The story of Canada’s most productive warship. HMCS Haida is a Tribal-class destroyer that served in the Royal Canadian Navy from 1943-1963,
Haida is arguably the most famous warship to have ever served Canada, having sunk more enemy surface tonnage than any other Canadian warship. She is the only surviving Tribal-class destroyer out of 27 vessels that were constructed between 1937-1945 for the Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy.
Haida was among the first batch of her kind ordered by the RCN in 1940-1941. The RCN based this order upon the successful use of the Tribals during the early years of World War II and the vessels were ordered with modified ventilation and heating systems for North Atlantic winter service.
She was launched on 25 August 1942 and commissioned into RCN service on 30 August 1943. She underwent workups under her first and most famous commanding officer, H.G. DeWolf before reporting to the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow in October 1943.
Haida worked with the Royal Navy in Arctic Russia that fall, providing convoy escort for relief of the Spitsbergen garrison into Kola and Murmansk.
On 10 January 1944, she was reassigned to the 10th Destroyer Flotilla at Plymouth and took part in the Operation Tunnel sweeps in the Bay of Biscay. Haida was damaged by the German Elbing-class torpedo boat T-29 on the night of 25-26 April but pressed the attack and sank the T-29 in what was Haida’s first victory.
Haida took part in Operation Hostile sweeps on 28-29 April in company of HMCS Athabaskan . The Athabaskan was torpedoed by another Elbing, the T-24, with the loss of 128 crew while 83 became prisoners of war and Haida recovered 44 survivors. Haida is credited with attacking yet another Elbing that night when she forced the T-27 aground and set it afire with shelling; it was later sunk by rockets fired from Beaufighters the following day.
Haida continued the Operation Hostile sorties in company of sistership HMCS Huron (G24) during the months leading up to Operation Overlord. On June 8, Haida was part of Task Force 26 which is credited with sinking the destroyers ZH1 and Z32. On 24 June, Haida is credited with helping HMS Eskimo and aircraft in sinking U-971. On 15 July, Haida and two other vessels with the 10th Destroyer Flotilla intercepted a group of German ships at Lorient. The battle saw two trawlers UJ1420 and UJ1421 destroyed, one merchant ship sunk and two others left afire.
Haida experienced one of the last RCN engagements of World War II when she escorted convoy JW66 in its return to the United Kingdom from Vaenga. The convoy was attacked and Haida and Huron received near-misses from torpedoes fired by U-boats. In the skirmish, 2 U-boats were sunk, along with the frigate HMS Goodall, and the convoy escaped in a snowstorm. Haida and Huron returned to Scapa Flow on 6 May and was assigned to relief operations at Trondheimfiord, Norway on 17 May.
Haida was in mothballs for approximately 1 year but was prepared for reactivation in 1947.
The launch of the Korean War on 25 June 1950 saw Haida once again activated for war duty. She was converted to a destroyer escort and began refit in July 1950 which saw various new armaments and sensors and communications systems. She was recommissioned on 15 March, 1952 .
Haida relieved Nootka on 18 November off the west coast of Korea and had an uneventful patrol, returning to Sasebo to replenish on 29 November. She patrolled off the east coast of Korea beginning on 4 December and took part with USS Moore (DE-240) in shelling of a railway yard in Songjin as well as a coastal battery and North Korean troops. On 18-19 December, Haida attacked an enemy train but missed the escaping locomotive which hid in a nearby tunnel, thus not joining the exclusive “Trainbusters Club”. Haida returned to patrol on 3 January 1953 and escorted aircraft carriers as well as performing coastal bombardments. On 29 January, Haida entered the “Trainbusters Club” after attacking a train north of Iwon and also detonated a drifting anti-ship mine on her return to Yang do.
She departed Sasebo on 12 June, heading west through the Suez Canal and arrived in Halifax on 22 July 1953.
Haida departed Halifax for a second Korean tour on 14 December 1953, passing through the Panama Canal. Despite the cease fire, infractions by North Korea and China were occurring, thus the need for a naval presence around South Korea. She departed the Korean theatre on 1 November 1954 and headed for Halifax via the Suez Canal once again.
Following the Korean operations, Haida embarked on Cold War anti-submarine warfare duties with other NATO units in the North Atlantic and West Indies.
HMCS Haida retired on display in 1965 on Toronto’s waterfront for 40 years. She is now a National Historic Site of Canada and is a museum ship on the Hamilton waterfront.