HMCS Haida


Category Exploration Date Status Province / State Country
Military August 24, 2006 Public Ontario Canada

Posted on: Fri, 02/28/2020 - 15:15 By: Mike

HMCS Haida, a Tribal Class destroyer, served with the Royal Canadian Navy from 1943 to 1963.  During World War II, Haida destroyed more tonnage of enemy ships than any other Canadian Navy vessel.  At 337 feet in length, 36.5 feet at the beam, with a draught of 13 feet, Haida was designed to be more of a small cruiser than a standard destroyer.

With a top speed of 36.5 knots, Haida could quickly bring her weaponry into the fight, which included six quick-firing 4.7" guns, two quick-firing 4" guns, four single-mounted 2-pounder AA guns, and four 21" torpedo launchers.  Her first assignment was escorting convoys, helping British ships protect them against German cruisers and aircraft.

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In 1944, Haida was assigned to a task force that was assigned to sweeping the Bay of Biscay and along the French coast.  On the night of April 25, she, the cruiser Black Prince and three other destroyers engaged three German torpedo boats.  One was stuck and left the fight early.  Haida sunk a second, and the third was damaged and retreated.  Three nights later, those two damaged German ships made a run for it, encountering HMCS Athebaskan and HMCS Haida.  Athebascan was torpedoed and sunk.  Haida ran one of the German ships aground.  83 members of Athebasca's crew were taken prisoner by the other German ship, and Haida rescued 44 others.  An additional 128 crew were lost.

On June 8, Haida and Huron were assigned to another task force which encountered a group four German destroyers.  The two Canadian ships claimed one of the German destoryers in that fight.

On June 24, Haida and the British destroyer Eskimo engaged and sank U-971.

On August 5, she joined a force that encountered a German convoy.  After the group sank two mine-sweepers and a patrol boat, they came under fire from coastal batteries and were forced to withdraw.  During the battle, Haida took a shell to one of the gun turrets, starting a fire and killing two crew.

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Near the end of September, Haida returned to Halifax for refit where she recieved new radar.  She returned to operations in Scapa Flow in mid January, 1945 where she worked mostly as a convoy escort.  By June, Haida and two sisters returned to Halifax for another refit, making them ready for the Japanese theatre, but the war ended before the work was complete.

In 1947, with the Cold War already spinning up, HMCS Haida was brought in for modification with new electronics, and new weapons.  Her 4.7" guns were replaced by Mk XVI 4" guns.  One gun turret was replaced by two squid anti-submarine mortars, and she was equipped with a Mk 63 fire-control director.

With the Korean war starting, Haida was refitted once again and sent from Halifax, through the Panama Canal to Japan.  Her first couple of months were largely uneventful operating as part of a carrier group, or conducting quiet patrols.  In January, 1951, however, Haida joined the "Trainbusters Club", by destroying a train north of Riwon.  On May 26, she did it again, before returning to Halifax in July of that year.

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In February, 1954, Haida arrived for her second tour in Korea despite the cease-fire as both North Korea and China continued to violate the terms of the agreement.  In September she returned home.

The remainder of Haida's career involved taking part in anti-submarine exercises and patrols with NATO as part of Canada's commitment.  In April, 1960, having more and more issues with her aging structure, Haida returned to Halifax drydock to fix corrosion and cracking that would continue to plague her for the next couple of years.  In April, 1963, she was placed in reserve and sent to Sydney.  It was announced the following year that she would be scrapped.

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Neil Bruce, having anticipated Haida's pending demise, had joined with others and formed HAIDA Inc. with the intent of acquiring the aged ship for restoration.  With a bid of $20,000, they acquired the ship and had it brought first to Sorel, Quebec, and then to Toronto, Ontario for restoration.  A tourist attraction was opened in August, 1965.  In the late 1960's, HAIDA Inc. ran into financial problems, and ownership of Haida was transferred to the Government of Ontario for $1.00.  In 1970, she was moved to Ontario Place where she remained as a tourist attraction until 2002.

In 2002, Parks Canada acquired Haida and moved her to Port Weller for a $5 million refit before being taken to her new, current, home in Hamilton, Ontario.


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