Royal Canadian Navy Replenishment Oiler (AOR): HMCS Provider 508, and Auxiliary Vessels: HMCS Protecteur AOR 509, Preserver AOR 510

RCN, 1963-2016,

Replenishment Oiler (AOR), (Provider Class), Auxiliary Vessels (Protector Class)

HMCS Provider 508.

(Robert Berbeck Photo, 1972)

HMCS Provider 508.  Built by Davie Shipbuilding & Repairing Co. Ltd., Lauzon, Quebec, she was commissioned there on 28 Sep 1963.  She was the first Operational Support ship in the RCN and was designed with the capacity for the stowage of fuel, ammunition, supplies, provisions (dry and refrigerated) and replacement helicopters.  She was also designed to transfer supplies and personnel underway and provided support to operational forces at sea.  At the time, she was the largest ship built in Canada for the RCN. She had 26 fuel cargo tanks which held approximately 14,000 tons of FFO, 1,500 tons of diesel and 900 tons of aviation gas (JP5) along with 430 tons of ammunition, provisions and spare parts.  HMCS Provider had the capability of replenished and refueling up to 4000 gals/min at 18 plus knots.  Late in 1969, with the arrival of the two follow-on AORs, HMCS Preserver and HMCS Protecteur, she was transferred to the west coast.  On 4 May 1970, HMCS Provider 508, HMCS Mackenzie 261, HMCS Yukon 263 and HMCS Terra Nova 259 departed Esquimalt for a Far East cruise.  On 8 May 1986, HMCS Provider 508, HMCS Restigouche 257, HMCS Terra Nova 259 and HMCS Kootenay 258, departed Esquimalt for Exercise RIMPAC 86 and returned on 21 Jun 1986.  In the spring of 1990 she took part in the Pacific Rim countries' exercise RIMPAC 90, along with units of the 2nd and 4th Destroyer Squadrons, which afterward visited Vladivostok, the first western warships to do so since 1939.  Afterward, en route to visit Manila, she rescued a large number of Vietnamese boat people that had spent nine days without food or water after their boat had broken down.  In late 1993 and early 1994 she took part in the UN embargo of Haiti.  She returned to Halifax in June 1996.  The ship was paid off 24 June 1998, two years later than originally planned, and remained in Halifax Harbour until 2002 while she awaited auction.  She was sold to Greek interests and on 26 Jul 2002 left Halifax under tow for Greece, to become a water storage vessel.  The following year she was towed to Turkey and broken up.

(Brian Dobing Photo)

HMCS Provider 508.

(USN Photo)

HMCS Provider (AOR 508) underway at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (USA), during exercise "RIMPAC '86".

(PHAA Christopher T. Bolden, USN Photo)

HMCS Provider (AOR 508) with a Sikorsky CH-124A Sea King helicopter on the ship's flight deck, Feb 1990.

(USN Photo)

HMCS Provider (AOR 508) refueling the Royal Australian Navy guided missile frigate HMAS Darwin (FFG 04) and the US Navy guided missile destroyer USS Berkeley (DDG-15), during exercise "RIMPAC '86".

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5056623)

HMCS Provider (AOR 508) carrying out replenishment at sea, 20 May 1988. (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5056623)

Auxiliary Vessels (Protector Class)

HMCS Protecteur AOR 509, HMCS Preserver AOR 510.

HMCS Protecteur AOR 509

 (USN Photo, Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robert Stirrup)

HMCS Protecteur (AOR 509).  Protecteur was commissioned in Saint John on 30 Aug 1969.  During 1973 she joined SNFL for a five month tour along with HMCS Margaree.  This was the first time two Canadian units worked with this group and the first time an AOR was assigned to this fleet.  Through the 1970s and 80s HMCS Protecteur worked with her sister, HMCS Preserver to ensure fleet support for virtually ever major east coast Canadian fleet deployment.  On 27 Jul 1970, along with HMCS Skeena and HMCS Annapolis, she departed Halifax to celebrate Manitoba's Centennial with visits to Fort Churchill, Rankin Inlet, Chesterfield Inlet and Wakeham Bay.  On 17 Jul 1976, HMCS Protecteur, along with HMCS Skeena and HMCS Fraser, arrived at Montreal in support of the 1976 Olympics.  In June, 1982, HMCS Protecteur rescued the crew of MV Essi Silje and eventually took the vessel in tow before turning her over to salvage tugs.  Her crew was awarded a portion of the salvage proceeds for the vessel.  Along with HMCS Athabaskan and HMCS Terra Nova, she departed Halifax on 24 Aug 1990 for Operation Friction, Canada's contribution to operations against Iraq following that country's invasion of Kuwait.  In preparation, her bow 3"50 was re-installed, as were two CIWS (Close-In Weapon System) mounts and other upgrades.  Upon her return in the fall of 1991 HMCS Protecteur made visits to ports in Newfoundland, and a year later journeyed south to offer aid to victims in Florida of Hurricane Andrew.  She sailed from Halifax on 15 Oct 1992 to begin a two-year refit at SRU(P), Esquimalt, returning to service in Aug 1995.  On 9 Jul 1993 she was transferred to the west coast fleet.  On 16 Sep 1999 she departed Esquimalt to join the multinational forces responding to the crisis in East Timor.  After serving as the force logistics coordinator for five months, she returned home on 2 Mar 2000.  A major refit was undertaken in 2001 and on 22 May 2002 HMCS Protecteur departed Esquimalt to replace HMCS Preserver in Operation Apollo in the Arabian Sea.  By the time she returned to Esquimalt in Nov 2002, HMCS Protecteur had sailed more than 50,000 nautical miles and delivered over 150,000 barrels of fuel.  Over the next decade, she was a fixture of Maritime Forces Pacific in national and international exercises such as Trident Fury and RIMPAC, and on several occasions served as the allied MIDPAC oiler.

On 27 Feb 2014, HMCS Protecteur suffered from a fire in her engine room at approximately 2240 hrs while returning to Esquimalt.  She was approximately 340 nautical miles from Pearl Harbour.  After an intense 11 hour battle, HMCS Protecteur's crew succeeded in putting out the fire and saving the ship.  Twenty personnel who sustained minor injuries were treated on board.  HMCS Protecteur sustained considerable damage to the engine room and was without propulsion after the fire.  USS Michael Murphy and USS Chosin arrived on scene to provide assistance, removed civilians who were on board, and took her in tow until arrival of the seagoing tug USNS Sioux.  HMCS Protecteur arrived in Pearl Harbor, under tow by USNS Sioux, on 6 Mar 2014.  On 31 May 2014, HMCS Protecteur returned, under tow, to Esquimalt, BC.  It was determined that she would not be repaired.  She was paid off on 14 May 2015 at Esquimalt, BC.

On 24 Feb 2016, HMCS Protecteur left Esquimalt under tow by the salvage tug Corbin Foss, bound for Liverpool, Nova Scotia to be broken up.  After transiting the canal zone 21 - 23 Mar 2016, the Corbin Foss turned the tow over to the ocean tug Atlantic Larch for the trip from Panama to Nova Scotia.  In the early morning hours of 22 Apr 2016, the former HMCS Protecteur arrived alongside at the yard of R.J. MacIsaac Construction to be broken up.

(Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Farrington, USN Photo)

HMCS Regina conducts an underway replenishment with the Canadian Protecteur-class auxiliary oiler replenishment ship HMCS Protecteur during a training exercise, Oct 2013.

(Calvin Locke Photo)

HMCS Protecteur (AOR 509), ca 1991.

HMCS Preserver AOR 510

(Bill McDonald Photo)

HMCS Preserver AOR 510.  Built at Saint John, NB, she was commissioned there on 7 Aug 1970.  She was selected to carry Governor General Roland Michener on a visit to the Netherlands and Belgium in 1971 . On this trip she twice hosted royalty, on 16 Apr 1971, Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, and the 22nd, King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola of Belgium.  In Jun 1971 she carried out the first-ever replenishment of a hydrofoil at sea, the recipient being HMCS Bras d'Or.  In 1974-75, HMCS Preserver served as supply ships for Canadian troops stations in Cyprus as part of a UN peacekeeping force.  Throughout the Cold War, she and HMCS Protecteur engaged in all major NATO exercises, and were indispensable.  On 7 Apr 1993, she returned to Halifax from duty off Somalia.  Between 18 Oct and 23 Nov 1993 she served in Operation Forward Action (UN sanctions against Haiti).  On 27 Jan 1994 HMCS Preserver departed Halifax for Operation Sharp Guard, Yugolslavia; arriving in the theatre of operations on 10 Feb 1994.  She returned to Halifax on 14 Jun 1994.  On of Jul 1995, she departed Halifax for another tour as part of Operation Sharp Guard.  She was one of the fleet units that assisted in the Swiss Air disaster off Nova Scotia in Sep 1998.  She departed Halifax on 17 Oct 2001, with HMCS Charlottetown and HMCS Iroquois, to support Operation Enduring Freedom, the US-led response to the terrorist destruction of the Twin Trade Towers, New York City, on 11 Sep 2001.  She returned to Halifax on 27 Apr 2002.  Over the next decade HMCS Preserver continued to serve as the east coast tanker, but with increasing challenges to ensure the mechanical availability of the ship for operations.  She participated in TGEX 6/07 in Nov 2007, the largest fleet activity in recent years, and was the coordinating unit for a major multinational sail-past of the Quebec Citadel on 1 Jun 2008 marking the 400th anniversary of the founding of the city.  Following a major refit in 2010-11, her return to operational status was delayed by a jetty collision in Halifax on 4 Nov 2011.  HMCS Preserver represented Canada at the War of 1812 Bicentennial celebration in Boston in Jul 2012, before a deployment to the Caribbean 14 Aug - 3 Oct 2012 to participate in Operations Caribbe and UNITAS 53-12.  The year 2013 continued a successful operational cycle, with major deployments including the USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group work-ups off the Virginia Capes, Exercise Joint Warrior 13-1 in the North Sea, and another commitment to Ops Caribbe and UNITAS, for a total of 123 days at sea.  HMCS Preserver was paid off at Halifax, NS on 21 Oct 2016.  On 2 Aug 2017, she departed Halifax for the final time, under tow of the tug Lois M., bound for the breaker's yard in Sydney, NS.

(Calvin Locke Photo)

HMCS Preserver 510 conducting RAS with HMCS Saguenay 206 and HMCS Assiniboine 234.

(USN Photo)

HMCS Preserver (AOR 510) operating with the NATO Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT), in February 1978.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4113925)

Stretcher being carried from a Sea King on flight deck of HMCS Preserver after an accident on another Canadian Ship.

(Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker, USN Photo)

HMCS Preserver (AOR 510) during a replenishment at sea evolution as part of the annual UNITAS maritime exercise while assigned to U.S. 4th Fleet, Sep 2103.

(Mass Communication Specialist Petty Officer 2nd Class Erica R. Gardner, USN Photo)

HMCS Preserver (AOR 510) cruises Hudson Bay during the Parade of Ships, kicking off the start of New York City Fleet Week 2009.

(Author Photo)

HMCS Preserver AOR 510, Halifax harbour, 2005.

(Author Photo)

HMCS Preserver AOR 510, Halifax harbour, 2005.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4718902)

HMCS Preserver AOR 510, refueling HMCS Assiniboine and HMCS Margaree at sea, 2 Aug 1971.

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