HMCS Nipigon lives on thanks to former hull tech’s handiwork
By Ryan Melanson,
As a part of the ship, HMCS Nipigon’s duckboards helped keep sailors’ feet dry for more than 30 years. Now, the teak slabs of wood serve the former members of the ship’s company in different ways – as furniture in their homes, or as a piece of nostalgia to be enjoyed in their local mess.
The boards, taken from Nipigon’s pilotage position, were given a second life by CPO1 (Ret’d) Jeff Morrison, who left the RCN in 2014. As a hull tech, Morrison was known for his exceptional carpentry skills, so when a former colleague was looking for a good home for a set of duckboards, he reached out. The wood had been in storage since shortly after the ship’s decommissioning, and Morrison said he knew he could make good use of them.
“I’ve been a woodworker my whole career, so they were offered to me with the thought that I might be able to do something interesting with them, and that’s what I tried to do.”
The boards have now been included in a number of furniture projects. The Chiefs’ and Petty Officers’ Mess at Stadacona’s Juno Tower houses a large piece with a binnacle in the centre, while a table made from the boards has also become a popular destination for sailors at the Mug and Anchor Pub in Mahone Bay. Morrison also built a custom side table for his former shipmate Cdr (Ret’d) Allen Munroe, with a collection of his naval challenge coins counter-sunk around the edges.
The tables have received a lot of attention online, where former Nipigon members stay connected.
“We’re having a lot of people popping up, talking about their memories sailing in the ship, and saying they need to get out here and have lunch at the Nipigon table,” Munroe said.
The ship was an Annapolis-class Destroyer, commissioned in 1960, recommissioned in 1990 following refit, and paid off in 1998. Morrison said he’s thrilled to stay connected with his Nipigon colleagues and that his work is helping to preserve the ship’s legacy.
“I’m one of those guys who just really loved being in the Navy, and I miss it terribly,” he said, noting that he currently volunteers as the Chief Hull Tech aboard HMCS Sackville.
“This is a good Navy story, it’s a nice traditional thing and a way to keep that ship and some of the memories alive.”