DDE 218

281 badge.jpg Although CAYUGA was built on the east coast of Canada, she was intended for service on the Pacific coast. A skeleton crew carried out her acceptance trials then she was commissioned at Halifax on 20th October 1947. After being fitted with fire control equipment, a full crew complement arrived from British Columbia so she set sail for Esquimalt on 4th February 1948. This was to include a lengthy call in Bermuda. Along the way, many steam leaks and other defects developed, the most serious being the complete breakdown of the port, low-pressure turbine. Most of the passage to Esquimalt was on one engine at a maximum speed of 8 knots On her arrival, she assisted with the Fraser Valley floods, then accompanied ATHABASKAN in a series of exercises.

After these were completed, she was being prepared for a tour of European waters but this was cancelled when hostilities broke out in Korea. CAYUGA left Esquimalt on 5th July 1950, as Senior Officer's ship of the first three Canadian destroyers to service in Korean waters. She carried out three tours of duty there, the last in 1954 after the armistice. In 1952, between the second and third tours she was rebuilt as a destroyer escort.

Shortly after the Korean war started, the infamous American impersonator Ferdinand Waldo Demara Jr joined the RCN posing as Dr. Joseph Cyr under false credentials and was quickly inducted and posted to CAYUGA. His only medical training was self taught, yet while at sea in 1951, his treatment of three wounded ROK guerrillas won the respect of the Captain and the crew. When a Canadian periodical wished to report on his heroics for domestic consumption, he declined but after thinking about it for several weeks, his ego got the better part of him so he agreed to an interview. When the real doctor Cyr seen his impostor in the news, he quickly notified the authorities. A radio message was sent and CAYUGA'S captain immediately relieved him of his duties and the Sick Berth Petty Officer took over until a new medical officer arrived. In order to avoid further embarrassment, the RCN agreed to drop any charges provided that Demara left Canada immediately and not return. Because the story aroused so much interest, Hollywood made a movie about Demara titled 'The Great Impostor' in 1960. Since CAYUGA was in refit at the time, the exterior sequences were filmed aboard ATHABASKAN and the interior shots aboard MICMAC.


From the radio and radar fit, this excellent photo of Cayuga was likely taken in the early 60's. (DND Photo)

On 5th March 1953, a misinterpreted order when docking meant that CAYUGA'S engines went half ahead instead of half astern and drove her bows twenty five feet into the jetty. She was slightly damaged but a few days later the engines failed altogether when berthing and a collision was barely avoided. It is recorded that "henceforth the ship's return from sea invariably drew an interested audience". The above incidents sent her to drydock in order to repair the low pressure turbines.

Four years after her return from Korea in mid-December 1954, CAYUGA carried out training on the west coast, transferring to the east coast in January, 1959 for five more years in the same capacity. During her service life, CAYUGA had three fires aboard. On the morning of the 9th September while at anchor in Nanoose Harbour a fire broke out in Number One Boiler Room. Two men received burns and were landed at the Nanaimo General Hospital for immediate attention. They were subsequently moved to Royal Canadian Naval Hospital, Esquimalt. A Board of Inquiry was convened on arrival in Esquimalt. On September 16, she sailed with no limitations from fire damage noted. During the evening of 14 March 1961, there was a fire in the Ops Room. The other was a fire in the No 1 Boiler Room on 2 July 1959 while the ship was on passage from Montreal to Halifax after the Seaway opening ceremonies. This was dealt with quickly and the record clearly states that no one was burned or injured. Paid off at Halifax on 27th February 1964, she was broken up at Faslane Scotland the following year.

The Cayuga (Indians), for which the ship is named were one of the five original members of the IROQUOIS LEAGUE. They traditionally lived in an area extending westward from between the Skaneateles and Owasco lakes to Seneca Lake in central New York. The Cayuga lived in bark-covered longhouses and were an agricultural people whose staples were maize, beans, and squash. Women tended gardens and gathered wild plant foods while the men cleared fields, hunted, traded, and engaged in warfare.

For additional information, please refer to Cayuga's dedicated web page.


Builders: Halifax Shipyards, Halifax, Nova Scotia 
Engined by: John Inglis, Halifax, Nova Scotia 
Ordered: 1942 
Laid Down: 7th October 1943 
Launched: 28th July 1945 
Commissioned: 20th October 1947 
Pennant numbers: R04 September 1947 - October 1949; DDE 218 November 1949 - October 1964 
Radio call sign: CGWN
Voice call sign: Motorola/Wyatt Earp

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