The History of the OTTER

On 26 March 1941 she was destroyed by an accidental explosion and fire, near Sambro Island just off Halifax. Two Officers and 17 men were lost.

On the morning of 26 March 1941, as the OTTER sailed only 24 nautical miles from Halifax, an explosion and a fire ripped through the vessel. Soon the crew of the steel hulled, but wooden superstructure, vessel recognized that the fire was too much and the captain ordered to abandon ship.

The crew barely fit into the two lifeboats and one carley float. Rescue was close at hand, as a Polish freighter and a Royal Navy submarine was nearby. However, due to the extremely heavy seas, rescue proved to be very difficult. In fact, one of the lifeboats was flipped by an unusually large wave when a polish freighter came alongside. The already waterlogged sailors were flung into the icy water, and some were never seen again. Once they were rescued, some were in such bad shape they never even survived the trip into Halifax, despite the efforts of the Polish merchantmen who took turns applying artificial respiration and trying to warm the men.

A British Submarine also found the carley float with 15 men on it. However, by the time they rescued the men only four were still alive.

OTTER Statistical Data

  • Pendant:
  • Type: Armed Yacht
  • Class: N/A
  • Displacement: 419 tonnes
  • Length: 160 ft
  • Width: 25 ft
  • Draught: 10 ft
  • Speed: 10 kts
  • Compliment: 5 Officers and 35 Crew
  • Arms: 1-4"
  • Builder: Robert Jacob, City Island, N.Y.
  • Keel Laid: Unknown
  • Date Launched: 1921
  • Date Commissioned: 04/10/1940
  • Paid off: 26/03/1941


Formerly the Conseco.

Keywords: HMCS OTTER, Royal Canadian Navy Ship, Armed Yacht, N/A Class