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
1943 - ENGLISH CHANNEL 1944
C r e s t
As the ship belonged to the Royal Canadian Navy no details
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,
Naval History Homepage
and type name in Site Search)
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Commissioned for service.
15th - Build completion and commenced acceptance trials.
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.
service in Home Fleet on completion.
Under repair during which lattice foremast mast was fitted in place of tripod
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.