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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2001


HMCS ATHABASKAN (G.07) -  Tribal-class Destroyer

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

Believed to be HMCS Iroquois, sister-ship (Navy Photos, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

 TRIBAL-Class Fleet destroyer ordered from Vickers Armstrong, Newcastle on 5th April 1940 with three  others  of  the same Class for service in the Royal Canadian Navy. The ship originally to be named HMCS IROQUOIS was laid down as Job No. 4234 (Yard No 28) on 31st October 1940 after delays due enemy air raid damage on the shipyard and to the increased load on repair facilities in British shipyards after the disastrous operations off Norway and the evacuations from Holland, Belgium and France. The ship was launched as HMCS ATHABASKAN on 18th November 1941 after sister ship had been renamed IROQUOIS when launched in September that year. The ships of this Class ordered for the RCN were all given the names Canadian Indian Tribes. During build radar outfits for warning of surface targets and  for  control of the main armament were installed. Build was completed on 15th February 1943 and the ship commissioned for Home Fleet service.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s




C r e s t

As the ship belonged to the Royal Canadian Navy no details

are given in the Official List of Heraldic Crests for ships  of

 the Royal Navy



D e t a i l s   o f   W a r   S e r v i c e


(for more ship information,  go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search)



1 9 4 3




Commissioned for service.




15th - Build completion and commenced acceptance trials.


On completion took passage to Scapa Flow to work-up with ships of Home Fleet.


22nd - Deployed in Clyde for escort duty in NW Approaches.




NW Approaches escort duty in continuation.


11th - Taken in hand at Greenock for repair of structural damage caused when berthing alongside oiler DANMARK.


21st - Resumed duties based in Clyde.


29th - Deployed with HM Cruiser BERMUDA for interception patrol in Faeroes-Iceland gap after report that German battleships TIRPITZ, SCHARNHORST and LUTZOW were at sea.




Sustained weather damage during patrol.


2nd - Returned to Scapa Flow without sighting enemy ships and repair arranged in South Shields.


4th - Under repair in commercial shipyard.




17th - Passage to Scapa Flow to resume work-up with Home Fleet.


20th - Work-up in continuation.




7th - Took part in Home Fleet operation to take stores and relief personnel to garrison at Spitzbergen.


14th - Resumed Fleet duties at Scapa Flow and nominated for support of anti-submarine operations in Bay of Biscay.


18th - Sustained damage in collision with HM Boom Defence Vessel BARGATE at Scapa Flow.


19th - Passage to Plymouth for duty in Plymouth Command.


21st - Under repair by HM Dockyard Devonport.




16th - Resumed operational duties based at Plymouth.


17th - Deployed with HM Cruisers BERMUDA and GLASGOW to provide cover for operations in Bay of Biscay against attacks by German destroyers (Operation MUSKETRY. Note: These operations were to intercept U-Boats during passage to and from bases in France for attacks on Atlantic shipping and were carried out in conjunction with RAF aircraft. See BATTLE OVER THE BAY by N Franks.)


Joined HMCS IROQUOIS, Polish destroyer ORKAN as screen for HM Escort Aircraft Carrier ARCHER to provide cover against attacks by German destroyers during MUSKETRY.


24th - Rescued five survivors from U558 which had been sunk by aircraft attacks on 20th July (See U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp.).




Bay of Biscay operations in continuation.


25th - Deployed with HM Destroyer GRENVILLE, HM Sloop EGRET, HM Frigates JED and ROTHER as Escort Group 40 for anti-submarine operations in Bay of Biscay to intercept U-Boats in transit to and from bases in France for attacks on Atlantic shipping (Operation DERANGE).


28th - Under air attacks by Hs293 glider bombs under radio control from Do117 aircraft. Hit by bomb which hit on port side forward and caused serious damage with 41 casualties four being fatal. Ship disabled for over an hour. Passage to Plymouth under own power with an escort. (Note: During this series of attacks HMS EGRET was sunk.)


30th - Taken in hand for repair by HM Dockyard, Devonport.


Nominated for service in Home Fleet on completion.




Under repair during which lattice foremast mast was fitted in place of tripod design.




Under repair.




On completion of post repair trials resumed operational service.


12th - Deployed with escort for HM Battlecruiser RENOWN during passage from Plymouth with Prime Minister embarked for meeting on Cairo with allied leaders.


Sustained weather damage and taken in hand for repair on return to Plymouth.




On completion took passage to Scapa Flow to resume Home Fleet duties.


10th - Arrived at Scapa Flow.


12th - Deployed with HM Destroyers ASHANTI, MATCHLESS, METEOR, MILNE, MUSKETEER, OPPORTUNE and VIRAGO as part of escort for Russian Convoy JW55A during passage to Kola Inlet. (Note: A strong destroyer presence was ordered in view of the known threat by the German battleship SCHARNHORST. For details of all Russian Convoy operations see CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by R. A. Ruegg, THE RUSSIAN CONVOYS by B Schoefield, ARCTIC CONVOYS by R. Woodman and CONVOY ! by R Woodman.)


21st - Detached from JW55A before arrival of convoy at Kola Inlet after an unmolested passage.


Nominated for duty with escort of return convoy RA55A.


23rd - Joined RA55A with HM Destroyers BEAGLE, WESTCOTT, METEOR, MILNE MATCHLESS OPPORTUNE, VIRAGO and ASHANTI, HM Corvettes DIANELLA, POPPY and Norwegian ACANTHUS as Ocean Escort.


28th - Detached from RA55A with HMS BEAGLE before arrival of Local Escort.



 1 9 4 4




Home Fleet duties in continuation


8th - Sailed from Scapa Flow for passage to Azores with HM Destroyer ASHANTI (Note: HM Battleship KING GEORGE V was nominated to embark Prime Minister at Gibraltar and these two destroyers may have been deployed as escort. HMS KING GEORGE V returned to Plymouth with Prime Minister in January. Deployment as escort to be confirmed.)




Returned to Scapa Flow for Home Fleet duties.


10th - Deployed for screening duties during operations off Norway. (Note: One source states this was during air strikes on coastal shipping and requires confirmation.)


12th - Nominated for service with 10th Destroyer Flotilla based at Plymouth for interception patrol duties.


18th - Rejoined HM Destroyers TARTAR, ASHANTI, HMCS HAIDA and HURON in 10th Destroyer Flotilla based at Plymouth for interception patrols (Operation TUNNEL Series. Note: This Flotilla was deployed as Force 26. See HOLD THE NARROW SEA by P Smith. HMCS IROQUOIS took passage to Canada for refit after relief by HMCS HURON.)


20th - Nominated for service with Flotilla in planned allied assault landings in Normandy (Operation NEPTUNE).


Took part in preparatory exercises for NEPTUNE.




Deployed at Plymouth for NEPTUNE exercises and interception patrols off French coast. (Note: For details of preparations and execution of Operation NEPTUNE see OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards, LANDINGS IN NORMANDY (HMSO) and The Naval Staff History.)




NEPTUNE preparatory exercises and interception duties in continuation.


25th - Deployed with HMS BLACK PRINCE, HMS ASHANTI, HMCS HAIDA and HMCS HURON as Force 26 for an operation in Tunnel Series to intercept coastal traffic in Bay of Biscay.


26th - Under fire from shore batteries during patrol off French coast. Intercepted three ELBING Class German destroyers, T24, T27 and T29 which were on passage for minelay and for cover of coastal convoy. Engaged enemy ships with surface gunfire after initial radar detection. Force 26 attacked by torpedoes from Germany destroyers which failed to hit any ship of Force 26. During this engagement Force 26 ships fired torpedoes and engaged with main armament. Although torpedo attack failed, T29 was sunk by gunfire north of Ile de Bas in position 48.53 N 3.35W. The other two enemy ships withdrew. Returned to Plymouth with Battle Ensigns flying. This was the first destroyer sunk by an RCN ship. (Note: During entry into Plymouth HMS ASHANTI and HMCS HURON were involved in a collision and both ships had to be taken out of service with Force 26 for repair.).


Deployed for support of Operation TIGER and carried out patrol in Channel to prevent approach by E-Boats. None were intercepted. (Note: During following night E-Boats attacked one of the TIGER convoys and sank several Landing Craft with heavy loss of life. See LANDINGS IN NORMANDY)


28th - Sailed from Plymouth with HMCS HURON to provide cover for minelaying operation off Ile de Bas by two motor torpedo boats and eight motor launches (Operation HOSTILE 26. Note: This was part of MAPLE III, See Naval Staff History (Mining).)


29th - During patrol to the NE of the minelayers, warned of presence of enemy ships on passage between St Malo and Roches Douvres. Ordered to intercept with HMCS HURON and obtained radar contact. Engaged two ELBING Class destroyers with main armament and enemy turned towards coast under cover of smoke. Hit by torpedo fired by T24 and badly damaged with outbreak of fire. Second torpedo hit within five minutes sank ship in position 48.43N 04.32W. 42 of ships company were rescued and another 85 made prisoners of war. Six men miraculously were able to return to UK in a motor boat left at the scene by HMCS HAIDA and were rescued by an RAF launch later that day. 127 of the ships company lost their lives.



Special Note


The last TRIBAL Class destroyer to be built was named HMCS ATHABASKAN (ii) and was built in Halifax, Canada. She was completed in February 1948 and served in the RCN until placed in Reserve before being sold for breaking-up in Italy during 1969. More information, especially in respect of design and build of this Class is given in AFRIDI TO NIZAM  by J English.


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revised 5/7/11
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