Admiralty Whaler




Admiralty Whaler CACHALOT - sister ship to BLACKWHALE

BLACKWHALE would have looked very similar to CACHALOT



Launched: 28 Jun 1915, Smiths Docks

Fate: sunk by mine 03 Jan 1918


This page is not meant to be a comprehensive history of HMS BLACKWHALE, but a record of sailors of the ROYAL CANADIAN NAVY who served in her, photos they took and stories they may have shared with their families.


BLACKWHALE was an Admiralty Whaler that served as a coastal anti-submarine escort during 1915-1918 in one of three squadrons, based at Stornoway, Shetlands, Peterhead or the Humber. She sank after she struck a mine off Fife Ness on 03 Jan 1918. The mine is believed to have been laid by UC 49.


Her specifications on completion were: Displacement: 336 tons/237grt  //  Length 132 ft (oa)  // Bean 25 ft  // Draft: 8 ft  //  Speed 13 knots  //  Armament: 1-12pdr.


Fitted as a patrol vessel, she was part of of an 11 strong escort to a Scandinavian convoy that sailed from the Humber on 1 January, which, after picking up more ships off the Tyne totalled 27 ships. At 3.45 am on 3 January a dark object was seen under the port bow of the whaler, but before any avoiding action could be taken there was a loud explosion. She started settling quickly by the head and attempted to signal other ships in the convoy, but her message was misunderstood and several ships steamed past, unaware of what had happened. The boats were swung out, and efforts continued to signal other ships. Eventually a signal flashed on a hand held torch attracted the attention of the escort destroyers. The trawler Grosbeak then closed and passed a line, but a tow proved impossible because of the damage. The ship continued to settle then suddenly slewed round, broadside on to the sea and sank, forcing the those on board to hastily jump into boats and a raft. Twelve men died in the incident, 10 being killed in the explosion, with a further 2 dying in the sea before being picked up. Her position was then 56.19N, 00.45W. The mine was possibly one of those laid by the submarine UC 49 in December 1917." [ADM 137/3405]



The Blackwhale Story - Researched and written by Edward Huffman. Courtesy of Ann Huffman


Edward Huffman was the son of a Blackwhale survivor Henry M. Huffman



     In memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice    

     Lest We Forget     



GAGE, Gordon W.


MPK - 03 Jan 1918





     In memory of those who have crossed the bar    

They shall not be forgotten