HMCS ATHABASKAN was the first of three destroyers of the Royal Canadian Navy to bear this name. She was a destroyer of the Tribal class that served during the Second World War and named for the First Nations peoples who make up the Athabaskan language group.
HMCS ATHABASKAN was laid down in the United Kingdom on 31 October 1940 by Vickers Armstrong of Newcastle upon Tyne and constructed in consort with Parsons engine works. She was launched on 18 November 1941 and commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy on 3 February 1943
On the night of 28 April 1944, the Tribal-Class destroyers HMCS ATHABASKAN and HMCS HAIDA took part in Operation Hostile sweeps covering mine-laying operations off the north coast of Brittany, in the English Channel.
At approximately 0345 hrs. on the morning of the 29 April 1944 the destroyers sighted, and engaged two German destroyers. While they were closing with the enemy HMCS ATHABASKAN was torpedoed by the German Elbing T-24. The first torpedo struck aft, just below the rear gun turrets; the second below the funnels, exploding boiler room one.
The HMCS ATHABASKAN sank quickly. The HMCS HAIDA under command of Cdr H. DeWolf put a launch in the water and scramble nets over the side and began to pick-up survivors. But the approach of dawn meant that she could not stay long so close to the enemy coast and airfields.
The Tribal was a very powerful class of destroyer with eight main guns in four turrets, anti-aircraft guns, torpedoes, and depth charges. But no power in machines can remove the vulnerability of people.
When the HMCS ATHABASKAN went down, 44 were rescued, 83 became prisoners of war and 128 men died.
Every year on the Sunday closest to the 29th of April a memorial ceremony is held in memory of those that were lost at sea during this tragic event.
Far Right: Mr. Lauren Barnard , LS Cook from HMCS ATHABASKAN (G07)
Naval Guard Firing the Salute
Left: Lt(N) Lalonde, HMCS ATHABASCAN (DDG 282)
Right: Mr. Lauren Barnard, LS Cook from HMCS ATHABASKAN (G07)
The wreath ceremony for HMCS ATHABASKAN (G07) from the aft deck of sister ship HMCS HAIDA
SLt the Reverend Canon Wm. C. Thomas conducts the memorial service