91 Years old with 60 years of service

HMCS Oriole

On August 28th, 2012, Her Majestyís Canadian Ship (HMCS) ORIOLE marks 60 years of service in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN).

It was a double celebration for HMCS Oriole last week, as she celebrated 91 years since sliding into the water for the first time, and 60 years serving Queen and country.

Festivities unfolded at the Naden boatshed Aug. 28 with veterans, current serving members and past shipmates, friends of the navy and the media to hear stories and honour the 31-metre sailing ketch.

“This is a joyous, historic and important occasion,” said the ship’s Captain, LCdr Jeff Kibble to the crowd. “Today we celebrate the many junior officers and sailors who developed as professionals starting their career in Oriole. We also celebrate the ship’s involvement with sail training, public relations, and the ship’s value to the navy as an international ambassador.”

To honour 60 years service to the Queen, a Diamond Jubilee coin was specially crafted from the brass of an old stern light and features the Oriole bird. The special Diamond Jubilee coin can be purchased for $25 through the ship’s canteen or shore office.

In attendance were three great grandchildren of the ship’s original builder and owner George Horace Gooderham.

“Our families are very proud that this wonderful sailing ship is healthy, busy and continues to serve with all her soul,” said great granddaughter Tawny Maclachlan Capon, who travelled from Gabriola Island. “I remember my grandmother telling me they used to swim and fish off the deck in Lake Ontario, but if there was anything official like a sail past, all the women would have to go below. She would be happy to see the men and women of the Canadian Forces all stand together on deck today.”

Modern day stories also surfaced like the ship’s cook throwing up warm potatoes to the sailors on deck so they could warm their chilly hands while sailing off Port Townsend.

In an unexpected twist, marine artist and naval historian John Horton, who travelled from Richmond to attend the celebration, stood up during the ceremony and presented a painting of HMCS Oriole to the ship’s crew.

When the land event was over, special guests were invited on a three-hour sail in Oriole in which a stiff breeze allowed the tall ship to sail at 12 knots while crew hoisted the ship’s red, white and blue 6,400 square foot gennaker.

“We stormed across the Victoria waterfront and we had Tawny steering the ship her great grandfather made,” said LCdr Kibble. “It was a memorable moment for me to see her at the helm. I am also very honoured by John Horton’s painting of Oriole,” he said.

The ship was first launched in June 1921 in Boston, Massachusetts, and to this day has proven to be a powerful and fast racing yacht, currently holding the title for the Victoria to Maui race in 2000.

The oldest commissioned vessel in the Canadian Navy, HMCS Oriole is used primarily for sail training of junior officers and sailors, community outreach and public relations.

In May the ship completed a refit at Point Hope Shipyard in which the lower eight feet of the ship was cut off and rebuilt.

“This work straightened her keel; she is faster, points higher in to the wind  and has never been in better shape,” said LCdr Kibble. “She is set for the next 91 years of service in the Royal Canadian Navy and definitely ready for the next Vic-Maui in 2014,” he said.

Each year Oriole sails about 140 days in festivals, races, and charity day sails. Last year the ship hosted more than 20 Admirals and Generals and participated in the Portland Rose Festival, the Swiftsure Yacht Race, and the Seattle Sea Fair.

Shelley Lipke, Staff Writer

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  1. Dana says:

    What an amazing history!! Hope I get to go on the Oriole some day.

  2. Aron Capon says:

    I feel so proud of being part of the Maclachlan family and that I have once been on the Oriole and its a great ship.

  3. Victor Upshaw says:

    Loved every minute of it. Was very humbled to be invited.

    BZ to the organizers.

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