She was the first Tribal to be built in Canada but her completion was too late to see service in the Second World War. MICMAC was commissioned at Halifax on 12th September 1945 and by October she was in service. Alone of her class, she never fired in anger but spent a significant portion of her career as a training ship. It was suggested that MICMAC spend part of 1946 visiting ports on the Pacific coast but since she was the only destroyer in commission on the east coast, it was decided to keep her there. Over her lifetime, the pattern of events were repeated over and over - training programmes, exercises, visits, dockings and an occasional special assignment.
Micmac began a refit at Halifax on 27th March, 1947. Changes in her automatic armament were completed on 9th July and a week later Micmac slipped for her full power trials off Halifax. On 16th July, the weather was foggy, although visibility seemed to be improving, but suddenly Micmac entered an extensive area of dense, low lying fogsmoke. Speed was reduced and the destroyer altered course 20 degrees to starboard to keep well clear of the lightship. Almost immediately a fresh radar contact appeared on the screen almost dead ahead. Micmac went hard a starboard and full astern, but the bow of the 7,189 ton freighter Yarmouth County crashed into the port side of the Tribal's fo'c'sle.
Later investigation showed that a 5 degree obscured sector on the radar screen had hidden Yarmouth County until Micmac altered course. But at the time, the important thing was to get the ship back safely. Fortunately there were no leaks abaft No. 5 bulkhead, and that held firm while the destroyer returned to port at 4 - 6 knots. Above the water line, however, there was extensive damage and serious casualties. Fifteen men had been injured and ten were killed or missing, including a dockyard worker. HMCS Haida and the tugs Riverton and Glendyne stood by until Micmac had secured alongside the jetty.
Wally McLeod of Oakville, Ontario witnessed Micmac's arrival. "When Micmac came into harbour, the damage was unbelievable. The port side of the ship was torn back as if by a can opener right back to the bridge structure. 'A' and 'B' guns were bent backwards like they were made of soft metal. You could see directly into the Messdeck. Dockyard maties had to use torches to get a lot of the bodies out. The most unfortunate part of the accident was the timing. It happened at meal time when the most ratings were eating in the forward messdecks. Many of the casualties, some even beach commandos, made it through D-Day unscathed only to become victims of this mishap."
While under repair, she was partially converted to a destroyer escort. The 'A' and 'B' guns were removed. A triple-barrelled mortar Squid was mounted at 'A' position and quadruple 40mm guns at 'B' position. Micmac's keel had been damaged at the time of collision so the ship could not support heavy mountings in 'A' and 'B' positions. This was the reason why she was never deployed to the Korean theatre. The keel damage was fixed when Micmac received the 'full' DDE modernization. There were two twin 4 inch mountings aft and a further four single Bofors. All the work was completed in November 1949 and MICMAC found her way into Caribbean waters.
After completing her duties in the Carribbean , she was paid off on 30th November 1951 and made her way into the dockyard to complete her conversion to a destroyer escort.Just like the other Tribals, four inch guns were installed in the 'A' and 'B' positions, and two triple-barrelled Squid mountings were installed aft. A 3"50, two barrel gun was fitted on the aft superstructure and MICMAC received a new, light weight, lattice foremast. She recommissioned in Halifax on 14th August 1953. A mid-year refit in 1956 saw the installation of funnel caps. MICMAC experienced a number of difficulties during her exercises in the Caribbean in 1957. Her port condenser gave trouble at Puerto Rico. Later she struck her port propeller on a coral pinnacle near Bermuda after a buoy had moved. Dockyard examination showed that one blade had a 5 ft. 9 in dent in it. Severe vibration set in at any speed except 14.5 knots and MICMAC was sent to Quonset Point, Rhode Island for repairs.
Adwriter Peter Ferguson was lost overboard in the North Atlantic during a storm while Micmac was returning to Halifax from the Baltic in November of 1957. It was his birthday and he was doing a little celebrating in Two mess. He left the party sometime in the evening to return to his mess. He had to cross the open deck to reach his mess in the after canopy. Even though there were life lines rigged between the break in the foc'sle and the after canopy he never made it. Peter was not missed until the morning when a search was held. The doctor on board said that with the storm and the water temperature Peter chances of surviving for more than two minutes were nil. In 1960, MICMAC was used in filming exterior and interior shots for the film “The Great Impostor” and to take external shots of ATHABASKAN representing CAYUGA.
In July 1963, while docked at the Naval Armament Depot jetty at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, the main gate telephoned the ship to say that a band of Indians had arrived unannounced to visit the ship. A dozen Micmacs in tribal regalia came on board and nearly scared to death, the Officer of the Watch. Their leader told Commander Cutts that he had been instructed by the tribal chief to visit and bless the ship. The appropriate ceremony was done on the fo'c'sle and afterwards the braves and maidens toured the ship and lunched aboard.
The autumn of 1963 saw MICMAC's last cruise - a visit to European waters. At the end of that year, after many strenuous years of training, NATO exercises and "showing the flag", more and more mechanical defects were occurring so she was declared surplus on 13th December 1963. On 31st March, 1964, MICMAC was paid off at Halifax and broken up at Faslane Scotland in 1964.
The Micmac Indians of northeast North America for which the ship is named are thought to have been the first native American society to encounter Europeans--the Norse VIKINGS who arrived about AD 1000. After John Cabot's visit in 1497, European fishermen and explorers regularly visited Micmac territory, which stretched from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to Newfoundland. The Micmac spoke an Algonquian language most closely related to CREE, but their closest political and social relations were with the ABNAKI. As expert canoeists and sea navigators, they based their economy on the resources of the sea and its inlets, supplemented by hunting and collecting of plant foods. The Micmac became the first Indians to serve as middlemen in the European fur trade with interior tribes of North America
1) Ron Moxham <ronmoxham(at)rogers.com>