For Posterity's Sake         

A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project


HMCS Cormorant 20


Battle honours and awards:  Quebec  1759,   Minorca  1798,   China  1856, 1959



Built: 1965

Acquired by RCN: Jul 1975

Commissioned: 10 Nov 1978

Paid off: 02 Jul 1997

Fate: Unknown


Built at Cantiere Navale Apunia, Marine-Carrara, Italy in 1965, she was the former Italian-flag stern trawler Aspa Quarto. She was purchased for Maritime Command in Jul 1975, and converted principally at Davie Shipbuilding, Lauzon, Que., to her new purpose. She was commissioned there 10 Nov 1978. She served as mother ship to SDL-1 (Submersible Diver Lockout), a mini-sub capable of reaching a depth of 2000 feet, and which has been extensively used to chart the bottom of Halifax harbour. Between 23 Aug and 05 Oct 1989, Cormorant, along with CFAV Quest, was deployed to Canada's eastern High Arctic waters, conducting defence research in Baffin Bay, Lancaster Sound and Davis Strait. In the course of the operation, dubbed NORPLOY 89, she visited Canada's northernmost Inuit community, Grise Fjord, on Ellesmere Island. Her SDL-1 also found and filmed the Breadalbane, crushed and sunk by ice off Beechey Island in 1853 while searching for John Franklin's lost Northwest Passage expedition. During this deployment she holed her bow on pack ice. Her crew made emergency repairs and she was able to return to Halifax and repairs were effected on the syncrolift. During her career she was used for a variety of purposes ranging from retrieval of illegal drug caches; covering vents in the sunken barge Irving Whale to recovering the bell from the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Cormorant had among her complement the first women to be assigned to a Canadian naval vessel. She was paid off on 2 July 1997. Initially sold  to United States owners for diving operations, she remained docked in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, rusting away. The Cormorant was purchased at auction by Neil Hjelle in September 2009 to be refit and used for research in the Mediterranean and Middle East. As of Mar 2015, Cormorant still lay idle and deteriorating at Bridgewater, NS.


Photos and Documents          Ship's company photos          Commissioning book


Commanding Officers

LCdr J.G. Morrison - 24 Jul 1978 - 17 Aug 1981

LCdr Jack W.D. Alexander - 17 Aug 1981 - 27 Jun 1983

LCdr Brian John Fisher - 27 Jun 1983 - 30 Jul 1984

LCdr R.W. Bowers - 30 Jul 1984 - unk

LCdr A.G.D. Perusse - Jun 1986 - 10 Jun 1988

LCdr M.P. Palmer - 10 Jun 1988 - 10 Aug 1990

LCdr P.O. Gaynor - 10 Aug 1990 - 08 Oct 1992

LCdr A.T. Pinnell - 08 Oct 1992 - Aug 1994


     In memory of those who have crossed the bar    

They shall not be forgotten


Adams, Glenn R,


Alexander, Jack W.D.


2nd Commanding Officer

Boucher, Roger Phillippe





Croucher, Selby Claude


Commissioning crew as a PO1 Electrician

Dohan, John Chester


Downie, Robert E.


Doyle, Lloyd Emmerson




Esbaugh, Thomas Jerome


Fisher, Brian John


3rd Commanding Officer





Hatt, Myles R.

1958 - 2016

Hughes, Douglas Frederick






MacAdams, Betty Lou


McGowan, Louise Catherine


Mclellan, Barry


McVarnock, Thomas


Molloy, John Patrick


Commissioning crew as Sgt Electrician

Morgan, Philip Wade







Poirier, Pamela Denise











Rank, Gordon Henry







Wolfe, Henry Harvey







Former Crew Members

MacDonald, James A., STWD

Miniou, Scott, RP/NESOP

Weir, Garry, MS, NRAD Op 274, 1991


Photos and Documents


Battle Board for HMCS Cormorant 20

Maritime Command Museum, CFB Halifax, NS

Courtesy of Jarrod David




The Welcome Aboard Booklet for HMCS Cormorant 20

Courtesy of Janet Lawrence


HMCS Cormorant and CFAV Quest, NORPLOY 1989

Courtesy of John Newton, Rear-Admiral, RCN

SDL-1 in the hangar of HMCS Cormorant 20

From the collection of Dale Silvester

Courtesy of Jim Silvester

HMCS Cormorant recovering SDL-1

From the collection of Dale Silvester

Courtesy of Jim Silvester

HMCS Cormorant 20

From the collection of Dale Silvester

Courtesy of Jim Silvester

Former HMCS Cormorant, Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, awaiting disposal,19 Jul 2003

Source:  Photographer: Gerrard

Former HMCS Cormorant, Bridgewater, NS, 16 Mar 2015

Having been sold to private interests, Cormorant has been laying derelict at Bridgewater for many years

Courtesy of Dennis Morrison


Former HMCS Cormorant at Bridgewater, Nova Scotia - 21 Mar 2015

Although she still appeared to be afloat, she has listed in the range of 45 degrees from the vertical (far enough to expose her port bilge keel) and the Canadian Coast Guard reported that she is on the bottom and not moving with the tide. Perhaps her starboard bilge keel is in contact with the bottom. You can see in photo 1 that her port anchor is deployed.

Source: Sandy's Ramblings

Both photos Sandy McClearn 2014

These photos are published here with permission of the copy write owner. They are not to be republished or sold without permission of Sandy McClearn