HMCS Haida (G63)
HMCS Haida docked in Hamilton, Ontario.
|Ordered:||5 April 1940|
|Builder:||Vickers-Armstrongs, Ltd., Newcastle-upon-Tyne|
|Laid down:||29 September 1941|
|Launched:||25 August 1942|
|Commissioned:||30 August 1943|
|Recommissioned:||15 March 1952|
|Decommissioned:||11 October 1963|
|Out of service:||22 February 1964|
|Identification:||DDE 215 (February 1952), G63 (September 1964)|
|Fate:||Moored, now a museum|
|Notes:||Now a museum ship and National Historic Site of Canada displayed at Hamilton, Ontario. Colors are gold and azure blue|
|Badge:||Blazon Or, a base barry wavy azure and argent, a thunderbird of the Haida tribe with wings displayed sable.|
|Class & type:||Tribal-class destroyer|
|Displacement:||1,927 tons (2,800 tons fully loaded)|
|Length:||377 ft (114.9 m)|
|Beam:||37.5 ft (11.4 m)|
|Draught:||11 ft (3.4 m)|
|Propulsion:||2 shafts; 3-Admiralty 3 drum type boilers; 2-Parsons 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)|
|Official name||HMCS Haida National Historic Site of Canada|
Haida sank more enemy surface tonnage than any other Canadian warship. She is also the only surviving Tribal-class destroyer out of 27 vessels that were constructed between 1937 and 1945 for the Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy, and the RCN.
Haida was among the first batch of Tribal-class destroyers ordered by the RCN in 1940–1941. The RCN based this order upon the successful use of the Tribals in the Royal Navy during the early years of the Second World War and the vessels were ordered with modified ventilation and heating systems for North Atlantic winter service. Haida's design was modified after deficiencies were noted in the lead ship of the Canadian Tribals, HMCS Iroquois.
She was launched on 25 August 1942 and commissioned into RCN service on 30 August 1943. She underwent workups under her first and most famous commanding officer, H.G. DeWolf before reporting to the British Home Fleet at Scapa Flow in October 1943.
Second World War operations
On 10 January 1944, she was reassigned to the 10th Destroyer Flotilla at Plymouth and took part in the Operation Tunnel sweeps in the Bay of Biscay. Haida was damaged by the German Elbing-class torpedo boat T-29 on the night of 25–26 April but pressed the attack and sank T-29 in what was Haida's first victory. It should be noted that despite the German designation as 'torpedo boat', the Elbings were essentially on a par with mid-sized Allied destroyers having just slightly smaller armament.
Haida took part in Operation Hostile sweeps on 28–29 April in company of HMCS Athabaskan. Athabaskan was torpedoed by another Elbing-class vessel, T-24, with the loss of 128 crew while 83 became prisoners of war and Haida recovered 44 survivors. Haida is credited with attacking yet another Elbing that night when she forced T-27 aground and set it afire with shelling; it was later sunk by rockets fired from Bristol Beaufighters the following day.
Haida continued the Operation Hostile sorties in company of sister ship HMCS Huron during the weeks leading up to Operation Overlord. On 8–9 June, Haida was part of Task Force 26 which is credited with sinking the destroyers ZH1 and Z32 in the Battle of Ushant. On 24 June, Haida is credited with helping the British destroyer HMS Eskimo and aircraft in sinking the German submarine U-971. On 15 July, Haida and two other vessels with the 10th Destroyer Flotilla intercepted a group of German ships at Lorient. The battle saw two trawlers UJ1420 and UJ1421 destroyed, one merchant ship sunk and two others left afire.
On 5–6 August, Haida's now-famous luck continued while engaged in an Operation Kinetic sweep. A shell exploded in one of the turrets and started a fire, killing two and injuring eight but not seriously damaging the ship.
Haida departed Western Europe on 22 September for Halifax, Nova Scotia, arriving to a tumultuous welcome on 29 September. She returned to Scapa Flow in mid-January 1945 after refitting to receive new radar sensors. She was declared operational again on 19 March and escorted aircraft carriers in minelaying operations off Granesund, Norway and assisted in attacks on shipping in Trondheim from 24–28 March. On 7 April, Haida escorted seven anti-submarine warfare vessels from Greenock, Scotland destined for Soviet use at Vaenga (renamed Severomorsk in 1951).
Haida experienced one of the last RCN engagements of the Second World War when she escorted convoy JW66 in its return to the United Kingdom from Vaenga. The convoy was attacked and Haida and Huron received near-misses from torpedoes fired by U-boats. In the skirmish, two U-boats were sunk, along with the frigate HMS Goodall, and the convoy escaped in a snowstorm. Haida and Huron returned to Scapa Flow on 6 May and was assigned to relief operations at Trondheimfiord, Norway on 17 May.
Haida, along with Huron and Iroquois, left for Halifax on 4 June to refit as part of Canada's contribution to Operation Downfall. They arrived on 10 June and Haida started a tropicalization refit but it was suspended after Japan's surrender later that summer.
Haida was paid off on 20 March 1946 with the massive demobilization of the RCN World War II fleet.
Cold War operations
Haida was in mothballs for approximately one year but was prepared for reactivation in 1947 and underwent a refit for updated armament and sensors. While in refit, fire gutted the wheelhouse and boiler tubes burst later during speed trials. She returned to the fleet, still carrying the famous pennant G63, in May 1947.
Haida and her sister ship HMCS Nootka participated in exercises between the RCN's Atlantic Fleet and the United States Navy and Royal Navy over the next several years. Haida was involved in assisting during the grounding of the aircraft carrier HMCS Magnificent off Port Mouton on 4 June 1949. That December, Haida was downgraded to a Depot and Accommodation Ship in Halifax.
The launch of the Korean War on 25 June 1950 saw Haida once again activated for war duty. She was converted to a destroyer escort and began refit in July 1950 which saw various new armaments and sensors and communications systems. She was recommissioned on 15 March 1952 and carried the pennant DDE 215. She departed Halifax on 27 September for Sasebo, Japan, arriving there on 12 November after passing through the Panama Canal.
Haida relieved Nootka on 18 November off the west coast of Korea and had an uneventful patrol, returning to Sasebo to replenish on 29 November. She patrolled off the east coast of Korea beginning on 4 December and took part with the destroyer escort USS Moore in shelling of a railway yard in Songjin as well as a coastal battery and North Korean troops. On 18–19 December, Haida attacked an enemy train but missed the escaping locomotive which hid in a nearby tunnel, thus not joining the exclusive "Trainbusters Club". Haida returned to patrol on 3 January 1953 and escorted aircraft carriers as well as performing coastal bombardments. On 29 January, Haida entered the "Trainbusters Club" after attacking a train north of Riwon and also detonated a drifting anti-ship mine on her return to Yang do.
She departed Sasebo on 12 June, heading west through the Suez Canal and arrived in Halifax on 22 July 1953.
Haida departed Halifax for a second Korean tour on 14 December 1953, passing through the Panama Canal. Despite the cease fire, infractions by North Korea and China were occurring, thus the need for a naval presence around South Korea. She departed the Korean theatre on 1 November 1954 and headed for Halifax via the Suez Canal once again.
Haida's aging hull and infrastructure proved troublesome and in January 1958 she went into refit for hull repairs and protection for electronic equipment. Further refits in 1959 corrected various problems and she sailed for the West Indies in January 1960; however, further equipment failures culminating in the 3 April failure of her steering gear forced her to return to Halifax. A hull survey in May found extensive corrosion and cracking, forcing her into drydock for the remainder of the year. She undertook further repairs in June–July 1961 after further cracking was found during operations in heavy seas that March. More cracks were detected in March 1962 which forced a refit through February 1963.
With the writing on the wall, Haida undertook her last assignment, a summer tour of the Great Lakes. She departed Halifax on 25 April 1963 with a mobile television studio on board. She undertook various public tours and weapons training during the tour; one of the individuals to tour her was a civilian named Neil Bruce. Bruce foresaw that she was destined for scrapping and formed HAIDA Inc. as a means of attempting to acquire her for preservation.
Haida returned to Halifax and was placed in Category C reserve at the navy base HMCS Protector in Sydney. Crown Assets announced Haida would be scrapped in 1964 as part of cutbacks to the RCN. HAIDA Inc. placed a bid of $20,000 and won possession on the grounds of restoration. The RCN donated gear and towed her to Halifax for cleanup and fitting out, then to the Marine Industries Limited shipyard at Sorel, Quebec where she became civilian property.
The Naval Reserve Division HMCS York provided a skeleton crew for Haida as she was towed to Toronto by two tugboats. She arrived on 25 August 1964 with guest of honour Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf (Retired) who was her first commanding officer. Haida was restored and reacquired the pennant G63 while docked at the foot of York Street.
She opened as an attraction in August 1965 at the pier on York Street. Initially the city of Toronto had planned to build a "Serviceman's Memorial Park" near the Princes' Gates at nearby Exhibition Place to link with the Haida preservation efforts. The organization HAIDA Inc. ran into financial difficulties during the late 1960s and title to the ship was transferred to the provincial government. In 1970, Haida was moved to a site at the west end of the Toronto waterfront where its amusement park Ontario Place was located. The vessel was also used as a Royal Canadian Sea Cadets training facility.
HMCS Haida National Historic Site
In 2002, at the urging of Hamilton, Ontario MP Sheila Copps, Parks Canada purchased Haida from the provincial government and towed her (with great difficulty) from her Ontario Place dock to a shipyard at Port Weller for a $5 million refit to her hull. She was taken to a new home on the Hamilton waterfront and arrived to an 11-Gun Salute from 31 Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Lion and her 12-pounder Naval Field Gun on 30 August 2003, the 60th anniversary of her commissioning into the RCN. She is now a National Historic Site of Canada and is a museum ship on the Hamilton waterfront in front of Hamilton's Naval Reserve Division, HMCS Star. Haida has become a focal point of a revitalized waterfront near Catharine Street North.
In July 2006 Haida was "twinned" with the Polish destroyer ORP Błyskawica in a ceremony in Gdynia, Poland. Both ships served in the 10th Destroyer Flotilla during the Second World War. The ceremony was attended by former crew members of both ships and the general public. The ship was visited in 2009 by Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and on 29 June 2010, at Government House in Nova Scotia, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, presented to representatives of HMCS Haida the World Ship Trust Certificate.
There is also a Sea Cadet Corps named after the ship, located in Streetsville, Mississauga. 186 Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Haida, was established 9 January 1963.
- List of attractions in Hamilton, Ontario
- List of museum ships
- Ship replica
- Ships preserved in museums
- "Battle Honours". Britain's Navy. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
- HMCS Haida, Directory of Designations of National Historic Significance of Canada[dead link]
- HMCS Haida National Historic Site of Canada. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
- Government of Canada. "2010 Royal Tour > Itinerary for 2010 Royal Tour of Canada". Queen's Printer for Canada. Archived from the original on June 21, 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- Brice, Martin H. (1971). The Tribals. London: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0245-2.
- English, John (2001). Afridi to Nizam: British Fleet Destroyers 1937–43. Gravesend, Kent: World Ship Society. ISBN 0905617959.
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