DND Press Release
HMCS Preserver concluded its service to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) on Friday. The Auxiliary Oilier Replenishment (AOR) was officially "paid off", receiving a final salute from current and former sailors, soldiers, airmen, and airwomen during a ceremony at HMC Dockyard Halifax. The paying-off ceremony signals the end of the ship’s service to the Royal Canadian Navy.
According to RAdm J. Newton, Commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic, the Protecteur-class ships set the standard in modern navies for safe and expedient replenishment at sea. The essential but inherently difficult and dangerous task of resupplying ships at sea with food, fuel, munitions, and spare parts was executed by Preserver, and sister ship Protecteur, for 46 years. To accomplish this task, the ships travelled in the North Atlantic, across the wide Pacific, and into Canada’s Arctic waters.
First of class, HMCS Protecteur was commissioned in 1969, and HMCS Preserver was commissioned a year later in August 1970. The RCN intended to operate the ships until 2017. Protecteur suffered a serious engine room fire in 2014 and was sold for scrap metal in 2015, and corrosion problems were identified on Preserver, which contributed to her early retirement and today's paying off ceremony.
Canada intends to build two new auxilliary vessels, the Queenston-class joint support ship, at Seaspan shipyards in the Vancouver area, however, those will not be complete before 2019.
In a stop-gap measure, the RCN’s replenishment requirements are currently being addressed through leasing arrangements with Spain and Chile. The Spanish replenishment ship ESPS Patino is currently supporting the Atlantic Fleet.
In another answer to the serious capability gap left by the Protecteur-class AORs, the Government of Canada signed a contract in August 2015 (Project Resolve) with Davie Shipyard of Quebec to convert a German commercial container ship (built in 2010) to take on the resupply role for the RCN. The conversion was expected to be completed and the ship active in service by 2017.
The term “paying off” refers to the British age-of-sail practice of paying a crew their wages once a ship has completed its voyage. In the RCN, the tradition continues with the term paying off referring to the formal ceremony where the naval jack, ensign, and commissioning pennant are hauled down, the crew departs a ship for the last time, and the ship is then no longer referred to as HMCS (Her Majesty's Canadian Ship).
HMCS Preserver has participated in numerous missions and operations, including the United Nations peacekeeping effort in Cyprus and the enforcing of sanctions on the former Yugoslavia, as well as Operations DELIVERANCE, APPOLLO, CARIBBE, among others.
Over the course of HMCS Preserver’s 46 years of service, it is estimated that more than 8,000 sailors have been part of its crew.
Over the course of its lifespan, Preserver has used/delivered over 800,000,000 litres of fuel since commissioning or 800,000 m3. This is equal to filling up a standard car 13.5 million times.
HMCS Preserver is 546 feet long, 76 feet wide, and displaces 22,100 tons. Engine power is 21,000 SHP and the maximum speed is 20 knots. It normally has a complement of 270 officers and non-commissioned members.
The disposal method for HMCS Preserver will be determined in due course, with careful attention paid to environmental, safety, and financial considerations. Disposal options include selling or donating the vessel, or dismantling it for scrap material.