in Terror Bay, off the southern coast of King William Island.

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the most important, and least remembered Canadian cavalry charge

The Battle of Moreuil Wood on March 30, 1918, is captured in the painting “Charge of Flowerdew’s Squadron” by Sir Alfred Munnings via the Canadian War Museum:

UNDATED — Undated handout photo of Alfred Munnings’ painting CHARGE OF FLOWERDEWS SQUADRON, held by the Canadian War Museum.

The story behind the charge:

“The Canadian charge at Moreuil Wood occurred at the height of the Kaiserschlacht, the German Spring Offensive of 1918, a massive assault on the Western Front that the German High Command hoped would split apart the Allied armies and drive the British out of Europe.

On the foggy morning of March 30, 1918, the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, one of the few Allied units not retreating from the German onslaught, was tasked with recapturing the Moreuil Wood, a forested ridge east of the French city of Amiens, a crucial railway junction that linked the British and French armies…”

There, only C Squadron of Lord Strathcona’s Horse, under a 33-year-old British Columbian rancher named Lt. Gordon Muriel Flowerdew, made ready to ride into history.

More here in this great piece in the National Post

197 days on a snorkel boat is a hell of a thing

Here we see the Canadian Navy’s Victoria-class submarine HMCS Chicoutimi (SSK 879) tied up at her home at CFB Esquimalt, B.C. after completing a 197-day deployment in Asia-Pacific.

That’s a long time in any platform, much less on a 230-foot diesel electric sub which are designed for 45-day trips. In fact, according to a presser from Ottawa, this is the longest deployment of a Victoria-class submarine to date.

“I am incredibly proud of the work done by the submariners on board HMCS Chicoutimi,” said Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, Commander Royal Canadian Navy. “Their consistent dedication and professionalism is an inspiration. The advantage that submarines can bring to a battlespace cannot be underestimated. They are stealthy, lethal, and persistent. They are an important strategic asset that the Canadian Armed Forces brings to the table when working with our partners and allies around the world.”

Chicoutimi deployed on patrol in the Asia-Pacific region as part of a strategic engagement mission, for 197 days. This is the longest Victoria-class deployment to date. Prior to this, the longest Victoria-class single deployment was a 101-day North Atlantic patrol by HMCS Windsor in 2015. HMCS Windsor is once again deployed, currently supporting NATO operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

Chicoutimi operated with the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) and the United States Navy (USN) for several months, a period which included participation in the annual USN-JMSDF ANNUALEX – a three week bi-lateral exercise which was made tri-lateral for the first time with the inclusion of Canada in 2017. She visited Hawaii, Guam, and Japan during the six-month deployment. The visit to Yokosuka, Japan was the first by a Canadian submarine since the visit by HMCS Grilsein May 1968.

Chicoutimi is one of four Victoria-class submarines in the RCN. Chicoutimi along with HMCS Victoria and HMCS Corner Brook are based out of CFB Esquimalt, while HMCS Windsor is based at CFB Halifax in Nova Scotia.

Commissioned in 1990 as HMS Upholder, Chicoutimi was transferred to the Canadians in 1998 as the Royal Navy got out of the diesel sub game for good.

The Van Doo Cyprus shuffle, 54 years on

Members of the Canadian contingent serving with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), are seen at an observation post in Trakhomas. 27 March 1964.

UN Photo Archives # 86335

Note the unit patch of the famous Royal 22e Régiment (The Van Doos), as well as the Canadian-made, inch-pattern semi-auto FN FAL dubbed the C1A1 (C1) in Canuck service and a U.S.-supplied M1919 light machine gun. Interestingly enough, the Canadians were the first large military to adopt the FAL, in 1954, to replace the Enfield .303, and only phased it out in the late 1980s with the Diemaco (Colt Canada) C7 (M16A2).

According to the UN: “Canada has a long tradition of supporting peacekeeping missions starting with its contribution in the United Nations Military Observer group in Indian and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) in 1949 and currently have contributes 113 military and police personnel to our peacekeeping missions in Haiti (MINUSTAH) Darfur (UNAMID) Cyprus (UNFICYP) South Sudan (United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the Middle East (UN Truce Supervision Organisation).”

And it looks like the Canucks are headed to increasingly unstable Mali.

Operation Seven Up

In April 1964, Allied Air Forces Central Europe, (or AAFCE also AIRCENT), was turning 13 and the NATO/OTAN members behind the group held Operation 7-Up, a tactical weapons meet at RAF Wildenrath, West Germany that cumulated with a breathtaking international formation showcasing some of the best tin of the day.

The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, the famously dangerous “rocket with a man in it” was obviously the F-16 of its day and the Belgians, Canadians, Dutch, and Germans all showed up with some. Add to this lot the newly-fielded F-105 Thud, RAF Canberras and Gloster Javelins, and French Mirage IIIC’s (the French only withdrew their troops from NATO in 1966), and it is some very sweet period air power. It was an important milestone as, some 19 years after WWII, likely few of the participants had fought in the great conflict and fewer still had cut their teeth in piston-driven fighters, as they were flying what could be considered at least second-generation combat jets.

Participating aircraft lined up on the hardstanding at RAF Wildenrath, Germany during the 1967 AFCENT tactical weapons meet. They are from right to left: An English Electric Canberra B.(I) 8 of No 14 Squadron RAF (Serial number XM264), five Lockheed F104G Starfighters of the German Air Force’s Jagdbombergeschwarder JBG31 (serial numbers DA119, DA106, DA103, DA112, DA237), four Dassault Mirage 3Es of the French Air Force (serial numbers 3-II, 3-IO, 3-IN, 3-JH). On the top-far right can be seen the referee aircraft for this meet a German Air Force Lockheed TF104G Starfighter of JBG32 (serial number DB371). IWM (RAF-T 7398)Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

And this guy

A pilot of the German Air Force seated in the cockpit of his Lockheed F104G Starfighter aircraft. This aircraft (serial number DC 244) was of JBG33 (Jagdbombergeschwader – Fighter bomber) and was participating in the 1967 AFCENT tactical weapons meet at RAF Wildenrath, Germany. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Early USAF F-105 FH-436; British Gloster Javelin XH771 Netherlands F-104G D-8060 Canadian CF-104 815 Belgian F-104G FX07 German F-104G DA+243 French Mirage IIIC 2-EI Operation Seven-Up an international formation flown to mark the 13th anniversary of Allied Air Forces Central Europe on April 2nd, 1964

More information (and photos) at Flying Zone (Belgian website), 916 Starfighter (German).

And with that being said, here is a classic Bundeswehr clip from 1969 showing German F-104s being stopped via a Hakenfang (arrester hook)

Lots of cold bubbleheads this month

Scheduled to last five weeks, ICEX 2018 has kicked off with a joint NATO effort to show readiness in the Arctic.

The Navy’s Arctic Submarine Laboratory (ASL) and the Canadian Defence Forces have set up Ice Camp Skate on a floe drifting in the Arctic Ocean.

“The base will serve as a temporary base for submarine operations, including under-ice navigation and torpedo exercises. The camp consists of shelters, a command center and infrastructure to safely house and support more than 50 personnel at any one time.”

Ice Camp Skate (March 5, 2018) A Royal Canadian DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft delivering supplies and personnel flies over Ice Camp Skate during camp build during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2018. ICEX 2018 is a five-week exercise that allows the Navy to assess its operational readiness in the Arctic, increase experience in the region, advance understanding of the Arctic environment, and continue to develop relationships with other services, allies and partner organizations. (U.S. Navy photo by Airman 1st Class Kelly Willett/Released)

“With every ICEX we are able to build upon our existing experience and continue to learn the best way to operate in this unique and harsh environment,” said Rear Adm. James Pitts, commander, Undersea Warfighting Development Center (UWDC). “We are constantly testing new tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) under the ice, and this exercise allows us to do so on a larger scale and alongside our U.K., joint and academic partners.”

USS Hartford (SSN 768) surfaces in the Arctic Circle near Ice Camp Sargo during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016. She will make a return to the ice this year, along with some company

Three submarines– Seawolf-class fast attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) from Bangor, Wash., the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) from Groton, Conn., and the Royal Navy Trafalgar-class submarine HMS Trenchant (S91)— will conduct multiple arctic transits, a North Pole surfacing, scientific data collection and other training evolutions during their time in the region.

The floating ice station also conducts oceanography experiments, as shown below with personnel from NAL, University of Alaska Fairbanks and Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation (UIC) Science collecting data through the floe.

Warship Wednesday, March 7, 2018: The ‘most fightingest ship’ of the Great North

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, March 7, 2018: The ‘most fightingest ship’ of the Great North

Here we see the British-built Tribal (Afridi)-class destroyer Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Haida (G63) of the Royal Canadian Navy, as she appeared during WWII. One of Canada’s most celebrated vessels, this “little tin can that could” has an impressive record and is still around today taking the “Queen’s shilling” so to speak.

The Afridi‘s were a new type of destroyer designed for the Royal Navy in the late 1920s off experience both in the Great War and to match the large, modern escorts on the drawing boards of contemporary naval rivals of the time.

The Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Huron (G24), in dazzle camouflage, sailing out to sea during the Second World War during one of her countless trans-Atlantic escorting runs. The Tribal-class destroyer, commissioned on July 28,1943, also served in the Pacific theatre during the Korean War under the new pennant number 216.

These 378-foot vessels could make 36+ knots on a pair of geared steam turbines and a trio of Admiralty three-drum boilers while an impressive battery of up to eight 4.7″/45 (12 cm) QF Mark XII guns in four twin CPXIX mountings gave them the same firepower as early WWI light cruisers (though typically just three turrets were mounted).

Gun crew on Tribal-class destroyer HMCS Algonquin cleaning up their 4.7″/45 (12 cm) Mark XII guns after firing at the Normandy Beaches on 7 June 1944. Note that the crewman kneeling in the rear is holding a 4.7″ (12 cm) projectile. Library and Archives Canada Photograph MIKAN no. 3223884

Some 32 Afridi‘s were planned in eight-ship flights: 16 for the RN (named after tribal warriors: HMS Cossack, HMS Eskimo, HMS Sikh, HMS Zulu, et. al), eight for the Royal Australian Navy, and eight for the Canadians. Of the Canadian ships, four were to be built by Vickers in the UK and the other four by Halifax shipyards in Nova Scotia. All the Canadian ships were to be named after First Nations tribes (Iroquois, Athabaskan, Huron, Haida, Micmac, Nootka, Cayuga, etc.)

The subject of our tale, HMCS Haida, was the last of the Canadian Tribals built in the UK, laid down at Vickers 29 September 1941. She commissioned during the height of the Battle of the Atlantic, on 18 September 1943.

As noted by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net, Haida immediately began working up with the Home Fleet based at Scapa Flow and just a scant two weeks later was operational, heading on a mission to reinforce the icy Spitzbergen garrison and provide a covering force for Lend-Lease minesweepers headed to the Soviets past heavily defended German-occupied Norway.

Then between Nov. 1943 and Jan 1944, Haida would be part of no less than five dangerous runs through U-boat and Scharnhorst-infested waters between the UK and Kola Pen, shepherding freighters to fuel Uncle Joe’s war machine. Speaking of Scharnhorst, Haida was present just over the horizon at the Battle of North Cape when the mighty German capital ship was sent to the bottom.

Next, she was assigned to escort a raiding force to Norwegian waters consisting of the Free French battleship Richelieu, the battlewagon HMS Anson and several fast cruisers. Once that went off uneventfully, Haida was tasked to Operation Neptune, the Normandy Landings, and transferred to the English Channel.

Filling her time escorting forays into mine and E/S-boat infested coastal waters along the French coast, Haida traded naval gunfire and torpedoes with German shore batteries and torpedo boats, coming away unscathed but leaving the Elbing-class torpedo boat T29 dead in the water in a sharp nighttime action in April 1944. One of her sisters, HMCS Athabaskan, was not so lucky and sank in the same action.

When the D-Day balloon went up, she spent her time on the patrol line between Ile de Bas and Ile de Vierge and, on 9 June, with three of her sisterships, engaged four German T-boats and destroyers. The action left one German sunk, another hard aground, and the final pair limping away to lick their wounds.

On 24 June 1944, Haida racked up a confirmed kill on the German U-971 (ObrLt. Zeplien) off Brest in conjunction with the RN destroyer (and sistership) HMS Eskimo and a B-24 Liberator flown by the Free Czechs (Sqdn. 311). The event, as chronicled by Haida, included nine attacks by the destroyers and ended with a surface action in the English Channel as the stricken sub crashed to the surface and men started to abandon ship.

From Haida‘s report:

It was decided to attack without waiting for ESKIMO to regain contact and pattern “G” had been ordered when at 1921 the submarine surfaced about 800 yards ahead at an inclination of about 100 left. Fire was opened from “B” gun and a hit obtained on the conning tower, with the second salvo. High Explosive was used and penetrated the conning tower, starting a fire, the flames being clearly visible through the hole made. No further hits were obtained with main armament and fire was checked as soon as it was apparent that the enemy did not intend to fight. Close range weapons were used during the same period.

Lost was one German submariner, while Haida and Eskimo picked up 52 survivors (including six were injured, three seriously) and brought them to Falmouth in the predawn hours of 25 June.

U-BOAT KILLER’S MASCOT. 26 JUNE 1944, PLYMOUTH, ON BOARD THE CANADIAN DESTROYER HMCS HAIDA, WHICH WITH HMS ESKIMO DESTROYED A U-BOAT IN THE CHANNEL. (A 24385) Dead-eyed Jock Macgregor who was the first to open fire with his Oerlikon on the U-boat destroyed by the HAIDA and HMS ESKIMO. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 24384) Seaman Jock MacGregor of HMCS HAIDA holds ‘Muncher’ the ship’s pet rabbit by the Oerlikon 20 mm gun Platform. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

August saw Haida maul a convoy of small German coasters off Ile d’Yeu. Between April and September 1944, she is credited with assisting in the sinking of at least nine Axis ships including two destroyers, two T-boats, a U-boat, a minesweeper, patrol boat and two armed trawlers.

By September, the Canadian war baby headed for her home country for the first time, to get a badly needed refit at Halifax. Early 1945 saw her sortie back to Europe where she was engaged off Norway again, escorted some more convoys to Russia, and was among the first Allied ships to enter the key Norwegian port of Trondheim post VE-Day. Returning to Canada, she was to be made ready to fight in the Pacific against the Japanese but never made it that far before the A-bombs ended the war unexpectedly.

Laid up in reserve, by 1947 she was reactivated and soon put to effective use when she served off Korea as part of the Canadian contribution to the UN forces in that conflict, completing two tours in those far-off waters.

In 1952, an extensive refit saw her reconfigured as a destroyer-escort (pennant DDE-215) which saw her WWII sensors replaced by a more modern SPS-6C air search radar and SQS-10 sonar. Her main armament, those six beautiful 4.7-inch rapid fires, was swapped out for a more conservative pair of twin 4-inch Mk16s. Her depth charges replaced with a Squid ASW mortar. This would be her final configuration for her last decade in active service, and the one she would carry into her later days.

This photo shows the ship’s company in Hong Kong in 1953 (Parks Canada)

Rescued from the streets of Japan, Pom Pom served as Haida’s mascot during the ship’s first tour of duty in Korea (Parks Canada)

A 1930s design in the jet age, Haida was decommissioned in October 1963 after 20 years of hard service.

HMCS HAIDA (DDE215) makes her way towards Lock 4 on the Welland Canal during her farewell Great Lakes tour in 1963

Overall, when compared to her sisters, she was a lucky ship and outlived her family. No less than 12 of the 16 Tribals in British service were lost during WWII and the remaining quartet were all paid off by 1949. All the Tribals in Canadian service were sold to the breakers by 1969. The three Australian ships that were completed (five were canceled) likewise were turned to razor blades.

Tribal-class sister HMCS Huron (DDE-216), port bow view while off Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives 80-G-646914:

Haida was the last of her class remaining in any ocean and, after an effort by concerned citizens, she was towed to Toronto and opened as a museum ship in 1965. Over the next three decades, she still hosted sea cadet camps and Canadian Forces events in addition to her work a floating memorial, known as “Canada’s most fightingest ship”.

In 2003, she was moved to Hamilton, Ontario where she had been a National Historic Site ever since, operated by Parks Canada on a seasonal basis.

(Parks Canada)

Earlier this year, she was named ceremonial Flagship of the Royal Canadian Navy with an honorary commanding officer chosen from the Navy, is authorized to fly the Canadian Naval Ensign, and the ship will observe traditional sunrise and sunset ceremonies as well as arrival announcements on the gangway.

(Parks Canada)


Displacement:1,959 long tons (1,990 t) tons standard, 2,519 long tons (2,559 t) deep load
Length: 377 ft (114.9 m)
Beam: 37 ft 6 in (11.4 m)
Draught: 13 ft (4.0 m)
2 shafts; 3-Admiralty 3 drum type boilers
2 × Parsons Marine geared steam turbines, 44,000 shp (33,000 kW);
Speed: 36.5 knots (67.6 km/h; 42.0 mph) (maximum), 32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph) (service)
Complement: 259 (14 officers, 245 ratings)
Sensors and processing systems:
As G63 (1943–1952):
1 type 268 radar
1 type 271 radar
1 type 291 radar
1 × Mk.III fire control director with Type 285 fire control radar
1 type 144 sonar
1 type 144Q sonar
1 type 147F sonar

As DDE 215 (1952–1963):
1 SPS-6C air search radar
1 Sperry Mk.2 navigation radar
1 × Mk.63 fire control director with SPG-34 fire control radar
1 type 164B sonar
1 type 162 (SQS 501) sonar
SQS 10 sonar


As G63 (1943–1952):
3 × 4.7-inch (119 mm)/45 Mk.XII twin guns
1 × 4-inch (102 mm)/45 Mk.16 twin guns
1 × quadruple mount 40 mm/39 2-pounder gun
6 × 20 mm Oerlikon cannons
1 quad launcher with Mk.IX torpedoes (4 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes)
1 rail + 2 Mk.IV throwers (Mk.VII depth charges)

As DDE 215 (1952–1963):
2 × 4-inch/45 Mk.16 twin guns
1 × 3-inch (76 mm)/50 Mk.33 twin guns
4 × 40 mm/56 Bofors guns
1 quad launcher with Mk.IX torpedoes (4 × 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes)
2 × Squid ASW mortars

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