Unit History: HMCS Agonquin
ALGONQUIN was laid down as HMS Valentine and launched on the Clyde River, England in September 1943. Given to Canada as an outright gift by the British government, she was commissioned on February 17, 1944, at Glasgow, Scotland as HMCS Algonquin in honour of a powerful Indian tribe whose numbers spread across Canada from Newfoundland to the Rocky Mountains.
Because of her Tribal sounding name, she is often confused with that class. The ship was originally designed as a British ’V’ class destroyer.
Assigned to the 26th Destroyer Flotilla of the British Home Fleet and under the command of Lt. Cdr Desmond Piers, she left Scapa Flow on March 31 to help escort a carrier attack on the Tirpitz. In April she escorted a similar attack on German shipping off the Lofoten Islands, Norway, and on May 28 left Scapa for D-Day operations. On June 6, Algonquin started to bombard shore targets on the Normandy coast until D-Day +5. She then took General H.D.G. Crerar and his staff from the UK to France.
At the end of June she returned to Scapa Flow, from whence she carried out attacks on German convoys off Norway and, at year’s end, escorted convoys JW.63 and RA.63 to and from Murmansk. On August 22, 1944, she took off 203 of Nabob’s ship’s company when the latter was torpedoed in the Barents Sea. She returned to Halifax in February, 1945, for refit, leaving on August 12 via Malta to join the British Pacific Fleet, but was recalled on VJ-Day and left Alexandria for Esquimalt on November 3. There she was paid off into reserve on February 6, 1946, but was recommissioned on February 25, 1953, after very extensive modernization by Yarrows Ltd of Esquimalt , British Columbia.
The reconstructed ship bore little resemblance to the original design having been completely rebuilt above the main deck. She had been fitted with the most up-to-date anti-submarine equipment and many of her key compartments were fitted with air conditioning. Hammocks gave way to bunks with foam rubber mattresses and meals were served cafeteria style from a galley shining with stainless steel fittings. Her superstructure was to serve as the prototype for the St. Laurent Class destroyers which were just being designed at the time. The cost for the refit was $5,000,000.
Algonquin completed extensive workups off California and Florida, arrived at Halifax in August and then sailed for Londonderry, N.I. in September. She participated in NATO "Exercise Mariner", operated with other RCN units off ’Derry and returned to Canada in October, 1953. Later she became the senior ship of the First Escort Squadron, and, along with Lauzon, Prestonian and Toronto, cruised to Caribbean ports, participated in several NATO exercises, among them New Broom II in the Northwestern Atlantic and Morning Mist in the Northeastern Atlantic and exercised with RN units off Londonderry.
After fourteen years’ service with Atlantic Command, she returned to the west coast in March, 1967, and was paid off for the last time on April 1, 1970, to be broken up in Taiwan in 1971.