The Cape Breton, originally named the HMS Flamborough Head, was launched in 1944 at the Burrard Drydock facility in North Vancouver, BC. The Flamborough Head was one of a series of ships intended to operate with the British Pacific Fleet in the war against Japan and for the recolonization of Asian territories.
While these ships were under construction, the Royal Navy was experiencing a severe manpower shortage. Sir Winston Churchill attempted to get Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King to provide Canadian crews, but his offer was refused by the Canadian leader. The war ended before the whole class was built, so several of the vessels were repurposed as merchant ships.
The Flamborough Head was commissioned into the service of the Royal Navy in North Vancouver in 1945. It sailed from Vancouver and remained in active service until 1952 when it was purchased by the Royal Canadian Navy. The ship commissioned as Cape Breton at Halifax on January 31, 1953.
'Ships of Canada's Naval Forces 1910-1981' by Macpherson and Burgess, states: "She served at Halifax until August 25, 1958 as a repair ship and training establishment for technical apprentices. Converted to [an] escort maintenance ship at Esquimalt, she was commissioned there on November 16, 1959 for service on the West Coast. On February 10, 1964, Cape Breton was paid off into reserve, but since 1972 she has functioned as a towed mobile support facility and accommodation vessel at Esquimalt, designated Fleet Maintenance Group (Pacific)."
The Cape Breton at this time was berthed at the old C Jetty at the Esquimalt dockyard, better known as Building 100. When this old dock area was demolished as part of the base redevelopment in the late 1980s, the Cape Breton was moved across the harbour adjacent to the Public Works Graving Dock, sometimes referred to as D Jetty. With the completion of the dockyard redevelopment and the advent of superior shore based facilities, she was declared surplus and assigned to the reserve fleet in Colwood.
Various attempts at returning the ship to peaceable service did not lead to fruition, and the ship was acquired by the Artificial Reef Society.
Dive the Cape Breton with Gary Friesen. Click on the image....
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