HMCS Annapolis Class Helicopter Destroyer
Three Canadian destroyers served under UN command during the Korean conflict on a variety of missions from 1950-1953. Subsequently, the RCN adopted the primary role of anti-submarine warfare (ASW). In 1949, the Canadian government announced a program for the construction of 7 new ASW destroyer escorts called the ST. LAURENT Class. The 7 RESTIGOUCHE Class destroyer escorts came next, followed by 4 MACKENZIE Class escorts in 1962 and 2 ANNAPOLIS Class destroyer escorts in 1964. During the mid sixties 3 submarines, joined the Canadian Fleet. Four TRIBAL Class destroyers arrived in the early 1970's. In 1983, the Government of Canada authorized expenditure of funds to design and construct six new frigates. This was subsequently increased to twelve frigates. This Canadian Patrol Frigate Program was conceived as a long-range plan to replace the twenty steam powered destroyer escorts which were built between 1955 and 1964.
Annapolis was the last of the West Coast-based steam-powered helicopter destroyers (DDH). Her design can be traced back to the successful St. Laurent-class destroyer escorts (DDE), which, in addition to being the first postwar destroyer design in the world, was also the first major class of warship designed and built entirely in Canada (seven were built between 1955 and 1957).
Ordered in 1948, the St. Laurent design was similar to the British Type 12 Whitby-class frigate but used more American equipment. Of note were such innovations as the incorporation of an operations room from which the captain fought the ship and the provision of chemical, biological and radiation/nuclear protection. With the advances in fighting capabilities and the crew comfort that were integrated into the class, these ships were commonly referred to as the "cadillac of destroyers" by the sailors who sailed in them.
Being a successful design, a further seven anti-submarine ships were ordered in 1951 by the Canadian Government. Referred to as the Restigouche class, they were built between 1953 and 1959. Wishing to capitalize on the investments made in building these two classes of ships, the Government decided in 1958 to order an additional six ships, similar in design to the Restigouche class. This final flight of destroyers gave the navy a combined fleet of 20 modern anti-submarine destroyers. The first four of these ships became the MacKenzie class and the final two the Annapolis class.
The advent of the nuclear submarine during the early days of the Cold War posed a significant problem to any navy with an anti-submarine capability. With an adversary that could travel submerged at speeds that far exceeded any surface vessel of the day, a new capability needed to be developed. The solution was to mount the ability to search out and engage a submerged target into a helicopter that operated in concert the anti-submarine destroyer. It was not considered feasible to operate a helicopter the size of the CH-124 Sea King from a hull as small as a destroyer until the navy partnered with Canadian industry to develop a hauldown and securing device (known within the navy as the "bear trap").
Once the concept of operating a large helicopter off a small deck was proven practical, a major conversion program was started in 1962 to convert six of the St. Laurent class from DDEs to DDHs. At the same time, the decision was made to build the two Annapolis-class destroyers from the keel up as DDHs. Typical of all these ships, the machinery plant featured compact twin boilers, steam turbines, hardened ground gearing and two shafts driving fixed pitch propellers. With a propulsion plant rated at 30,000 shaft horsepower, these ships were capable of speeds of about 28 knots. Fitted with twin rudders, the result was a fast, highly manoeuvrable platform. When commissioned in December 1964, Annapolis was the last of the 20-ship building program initiated in 1948 and incorporated many improvements over the previous three classes. With her sister ship Nipigon, these two ships were considered the most capable anti-submarine destroyers in the world.
In 1985, Annapolis had a major overhaul to extend her service life and enhance combat capabilities. Known as the Destroyer Life Extension Program, the major changes included the removal of the variable depth sonar system and Mark 10 limbo mortars so that the Canadian Towed Array Sonar System could be installed. As well, the mast was changed and the ship fitted with a "masker" noise suppression system. This system consisted of two underwater belts below the engine and boiler rooms that released blankets of compressed air to attenuate machinery noises entering the water.
Built in Halifax, Annapolis served on the East Coast until she was transferred to the West Coast. Arriving in Esquimalt on Sept. 25, 1989, she was the first towed array ship to be stationed on the West Coast. Although intended to remain in service beyond 2000, Annapolis was laid up into extended readiness on Dec. 19, 1996. Over her 32-year service life, Annapolis steamed over 750,000 nautical miles (1,389,000 km) participating in numerous taskings, including the NATO Standing Naval Force Atlantic, Royal Yacht Escort, Great Lakes deploy deployments, United Nations embargo duties off Haiti, and major exercises on both coasts.
Following de-commissioning ceremonies in 1996, Annapolis was berthed alongside on the Colwood side of Esquimalt Harbour and held in reserve until she was finally paid off the navy's rolls in 1998. She remained there awaiting de-militarization prior to disposal. The demilitarization was carried out in 2001 by the Fleet Maintenance Facility in Esquimalt and involved over 8,000 hours of work over six months to remove in excess of 80 tonnes of materials (weapons, petroleum products, hazardous materials and serviceable equipment).
Once completed, the ship was turned over to Crown Assets for disposal. This proved to be a lengthy process but in the end, the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia (ARSBC) was the successful bidder for the ship and took possession of Annapolis on the April 1, 2008. She left Esquimalt Harbour at sunrise on June 8, 2008 when the ARSBC towed her to Long Bay on Gambier Island in Howe Sound for final preparations before being sunk. Plans were to have Annapolis serve as a new reef habitat for rock fish and other aquatic animals in the Howe Sound region. The sinking of Annapolis took place in 2009, coinciding with preparations for the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy and the 20th anniversary of the ARSBC.
|Country Of Origin:||Canada|