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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

RCN Divers Survey HMCS Thiepval for Unexploded Ordinance

Originally Published by: David Pugliese, Defence WatchAdditional details by: Daniel Maillet, CAF Dispatch Moderator

Divers from Maritime Forces Pacific’s Fleet Diving Unit are working on the wreck of HMCS Thiepval off the Broken Island Chain of British Columbia. The diving unit is conducting a reconnaissance survey for any unexploded ordnance on the site.
HMCS Thiepval MC-10041.jpg
Updated Photo of HMCS Thiepval (DND - Public Domain)
HMCS Thiepval was a 44 meter-long Battle class trawler, built in Kingston, Ontario in 1917 and commissioned into the Navy in the final months of the First World War, according to the Royal Canadian Navy. It was transferred to Esquimalt in 1919 and was engaged in a variety of patrol activities throughout the Pacific Northwest. 

Following the war, the vessel was decommissioned and transferred to the Department of Marine and Fisheries. It was reacquired by the RCN in April 1924, and went on a Trans-Pacific Voyage to Japan and the Soviet Union, becoming the first Canadian Warship to visit both countries. During this voyage, The government had also given Thiepval the secret assignment of investigating American and Japanese territories in the North Pacific to see if they were being fortified in contravention of the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty; it turned out that they were not.

The Thiepval returned to its regular patrol duties in 1925. The ship sank on February 27, 1930 after it struck an uncharted rock during a patrol in Barkley Sound, between Turret and Turtle Islands (part of the Broken Islands group) off the coast of B.C., according to the RCN.

The wreck of HMCS Thiepval has been under the management of Parks Canada’s Pacific Rim National Park since 1970 and is considered a ‘Shipwreck of National Historical Significance’.

The wreck is at a depth of approximately 45 to 55 feet (12 m to 17 m), according to the RCN.

The dive activities, which started Monday, are expected to go until Thursday.

Following the survey, the dive unit will return to the wreck of HMCS Thiepval during the summer to complete the removal of ordnance and dispose of it safely.