Saturday 5 May 2012


Surrounded by several police boats and the odd pleasure craft, the Royal Yacht BRITANNIA enters Toronto harbour along with her escort, the Canadian helicopter destroyer HMCS ANNAPOLIS (DDH 265) on September 29, 1984. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip were arriving to celebrate Ontario's Bicentennial and I remember the pom and pageantry of that day very well.

Look at all the people on the lock wall. No fences back then. 
Photo by Jim Parker, courtesy of Jim Gallacher Collection.  

Update - May 18/20:

There was also a lot of excitement around in 1959 when the Royal couple came to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway aboard Royal Yacht BRITANNIA. After the official ceremonies in Montreal on June 26, and at Massena the next day, the BRITTANIA continued through the new seaway into the Great Lakes and eventually through to Chicago. These photos of the Royal Yacht on her downdound passage through the Welland Canal Flight Locks were taken by Jim Parker who was one of six RCN sailors assigned to the BRITANNIA during the Royal tour.
At Lock 4 Twin Flight locks. Photo by Jim Parker Collection, courtesy of Jim Gallacher.
Jim Parker is second from left. Photo by courtesy of Jim Gallacher..
Built a John Brown Company at Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire in 1953, the 412' luxury cruiser was designed to be turned in a hospital ship in time of war. However she was not used as such during the Falkland War to re-claim the islands from Argentina in 1982 because she required a different fuel than what was available on the Royal Navy's auxiliary oilers. However while underway to Australia, BRITANNIA was used to evacuate over 1,000 refugees from the civil war in Aden in 1986. The BRITANNIA was decommissioned in 1997 and remains a museum ship in London, England.  
A Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King helicopter hovers above the ANNAPOLIS's flight in this DND photo

Meanwhile, the St. Lawrence Seaway opening wasn't the first time HMCS ANNAPOLIS received the honours of escorting the Queen's yacht. Built at Halifax Shipyards, the 366' helicopter destroyer was the newest in the RCN fleet and only 3 years old when she assisted HMY BRITANNIA which was the floating residence for the Queen Mother who was in Atlantic Canada to celebrate Canada's Centennial in 1967. During one passage, ANNAPOLIS helped the royal yacht through heavy fog patches with its more powerful radar equipment and during a surprise visit by the Queen Mother, a Sea King pilot is said to have mentioned that "she sure asked a pile of questions about the helicopter" during her ship tour.
Named after the Nova Scotia river which flows westward towards the Bay of Fundy, and passing through a region that's known for it's apple orchards and scenic farmland, I know the area and river well from when I sailed on the it above Annapolis Royal, while a sea cadet drill instructor at nearby CFB CORNWALLIS in 1969 & '70. In her 32 years career, the ANNAPOLIS served with both Maritime Forces Atlantic and Pacific commands,  participated in various NATO exercises and task forces, and was flagship for STANAVFORLANT, the standing NATO fleet in 1974.
Awaiting to be sunk - December 23, 2014. Photo by Squamish Chief

Nineteen years after being  removed from active service, the former warship was sunk as an artificial reef on April 4, 2015 in British Columbia's Halkett Bay Provincial Park off Gambier Island in Howe Sound. Resting in about a hundred feet of water, the once gallant ANNAPOLIS welcomes divers and sea life to explore her at their leisure for many years to come.
Check out this neat video of HMCS ANNAPOLIS's planned sinking by the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia.
Gone but not forgotten c):-))


  1. I remember HMY BRITANNIA very well from her 1971 royal visit to British Columbia for the 100th Anniversary of BC joining the Canadian Confederation. I was on the Sea Cadet shore party handling the lines as she came alongside the wharf in New Westminster. Later, we were invited aboard by Rear-Admiral Richard Trowbridge to have lunch. The Queen and Prince Philip joined us briefly that afternoon. We were dressed in square-rig Navy blues and Prince Philip always appreciated the Navy.

    1. Hip, Hip Hooray for you!! What an experience that must have been. Thanks for sharing your story.