The Royal Canadian Navy bid farewell to its last destroyer, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Athabaskan, during a paying off ceremony at HMC Dockyard in Halifax on March 10.
HMCS Athabaskan, the last of the four Iroquois-class destroyers, served the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) for more than 44 years.
These ships carried on the legacy of their wartime namesake ships that fought in the Battle of the Atlantic, Murmansk Convoys, D-Day landings and Korea.
“As a former sailor who was trained and mentored on the decks of a Tribal-class destroyer, I am struck by the great significance of this ship’s decommissioning,” said Rear-Admiral John Newton, Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic.
“The name Athabaskan, and those of her sister ships Iroquois, Algonquin and Huron, conjure up the greatness of our country, its vast geography, first peoples and impactful contributions of the RCN in war and peace. There are tens of thousands of Canadians who served aboard these ships and whose hearts ache for what has passed. To them, I salute their service and praise their contributions to a navy that remains focused, effective and fully committed to providing value-added contribution to maritime security operations wherever there is water and whenever called upon by the Government of Canada.”
Under the auspices of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, the RCN is in the midst of a comprehensive period of fleet modernization and renewal. Despite the retirement of the Iroquois Class and its long-range air defence capability, the modernized Halifax-class frigates, Kingston-class patrol vessels and Victoria-class submarines are the bridge to the future fleet.
The RCN now awaits the first of the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels and a leased solution from industry for the provision of an underway replenishment ship to support the navy’s long distance deployments.
“For over 44 years, HMCS Athabaskan and its crews have proudly served and protected Canada while responding to the calls of our allies,” said Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, Commander RCN. “While the ship’s role in naval operations has come to an end, the RCN carries on its mission with its modernized frigates, looking to a bright future with its Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels, Joint Support Ships and Canadian Surface Combatants. This promising future is anchored in part on the legacy of ships and crews such as HMCS Athabaskan, and their proud service to the RCN and to all Canadians.”