Graphic © Sandy McClearn.
(FHE) fast hydrofoil escort
In 1919, when Alexander Graham Bell was testing his latest hydrofoil, the HD-4, on the Bras d'Or lakes in Cape Breton, he couldn't interest the Navy of the day in the new contraption. The RCN became interested in the 1950s in hydrofoils, and a small trial vessel arrived in Halifax aboard HMCS BONAVENTURE in 1957. This led to the construction of HMCS BRAS d'OR, named after the location of the early tests.
The diesel engine would drive the vessel up to 23 knots, when the hull would clear the water and the gas turbine would take over. In trials, she equalled and surpassed the 60 knots made by the HD-4, fifty years earlier.
As would be expected from a technically challenging program such as this, there were a number of early setbacks (such as a serious fire before she the hydrofoil even left the builder's yard) and problems with the foils and other equipment. Despite this, BRAS D'OR showed promise and displayed impressive capabilities at sea, and was able to remain foilborne even in heavy sea states. Her final active service included a trip to Norfolk, Virginia.
Although many of the combat systems that were to be fitted for the next round of texts were completed and ready to be installed, such as the variable depth sonar (VDS) and the torpedo tubes, these systems were never fitted and the final testing program was never carried out. In 1972 it was decided that the cost of the program was excessive, and she was paid off. In 1982 she was taken on a barge to Quebec to be part of the Quebec Maritime Museum's exhibits where she remains today.
(click on thumbnail for bigger image)
Barrie, Ron and Macpherson, Ken. (2002). This Ships of Canada's Naval Forces 1910-2002. Vanwell Publishing Ltd. St. Catherines, Ont.
Boileau, John. (2004). Fastest in the World - The Saga of
Canada's Revolutionary Hydrofoils. Formac Publishing Company
Ltd. Halifax, NS.
Lynch, Thomas G. (1983). The Flying 400 - Canada's Hydrofoil Project. Nimbus Publishing Ltd., Halifax, NS.
Steed, Roger G. (1999). Canadian Warships Since 1956. Vanwell Publishing Ltd. St. Catherines, ON.
Jane's Fighting Ships, Various Editions
Correspondence with Ralph Fisher and Robert Willis.
Back to the Canadian Navy - Postwar Fleet