Royal Navy (RN) His Majesty's Ships (HMS) in Canadian ports at the turn of the century

Royal Navy (RN), His Majesty's Ships (HMS) in Canadian ports at the turn of the century

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3192245)

HMS Canada, North America and West Indies Squadron in drydock, Halifax, NS, 20 Sep 1889.

Four ships of the Royal Navy have been named HMS Canada:

HMS Canada (1765), a 74-gun third rate  ship of the line launched in 1765.  She became a prison ship in 1810, and was sold broken up in 1834.

HMS Canada was to have been a 112-gun first rate ship of the line.  She was laid down in 1814, but cancelled in 1832 and broken up on the stocks.

HMS Canada (1881) was a screw corvette launched in 1881 and sold in 1897.

(Chilean Navy Photo)

HMS Canada (1913) was a battleship that the Chilean navy had ordered as Almirante Latorre.  She was launched in 1913, but the British government purchased her in 1914 after the outbreak of the First World War.  The British government resold her to Chile in 1920, and as Almirante Latorre (shown in service on 24 Dec 1921), she served the Chilean Navy until she was broken up in Japan after 1959.

Almirante Latorre, named after Juan José Latorre, was a super-dreadnought battleship built for the Chilean Navy (Armada de Chile).  It was the first of a planned two-ship class that would respond to earlier warship purchases by other South American countries.  Construction began at Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne soon after the ship was ordered in November 1911, and was approaching completion when it was bought by the United Kingdom's Royal Navy for use in the First World War.  Commissioned in September 1915, it served in the Grand Fleet as HMS Canada for the duration of the war and saw action during the Battle of Jutland.

Chile repurchased HMS Canada in 1920 and renamed it Almirante Latorre.  The ship was designated as Chile's flagship, and frequently served as a presidential transport . It underwent a thorough modernization in the United Kingdom in 1929–1931.  In September 1931, crewmen aboard Almirante Latorre instigated a mutiny, which the majority of the Chilean fleet quickly joined.  After divisions developed between the mutineers, the rebellion fell apart and the ships returned to government control.  Almirante Latorre was placed in reserve for a time in the 1930s because of the Great Depression, but it was in good enough condition to receive interest from the United States after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The Chilean government declined the overture and the ship spent most of the Second World War on patrol for Chile.  Almirante Latorre was scrapped in Japan beginning in 1959.  Wikipedia. Burt, R. A. British Battleships of World War One. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1986), and Scheina, Robert L. Latin America: A Naval History 1810–1987. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1987).

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3398281)

Captain Ley commanding HMS Canada, persuades the ship's mascot to pose for a portrait.  The ship's aft 14-inch guns are in background trained to starboard.

(US National Archives and Records Administration Photo)

Review aboard the Chilean battleship Almirante Latorre, sailors on the bow of the ship.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3332850)

HMS Crescent, Flagship of the North America and West Indies Squadron, Halifax, NS, 1900.  The Imperial navy base in Halifax was known as the "Warden of the North".

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3332915)

HMS Retribution, North America and West Indies Squadron in drydock, Halifax, NS, 1903.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3332917)

HMS Ariadne, North America and West Indies Squadron in drydock, Halifax, NS, 1903.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3332926)

HMS Ariadne, North America and West Indies Squadron in drydock, Halifax, NS, 1903.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3332914)

HMS Fantome, North America and West Indies Squadron, Halifax, NS, 1903.

Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve

HMS Calypso

Data current to 23 June 2020.

Carl Leschied, a resident of Lewisporte, Newfoundland, took my brother Dale and I out in the harbour at Lewisport, Newfoundland to the remains of an old ship that was being salvaged for scrap.  We went on board and what stuck me was the size of the steel gun turrets, the kind you find on pre-First World War warships - and that is what she was.  I salvaged anold boat from her as a souvenir, and decided to find out who and what she was.  This is the story of His Majesty's Ship (HMS) Calypso

HMS Calypso was a corvette (designated as a third-class cruiser from 1887) of the Royal Navy (RN) and the name ship of its namesake class.  Built for distant cruising in the heyday of the British Empire, the vessel served as a warship and training vessel until 1922, when it was sold.

Originally classified as a screw corvette, HMS Calypso was also one of the Royal Navy’s last sailing corvettes but supplemented an extensive sail rig with a powerful engine.  Among the first of the smaller cruisers to be given steel hulls instead of iron, the hull nevertheless was cased with timber and coppered below the water line, as were wooden ships.

HMS Calypso had a quiet career, consisting mainly of training cruises in the Atlantic Ocean.  In 1902 the warship was sent to the colony of Newfoundland, where she served as a training ship for the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve before and during the First World War.  In 1922 HMS Calypso was declared surplus and sold, then used as a storage hulk.  Her hull still exists, awash in the Bay of Exploits off the coast of Newfoundland.

(RN Photo)

HMS Calypso running with the wind under full sail, with studding sails flying on fore and mainmasts, 1898.

In 1952 the hulk was moved to Lewisport harbour.  Some thought was given to preservation, but in 1968 it was towed to a coastal bay near Embree, and burned to the waterline.  The hull still is there, awash in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  The cruiser's anchor sits outside a local inn, and other artifacts are in museums.

A 12-lb deck guns was removed in 1965 and taken to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #12 in Grand Falls, Newfoundland and was positioned on the front of the Legion building.  A 12-lb shell that was removed from that same gun in 1965 as well as a 5" shell from Calypso was turned over to the RCMP for disposal as it has been suspected to still be live.  Those two shells from HMS Calypso sat on a shelf in the Branch 12 Military Museum for over 35 years in plain view and accessible to everyone. (From the Historical Committee, Royal Canadian Legion, Grand Falls Branch #12, NL)

These remnants are not the sole remaining legacy.  HMS Calypso, created as a ship of war, has given its name another training institution, but one with peaceful purposes.  Inspired by the traditions of the ship where Newfoundlanders once trained to be competent and able seamen for the Royal Navy, the Calypso Foundation of Lewisporte trains developmentally disabled individuals to become productive workers and live independently.  This charitable foundation carries on the name of HMS Calypso.

(RN Photo)

HMS Calypso in full sail.

(RN Photo)

HMS Calypso at anchor.

(RN Photo)

HMS Calypso at anchor.

(RN Photo)

HMS Calypso at anchor.

(RN Photo)

HMS Calypso at anchor.

(Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador Photo)

HMS Calypso behind members of the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve, wharfside in St. John's harbour, Newfoundland, ca. 1902–14.  Shown are the port and aft boat davits and the sponson for the port aft 6-inch gun.  The windowed, shed-like structure atop the gunwale, is a drill hall erected in 1902. Although the vessel was afloat it was no longer capable of going to sea, as the masts and funnel had been removed.