HMCS WINNIPEG (1st) (J337)
The History of the WINNIPEG (1st)
The Algerine Coastal Escort, HMCS WINNIPEG, served briefly in the Royal Canadian Navy, but she left a record of fearless dedication during a time when the value of such smaller ships was inestimable. Belonging to the naval construction programme of 1942-47, her keel was laid on 31 January 1942 in the yards of the Port Arthur Shipbuilding Company and launched 19 September 1942. The City of Winnipeg, after which the ship was named, naturally took a great deal of interest in her, the Mayor appointing a committee to sponsor her and a local newspaper arranging to send a reporter and photographer to attend her commissioning which took place at Port Arthur on 29 July 1943. Her first Commanding Officer was Acting Lieutenant-Commander W.D.F. Johnston, RCNR.
WlNNlPEG left Port Arthur 3 August 1943. She reached Toronto the 6th and slipped from there the 17th. Dry-docking was required in Montreal, for while passing through the Lachine Canal, she struck an object and damaged one of her propellers. After a replacement was made she continued on to Quebec City from where she departed 2 September.
Shortly after arrival in Halifax, WlNNlPEG steamed to Pictou, NS, to carry out work-ups from 18 September to 9 October 1943. After her return to Halifax she joined her first convoy, XB-79 on 17 October. Numerous others followed with ports of call in Boston, New York and St. John's, to mention a few, as well as to her home port of Halifax.
Beginning with the escorting of XB-81, WlNNlPEG assumed the duties of Senior Officer of the Western Escort Group W-7. On 31 January 1944, she became Senior Officer of Escort Croup W-6. Operating with her were the corvettes COBALT, TIMMINS and TRAIL. In April she assumed the duties of Senior Officer of Escort Group W-5, other members being the corvettes TRAIL, COBALT, LETHBRIDGE, PICTOU and GALT. These duties continued until 18 August 1944 when WINNIPEG sailed from Halifax to Liverpool to undergo a refit.
This refit lasted until October. WINNIPEG then departed for Halifax, where she arrived on the 29th and remained in harbour until 14 December 1944, when she sailed for Bermuda for work-ups. Returning to New York on 13 January 1945, she departed with Convoy HX-333, in company again with other members of Escort group W-5.
In 8 May 1945, the Second World War ended in Europe. WINNIPEG carried on with her duties and on 25 May 1945 joined BRANDON, PICTOU and GALT to escort Convoy HHX-358. Relieved by Escort Group C-6 on the 28th, W-5 detached from what had by then grown to be the main convoy and proceeded to St. John's. On the following day, WlNNlPEG along with the Algerine Coastal Escorts PORTAGE and MIDDLESEX, joined Convoy ON-304 and accompanied it to New York, arriving 5 June. This marked the end of her war-time service.
WINNIPEG's accounting base changed from HMCS STADACONA to HMCS PROTECTOR on 22 July 1945. She was transferred from the Halifax Force to the administration of the Naval Officer in Charge (NOIC) Sydney. The intention had been to retain her in maintenance reserve in the Cape Breton port but after she was paid off there 23 July, it was decided to transfer her to Esquimalt, B.C. Thus, on 24 October 1945, Winnipeg was recommissioned with Lieutenant C.F. Usher, RCNVR. as her Commanding Officer. She left Sydney the next day for Halifax where she stored ship in preparation for the coastal transfer.
In 7 November 1945, along with OSHAWA and SAULT STE MARIE, WINNIPEG sailed to Shelbourne to complete ammunitioning. On the 10th the three Algerines joined by another, BORDER CITIES, pointed their bows southward. A fifth, ROCKCLIFFE, joined them later. The first stop was Kingston, Jamaica, which was reached on the 17th, and the second, Cristobal, on the 22nd. From Balboa in the Pacific on the 27th, the Algerines headed northward with stops in Salina Cruz, Mexico and San Pedro, California. All five ships arrived in Esquimalt 21 December.
In 11 January 1946, WlNNlPEG was paid off into the maintenance reserve where she remained for ten years. In 1956, she was again brought around to the east coast, and on 7 August 1959 she was handed over to the Belgian Navy where she remained until she was broken up in 1966.
WINNIPEG (1st) Statistical Data
- Pendant: J337
- Type: Minesweeper
- Class: ALGERINE Class
- Displacement: 990 tonnes
- Length: 225 ft
- Width: 35.5 ft
- Draught: 8.5 ft
- Speed: 16 kts
- Compliment: 8 Officers and 99 Crew
- Arms: 1-4" Gun, 4-20mm, Hedgehog.
- Builder: Port Arthur Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Port Arthur, Ont.
- Keel Laid: 31-Jan-42
- Date Launched: 19-Sep-42
- Date Commissioned: 29-Jul-43
- Paid off: 01-Nov-46
After 1949 Recommissioned as Pendant 177.