HMCS Sackville heads to summer berth with NEP help  

S3 Matthew Hawkins and other Naval Experience Program participants lent a hand to HMCS Sackville during the ship’s annual move from HMC Dockyard to its berth at the Halifax waterfront. CPL MITCHELL PAQUETTE

HMCS Sackville heads to summer berth with NEP help  

By Nathan Stone,
Trident Staff 

A group of Naval Experience Program participants pitched in to help HMCS Sackville make its annual move from HMC Dockyard to the Halifax Waterfront. CPL MITCHELL PAQUETTE

A multifaceted crew of volunteers, Navy personnel, and sailors in training oversaw the annual towing of His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Sackville to its seasonal home on the Halifax waterfront on May 1. 

Sackville was towed by tug from its winter berth at His Majesty’s Canadian Dockyard to the pier at Sackville Landing on the Halifax waterfront. There Sackville will resume its role as Canada’s Naval Memorial and floating museum.  

The ship’s regular volunteer crew was assisted on the day by sailors from other Royal Canadian Navy ships and trainees from the Naval Experience Program (NEP).  

Berthed near the iconic Wave statue and across from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Sackville is easily accessible to the thousands of tourists and locals that will visit the Halifax waterfront while the ship is open for tours from late June to November.  

“Last year we had about 47,000 visitors,” said Commander (Retired) Garry Reddy, who serves as Sackville’s commanding officer. He leads the ship’s small crew of volunteers, made up of retired RCN members like himself. He says that teaching visitors about the history of the ship is one of his favourite duties.  

“I enjoy meeting people when they come on board. All Canadians and international visitors from across the world, when they come on board and we talk about the ship and what the ship has done, they’re amazed.” 

Public education is an important function for Sackville and its crew, but the physical preservation of the ship is also a top priority according to Cdr (Ret’d) Reddy. He said that donations from visitors are vital for the ship’s continued operation.  

“We encourage anyone to come down and we don’t charge to come on board, but we ask for donations… Our preservation is all about donations.” 

Funding to keep Sackville afloat is also supported by donations from more than 1,200 trustees of the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust, the organization that owns and operates the ship. A group of the trustees were aboard as guests while the ship was being towed to its summer home. 

Sackville’s air of history also seemed to impress upon the NEP sailors who helped with the move to the waterfront. Sailor 3rd Class Matthew Hawkins said that working with his fellow NEP sailors aboard the ship felt like “adding to the history of the CAF.” 

HMCS Sackville, a Flower Class Corvette, was commissioned in 1941 and served as a convoy escort during the Battle of the Atlantic. The ship would see combat multiple times, including in August of 1942 when it engaged three German U-boats in a 24-hour period and knocked two of them out of action. Sackville continued to serve until it was damaged in another U-boat engagement in September 1943. Afterwards it served as an officer training ship until the end of the war.  

Post war, the ship served as a naval and civilian oceanographic research vessel. It was purchased by the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust in 1983 and restored to its wartime configuration. In 1985 the Government of Canada designated Sackville as Canada’s Naval memorial.  

On May 5 the ship took part in the Battle of the Atlantic Ceremony at Point Pleasant Park. Sackville’s crew laid a commemorative wreath and conducted several burials at sea.  

During the summer, Sackville is open for tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m, seven days a week. Cdr (Ret’d) Reddy said that he expects the ship to be open to the public starting the week of June 24.