Royal Canadian Navy Sail training ships: HMCS Oriole, HMCS Pickle

Sail Training Ships

HMCS Oriole (KC 480)

(Redonebird Photo)

HMCS Oriole (KC 480).

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4976228)

HMCS Oriole (KC 480), 24 October 1958.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225664)

Royal Canadian Navy yacht Pickle with RCN yacht Tuna in the background, 4 Aug 1955. Pickle was commissioned in 1953 and paid off in 1979.

Helgoland was a yawl designed by Henry Gruber of Germany in 1936 and was built at the naval yard Burmester Yacht of Bremen. From the onset, she was a race winning sailing vessel and in 1939 she was the first German sailboat to win the "Hawke Trophy" putting to end 40 years of British supremacy in this race. With the onset of the Second World War, she was transferred to the Kreigsmarine as a school ship. After the war, the Royal Navy took over Helgoland as a war prize and renamed her Pickle to honour the sailing vessel that brought back the news of Nelson's victory at Trafalgar. The Royal yacht Squadron used it as her predecessors did and in 1949 she won "The Fastnet" now called the "Channel Race". The RN did not have the funds to maintain a vessel of this class and after a short period she began to deteriorate. The decision was made to gift her to the RCN who at the time was better financially placed to maintain her.

In 1953 the Pickle was gifted to the RCN by the RN. After inspection she was deemed not worthy of a transatlantic voyage and was hoisted aboard the carrier HMCS Magnificent and transported to Halifax. The Pickle was given to HMCS Shearwater where she sat for a year and a half when it was decided to transfer her to the Sail Association of the Canadian Navy. Before the transfer was done, she had to be repaired and restored and by June 1955, the Pickle was ready to take to sea again.

There was never a shortage of volunteers to man the Pickle and while her primary focus was training, she was participated in several races: The Marblehead to Halifax Race from 1957 to 1970; the Century Transatlantic Race of 1968 between Bermuda and Travenmude, Germany; and the Transatlantic International Race between Newport, Rhode Island and Cork Ireland in 1969. She won the Bermuda Race five times in 1955, 56, 67, 62 and 64. The Pickle was used to teach future navy officers to navigate, make contact with the sea, acquire the art of sailing and promote the Canadian flag.

In 1972, Pickle represented Canada and the Canadian Navy at the Olympics in Kiel, Germany. Soon afterward, it was determined the the Pickle was too expensive to maintain and a potential buyer was sought. She was purchased by Mr. Norman Gowland, from Toronto, Ontario, who had the intent to restore her. (For Posterity's Sake)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225670)

Royal Canadian Navy yacht Pickle, low oblique starboard beam view during training exercise, 4 Aug 1955.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225665)

Royal Canadian Navy yacht Pickle, 19 Dec 1955?

(Eric Ruff Photo)

Royal Canadian Navy yacht Pickle (CNAV PICKLE QW7).

(Bill Perks Photo)

CNAV PICKLE, Charlottetown, PEI, 1973.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225669)

Royal Canadian Navy yacht Pickle at a wharf prior to departure from HMCS Shearwater. Hangar of School of Naval Aircraft Maintenance in background, July 1955.

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