Algonquin sails one final time

HMCS Algonquin underwent the disposal process at Dockyard’s C Jetty on Feb. 1.  Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout

HMCS Algonquin underwent the disposal process at Dockyard’s C Jetty on Feb. 1.
Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout

Peter Mallett, Staff writer  ~

On Monday at 11 a.m., after 42 years of service to Canada, the former HMCS Algonquin will depart Esquimalt harbour, under tow, never to return.

The warship, gutted and stripped, will be hitched to a large ocean-going tugboat, and then moved past Duntze Head and Fisgard Lighthouse to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Their destination is Liverpool, Nova Scotia, where Algonquin will be broken up and recycled.

Departure day will be a “bitter-sweet” moment says Lt(N) Douglas Totten, Executive Officer of Detachment Algonquin. He helped organize the process of stripping the vessel of its parts, liaising with multiple agencies, which took 11 months.

“It’s a day to reflect on the past – as sailors often do – there are so many on the coast who will be sad to see her go,” says Lt(N) Totten. “We are expecting a number of people to be on hand at the jetty and Duntze Head Battery when she leaves.”

On Nov. 27, 2015, the $39-million disposal contract for both Algonquin and Protecteur was awarded to marine construction firm R.J. McIsaac Construction, Ltd. of Antigonish, N.S.

Protecteur, a replenishment oiler, was deemed too expensive to repair after it suffered a massive engine room fire in February 2015. Protecteur, decommissioned in May 2015, left the base on Feb.15 and took 56 days to reach the disposal yard in Liverpool.

Former HMC Ships Iroquois, Preserver and Athabaskan, all based on the East Coast, will meet the same fate, but plans for those vessels has yet to be announced.

Lt(N) Totten served in Algonquin from 2013 until it was put out of service in 2015. Since the decommissioning ceremony on June 11, 2015, he and his unit of 30 personnel, along with the help of  Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Breton and two local contracting firms, have been stripping Algonquin of its assets and preparing it for the two month, 7,600 nautical mile journey.

The disposal process involved removing all electronics, communications, weaponry and other equipment in accordance with the Government of Canada’s Surplus Crown Assets Act, and the Treasury Board Directive on Disposal of Surplus Material.

While some of the ship’s assets, including its giant radar and sonar equipment, and main gun – the 76 mm OTO Melara – were easily lifted off of the ship and onto C Jetty using large cranes, removing other items didn’t go so smoothly.  

The 1,700 kg electronics cabinets located in the vessel’s radar room posed one of the biggest challenges. In order to get the cabinets onto the dock, Lt(N) Totten says a great deal of ingenuity was required.

“We needed to cut large holes into the side of the ship just to get them off of the vessel. They were big, heavy and bulky 1970s technology. There are so many logistical issues involved in removing things, especially if it has to be preserved in a specific manner,” said Lt(N) Totten.
But the hard work is now complete and Algonquin is ship shape for its final passage through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and out into the Pacific.

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  1. William Underhill says:

    So long, Algonquin… good times onboard her.

  2. Colin Darlington says:

    Peter – good article, particularly nice to read the emphasis on the disposal process and removal of material from the vessel. A small point – RCN ships are ‘paid off’ not ‘decommissioned.’ The latter is a USN term. See Otherwise, the article well uses appropriate language (e.g., ‘former HMCS…’) – not always done in the media.

    Looking forward to more about ALGONQUIN’s move to the east coast and breaking up of the ship.

  3. Nicholas says:

    Put it in a museum so people can see it

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