HMCS ESQUIMALT (J272)
The History of the ESQUIMALT
HMCS Esquimalt (J272) was a Bangor-class minesweeper that served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II.
Commissioned at Sorel on October 26, 1942, Esquimalt arrived at Halifax on November 21. Chronically plagued by mechanical troubles, she underwent repairs there until March 27, 1943, and again throughout most of May. She was then assigned to Newfoundland Force until September 1944, when she was transferred to Halifax Local Defence Force. Late in September 1944, she underwent a three-month refit at Halifax.
On the evening of 15 April 1945, the Esquimalt sailed from Halifax to go on an anti submarine patrol in the harbour approaches and then to rendezvous with HMCS Sarnia. In the early morning of 16 April she was fired upon by U-190, a German U-Boat that had been operating around Halifax since early April. U-190's torpedo struck the Esquimalt's starboard side with the explosion knocking out the onboard power instantly, preventing any distress signal being sent. She started to list heavily to starboard pushing the lifeboat under water, but the crew managed to get four Carley floats clear of the ship. The Esquimalt sank in less than five minutes.
Because of the lack of distress calls or signals from the Esquimalt, and the unfortunate timing of the attack itself, any rescue effort was substantially delayed which resulted in many men losing their lives to exposure. The crew was adrift on the carley floats in frigid waters with only light clothing for about six hours.
Forty four men died as a result of the attack and the exposure that followed.
HMCS ESQUIMALT has the distinction of being the last RCN warship lost to enemy action in World War II.
ESQUIMALT Statistical Data
- Pendant: J272
- Type: Minesweeper
- Class: BANGOR Class (40-41 Diesel Programme)
- Displacement: 592 tonnes
- Length: 162 ft
- Width: 28 ft
- Draught: 8.3 ft
- Speed: 16 kts
- Compliment: 6 Officers and 77 Crew
- Arms: 1-12 pdr, 2-20mm
- Builder: Marine Industries Ltd., Sorel, Que.
- Keel Laid: 20-Dec-40
- Date Launched: 08-Aug-41
- Date Commissioned: 26-Oct-42
- Paid off: 16-Apr-45
Torpedoed and sunk by U190, five miles off Chebucto Head, near Halifax, 16 Apr 45. Forty-four of her ship's company were lost.