Canada in the Second World War

Arms & Weapons

Frigates

Frigate HMCS Chebogue on 17 March 1944, shortly after commissioning at Esquimalt, British Columbia. Chebogue was assigned to Escort Group C-1 in June 1944, after working up in Bermuda.

Frigate HMCS Chebogue on 17 March 1944, shortly after commissioning at Esquimalt, British Columbia. Chebogue was assigned to Escort Group C-1 in June 1944, after working up in Bermuda. Photo by Kenneth Maclean. Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada, PA-134522.

The corvette’s flaws became obvious with the first trials at sea. To correct those problems, naval engineer William Reed designed a larger ship, the River class frigate. The frigate is faster, more comfortable and better armed than the corvette, with twice its autonomy; it can sail 13,335 miles at a speed of 12 knots.

As frigates were too large to sail down from the Great Lakes, frigate contracts between 1942 and 1944 were given to shipyards on the West Coast and along the deeper waters of the St. Lawrence. Sixty Canadian-built frigates were provided to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) starting in late 1943. The RCN received ten additional frigates built in Great Britain and originally destined to the Royal Navy.

Canadian shipyards also built an improved version of Bangor class vessels, known as the Algerine class. There were 41 such ships built in Canada, mostly at the Port Arthur shipyards. Of that number, only 12 served in the RCN; they were used as escort ships, and did not carry minesweeping gear.

Used mostly to escort convoys, frigates were the most valuable warships ever built in Canada for anti-submarine warfare.

River Class Frigates
Length 91.9 m
Width 11.14 m
Draught 4 m
Displacement 2,216 tons
Maximum Speed 19 knots
Armament One 4-inch (100mm) twin gun at the foreOne 12-pound gun at the aftTwo Oerlikon 20mm twin guns on deck, and two on the aft platform145 depth charges, 2 depth charge throwers on each side, 2 rails at the sternOne 24-mortar “Hedgehog”
Crew 140 to 160 men
HMCS Chebogue was torpedoed by U-1227 on 4 October 1944 while on escort duty to convoy ONS-33. She was towed to harbour in Wales, yet her short career is over.

HMCS Chebogue was torpedoed by U-1227 on 4 October 1944 while on escort duty to convoy ONS-33. She was towed to harbour in Wales, yet her short career is over. Photo by Franklin Roy Kemp. Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada, PA-141300.

  • Ken Macpherson and John Burgess, The Ships of Canada’s Naval Forces 1910-1981, A Complete Pictorial History of Canadian Warships, Collins, Toronto, 1981.
  • Ken Macpherson and John Milner, Frigates of the Royal Canadian Navy 1943-1974, Vanwell, St. Catharines (Ontario), v. 1989.

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