HMCS Kootenay (DDE 258)

HMCS Kootenay was a Restigouche-class destroyer escort that served in the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Forces from 1959 until 1996. She was the fifth ship in her class and the second vessel to carry the designation HMCS Kootenay. The ship suffered two serious incidents in her career: an explosion and ensuing fire that killed nine, and a collision that required the complete replacement of her bow. Following her service, the ship was sunk as an artificial reef.

HMCS Kootenay (DDE 258) at Pearl Harbor 1986.JPEG
HMCS Kootenay (DDE 258) at Pearl Harbor in 1986
NamesakeKootenay River
BuilderBurrard Dry Dock Ltd., North Vancouver
Laid down21 August 1952
Launched15 June 1954
Commissioned7 March 1959
Decommissioned18 December 1995
  • 7 January 1972 (IRE)
  • 21 October 1983 (DELEX)
MottoWe are as one[1]
Honours and
  • Atlantic 1943–1945
  • Normandy 1944
  • English Channel 1944
  • Biscay 1944[1]
FateSunk as an artificial reef off Mexico in 2001.
BadgeArgent, three cotises in bend wavy azure, over all a crescent sable debruised by an Indian fish spear-head gules, bound around the hilt with thongs argent[1]
General characteristics (As built)
Class and type Restigouche-class destroyer
  • 2,000 tonnes (2,000 long tons) standard
  • 2,500 t (2,500 long tons) at deep load
  • 366 ft (111.6 m) (waterline)
  • 371 ft (113.1 m) (overall)
Beam42 ft (12.8 m)
  • 13.17 ft (4.0 m) normal
  • 14 ft (4.3 m) deep load
Speed28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph)
Range4,750 nautical miles (8,800 km; 5,470 mi) at 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)
Sensors and
processing systems
  • 1 × SPS-12 air search radar
  • 1 × SPS-10B surface search radar
  • 1 × Sperry Mk.2 navigation radar
  • 1 × SQS-501 high frequency bottom profiler sonar
  • 1 × SQS-502 high frequency mortar control sonar
  • 1 × SQS-503 hull mounted active search sonar
  • 1 × SQS-10 hull mounted active search sonar
  • 1 × Mk.69 gunnery control system with SPG-48 director forward
  • 1 × GUNAR Mk.64 GFCS with on-mount SPG-48 director aft
Electronic warfare
& decoys
1 × DAU HF/DF (high frequency direction finder)
  • 1 × 3-inch/70 Mk.6 Vickers twin mount forward
  • 1 × 3-inch/50 Mk.22 FMC twin mount aft
  • 2 × Limbo Mk 10 3-barrelled ASW mortars
  • 2 × single Mk.2 "K-gun" homing torpedo launchers (though never carried torpedoes for them)[2]
  • 1 × 103 mm Bofors illumination rocket launchers

Design and descriptionEdit

Based on the preceding St. Laurent-class design, the Restigouches had the same hull and propulsion, but different weaponry.[3] Initially the St. Laurent class had been planned to be 14 ships. However the order was halved, and the following seven were redesigned to take into improvements made on the St. Laurents. As time passed, their design diverged further from that of the St. Laurents.[4]

The ships had a displacement of 2,000 tonnes (2,000 long tons), 2,500 t (2,500 long tons) at deep load. They were designed to be 112 metres (366 ft) long with a beam of 13 metres (42 ft) and a draught of 4.01 metres (13 ft 2 in).[3] The Restigouches had a complement of 214.[5]

The Restigouches were by powered by two English Electric geared steam turbines, each driving a propeller shaft, using steam provided by two Babcock & Wilcox boilers. They generated 22,000 kilowatts (30,000 shp) giving the vessels a maximum speed of 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph).[3]

The Restigouches were equipped with SPS-10, SPS-12, Sperry Mk 2 and SPG-48 radar along with SQS-501 and SQS-503 sonar.[6]


The Restigouches diverged from the St. Laurents in their weaponry. The Restigouches were equipped with two twin mounts of Vickers 3-inch (76 mm)/70 calibre Mk 6 dual-purpose guns forward and maintained a single twin mount of 3-inch/50 calibre Mk 22 guns aft used in the preceding class.[note 1] A Mk 69 fire control director was added to control the new guns.[7] They were also armed with two Limbo Mk 10 mortars and two single Bofors 40 mm guns.[6] However, the 40 mm guns were dropped in the final design.[7]

The destroyers were also equipped beginning in 1958 with Mk 43 homing torpedoes in an effort to increase the distance between the ships and their targets. The Mk 43 torpedo had a range of 4,100 metres (4,500 yd) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph). They were pitched over the side by a modified depth charge thrower.[8]

Improved Restigouche Escorts (IRE)Edit

As part of the 1964 naval program, the Royal Canadian Navy planned to improve the attack capabilities of the Restigouche class. Unable to convert the vessels to helicopter-carrying versions like the St. Laurents due to budget constraints, instead the Restigouches were to receive variable depth sonar (VDS) to improve their sonar range, placed on the stern, and the RUR-5 anti-submarine rocket (ASROC).[4] The destroyers also received a stepped lattice mast.[3] Called the Improved Restigouche Escorts (IRE), Terra Nova was the first to undergo conversion, beginning in May 1965. The conversion took ten months to complete, followed by sea trials. The sea trials delayed the conversion of the next ship for four years.[9] By 1969, the budget for naval programs had been cut and only four out of the seven (Terra Nova, Restigouche, Gatineau and Kootenay) would get upgraded to IRE standards and the remaining three (Chaudière, Columbia, and St. Croix) were placed in reserve.[5][10]

The ASROC launcher replaced the 3 in/50 cal twin mount and one Mk 10 Limbo mortar aft.[3] The ASROC was a rocket-propelled Mk 44 torpedo that had a minimum range of 820 metres (900 yd) and a maximum range of 9,100 metres (10,000 yd).[11] The Mk 44 torpedo had a weight of 193 kilograms (425 lb), was 2.5 metres (100 in) long and carried a 34-kilogram (75 lb) warhead. The torpedo itself had a maximum range of 5,500 metres (6,000 yd) at 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph). The torpedo was acoustically guided.[12]

Destroyer Life Extension (DELEX)Edit

The Destroyer Life Extension (DELEX) refit for the four surviving Restigouches was announced in 1978. An effort by Maritime Command to update their existing stock of naval escorts, the DELEX program affected 16 ships in total and came in several different formats depending on the class of ship it was being applied to.[13] On average, the DELEX refit cost $24 million per ship.[14] For the Restigouches this meant updating their sensor, weapon and communications systems. The class received the new ADLIPS tactical data system, new radar and fire control systems and satellite navigation. They were also fitted with a triple torpedo tube mounting to use the new Mk 46 torpedo.[15] The ships began undergoing their DELEX refits in the early 1980s.[16] However, by the time the ships emerged from their refits, they were already obsolete as the Falklands War had changed the way surface battles were fought.[15]

Construction and careerEdit

Kootenay, named for a river in British Columbia, was laid down on 21 August 1952 by Burrard Dry Dock Co. Ltd. at North Vancouver, British Columbia. The ship was launched on 15 June 1954, the first of her class to do so. Kootenay was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy on 7 March 1959 at North Vancouver with the classification DDE 258.[17]

Kootenay transferred to the east coast following work ups.[17] She was named the Senior Officer Ship of the escort for the royal yacht HMY Britannia which brought Queen Elizabeth II to and around Canada for a royal visit in 1959.[18] Following workups she joined the Fifth Canadian Escort Squadron.[19] In August 1960, the destroyer escort, along with sister ships Terra Nova, St. Croix and Gatineau, took part in the 500th anniversary of Prince Henry the Navigator's death off Lisbon.[20] In March 1961, the destroyer escort was among the ships that took part in a combined naval exercise with the United States Navy off Nova Scotia.[21] In January 1966, with the restructuring of the Royal Canadian Navy into Maritime Command, Kootenay was assigned to the First Canadian Escort Squadron.[22]


On 23 October 1969 Kootenay was operating in European waters with a Canadian task group comprising the aircraft carrier Bonaventure and seven other destroyer escorts. The task group was returning to Canada, transiting the English Channel when Kootenay and Saguenay separated from the rest of the ships to perform sea trials of their engines, roughly 200 miles (320 km) off Plymouth, United Kingdom. Following the completion of Saguenay's trials, Kootenay began hers at 0810, going to maximum speed. By 0821, the starboard gearbox had reached critical temperature level of approximately 650 °C (1,202 °F) and exploded.[23][24] The explosion and resultant fire killed 7 and injured 53 others; several had facial and body hair entirely burnt off.[17] Two others died later of injuries suffered during the fire.[25] While the fire burned, the ship turned in large circles at full speed for 40 minutes, and the intense heat created a bulge in the starboard side of the vessel. Flares were fired to alert other ships, and Saguenay and Bonaventure responded to Kootenay's distress, airlifting supplies and personnel to the destroyer.[24]

HMCS Kootenay window CFB Halifax

The fire was brought under control by 1010 and extinguished between 1030 and 1100.[23] The ship was towed to Plymouth by the Royal Navy tug Samsonia. Her propellers were removed there and she was then towed to Halifax, Nova Scotia by the salvage tug Elbe, leaving Plymouth on 16 November.[23][25] Kootenay arrived at Halifax on 27 November.[23] This event is considered the Royal Canadian Navy's worst peacetime accident.[17] The event also marked the last time Canadian military personnel were buried overseas, as four of the sailors killed were buried in the United Kingdom. Following this event, policy was changed so that all Canadian military personnel are returned to Canada should they perish while on deployment.[24] The Royal Canadian Navy's damage control training centre for Maritime Forces Atlantic was named Damage Control Training Facility Kootenay (DCTF Kootenay) in honour of this incident.[26]

Return to serviceEdit

While under repairs for the explosion damage, the ship underwent her IRE conversion. The ship returned to service on 7 January 1972. She transferred to the west coast, based out of Esquimalt, British Columbia, arriving on 12 February 1973.[17] This was part of the re-ordering of naval forces following the Unification of the Canadian Armed Forces in 1968, where four Restigouche-class vessels were transferred to the west coast, to replace the Mackenzie-class destroyers in the Second Canadian Escort Squadron. Later in 1973, Kootenay and Terra Nova were deployed off the coast of Vietnam as part of the Canadian contribution to the International Commission of Control and Supervision following the end of the Vietnam War.[27] In July 1978, Kootenay assisted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in intercepting $28 million worth of marijuana off the coast of British Columbia.[28]

In October 1981, Kootenay, along with the replenishment ship Provider, tracked a Soviet force operating in the Gulf of Alaska. They were later joined by the U.S. destroyer USS Fife.[29] In November 1981, cracks were discovered in the superheater headers in Ottawa. The Restigouche-class vessels were inspected for similar damage, and Kootenay was found to have similar issues. The ship was repaired within six months.[30] On 1 June 1989, Kootenay collided with the merchant vessel MV Nord Pol in fog approximately 28 miles off Cape Flattery.[17][28] The destroyer escort suffered a 3 by 16 feet (0.91 m × 4.88 m) gash in her bow above the waterline.[28] In order to fix the damage, her bow was removed and replaced with that of sister ship Chaudière which was out of service at the time.[17] Repairs were completed on 6 June 1989. Though Maritime Command absolved the commanding officer of blame, the British Columbia Supreme Court found the ship to be mostly at fault for the collision in a 1996 decision.[28]

In June 1990 Kootenay, as part of Canadian task group, visited Vladivostok, from 3–7 June. She was among the first Canadian warships to do so since the Second World War. In 1994, the destroyer escort was deployed off the coast of Haiti to enforce the blockade sanctioned by the United Nations.[17] She arrived on 13 July and remained until 15 September, returning to Esquimalt.[28]

The ship was paid off on 18 December 1996. She was sold for use as an artificial reef. On 6 November 2000, she was towed out of Esquimalt to be sunk as such off Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.[17] The ship's bell is currently held by the CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum in Esquimalt.[31]

Commanding officersEdit

Dates[17] Name[17]
7 March 1959 11 July 1960 Cdr R.J. Pickford
11 July 1960 19 September 1962 Cdr H. Shorten
19 September 1962 15 January 1965 Cdr D.H. Ryan
15 January 1965 1 June 1966 Cdr R.G. Pratt
1 June 1966 1 July 1967 Cdr W.P. Rikely
1 July 1967 15 November 1968 Cdr C.G. McMorris
15 November 1968 21 March 1969 LCdr M. Tremblay
21 March 1969 14 January 1970 Cdr N St.C.Norton
No commanding officer during IRE refit
12 January 1972 17 February 1973 Cdr J.L. Creech
17 February 1973 15 June 1974 Cdr R.H. Kirby
15 June 1974 16 July 1976 Cdr J. Spalding
16 July 1976 26 June 1978 Cdr B.P. Moore
26 June 1978 11 August 1980 Cdr B. Johnston
11 August 1980 28 June 1982 Cdr B.H. Beckett
28 June 1982 9 January 1983 Cdr S.K. Jessen
No commanding officer during DELEX refit
24 January 1984 5 July 1985 Cdr P.C. Young
5 July 1985 30 July 1987 Cdr B.R. Melville
30 July 1987 21 July 1989 Cdr J. Dickson
21 July 1989 21 July 1991 Cdr G.V. Davidson
21 July 1991 25 May 1992 Cdr J.D. Fraser
25 May 1992 31 July 1992 LCdr M.R. Bellows
31 July 1992 21 June 1994 Cdr D.J. Kyle
21 June 1994 18 December 1996 Cdr R.H. Dawe

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Calibre denotes the length of the barrel. In this case, 50 calibre means that the gun barrel is 50 times as long as it is in diameter


  1. ^ a b c Arbuckle, p. 54
  2. ^ The Postwar Naval Revolution page 161 says of the St. Laurent class: "As in the case of the Type 12, the design included provision for long-range homing torpedoes (in this case BIDDER [Mk20E] or the UK Mark 35). They were never fitted however."
  3. ^ a b c d e Gardiner and Chumbley, p. 45
  4. ^ a b Milner, p. 248
  5. ^ a b Macpherson and Barrie (2002), p. 251
  6. ^ a b Gardiner and Chumbly, p. 46
  7. ^ a b Boutiller, p. 323
  8. ^ Milner, p. 225
  9. ^ Milner, p. 259
  10. ^ Milner, p. 265
  11. ^ "United States of America ASROC RUR-5A and VLA". 30 March 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  12. ^ "United States of America Torpedoes since World War II". 28 December 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  13. ^ Milner, p. 277
  14. ^ German, p. 317
  15. ^ a b Milner, p. 278
  16. ^ Macpherson and Barrie (2002), pp. 251–255
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Macpherson and Barrie (2002), p. 253
  18. ^ "Atlantic Command". The Crowsnest. Vol. 12 no. 3. January 1960. p. 21.
  19. ^ "Navy's First 'Terra Nova'". Montreal Gazette. 1 July 1959. p. 31. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  20. ^ "RCN Ships at Review in Portugal". Ottawa Citizen. 13 August 1960. p. 20. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  21. ^ "A/S Exercise Off Nova Scotia". The Crowsnest. Vol. 13 no. 6. Queen's Printer. April 1961. p. 2.
  22. ^ "Canada's fleet has 31 ships". The Saturday Citizen. 6 June 1968. p. 19. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  23. ^ a b c d "The HMCS Kootenay Explosion". Royal Canadian Navy. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  24. ^ a b c Bartlett, Sandra; Reber, Susanne (21 October 2009). "Taking stock of Canada's worst peacetime naval disaster". CBC News. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  25. ^ a b McClearn, Sandy. "HMCS Kootenay Gearbox Explosion". Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  26. ^ Assouad, Mayya. "A look inside: the Kootenay damage control training facility". Global News Halifax. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  27. ^ Zimmerman, p. 162
  28. ^ a b c d e Barrie and Macpherson (1996), p. 44
  29. ^ Zimmerman, p. 163
  30. ^ Barrie and Macpherson (1996), p. 13
  31. ^ "The Christening Bells Project". CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2014.


  • Arbuckle, J. Graeme (1987). Badges of the Canadian Navy. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Nimbus Publishing. ISBN 0-920852-49-1.
  • Barrie, Ron; Macpherson, Ken (1996). Cadillac of Destroyers: HMCS St. Laurent and Her Successors. St. Catharines, Ontario: Vanwell Publishing Limited. ISBN 1-55125-036-5.
  • Boutiller, James A., ed. (1982). RCN in Retrospect, 1910–1968. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. ISBN 0-7748-0196-4.
  • Couhat, Jean Labayle (1978). Combat Fleets of the World 1978–79. Arms and Armour Press.
  • Friedman, Norman (1986). The Postwar Naval Revolution. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-952-9.
  • Gardiner, Robert; Chumbley, Stephen; Budzbon, Przemysław, eds. (1995). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1947–1995. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-132-7.
  • German, Tony (1990). The Sea is at our Gates: The History of the Canadian Navy. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Incorporated. ISBN 0-7710-3269-2.
  • Macpherson, Ken; Barrie, Ron (2002). The Ships of Canada's Naval Forces 1910–2002 (Third ed.). St. Catharines, Ontario: Vanwell Publishing. ISBN 1-55125-072-1.
  • Milner, Marc (2010). Canada's Navy: The First Century (Second ed.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-9604-3.
  • Zimmerman, David (2015). Maritime Command Pacific: The Royal Canadian Navy's West Coast Fleet in the Early Cold War. Vancouver: UBC Press. ISBN 978-0-7748-3037-9.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit