PRESTONIAN CLASS FRIGATES - RADIO FITS

GENERAL

Twenty one, WWII era River Class frigates were converted to become Prestonian Class anti-submarine frigates in the mid 1950's. This program to modernize the frigates was completed with the commissioning of HMCS New Waterford on January 31, 1958 under the command of Lt. Cdr. Walter S. Blandy. The conversion  was evident in two areas:

* The large low quarterdeck was now roofed in to house two Squid anti-submarine mortars as well as a twin Bofors aft. This effectively changed the hull profile from a split deck to a flush deck configuration.

* The wheelhouse was enlarged substantially and the funnel heightened accordingly. The now enclosed and heated bridge must have been viewed as a super luxury by those who had endured open bridges during the Battle of the Atlantic.

On some, but not all all ships,  an after accomodation/studyhall  for officer cadet training was added. It was commonly known as "Dunks Diner". Bunks were installed in the messdecks and a galley and cafeteria was constructed on  what had been the After Well deck. This eliminated the requirement for broadside messing.
Those hands who had lived with broadside messing were ecstatic with the cafeteria.

* Stettler had small circular barbettes on either sides of the bridge and its believed that this fitting was unique to the ship.

*At one point a helicopter landing pad was fitted to Buckingham's quarterdeck as an experiment with a view towards fitting these pads on the St. Laurent Class vessels then under construction.
 
 

VITAL STATISTICS
Length: 301.5 feet Breadth: 36.6 feet
Draught: 9 feet Displacement : 1445 tons
Speed: 19 knots  Crew: 150 officers and men  (1961)

 
stettler.jpg
HMCS Stettler is being used to represent the entire Prestonian class. The ship was conned from the open bridge in good weather.  (Image courtesy Ships of Canada's Naval Forces (1910-1993) 

On the drawings of Prestonian class ships, it appears that the same deck designators were carried forward from the era when these ships were River Class frigates. However , on the Prestonians some decks were called by different names. This is summarized in the following table:
 
 

RIVER CLASS 
NAME
PRESTONIAN 
NAME
LOCATION
FOR
No. 1 Deck  Upper Deck  Radio 1, 2 and Message Centre
Bridge Deck  Bridge Deck  Radio 3 and SRE
Signal Deck  Operations Room Deck Radio 4

RADIO 1

Era being described: 1960 to 1961
Location: Port side of the ship. Upper Deck.  At the main house,  under the port 40mm gun,  was the main door to enter the ship. Past that door, the Message Centre was on the left. Radio 1 was on the right with Radio 2 behind it.

Radio 1 contained the main operational positions for the Radioman rates. Receivers were on the right side as you entered the compartment. There were several Marconi CSR5's and a Marconi FR12. The battery box, which provided emergency power for Radio 1, was a steel box attached to the upper deck just outside Radio 1. One could often recognize a Sparker by the holes in his clothing. When checking the battery bank and wearing a full length rubber apron while using a hydrometer, radiomen inevitably got some minuscule droplets of sulphuric acid on their clothing. With each washing,  the holes got bigger and bigger  until at the end of a prolonged deployment, some people were down to one jacket, one shirt and one pair of pants which required hand washing while they wore their acid eaten rags. Once home, it was up to the stores people to get a change of working gear, which thankfully was on exchange basis in those days. The experience was not lost on the Sparkers since many decided to purchase a third set of dungarees. [10] Aboard Swansea, acid splatter was not a problem because the cover to the battery compartment had become corroded and could not be opened. This only caused a great deal of concern on the day the Admiral decided to do an inspection of the ship in Mortier Bay, Newfoundland!

During the quiet hours, the radioman on watch was responsible for message typing and distribution as well as decryption of any “buttoned up” messages and copying the CW broadcast from CKN or CFH. Part of the job required the operator to crank up the volume on the distress frequency (500 KHz) receiver and also the receiver copying the broadcast in order to monitor it for any breaks in the identifier tape which meant a message would be coming shortly. In any event, the personnel who lived up in the Officers Flat would sometimes get agitated at the noise from Radio 1. The standard  reply was to say that it was hard to be in two places at the same time and was particularly true if one came busting in when a guy was decoding a message; at  which point the radioman had to inform the intruder that his name was not on the door and he was required to leave...now.  Fortunately the CO's cabin was far enough forward that the radio room  never bothered him.

During the day watches, the Message Centre was handled by a signalman since Radio 1 was crowded with a POTEL and dayman as well as off watch personnel doing book corrections or miscellaneous tasks. There were only three bays and three chairs and because rank has its privilege, it was common to use the deck as a work surface. It tended to get noisy at times and sometimes a pipedown was required in order that the broadcast could be copied.

The main problem with radio rooms aboard the Prestonian Class frigates was the chronic shortage of manpower. The complement for a frigate was a P1 or P2 as POTEL and a P2 or LS as a Dayman with 3 AB/OS watchkeepers. The workload was the same as that of a destroyer, but a  frigate was 4 to 5 personnel short when compared to a destroyer.

Around 1964, Naval HQ in Ottawa decided to implement the “user/maintainer policy”. One day radio operators were just that but on the next day they also had the responsibilities of a technician.  Radio room personnel were lucky enough not to have electrocuted themselves while muddling through the innards of a piece of equipment that became unserviceable.
 

prestonian_no1deck_radio12_s.jpg Radio 1, 2,  Message Centre, Crypto Office and EMR deck layout from  Beacon Hill. Click to enlarge.  (CANAVHED  drawing submitted by Darren Scannell) 
prestonian_swansea_radio12_s.jpg VARIANTS: Swansea Radio 1 .1960-61. (CANAVHED drawing submitted by Darren Scannell. Edited by Jerry Proc)
1) No chair in Radio 2. 
2) Radio 1 had three swivelling chairs bolted to the deck. The Crypto Room and Message Center were furnished with regular chairs.

 
 
swansea_radio1_1960.jpg
Radio 1 - HMCS Swansea, November 1960.  Radio 2 is the room behind it with the CM11. The photo was taken in the doorway to Radio One. Left to Right: Don Ryan ABRM, Malcolm MacPhail OSRM, Ron Bell ABSG and Dave Carlin OSSG. (Photo by Spud Roscoe)

 
314_radio_a.jpg
Radioman J. F. "John" Leightizer in Radio 1 aboard HMCS BUCKINGHAM. (Photo via J. F.  Leightizer)

RADIO 2

Era being described: 1960 to 1961
Location: Behind Radio 1

Behind Radio 1 was Radio 2 and it was fitted with two Marconi CM11's plus a  PV500 transmitter. Since ship-to-shore RATT (radioteletype) capability was not installed at this time, the PV500 was used for long distance ship-to-shore communication.

MESSAGE CENTRE

Era being described: 1960-1961
Location:  No 1 Deck, port side.

Several teletype machines were fitted in here along with a desk on the right side. This is where the SG, RM and RS rates typed up the message traffic. A little cubby hole at the back of the Message Centre contained the Adonis (KL-7) off-line crypto machine. There was an experimental UHF radioteletype system in the Message Centre which was intended for working inter-ship but little or no traffic was passed on this system. At least one operator is known to have transmitted a message containing successive Baudot characters that would make the bells ring on the teletypes of other ships in the squadron thus startling other operators who were on watch.

In the Message Centre there was a voice pipe up to the bridge and through this pipe paper messages were sent up and down in a “bucket”. It consisted of a piece of 2 inch diameter iron pipe tied to a piece of Coston gun line [1]. Odd things were known to travel down this pipe besides messages. On at least one occasion,  a load of “mal-de-mer” from a newly minted signalman made the trip. Other times the line would break and the pipe became a missile. One never put their hand out to catch the bucket, as this could be a real attention grabber.

On HMCS Jonquiere,  100 wpm RATT equipment was installed in 1964 in order to copy the RATT broadcast.

RADIO 3

Era being described: 1960-1961
Location: Bridge deck and entry was though a watertight door.

It contained the ship's  VHF and UHF voice circuits (URR-35 receiver and TED-3 transmitter). There was also a requirement to guard the Aeronautical distress frequency of 121.5 MHz hence the fitting of VHF gear. Radio 3  was a fine place to hide out from the Buffer, or to read your pocket book and while in southern waters a great place to chip paint and spruce up the Sparkers "private balcony" which surrounded this compartment. The Sound Reproducing Equipment (SRE) compartment was just forward of Radio 3.
 

pres_bridge_deck_rad3sre_s.jpg Radio 3 and SRE deck plan from  New Waterford. Click to enlarge. (CANAVHED  drawing submitted by Darren Scannell) 

SOUND REPRODUCING EQUIPMENT (SRE)

The SRE compartment contained the following equipment:

Two Hallicrafters SX-62 receivers. Among its excellent features was a string dial and a weighted tuning control, which was ideal for use at sea.
One Turntable.
One 7 inch reel-to-reel  tape deck.
One microphone

Spud Roscoe explains how the SRE was used in Swansea in the 1960-61 period. "Each mess had 3 channels of audio with each speaker having its own on/off switch and volume control. Two channels were fed by the two radio stations tuned in on the SX-62 receivers. CHNS-AM Halifax was a big favourite and because it also simulcast on a short wave frequency in the 6 MHz band, it could be tuned in while the ship was some distance from the East coast. Back then,  the crew always looked forward to a good news report and stories about anything from home. Weather was of special interest when it was warm and balmy in the Gulf Stream with the knowledge that people at home were in the grip of winter. On the third channel we tried to keep a tape or music record  playing for periods of time. Often, there was nothing but the two channels of radio playing .One person in the communications branch was usually assigned the task of looking after the SRE and in Swansea it was me.

There was a crew of about 150 men in each Frigate. It is amazing the amount of talent one can find in among that group of men. Every so often we would hand over the microphone and let them loose for an evening of entertainment over the system. Mostly there would be poem reading and poking fun at the other men in the ship and especially the officers. The Sub-Lieutenants used to take an awful beating on these occasions.

The tape deck often played what is now considered to be "off colour" songs but back in that era we were simply not aware of such things especially since most of us were in the 18 to 19 age group. I must admit I learned a lot while serving in Swansea or so I thought. I will always remember a part of the song "Get Along Home Cindy". The lyrics went something like this. The last time I saw Cindy,  she was standing in the door, her shoes and stockings in her hand, her clothes all over the floor. Get along home Cindy, Cindy, I'll marry you some day.

Occasionally I would pull some pranks. Once, I went around during the night and turned every speaker in the ship to the same audio channel and turned the speaker volume up full. Right after the quartermaster piped "wakey wakey" in the morning, I cut in with a recording of Frankie Lane's Mule Skinners. It starts off Good Morning Captain, Good Morning Captain, wah ha he haw haw or something like that. The next time I saw the speaker in the Stokers Mess it had taken a few direct hits as evidenced by a pile of boots on the deck below it. That song echoed for miles around the ship.  I can still hear some of the crew having a good time over the thing".
 

sre.jpg
ABRS Spud Roscoe at the controls of the SRE equipment in HMCS Swansea, January 1961. Two portions of two SX-62 receivers are visible in the photo.
(Photo courtesy Spud Roscoe). 

RADIO 4

Era being described: early 1960's
Location: Radio Four, which became known as the Electronic Warfare (EW) Office in the late 1960's, was located one deck below the Command position and adjacent to the Operations Room on the Operations Room Deck.

There was a sliding hatch between Radio 4 and the Operations Room where operators could pass DF bearings, etc. The entry door to Radio Four was on the starboard side and was just forward of the Sonar Control Room (SCR).  Entry to Radio Four was limited to Radioman Special (RS) rates plus the Captain and perhaps the XO  provided these two received the proper "indoctrination". On some ships, RS rates had a number of contentious occasions when various officers would insist that they be allowed in. In the event that someone was knocking at the door to Radio 4 (which by the way, was always kept locked), operators were taught to cover any sensitive material which might be seen by unauthorized eyes. Affixed to the Radio 4 door was one long sign quoting all sorts of regulations, numbers and legalities to keep unauthorized personnel out of the compartment.

In most ships of the 9th Squadron,  the senior RS was also the ship's mailman and he would sort the mail in Radio 4 and distribute it at the door, but the blackout curtains were in place to prevent unauthorized viewing. When going ashore, the mail bags also saw service as bottle carriers and many a time, one could hear glass tinkling as  the "precious cargo" in the mailbag would betray itself as it was being brought aboard ship.

The AN/SRC-501 HF radiotelephone was mounted on the port bulkhead of Radio 4. Its antenna lead passed through this bulkhead and connected to the forward whip,  a 19-foot antenna that had a notoriously leaky base insulator. This antenna was mounted on the port side of the command position, where the Officer of the Watch (OOW) was positioned during fair weather. During inclement weather,  the "bridge" moved indoors, one deck below and just forward of the Operations Room.

Some of the DAU HFDF sets were famously unreliable from a direction-finding perspective, but the HF receiver portion of this set was absolutely marvelous, good signal to noise ratio, and very sensitive. The copper contacts on the spinning goniometer put so much 'hash' on the screen one could hardly make out the signal in question. Yet aboard Swansea that DAU was reliable and worked "the finest kind".

Spud Roscoe sums it up succinctly. "Radio 4 was a lot of fun most of the time, a lot of bull some of the time, and unfit for human habitation the rest of the time. Come to think of it, that was the Navy. Radio 4 was simply part of it."

Click on image to enlarge

prestonian_signal_deck_radio4s.jpg Radio 4 deck plan from  New Waterford. (CANAVHED drawing submitted by Darren Scannell)
 
 
 

 

prestonian_swansea_radio4s.jpg VARIANTS: Swansea Radio 4 .1960-61. (CANAVHED drawing submitted by Darren Scannell. Edited by Jerry Proc)

1) There were only two chairs in Radio 4. One was in front of the DAU and the other  in front of the SP600. A shelf was fitted under the UPD501 - MF/DF5 and on occasion the inhabitants of Radio 4 slept on the shelf.

2) Swansea did not have a state board. Instead, a small sliding door to the Ops Room was located on this bulkhead. There was no safe.


 
dau.jpg
ABRS Spud Roscoe operates the DAU aboard  HMCS SWANSEA in  January 1961. (Photo courtesy Spud Roscoe)

 
 
pud_ew_office.jpg
ABRS Spud Roscoe copies a message from the SP600 receiver in Swansea's Radio 4 in January 1961. Note the chain which holds down the typewriter in case of heavy seas. Pictures such as this were forbidden by the RCN. (Photo courtesy Spud Roscoe)

RECOLLECTIONS

Ray White served aboard HMCS Cap de La Madeleine,  affectionately called "The Scrap". He recalls several incidents from his time aboard the ship. "During the Cuban Missile crisis in the fall of 1962, the Squadron was sent to the Newfoundland area and spent long periods on patrol and challenging  unidentified vessels. One night, during the Middle Watch, I was awakened by a messenger who told me the Captain wanted to see me. I got dressed quickly and  hurried to the Bridge. The CO was there with a bunch of other officers. He said to me, "PO, there's a darkened ship off our port bow and we are going to illuminate it in an attempt to identify it. Probably Russian. HMCS Buckingham will tell us what the letters are and I want you to tell me what it is. For a few minutes there was a flurry of starshell bursts and then Buckingham came on the blower and said the name was something like "First letter missing, second symbol 3, third symbol upside down V..." etc...etc. "OK

PO what's the name of that ship?" "It's all Greek to me, sir."  He gave me a look of disgust, said something like, "You're no use to me, I thought you were a Russian language expert." Of course I wasn't but was in no position to comment or argue.  A few minutes later Buckingham came on and said something to the effect, "Ship identified as Greek freighter Helenas, or something like that. The CO looked at me and just shook his head".

Ray also recalls. " I recall having a disciplinary run in with an Ordinary Seaman Signalman (OSSGS) who was put in the "rattle" or, in laymen's terms, placed on charge. On the following morning, our SRC-501 whip antenna was gone.  We suspected, but couldn't prove, that he had removed the whip from the insulator and threw it over the side to retaliate for me having placed him on charge. I believe we were moored at Jetty 4 in Halifax at the time.

It was then suggested that maybe we could ‘liberate’ the whip from Lauzon which was in the Dartmouth slips awaiting refit. One of my Radio 4 killicks (Leading Seaman) went across in our sea boat with several ABs and when they returned we had a nice, shiny, 19-foot monel-metal replacement whip. Apparently it was never missed from the Lauzon.

The Squadron Commander of the Ninth (and also CO of Cap de la Madeleine) was Commander Ken Grant, who was prone to "mal de mer" just like the late VAdm. Harry DeWolf. Cdr. Grant had a small pennant made, which we flew on informal occasions. It portrayed a black cat with, of course, nine tails, and the motto "Excreta super sapiens" meaning Bullshit Baffles Brains. On leaving the final port after a cruise abroad, they played  "Paddling Madeleine home" over The Scrap's intercom.

After leaving The Cap, Commander Grant became the Senior Officer of the Sea Cadets. He was killed when the plane he was traveling in, a Trans Canada Airlines DC8, crashed in a field at Ste-Therese, Quebec, just north of Montreal.

One interesting sidelight to the saga of the Prestonian class is that of the River class frigate HMCS Stormont which went on to become the personal yacht "Christina", belonging to the late shipping magnate Aristotle Onasis. We poor souls sat languishing in Nine Mess on The Scrap and imagined we could go swimming in the pool situated in the same area as our after Squid well".

Spud Roscoe served in Swansea in 1960-61. He recalls some memories from this period. " One day, as part of an exercise, the Sonar Officer a Sub-Lieutenant,  asked me to call Cap de La Madeleine using the Morse Code function of the ASDIC gear. It was a very frustrating experience. I pushed a button and sent one quick dit. In the earphones all I heard was - dit, dit, dit, dit until it faded out. If you sent one dah it was dah, dah, dah, dah until it faded out. This technique, called supersonic telegraphy (SST), was simply unuseable.

I remember Swansea's captain Gordon Clark who went on to become one of  HAIDA's C.O.'s . "He could sail a ship across hell and back, have a complete volunteer crew with each one thoroughly enjoying the trip. Clark would get a good giggle out of a statement like that. He also would be most interested in amateur radio along with everything else that was going on in his ship. When I was aboard SWANSEA, the Russian fleet off the coast of Nova Scotia used to have their own broadcast station in the 2 MHz band. When they played fast Russian music, Clark wanted to know about it. I used to tune it in and he would come into Radio Four and enjoy the broadcast".

Keith Kennedy served in Stettler (1961-1962) and Jonquiere (1964-1965). He comments on this bygone era. "It was always the perception that the personnel in Radio 4 were a lax lot sitting behind a blackout curtain and playing card games and not doing anything constructive. It was during this period that the Radio Supplementary crowd was relieved of seagoing duties and it fell to ordinary radiomen to take any bearing that might be required. Yes... the DAU and its goniometer brushes were  infamous and we were often cleaning them using the crude and rude, ink eraser and isopropyl alcohol method. It was part of our duties as techs.

I remember trying to do book corrections in my lap while propped up against the CM11 power supply in Radio 2. It was not an easy feat. When changing pages and with the book disassembled you could count on hitting a milestone (big wave) or taking an extra big roll with pages flying all over the place".

Ray White speculates as to why the Radio Supplementary crowd was relieved of their sea duties. "There was a manpower problem in the RS trade in the mid-60s and some of the smaller ships lost their normal EW complements. The SUPRAD organization was the only operational branch of the Navy that was performing the very same actual functions in “peacetime” as it would be doing in wartime. So, to  allow for increased postings to northern stations, among other things, personnel were reassigned from sea duty in order to ensure adequate staffing throughout the system.

 In 1965, I remember, all the RS rates on the East Coast were deployed to the Fifth Squadron for an important trip to Europe that was to include travel to Finland , as well as travel close to the coasts of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Kaliningrad, Poland, etc. I can't remember how many ships we had, but I sailed as senior PO RS in St. Laurent (DDH205) with Lt. W.G. Hillaby, now deceased, who was OIC of our Special Operations.  I believe we had some 27 RS rates in all, spread among all the ships, which included Gatineau, Columbia, and others. After this trip I returned to Ottawa where I was an instructor, and I am led to believe that the 5th squadron was given a minimal staff of RS Rates and the remainder were redeployed  to SUPRAD stations.

Basic chores usually carried out by RS rates were assigned to RM rates.  These included operation of DF equipment, such as the DAU, MDF5, and UPD501.  They were never assigned any SIGINT functions, probably because they didn't have the necessary security clearances. On the West Coast, the removal of RS rates happened much more quickly than on the East.  But by the end of the 1960's there were no more RS rates at sea, except perhaps on specific assignments".

Doug Stewart offers a glimpse into this bygone era. "My Frigate had the unusual name INCH ARRAN 308. Intended originally to be named Dalhousie (NB), but apparently the RN already had a ship of that name, therefore the RCN had to revert to the areas original Celtic designator. The UNTD (University Naval Training Division)  also cruised with us during 1959-60. Our primary patrol area was off Shelburne (Checkers Patrol) tasked to identify all ships transiting the recently laid SOSSUS array. The task was a lark because most of those ships just cranked on an extra knot and disappeared into the fog, while we were still calling for more steam to the reciprocating engine. This old girl leaked into the forward upper mess (communicators). Water came through the vent and cable runs whenever we shipped a green one across the focsle. Oil skin slickers were order of the day to keep bunks dry and leave nothing sculling about the deck. The paint locker was forward of the mess. Whenever a can of shipside grey broke open in foul weather,  the aroma added to our discomfort. There were good times too. In good sea states and alongside a tropical paradise we could open the scuttles and put out the wind scoops, go swimming over the side and looking forward to Up Spirits

ANTENNA FITTINGS

To identify all the antennas,  both radio and radar, HMCS Stettler is being used as the model.

Form the foremast top and down, the order is:

DAU
UPD 501 single band system, horn antenna. [4]
AS-390 UHF antennas
SU type -  gun ranging radar
Sperry MK II navigation radar
IFF Mk 10 Type . Designator unknown at this time.

Bridge, starboard side  - Two whips
Bridge , port side  - one whip [6]
Bridge  - forward - MDF5 loop antenna
Aft starboard  - one whip.

Between foremast and mainmast - wire antennas.
Mainmast top  -???
 
 

prestonian_iff.jpg
This closeup from a drawing of New Waterford  shows a bit of detail about the IFF antenna. The plans are dated 1958. (Provided by Darren Scannell) 
prestonian_iff_designator.jpg
Does anyone know the model number of the IFF system? This is closeup from the drawing. It cannot be AN/URA-23 because that is SSB exciter made by TMC.  Did  the antenna rotate? Contact: jerry.proc@sympatico.ca


OTHER PHOTOS
radioop_bn4106_reduced.jpg
If there was ever a photo to express the essence of a radioman in a bygone era, this image would probably be it. Above the operator is the Canadian Marconi CSR-5 receiver and to his right is the TE-236 LF receiver. At the right side, on the bulkhead is a Remote Control Unit. Each of these consoles would be fitted with a typewriter but in this case the cover is down and the machine is out of view. Some operators like Spud Roscoe, were clocked copying code at 44 wpm on a Royal typewriter. This would be more than adequate to copy the 25 wpm broadcast sent to all ships at sea. 

First introduced in the early 1960's, the black work uniform worn by these Sparkers had a propensity to shrink after several washings.

From the original hi-res photo, it was observed that the message form  was generated by a Leading Seamen Meteorologist Mate (LSMM) and a WX OBS message was being sent. From those clues, it is now believed that the photo was taken aboard HMCS Bonaventure.  (Photo #  BN4106 courtesy DND, Canadian Forces Joint Imagery Centre provided via by Robert  Langille)

OTHER RELATED  INFORMATION

The credit line for the Moose Antlers photo which bears the notation CCC9-242 refers to the administrative abbreviation for CANCOMCORTRON NINE, and indicates that this is an official photo issued by the Squadron Commander’s office.

Destroyer squadrons had a permanent photographer (PH) attached, but the frigates usually would have one PH assigned for specific operations, or, if the ships were in Halifax, then the PH would just casually board the ship and take photos. The Ninth Escort Squadron had a PH attached when the Squadron made its trip to Europe in June 1962 and again during the voyage to Hudson’s Bay and Churchill, Manitoba the following year.  As soon as the Squadron returned to Halifax the PH would move on to another assignment. On the trip to Churchill the acting P2PH3 was Ernie Manuel, a great guy and a great asset to the Squadron.

Odd-numbered squadrons were based on the East Coast, and the even numbered on the West Coast. Twenty four WWII River Class frigates were assigned Prestonian Class numbers but only 21 were converted to the Prestonian Class. Three were transferred to the Department of Transport and converted to Weather Ships for Ocean Station P in the North Pacific.  The three were St Stephen (CYZY/CGGR), Stone Town (CYWY/CGGP) and St. Catharines (CGLS/CGGQ) .Their call sign, when on station, was 4YP. Each ship was assigned a Department of Transport call sign with the CGG prefix. They would use the CGG call sign when traveling to and from station.[9]

Three of the Prestonian Class were sold to Norway shortly after they were converted to the Prestonian Class. These were HMC ships Prestonian, Penetang and Toronto.

Sometimes one ship from the 7th Escort Squadron would sail with four ships from the 9th Escort Squadron just to make up a five ship squadron. A mixture of ships from two Escort Squadrons was common because not all ships in a Squadron were always available. Spud Roscoe explains. "In a squadron, one frigate might be taking a division of New Entries on a training cruise from Cornwallis. Sometimes one ship was in refit. Another frigate is on Checker Patrol off  Shelburne, NS.[3] One ship might be on Fishery Patrol out on the Grand Banks. As an example, the Inch Arran from the 7th Squadron was with the 9th  for most of the summer of 1960 because the Buckingham was in refit".

EAST COAST SQUADRONS - circa 1962

The 1st Escort Squadron included  Tribal class destroyers.

The 5th was comprised of Restigouche class  destroyers.

The 7th Squadron entailed Prestonian class ships Fort Erie, Inch Arran,  Lanark, New Waterford [2], Outremont,  and Victoriaville.

The 9th embodied Prestonian class ships Cap de La Madeliene (Senior Ship) , La Hulloise, Swansea, Buckingham and Lauzon.

In the 1950's, a set of real moose horns was awarded to ships of the 9th Escort Squadron which were in the top of their class in terms of efficiency. The  horns were mounted at the base of the D/F loop. This picture, taken in 1959, shows HMCS Swansea wearing her Moose Horns

For the 9th Escort Squadron, the collective  message address was CANCORTRON NINE (Canadian Escort Squadron Nine). Messages to/from the squadron commander used CANCOMCORTRON NINE.

WEST COAST  SQUADRONS - circa 1962

The 2nd Escort Squadron included seven ships of the St Laurent class.

The 4th was comprised of Prestonian class ships: Antigonish, Beacon Hill, Jonquiere, New Glasgow, Ste Therese, Sussexvale  and Stettler. Later, the 2nd Escort Squadron included both DDEs and some Prestonian class frigates and the 4th became the training squadron (CanTrainRon) which included the minesweepers [7].

Up until 1963,  the Prestonian class frigates were designated as FFE, - ie, La Hulloise was FFE 305, Lauzon was FFE 322 etc.  In 1963, the RCN re-designated them as Ocean Escorts using a DE identifier [8]. DE is a ship capable of medium speed operations at sea in defence of convoys. Using the previous example, La Hulloise became DE 305, Lauzon DE 322 etc. They were, and will perhaps always will be known as the Prestonian class, but they were no longer called "frigates".  That descriptive term is now used for the much bigger, much faster and more action-capable, 4800 ton modern day Halifax-class ships.

Starting in 1963 and ending in 1967, the surviving Prestonians (DE's) were paid off.  HMCS Victoriaville became the diving tender Granby in December 1966 and was finally paid off on  December 31, 1973.In 1962 the strength of the RCN was 21,151 and 51 percent of these were serving at sea.

HMCS SWANSEA COMMUNICATION DEPARTMENT  - 1960

A listing from the ship's Christmas card of 1960.

A/CMD.O.  B.E. MOSS

P2SG3 D. MARSH
LSSG2 J. BAIN
ABSG1 R. LARONDE
ABSG1 M. MacPHAIL
OSSG1 R. BELL
OSSGS D. CARLIN
OSSGS D. KENDALL 
OSSGS C. GODFREY
P1RM3 J. RUSNAK
LSRM2  J. LALUMIERE
ABRMl D. RYAN
ABRM1 C. LEBLANC 
OSRMS G. THIBAULT 
OSRMS R. DUNHAM 
OSRMS M. TRAVERS
LSRS2 A. CRABBE 
ABRS1 S. ROSCOE 

FOOTNOTES:

[1] This is a  very strong, braided line, orange in colour that was used to send a first line across to another ship prior to a jackstay, or light line transfer. A steel rod with line attached was fired from a Lee Enfield 303 rifle, even after the standard rifle was the FNC1.

[2] When New Waterford was converted to a Prestonian on the West Coast, she served in the 4th Escort Squadron for a brief time then was transferred to the East Coast to become part of the 7th Squadron.  From Halifax,  the ship served in a training capacity until finally paid off December 22, 1966.

[3] There were undersea microphones installed there and anytime a vessel went over them some group had to make a visual identification. This would be done either by an Argus aircraft based in Greenwood, NS or one of our frigates.

[4] No UPD 501 antennas visible on Victoriaville.

[5] Note 5 deleted

[6] Only two whips in total observed Victoriaville's bridge.

[7]  They were stripped of  the sweeping gear and doing pilotage training in the Gulf Islands.

[8] Derived from NGO 2.06/5 (PS No. Gen 17/65)

[9] Ocean Weather stations were created by international agreement in 1946. See the Weather Ships document for more details.

[10] There were three classes of stores: Consumable,  Consumable * and  Permanent.

The "consumable *" stores required that the old one to be exchanged for the new one. This did not apply, for instance, to electron tubes, but did apply to hand tools.


Contributors and Credits:

1) Ray White  <legerwhite(at)rogers.com>
2) Spud Roscoe <spudroscoe(at)eastlink.ca>
3) Robert  Langille  <ewcs(at)ewcs.ca>
4) Keith Kennedy VE7KWK  <a4a88300(at)telus.net>
5) Darren Scannell <hawkone(at)hawk-graphics.com>   Beacon Hill  deck drawings held by the BC Maritime Museum . The source  for the New Waterford deck plans are unknown at this time.
6) Ships of Canada's Naval Forces (1910-1993) by Ken Macpherson and John Burgess.
7) Ronald Barrie  <BarrieR(at)mar.dfo-mpo.gc.ca>
8) Composition of the Fleet  in 1962 -  Naval General Orders  dated April 1962.
9) Douglas Stewart <dougjoy(at)ns.sympatico.ca>
10) Tom Fullerton <tomf(at)porchlight.ca>


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Feb 16/07