HAIDA sustained damaged during full power trials following a refit in January 1960. The trials were carried out during a gale and the ship took quite a pounding while steaming at 31.5 knots. Since divers found cracks in her bottom plates, she spent the June-July 1961 period at The Marine Industries Limited yard in Sorel, Quebec. At MIL Sorel, ships were hauled out of the water using a conventional marine railway. The ship was hauled out of the water sideways and up on the slipways. (Photos by Colin Blackburn)
Pat Barnhouse expands on the damage and the drydocking. "There was a motor-alternator down in the bowels of the ship that my electrical department and the dockyard could not get to balance in situ. It balanced fine in the shop, but when reinstalled in the ship, it remained unbalanced. It was only after the repairs in Sorel that it functioned properly (or so I am told as I left the ship in Sorel in June 1961 to go to the USN Postgraduate School in Monterey California). It turned out the machine was sitting over a rib that was weakened by rust and had partially collapsed from the pounding during the trial, leaving the machine to follow the vibrations of the ship's skin. This damage, along with other problems was discovered during a short work period in the summer of 1960 and resulted in the trip to Sorel in 1961. As for the storm, it was in March 1961, not 1960 and could well have exacerbated the damage.
The reason Haida was at sea was due to a very large Canada-US exercise in the Gulf of Maine. Several ships had to run into St. Margaret's Bay, including Nootka who was so iced up that it was estimated she had zero metacentric height. Haida did not ice up, but lost upper deck fittings, boats, guardrails and such. Haida got fairly low on fuel and was rolling to more than a comfortable degree. We went alongside the USS Wasp to fuel, did get enough on board before the carrier's captain got nervous and ordered an emergency breakaway".
Pat goes on to describe the scenario at the shipyard in 1961. " At MIL Sorel, ships were hauled out of the water an a conventional marine railway. Once safely ashore, they were then moved sideways to a "berth". While Haida was there in the summer of 1961, Nipigon was being built in an adjacent berth. Inboard of Haida, a Bangor minesweeper was being dismantled. This gave my Chief Electrician an opportunity to acquire electric parts that were no longer stocked in the supply system. The problem Haida and the other ancient ships faced was that spares for the newer ships were stocked using the NATO stock number scheme and spares that would not be used in these new ships were not so catalogued and allowed to run down. What was available was under a system known as PRECAT which identified the items by their original stock numbers, mainly as had been used by the RN".
Colin Blackburn was in HAIDA's Radio 1 during the gale of March 1961. He provides this comment.
" I remember there were several fishing boats lost with all hands but nothing we could do in such immense seas. I was "scared stiff" we would roll over since the ship came close several times. In Radio 1 we had a graph with hanging pen to indicate the rolls. It was not sophisticated but it gave us a good idea of how close we came to going right over."
Contributors and Credits
1) Colin Blackburn <acblack(at)shaw.ca>
2) Pat Barnhouse <pat.barnhouse(at)sympatico.ca>