Search for "Navy"

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Prestonian-class Frigates

The Prestonians were a group of 21 Second World War frigates reactivated by the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in the 1950s for antisubmarine warfare (ASW). This was a stopgap measure to meet Canada’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) force goals until the purpose-built St Laurent-class destroyer escorts came into service. Although originally built as Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) vessels, the Prestonians had to be extensively modified to meet the more complex demands of Cold War ASW, which they performed until withdrawn in the mid-1960s.

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Oberon-class Submarines

The Oberon class was a highly successful British conventional submarine design, operated by the Royal Navy (RN) and exported widely to Commonwealth and allied navies. The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) acquired three of the type in the mid-1960s to act as antisubmarine warfare (ASW) training “targets” for surface and air forces. A major operational update in the 1980s transformed them into true hunter-killer attack submarines and laid the groundwork for a proper submarine force with their replacement by the Victoria class at the turn of the 21st century.

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CANTASS

The Canadian Towed Array Sonar System (CANTASS) has been used by Canadian ships since the late 1980s for long-range detection and identification of submarines. It is a passive system that “listens” but does not transmit any noise. The CANTASS uses a hydrophone array developed by the US Navy in conjunction with a powerful signal processor developed by Litton Systems Canada Ltd. The CANTASS has been fitted to the Annapolis-class destroyers, Halifax-class frigates, and the Oberon and Victoria-class submarines.

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Harry DeWolf

Harry George DeWolf, naval officer and veteran of the Second World War, vice-admiral, Chief of Naval Staff, Royal Canadian Navy (born 26 June 1903 in Bedford, NS). DeWolf was best known as the commanding officer of HMCS Haida, one of Canada’s eight Tribal Class destroyers during the Second World War. DeWolf entered the navy in 1918 and retired in 1961. A new class of offshore patrol vessels has been named in his honour.

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Battle of Coronel

In the Battle of Coronel, warships of the powerful German East Asiatic Squadron defeated a much weaker Royal Navy squadron. The battle was fought off the coast of Chile near the port city of Coronel on 1 November 1914. Four midshipmen of the Royal Canadian Navy went down with the British flagship. They were the first Canadians to die in battle during the First World War.

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CH-124 Sea King

The Sea King entered service with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in 1963 as an all-weather shipborne helicopter to provide close antisubmarine warfare (ASW) protection for ships at sea. By the time it was retired from service 55 years later, in 2018, it had undergone a variety of modifications and role-changes. Throughout, it maintained its well-earned reputation as the workhorse of the fleet. Sea King helicopters were a critical element in nearly every naval operation at home and abroad.

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Iroquois-class Destroyers

The Iroquois class of helicopter-carrying destroyers (DDH) entered service in the Canadian Navy in the early 1970s, featuring several innovations that distinguished them as trailblazers in antisubmarine warfare (ASW). Although only four were built, they played a critical flagship role for deployed Canadian naval task groups. The class was modernized in the early 1990s and transformed into guided-missile destroyers (DDG), providing fleet area air defence until their withdrawal from service in the 2010s.

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Bill Ronald Benjamin Courage (Primary Source)

"Are there going to be fanatics? Do they still hate us? And are they going to torpedo us, now, even though the war is over?"

See below for Mr. Courage's entire testimony.


Please be advised that Memory Project primary sources may deal with personal testimony that reflect the speaker’s recollections and interpretations of events. Individual testimony does not necessarily reflect the views of the Memory Project and Historica Canada.

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Canada and Antisubmarine Warfare in the First World War

When the First World War began in August 1914, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) was unprepared to fight a war at sea. Founded only in 1910, it consisted of two obsolete cruisers, HMCS Niobe and HMCS Rainbow, and about 350 regular sailors, augmented by 250 reservists. During the war, it was assigned a growing number of tasks, which it was ill-equipped to perform. This included protecting Canadian coastal waters against German U-boats. The RCN scrambled to find ships and sailors but was ill-equipped to fight enemy submarines, which sank several vessels in Canadian waters in 1918.

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Paul Smith

Paul Anthony Smith, naval officer (born 26 August 1967 in Lionel Town, Jamaica). Smith emigrated to Canada when he was six years old and grew up in North York, Ontario. He enrolled in the Naval Reserve in 1986, rose to the rank of petty officer second class and was commissioned in 1999. In 2014, Smith took command of HMCS Kingston, becoming the first Black officer to command a ship in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). On 2 October 2021, he became the first Black commanding officer of HMCS York, the largest naval reserve division in Canada.

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Margaret Brooke

Margaret Martha Brooke, MBE, dietician, naval officer, war hero, paleontologist (born 10 April 1915 in Ardath, SK; died 9 January 2016 in Victoria, BC). Brooke was a nursing sister during the Second World War and survived the torpedoing of the SS Caribou. For her heroism immediately after the sinking, she was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), the first Canadian nursing sister so recognized.

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Jean Vauquelin

Jean Vauquelin, French sailor and naval officer (born in February 1728 in Dieppe, France; died 10 November 1772 in Rochefort, France). A skilled sailor from an early age, he first distinguished himself as a merchant marine captain and, later, as a naval officer during the Seven Years’ War. His composure, daring and skill as a commander were noted during the sieges of Louisbourg in 1758 and Quebec City in 1759 and 1760.

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CS2F Grumman (de Havilland) Tracker

The Tracker was a twin-engine fixed-wing aircraft acquired by the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) to be flown off aircraft carriers for antisubmarine warfare (ASW) as a replacement for the Grumman Avenger. Originally developed for the United States Navy (USN), a Canadian version was manufactured under licence by de Havilland Canada as the CS2F. After unification the plane was redesignated as the CP-121; the Trackers became shore-based aircraft after the aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure was decommissioned. The Trackers became fully operational in 1959 and were withdrawn from service in 1989.