Sunday 13 May 2012

Helicopter Destroyer HMCS FRASER (DDH 233) - Revisited

Highway to Welland ran along the canal and no fences to prevent access to take photos with my Kodak Instamatic.

Though I may not have said it much then, it was really cool to have a Dad that worked on the Welland Canal. As young as I could remember, he would give me printouts of all the ships that travelled through the canal and I would study them thoroughly. I knew every ship's name, the company that owned it, the country's flag it flew, the length and beam, the direction it was heading (upbound or downbound), it's destination and cargo. For our family, it was a "big event" when a unique ship was in the canal or coming off the lake. Quickly we'd jump in my Dad's '64 Chevy Belair and head over to catch a glimpse of the "Special" visitor.
Like one day in the late '60's, we got to see HMCS FRASER (DDH 223) motoring upbound on what is now the old Welland Canal just above the Dain City vehicle lift bridge, #18. That's my Dad there about to get back in his car as the FRASER, a Canadian helicopter destroyer with a Sea King on its flight deck, glided by. Even more cool was being allowed to be in the control room of his bridge when it went up for a ship to pass underneath like HMCS FRASER was about to do under Bridge 20, the former train bridge.
As Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) FRASER passed under my Dad's bridge, #21, my little Instamatic got this bird's eye snap of the Sea King helicopter with its tethered propellers resting above the tail section, and the ship's flight deck.
Oddly enough, in 1968 as a sea cadet and stationed at CFB Shearwater near Halifax for a Naval Air Technology course, I got to fly-out over the Atlantic searching for Russian subs in a  Sea King helicopter. Back then the Canadian Navy was known as an expert in anti-submarine warfare, and one of the first navies to have an on-board helicopter like today's RCN frigates.
HMCS FRASER was decommissioned in 1994 and while there was discussion that the former St. Laurent-class destroyer would be sunk of Nova Scotia and used as an artificial reef, she spent most of retirement as a museum ship in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.
Many changes along Port Colborne's harbour since this photo was taken.
Recently, while looking for some good second-hand stuff at our local Value Village, I came across the photo below, of the  FRASER and former diving-tender HMCS CORMORANT laid up together along the Lehave River in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.  Sorry, I don't know who took the photo or when it was taken but in 2010, the FRASER was sold to International Marine Salvage and eventually scrapped in Port Maitland, on the Grand River about 30 miles west of Port Colborne. c):-o

Meanwhile, the CORMORANT which played an integral part of the November 1994 expedition to recover the ship's bell of the wrecked American ore carrier, EDMUND FITZGERALD in Lake Superior, remains moored and waiting for disposal in Bridgewater, which by the way is a lovely place to visit, and I could live there. c):-)


  1. Bridge 21 was your dad's bridge. Just across the street from Mahaffey's Drug Store. I loved Front Street. There was a Ship's Chandler store further south on Front Street and I was always fascinated by their show window display. Right next store to Joe Ganham's Soda Fountain/Candy Store. Nice to meet you Carl. ~jim williams

  2. This is a beautiful flashback on my old ship HMCS FRASER meanwhile my time aboard was 1980-81 for the famous NATO tour.. Thanks for the flashback ⚓ ����