HMCS HURON 281
Iroquois Class Destroyer
Built by Marine Industries Ltd., Sorel, HURON was commissioned on 14 Dec 1972. The Commissioning date was set for 16 Dec 1972. However, by mid December the weather deteriorated quickly and the Seaway was about to be closed. The CO and Navo made an aerial inspection of the river condition from a Coast Guard helicopter. The river ice was setting in. It was decided to advance the commissioning date to the Dec. 14 and sail immediately after. The early departure was justified. The river was icing up but, even worse, overnight snow settled on the river ice and created a total white-out. With navigation marks lifted, it was impossible early in the day to distinguish water from land. The competence and professionalism of the St. Lawrence River pilots (3 of them) was never more appreciated. It was also helpful to follow in the wake of Coast Guard ships. (submitted by Heinz Gohlish, Lt, RCN)
Commissioning divisions were short and cold, -20 with a strong north wind. When we came down the river we needed ice breaker assistance to get by Quebec City. Also the supply sys failed the ship in that we were not issued modern weather jackets, believe it or not they were from WW2. When we entered Halifax they played Snow bird over the upper deck speakers.
1973 was full of ships trials machinery, sound, weapons etc. However each ship was given a first in class trial to be done. HURON was chosen to do helicopter trials because Cdr Heitzman was the only one of the original CO's with DDH experience; he had been CO of MARGAREE.
1974 was a whole new ball game, we sailed Jan 1974 for down south for exercises with the USN, returning to slackers mid-Mar 1974. Early Apr 1974 we sailed for the Mediterranean with IROQUOIS and PRESERVER. This is when the Lisbon thing happened (The Portuguese Revolution). After Lisbon we exercised with the USN Med Fleet off the southern tip of Italy. Ports were Naples and Barcelona, returning to Halifax mid-Jun 1974. In mid-Jul 1974 HURON sailed for NATO - the first 280 on that deployment until mid-Dec 1974. In early 1975, we sailed to carry out missile firings off Roosevelt Roads, PR (aka Roosey Roads). This involved tracking trials using the CF9. Because of there limited fuel range they would have had to fly over Cuba. We could not get the over flight clearance we had to work out of Key West for three weeks. For the rest of the year did Ex SAFE PASS and a refit. We sailed in early Jan 1976 for WUPS and exercises out of Roosey Roads. Did another Ex SAFE PASS from Mayport, Florida up the coast ending just off Halifax. HURON sailed for second NATO early Jul 1976. While in Kiel, HURON'S crew conducted a 3-week self-maintenance routine. On sailing from Kiel, the NATO SQN was transiting the Kattegat at night at high speeds. The NATO SQN had been dispatched to intercept the Russian air craft carrier Kiev that had broken out of the Black Sea and the Med with her escorts and was heading north. At that time she was one of Russia's latest and newest. During the transit, we (they believe) ran over a shoal, tore off the under water telephone and took 2 or 3 large chunks off the props. I had just finished Petty Officer of the Watch for the first watch and had just got my head down when we hit what ever it was. The noise below deck was terrifyingly loud. Immediately every one was dressed and running to emergency stations, but no pipe was ever made so we all kind of milled around expecting some sort of answer to what had just happened, heard nothing so everyone resumed the horizontal. Sometime before we entered Oslo for a port visit, the sonar world reported something wrong with the underwater telephone. Divers were sent down in harbour, Joe Arsenault was one of them, he was a WU, and when they surfaced he said "what telephone?" That's when they carried out a full bottom search and found chunks missing from the props. They Navigation Officer was the OOW when it happened. A board of inquire was held on run to slackers and he wore it all. As often happens during episodes like this rumours abound. The best one was we hit a small East German sub (there were many operating in these areas). As the story goes we hit the subs sail with the section of the hull around the underwater telephone knocking it over and when it was back up right we hit it again with the screws. The supposed shoal we hit, if you looked at the chart, was really hard to see and was extremely small. HURON had to leave the SQN early and return Halifax for repairs. Admiral Boyle was pissed of that we had sustained damage and couldn't finish NATO; he tied HURON up along Halifax for approx 6 weeks before allowing us to be repaired. Early 77 I was drafted ashore to CSD as 5"54 instructor. (submitted by James Ron Anderson, CPO, RCN)
HURON represented Canada at the Silver Jubilee Naval Review at Spithead on 28 Jun 1977, and in 1981 carried Governor-General Edward Schreyer on a tour of five Scandinavian ports.
On 12 Mar 1980, HMCS MARGAREE and HMCS HURON rescued the crew of the stricken M.V. Maurice Desgagnes (see photos in the gallery for HMCS Margaree).
Later in her career, she was transferred to Esquimalt, BC. She served on MARPAC missions protecting Canada's sovereignty in the Pacific Ocean and enforced Canadian laws in its territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone. HURON was also deployed on missions throughout the Pacific and to the Indian Ocean; specifically the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea on anti-terrorism operations.
HURON has a port visit, along with KOOTENAY 258 and ANNAPOLIS 265 at Vladivostok, Russia from 03 to 07 Jun 1990.
In the winter of 1991 HURON was deployed to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation FRICTION, the CF's contribution to Operation DESERT STORM (the Gulf War) to replace her sister ship HMCS ATHABASKAN as flagship of the Canadian Naval Task Group. HURON arrived after hostilities ceased and patrolled for several months before returning to Esquimalt. HURON was deployed to the Adriatic Sea in 1993 in support of the United Nations naval embargo of the former Yugoslavia.
On 15 Jul 1993, HURON began her TRUMP refit at Marine Industries Ltd., Sorel, Que.
In 1999 HURON intercepted a civilian ship smuggling illegal migrants off the coast of British Columbia.
Paid off on 31 Mar 2005, she was sunk as an exercise target ship 14 May 2007 during Operation TRIDENT FURY, a live-fire exercise conducted by MARPAC 100 km (54.0 mi) west of Vancouver Island.
The 5"54 cal gun on the 280s were named after the Oto Melara technicians who built and did the FSR work in Canada. The names for the guns were as follows: IROQUOIS - Pasquale, HURON - Tulio, ATHABASKAN - Leno and ALGONQUIN - Luigi.
Photos and Documents Ship's company photos The Ship's Bell
Welcome Aboard - Shore Office joining instructions while the ship is under construction
Commissioning Book Welcome Aboard booklet - 1972
NATO 1982 Commemorative Book GATINEAU / HURON Coast Transfer - 1987
"Smoke Signal" - Shipboard Newspaper - 2 editions
RCN Memories: A wee bit ahead I found a Soviet sub! The Portuguese Revolution - 1974 Where's my RHIB?
In memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice
Lest We Forget
In memory of those who have crossed the bar
They shall not be forgotten
Former Crew Members
Photos and Documents
(HG89) CAPE SCOTT, the shore office for HMCS HURON while she was under construction - 1972
(HG90) HURON construction Shearlegs jetty at Marine Industries Ltd (MIL) in Sorel, Quebec
(HG91) HURON fitting out at MIL Davies
The first look at (HG92) the Bridge (HG93) the junior ranks cafeteria (HG94) the Wardroom and (HG95) the Admin Office
(HG96-HG97) Builder's Sea Trials 18-25 Nov 1972
(HG98-HG100) Sea Trials and at anchor Sept Isles, QC
(HG101) commissioning Dinner at Auberge de la Rive, Sorel, Dec 1972. Seated, L-R: Capt J. Allan, Program Manager DDH 280, Cdr T. A. Arnott (CO CFTSD, Sorel), Cdr R.I. (Dick) Hitesman (CO). The name of the young lady is not known.
(HG102-HG103) Commissioning of HMCS HURON 14 Dec 1972, VAdm D.A. Collins (NTS NDHQ) presiding. Also with RAdm R.W. Timbrell (CMC) on a day trip from Halifax in the command Dakota, making space available in the aircraft for HURON family members who could make the trip to join the ceremony.
** The Commissioning date was set for 16 Dec 1972. However, by mid December the weather deteriorated quickly and the Seaway was about to be closed. The CO and Navo made an aerial inspection of the river condition from a Coast Guard helicopter. The river ice was setting in. It was decided to advance the commissioning date to the 14th Dec and sail immediately after.
(HG104) Passing by Trois-Rivieres
(HG105-HG106)) Approaching pont de Québec at Quebec City
(HG107) ALGONQUIN under construction at Davie Shipbuilding Co., Lauzon, Quebec
(HG108) Approaching a railway bridge over the St. Lawrence
Note: The early departure was justified. The river was icing up but, even worse, overnight snow settled on the river ice and created a total white-out. With navigation marks lifted, it was impossible early in the day to distinguish water from land. The competence and professionalism of the St. Lawrence River pilots (3 of them) was never more appreciated. It was also helpful to follow in the wake of Coast Guard ships.
(HG109) A crowded bridge on HMCS HURON 281
(HG110-HG112) HMCS HURON arrives at Halifax 20 Dec 1972
(HG113-HG115) HMCS HURON ship's trials Jan-May 1973
(HG116-HG119) Unknown event onboard HMCS HURON 18 May 1973
(HG120) HMCS HURON 281 alongside Bermuda during Work-ups 02-04 Jun 1973
(HG121) HMCS HURON 281 open to visitors while in Bermuda - crowds lined up in the street.
(HG122-HG125) HMCS HURON 281 Helo trials 13-17 Jun 1973
(HG123) A full deck - 16 Jul 1973. A unique photo of 2 birds in the hangar and once secured on deck
(HG126) HMCS HURON 281 alongside Boston Navy Yard - 16 Nov 1973
(HG127) Helo fueling at Myrtle Beach, SC - 16 Mar 1974
(HG128) Ops room of HMCS HURON 281 - 06 Apr 1974
(HG129) HMCS HURON 281 Mediterranean deployment with IROQUOIS and PRESERVER 16 Apr - 20 May 1974
(HG130) Lisbon, Portugal during the coup (The Carnation Revolution) - 25 Apr 1974
(HG131) HMCS HURON 281 open for visitors, Barcelona, Spain - 02-05 May 1974
(HG132) HMCS HURON 281 and HMCS IROQUOIS 280 alongside Naples, Italy 08-11 Apr 1974
(HG133-HG134) HMCS HURON 281 approaching and RASing with HMCS PRESERVER - 16 May 1974
From the collection of Heinz Gohlish, Lt, RCN / C.A.F.