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HMCS Spikenard was a Flower-class corvette that served with the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. She served primarily in the Battle of the Atlantic as a convoy escort. She was named for the Spikenard flower.

HMCS Spikenard.jpg
HMCS Spikenard
United Kingdom
Name: Spikenard
Namesake: Spikenard flower
Ordered: 22 January 1940
Builder: George T. Davie & Sons Ltd., Lauzon
Laid down: 24 February 1940
Launched: 10 August 1940
Commissioned: 6 December 1940
Out of service: 15 May 1941 - loaned to Canada
Identification: Pennant number: K198
Fate: loaned to Canada 1941; sunk 1942
Name: Spikenard
Acquired: Loaned from United Kingdom
Commissioned: 15 May 1941
Identification: Pennant number: K198
Honours and
Atlantic 1941–42[1]
Fate: sunk 10 February 1942
General characteristics
Class and type: Flower-class corvette
Displacement: 950 long tons (970 t; 1,060 short tons)
Length: 205 ft (62.48 m)
Beam: 33 ft (10.06 m)
Draught: 11.5 ft (3.51 m)
  • Single shaft;
  • 2 water tube boilers;
  • 1 4-cyl. triple expansion steam engine, 2,750 hp (2,050 kW)
Speed: 16 knots (29.6 km/h)
Range: 3,450 nmi (6,390 km; 3,970 mi) at 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement: 6 officers, 79 enlisted
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • Radar - SW1C or 2C (later)
  • Sonar - Type 123A, later Type 127DV


Flower-class corvettes like Spikenard serving with the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War were different from earlier and more traditional sail-driven corvettes.[2][3][4] The "corvette" designation was created by the French as a class of small warships; the Royal Navy borrowed the term for a period but discontinued its use in 1877.[5] During the hurried preparations for war in the late 1930s, Winston Churchill reactivated the corvette class, needing a name for smaller ships used in an escort capacity, in this case based on a whaling ship design.[6] The generic name "flower" was used to designate the class of these ships, which – in the Royal Navy – were named after flowering plants.[7]


She originally ordered on 22 January 1940 by the Royal Navy as part of the 1939-1940 Flower-class program as HMS Spikenard (K198). Spikenard was laid down 24 February 1940 and launched later that year on 10 August. She was commissioned on 6 December 1940 in Quebec City, Quebec.[8][9] On 15 May 1941 she was one of ten corvettes loaned to the Royal Canadian Navy. She could be told apart from other Canadian Flowers by her lack of minesweeping gear and the siting of the after gun tub amidships.[10]

War serviceEdit

Royal NavyEdit

On 21 January 1941 she sailed with convoy HX 104 to get her final equipment at South Shields, Tyne in the United Kingdom. She was worked up at Tobermory and left on June 10 with convoy OB 332 as a full escort.[9]

Royal Canadian NavyEdit

After commissioning in the RCN she was assigned as part of the Newfoundland Escort Force (NEF). From July 1941 to January 1942 Spikenard made three round-trips to the Mid-Ocean Meeting Point off Iceland escorting the vital trans-Atlantic convoys. On opening night (27 January 1942), Spikenard's commander, Lt-Cdr. H.F. Shadforth, hammered a six-inch spike into the floor of the Seagoing Officers Club, "The Crows' Nest" in St. John's, Newfoundland (better known as "Newfyjohn" during the War). After Spikenard was torpedoed and sunk two weeks later with the loss of all except eight of her crew, fellow NEF officers preserved the nail as "'Spikenard' his Spike". It still remains on display and the members of the Club hold a "Corvette Wake" commemorative dinner every year to remember Spikenard and her crew.[11]


On the night of 10 February 1942, Spikenard was torpedoed by U-136[9] while escorting convoy SC 67. The torpedo struck Spikenard at virtually the same instant as another torpedo exploded against a nearby Norwegian tanker, M/S Heina. In the confusion of battle, the other escorts in the group believed that only the now blazing and illuminated tanker had been struck, and rescued her entire crew. Spikenard was not on fire and the other escorts did not realize she was hit and sinking.[12] The other escorts in the group had been caught up chasing contacts and did not realize that Spikenard was gone until she failed to answer repeated radio calls. Some escorts fell back and found only eight survivors. Spikenard's Commanding Officer had been the senior officer of the escort group.[11]


  1. ^ "Battle Honours". Britain's Navy. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  2. ^ Ossian, Robert. "Complete List of Sailing Vessels". The Pirate King. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  3. ^ Fitzsimons, Bernard, ed. (1978). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons & Warfare. 11. London: Phoebus. pp. 1137–1142.
  4. ^ Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II. New Jersey: Random House. 1996. p. 68. ISBN 0-517-67963-9.
  5. ^ Blake, Nicholas; Lawrence, Richard (2005). The Illustrated Companion to Nelson's Navy. Stackpole Books. pp. 39–63. ISBN 0-8117-3275-4.
  6. ^ Chesneau, Roger; Gardiner, Robert (June 1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships (1922-1946). Naval Institute Press. p. 62. ISBN 0-87021-913-8.
  7. ^ Milner, Marc (1985). North Atlantic Run. Naval Institute Press. pp. 117–119, 142–145, 158, 175–176, 226, 235, 285–291. ISBN 0-87021-450-0.
  8. ^ "HMCS Spikenard (K 198)". Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  9. ^ a b c Macpherson, Ken; Burgess, John (1981). The ships of Canada's naval forces 1910-1981 : a complete pictorial history of Canadian warships. Toronto: Collins. pp. 86, 157. ISBN 0-00216-856-1.
  10. ^ Macpherson, Ken; Milner, Marc (1993). Corvettes of the Royal Canadian Navy 1939-1945. St. Catharines: Vanwell Publishing. ISBN 0-92027-783-7.
  11. ^ a b German, Tony (1990). The Sea is at our Gates : The History of the Canadian Navy. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Inc. p. 112. ISBN 0-7710-3269-2.
  12. ^ Schull, Joseph (1961). The Far Distant Ships (1961 Canadian Ministry of National Defence ed.). Ottawa, Canada: Queen's Printer, Canada. p. 101.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 50°10′N 21°07′W / 50.167°N 21.117°W / 50.167; -21.117