Haze Gray Photo Feature
Canada's Pacific Port
In the summer of 2003 our west-coast photographer, Roy McBride, was able
to tour CFB Esquimalt. Esquimalt is the Canadian Navy's main west-coast
base, home to two destroyers, five frigates, six patrol vessels, one
replenishment ship, and a sail training vessel. The base provides
complete operational support, maintenance, drydocking and overhaul
facilities for all these ships, and soon will be home to a modern
These photos provide an excellent look at Canada's primary Pacific base
and the ships based there. For more information about CFB Esquimalt, see
the official website and history of the base.
Special thanks to CFB Esquimalt and Roy McBride!
An aerial view of CFB Esquimalt.
This view captures the entire base waterfront area, with five frigates
and the oiler HMCS Protecteur at the piers in the center, and another
frigate in drydock between them.
Since the photos in this feature were taken,
Esquimalt has become home to Canada's only Pacific fleet submarine, HMCS
Victoria. The sub is seen here in drydock soon after
arriving from Halifax.
The destroyer HMCS Algonuin (DDH 283) is one of two air defense
destroyers based at Esquimalt. She was in the larger of the drydocks at
Esquimalt, in the final stages of a major overhaul which will permit her
to serve for several more years. These views capture port and starboard
aspects of the destroyer with most of the overhaul work done, but the
mast still obscured by staging. Notice that this drydock has two gates,
so it can be split into two sections. Algonuin is in the inner
end of the dock, leaving the outer section free to accommodate another ship.
A dead-on bow view of Algonquin in drydock.
Note the hammerhead crane in the background, something rarely seen
in a shipyard in current times.
A port-side view of Algonquin's superstructure and mast. Her
radars are enclosed in white plastic for the overhaul.
Two port-side views of Algonquin from midships looking forward.
The first photo shows some of the staging around her superstructure, and
the second shows a close-up of the hull-mounted sonar dome. A
hull-mounted dome is smaller and cheaper alternative to a large
bow-mounted dome, but is not as effective for ASW operations. Note the
very high keel blocking that is necessary to provide clearance for the
dome while the ship is docked.
Two close views of the destroyer's stern, with propellers, shafting and
rudders in the final stages of painting. The large opening in the stern
is to accommodate a towed variable depth sonar system. Two temporary
support beams have been placed under the stern to avoid sagging of the
hull, since the keel blocks stop well forward of the stern.
A general view along Algonquin's port side. This photo shows
some of the shipyard clutter that usually fills every available space on a
ship undergoing overhaul.
Esquimalt's other destroyer, HMCS Huron (DDH 281) has been out of
service for a period, and was in the early stages of a major overhaul.
She is seen here in Esquimalt's smaller drydock.
A pair of view close alongside Huron. In this older, smaller
drydock, there is little clearance between the ship and the dock walls.
Notice the use of timber shoring to support the ship - horizontal
shoring of this sort is relatively uncommon now, as most ships can stand
upright on blocking without additional support. Also note the sonar dome
pit in the drydock floor (photo at right), presumably a later addition to
the old dock.
Huron's mast, completely enclosed in staging.
A deck-level view of Huron deckhouse, looking aft along the
Two port-side views of Halifax class frigates. At left is
Winnipeg (FFH 338), commissioned in 1995.
Port (left photo) and starboard (right photo) view of frigates' aft
superstructures and helicopter hangars. There is a fire control radar at
the forward end of the hangar structure (missing in the right photo),
with numerous antennas on the superstructure, and a Phalanx CIWS further aft.
A close view of the CIWS atop HMCS Calgary's helo hangar.
A stern-on view of Winnipeg. The two openings on her port
side are for the SLQ-25 Nixie torpedo countermeasure; the opening to
starboard is for the SQR-19 towed array sonar.
Aboard Calgary, on the flight deck.
The helicopter hauldown track runs across the deck, with the control
station in the background.
Port (left photo) and starboard (right photo) view of frigates' masts.
The primary air search radar is forward, above the bridge; the mast
supports smaller radars and various other antennas.
A group view of three of Esquimalt's frigates.
HMCS Calgary (FFH 335) is nearest, and the oiler Protecteur
is in the background.
An aerial view of a frigate in Esquimalt's
smaller drydock. This is the same dock where Huron is seen
above. (DND Photo)
HMCS Protecteur (AOR 509) is the sole oiler/replenishment ship in
Canada's Pacific fleet. As such, she often accompanies the frigates and
destroyers when they are on lengthy deployments. Although smaller than
the corresponding US Navy vessels, she operates on the same
one-stop-shopping principle, carrying everything from fuel to food to
munitions and spare parts.
Acting Sub-Lieutenant Sonia Connock is a base
public affairs officer, and escorted Roy McBride throughout the base.
She is seen here aboard Protecteur.
Protecteur's battle honors from the 1991 Gulf War.
Esquimalt is also base to six MCDVs, multi-role patrol, training, and
mine countermeasures vessels. These are 15-knot, utility-type vessels,
lightly armed with a single old 40mm gun forward.
The MCDVs have a large open deck at the stern, suitable for carrying
minesweeping, minehunting, salvage, or diving gear. However, as can be
seen here, their decks are mostly empty. One of these four vessels has
an additional crane fitted at the stern.
Another stern-on view of the MCDVs.
HMCS Oriole, Canada's primary sail-training vessel, also calls
Oriole is the smallest and oldest commissioned ship in the
Canadian navy. She was constructed in 1921 by Lawley Yachts, Quincy,
Massachusetts, as a private yacht. She joined the navy in 1952.
These views show the fine yacht finish maintained aboard Oriole.
Her brightwork and polished metal are in sharp contrast to the gray
warships in the background.
Esquimalt's sailing fleet also includes the sloop Goldcrest.
She is Navy-owned, but is
not a commissioned vessel.
Three views of the Vickers 3"/70cal Mk6 twin gun mount on display in
Esquimalt's museum. This dual-purpose mount was fitted in the
Restigouche and Mackenzie class escorts of the 1950's.
The Mk112 launcher is the Canadian version of the standard US Navy 8-cell
ASROC launcher. It was installed in several Canadian ships during refits
in the late 1960's and early 1970's.
This is the Mk33 3"/50cal dual mount, a dual-purpose gun fitted in the two
Annapolis class escorts.
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This section of the HG&UW site created and maintained by
Copyright © 2003, Andrew Toppan. All Rights Reserved.
Photos Copyright © 2003, Roy McBride. All Rights Reserved.
Reproduction, reuse, or distribution without permission is prohibited.