By Leonard Nyquist


"Canada's second carrier" is  what her ship's company calls HMCS SIOUX, as the result of an experience during her last patrol off the coast of Korea before sailing for home.  The SIOUX earned her new title when, on 8 February 1952, she  provided a landing deck for two US Army helicopters. The  helicopters made their landings on the after superstructure,  on a space measuring 17.5 by 20.75 feet - slightly smaller  than the 694 foot flight deck of Canada's other carrier HMCS MAGNIFICENT.

The incident took place while the SIOUX was carrying  out an anti-invasion patrol among the islands off the west  coast of Korea. It was initiated by a wireless message  reporting an emergency appendix case on one of the islands. Due to heavy ice conditions, it was impossible to send a boat  ashore with medical aid. It was suggested, instead, that a  helicopter bring the patient to the SIOUX, landing on the after  superstructure, which would be cleared and shored with timbers so it would support the three ton weight of the helicopter. The only real obstruction, a mushroom ventilator, was removed with an acetylene torch. Six-by-six timbers were used to  strengthen the deck, the job being performed within 30 minutes by the chief shipwright. Fire hoses were rigged and other precautions were taken in preparation for the helicopter's arrival. These were made  particularly necessary by the fact a quantity of high explosive ammunition, which could not be transferred, was stowed  beneath the proposed landing space.

Two helicopters of the US Army Rescue Squadron came off from the island, the smaller making two landings to ensure that the landing space was sufficient for the other, which contained the patient, to land on. After a practice run, the larger  machine, with its load of three, gingerly but safely touched down. Willing hands transported the patient to the sick bay, where he was examined by the medical officer, Surgeon Lt. H.D. MacWilliam, of Saint Andrews, N.B. The doctor reported that an operation was necessary and course was shaped for a  British cruiser, which had a proper operating room and was only a few hours away. The transfer to the cruiser was carried  out without a hitch and the operation was performed successfully shortly afterward.

During the helicopter's brief stay aboard the SIOUX, an interesting conversation took place. The pilot explained that he  had taken particular pains to make sure of a safe landing because of an overload of gasoline. He had not wanted to cause a  fire in the ship. He was assured that the SIOUX would have wasted no time in getting even. The ammunition on which he was sitting  probably would have blown him higher than he had ever been carried in his helicopter.

[From a reprinted article in Sea Classics Magazine].

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