HMCS Cowichan (J146)

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Namesake:Cowichan Valley
Ordered:23 February 1940
Builder:North Vancouver Ship Repairs Ltd., North Vancouver
Laid down:24 April 1940
Launched:8 September 1940
Commissioned:4 July 1941
Decommissioned:9 October 1945
Identification:pennant number: J146
Honours and
Atlantic 1941–1943, Normandy 1944[1]
Fate:Sold 1946 for mercantile conversion.
General characteristics
Class and type:Bangor-class minesweeper
Displacement:672 long tons (683 t)
Length:180 ft (54.9 m) oa
Beam:28 ft 6 in (8.7 m)
Draught:9 ft 9 in (3.0 m)
Propulsion:2 Admiralty 3-drum water tube boilers, 2 shafts, vertical triple-expansion reciprocating engines, 2,400 ihp (1,790 kW)
Speed:16.5 knots (31 km/h)

HMCS Cowichan was a Bangor-class minesweeper that served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. She saw action in the Battle of the Atlantic and the Invasion of Normandy. After the war she was sold for mercantile use. She was named for Cowichan Valley in British Columbia.

Design and description[edit]

A British design, the Bangor-class minesweepers were smaller than the preceding Halcyon-class minesweepers in British service, but larger than the Fundy class in Canadian service.[2][3] They came in two versions powered by different engines; those with a diesel engines and those with vertical triple-expansion steam engines.[2] Cowichan was of the latter design and was larger than her diesel-engined cousins. Cowichan was 180 feet (54.9 m) long overall, had a beam of 28 feet 6 inches (8.7 m) and a draught of 9 feet 9 inches (3.0 m).[2][3] The minesweeper had a displacement of 672 long tons (683 t). She had a complement of 6 officers and 77 enlisted.[3]

Cowichan had two vertical triple-expansion steam engines, each driving one shaft, using steam provided by two Admiralty three-drum boilers. The engines produced a total of 2,400 indicated horsepower (1,800 kW) and gave a maximum speed of 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph). The minesweeper could carry a maximum of 150 long tons (152 t) of fuel oil.[2]

Cowichan was armed with a single quick-firing (QF) 4-inch (102 mm)/40 caliber Mk IV gun mounted forward. This was later replaced with a 12-pounder (3 in (76 mm)) 12 cwt HA gun.[2][4][a] For anti-aircraft purposes, the minesweeper was equipped with one QF 2-pounder Mark VIII and two single-mounted QF 20 mm Oerlikon guns.[2][3] The 2-pounder gun was later replaced with a powered twin 20 mm Oerlikon mount.[4] As a convoy escort, Cowichan was deployed with 40 depth charges launched from two depth charge throwers and four chutes.[2][4]

Service history[edit]

Cowichan was ordered on 23 February 1940[5] as part of the 1939–40 shipbuilding programme. The minesweeper was laid down on 24 April 1940 by North Vancouver Ship Repairs Ltd. at North Vancouver, British Columbia and launched on 8 September later that year. The ship was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy on 7 April 1941 at Vancouver, British Columbia.[6]

After commissioning, Cowichan transferred to the east coast, arriving in September 1941. She worked up at Bermuda and upon her return, was assigned to the Halifax Local Defence Force for local patrol and minesweeping duty. In January 1942, she transferred to Newfoundland Force.[6] Cowichan was assigned to escort group 4.1.17 alongside the destroyer Assiniboine, corvettes Kenogami, Sorel, and Free French Aconit and Alysse. From 29 December 1941 to 11 January 4.1.17 escorted convoy SC 62, handing the convoy over to the British escort group B7. From 17 January to 28 January the group escorted convoy ONS 56. From 6–15 February the group escorted convoy SC 68.[7] In September the ship was ordered to join the Western Local Escort Force (WLEF), the command charged with escorting convoys along the coast of Canada and into the United States.[6] In early 1942, the ship's main fans were sabotaged during repairs at St. John's. The resulting investigation was faulty and was closed quietly. This was one of the first recorded attempts of crew sabotage in Royal Canadian Navy history.[8] In January 1943, Cowichan was assigned to a WLEF escort group 24.18.7 with destroyer Annapolis and corvettes Dunvegan and Fennel.[9]

In June 1943, WLEF divided its escorts into new groups, with Cowichan becoming a part of escort group W-6. She remained with the group until February 1944. That month she traveled to the United Kingdom as one of the Canadian escorts assigned to the naval component of the invasion of Normandy. She arrived in March and was assigned to the all-Canadian 31st Minesweeping Flotilla.[6][10] Immediately preceding the D-Day invasions of 6 June 1944, the 31st Minesweeping Flotilla was tasked with mine clearance in the American sector.[11] On 5 June, the 31st Minesweeping Flotilla arrived off Point Barfleur and began minesweeping activities at 1900. Unmolested by German shore positions, the minesweepers finished their work by 0515 on 6 June.[12]

Cowichan remained in British waters until returning to Canada in February 1945. She underwent a refit that kept her out of action until June, when she returned to the United Kingdom. She returned home for the final time in September 1945 and was paid off on 9 October 1945 and placed in reserve at Shelburne.[6]

Mercantile service[edit]

Following the war, Cowichan was sold in 1946 to a buyer from New York who had her converted for mercantile purposes.[6][13] Acquired by Cia Naviera Icaria SA, she kept her name but was registered in Panama. In 1948, the vessel was sold to C. Moraitis. Cowichan was converted to a trawler with a gross register tonnage of 663 tons. The ship was broken up in 1950 but was kept listed until 2008. Her Greek registry was closed in 1973.[14]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ The 40 calibre denotes the length of the gun. This means that the length of the gun barrel is 40 times the bore diameter. "Cwt" is the abbreviation for hundredweight, 20 cwt referring to the weight of the gun.


  1. ^ "Battle Honours". Britain's Navy. Retrieved 31 May 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Chesneau, p. 64
  3. ^ a b c d Macpherson and Barrie, p. 167
  4. ^ a b c Macpherson, p. 19
  5. ^ "HMCS Cowichan (J146)". Retrieved 31 May 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Macpherson and Barrie, p. 170
  7. ^ Rohwer, pp. 131–132
  8. ^ Coombs, p. 244
  9. ^ Rohwer, p. 222
  10. ^ Schull, p. 233
  11. ^ Schull, p. 267
  12. ^ Schull, pp. 270–272
  13. ^ Colledge, p. 93
  14. ^ "Cowichan (5081566)"Paid subscription required. Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 5 August 2016. 


  • Chesneau, Roger, ed. (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-146-7. 
  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475. 
  • Coombs, Howard G., ed. (2007). The Insubordinate and the Noncompliant: Case Studies of Canadian Mutiny and Disobedience 1920 to Present. Toronto and Kingston, Ontario: Dundurn Group and Canadian Defence Academy Press. ISBN 978-1-55002-764-8. 
  • Macpherson, Ken (1997). Minesweepers of the Royal Canadian Navy 1938–1945. St. Catharines, Ontario: Vanwell Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-920277-55-1. 
  • Macpherson, Ken; Barrie, Ron (2002). The Ships of Canada's Naval Forces 1910–2002 (Third ed.). St. Catharines, Ontario: Vanwell Publishing. ISBN 1-55125-072-1. 
  • Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945: The Naval History of World War Two (Revised & Expanded ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2. 
  • Schull, Joseph (1961). The Far Distant Ships: An Official Account of Canadian Naval Operations in the Second World War. Ottawa: Queen's Printer. OCLC 19974782. 

External links[edit]