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HMCS NIOBE - Canada's first ship's anchor found at HMC Dockyard Halifax

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jollyjacktar

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A link to our naval past has been discovered during demolition of an older building at the dockyard.  Photo at story link below.

HMCS Niobe anchor damaged in Halifax Explosion found

The anchor is four metres high, 3.35 metres wide and weighs about 900 kilograms

CBC NewsPosted: Oct 20, 2014 5:40 PM AT|

An anchor and chain believed to be from a Canadian naval ship damaged in the Halifax Explosion were recently discovered in Halifax.
The roughly 900-kilogram anchor was unearthed on Oct. 14 by an excavation crew at the Royal Canadian Navy's dockyard in Halifax. The work is part of the navy's preparations for the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.

When the anchor and chain were discovered, they were encrusted in mud, so the fire department was called and it hooked up a hose to a hydrant to clean them off.  Richard Sanderson, the director at the Naval Museum of Halifax, said the anchor and chain are in good condition.  "You could take this and if you had a big enough ship, you could use it," he said.  The anchor and chain have been inspected and assessed against relevant documents and photographs, and officials are almost certain the anchor came from HMCS Niobe. 

The Niobe was the first Canadian warship to enter Canada’s territorial waters and arrived on Oct. 21, 1910. The 11,000-tonne armoured cruiser was purchased by Canada from the Royal Navy and steamed across the Atlantic from Portsmouth, England.  After the Niobe was paid off, it functioned as a depot ship from July 1915 until 1920 and was moored in the Halifax Harbour.

When the Halifax Explosion occurred on Dec. 6, 1917, the concrete-embedded anchor was pulled from the harbour floor as the ship was battered from the blast. "That explosion was a half a mile to the north of us and the force of the blast actually tore the Niobe's anchor from the seabed, and the ship started to drift to the east," said Sanderson.  Once the ship was re-secured, additional anchors were put in place. It is believed the anchor discovered was one of the three bow anchors used to keep the Niobe in place.

The anchor is quite large, measuring four metres high and 3.35 metres wide.  Each link of the anchor's chain is 51 centimetres by 28 centimetres and weighs about 34 kilograms.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/hmcs-niobe-anchor-damaged-in-halifax-explosion-found-1.2806106
 

NavyHopeful

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Wow.  That is pretty cool, knowing that this little bit of naval history has been un-earthed in our backyard.  I wonder where they'll put it?  I would say that, after they preserve it, it should be placed as a monument right outside the new naval shipyards (when they get finished).  It would be like the Niobe claimed the spot for us, wouldn't it?
 
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jollyjacktar

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The curator of the Naval Museum said on the radio that it is destined for a museum between Halifax and Ottawa. 
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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jollyjacktar said:
The curator of the Naval Museum said on the radio that it is destined for a museum between Halifax and Ottawa. 

By "between Halifax and Ottawa", do you mean either one or the other, or splitting the distance - which would put somewhere at Berthier-sur-Mer in Québec, where there is a maritime museum that already houses HMCS Bras-D'or?
 

ModlrMike

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Oldgateboatdriver said:
By "between Halifax and Ottawa", do you mean either one or the other, or splitting the distance - which would put somewhere at Berthier-sur-Mer in Québec, where there is a maritime museum that already houses HMCS Bras-D'or?
Fleet School Quebec comes to mind as another alternative.
 
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jollyjacktar

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Oldgateboatdriver said:
By "between Halifax and Ottawa", do you mean either one or the other, or splitting the distance - which would put somewhere at Berthier-sur-Mer in Québec, where there is a maritime museum that already houses HMCS Bras-D'or?
I honestly don't know.  Those were his direct words, he wouldn't elaborate.
 

The Bread Guy

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In a related announcement, "Happy Niobe Day" to Canada's senior service!
Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), today announced the adoption of a stylized flying Canadian Naval Ensign as the new visual identifier for the RCN.

The adoption of this new public communications tool, which complements the RCN’s military badge, ensign, and motto, stems from a series of changes announced over the past several years by the Government of Canada, celebrating over 100 years of Canadian naval heritage. Among these initiatives were the return to the Royal designation, the restoration of the Executive Curl on naval uniforms, and the adoption of a new Canadian Naval Ensign. The new visual identifier builds on these changes and links them to the historical roots of the RCN, and to its present duties and responsibilities to defend Canada and contribute to international peace and security.

The announcement comes on Niobe Day, which will be marked from now on each year by the RCN on October 21 to commemorate the arrival date of HMCS Niobe, the first Canadian warship to enter Canada’s territorial waters in 1910. This event was a landmark in the beginnings of the Naval Service of Canada ....
And here's the RCN's new "public communications tool"
rcn_ensign-logo-comps-2.jpg

More on this here.
 

bridges

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Maybe it's because I have no experience with ships, but I found this quote from the orig. article (the first post in this thread) particularly impressive:  "Each link of the anchor's chain is 51 centimetres by 28 centimetres and weighs about 34 kilograms."
A single link!

For one of the ship's anchors to be discovered almost at the anniversary of the ship's arrival is a neat coincidence.  Happy Niobe Day, indeed!  :salute:
 

The Bread Guy

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bridges said:
For one of the ship's anchors to be discovered almost at the anniversary of the ship's arrival is a neat coincidence.
The OP says "recently" - remember, to the Info-machine, "discovered" =/= "announced"  ;D
 

bridges

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milnews.ca said:
The OP says "recently" - remember, to the Info-machine, "discovered" =/= "announced"  ;D

True.  :)  In this case, though, the OP also says that the anchor was unearthed on Oct. 14; that's what I was going from.
 

ModlrMike

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Has anyone else noticed that Niobe Day falls on the same day as Trafalgar Day? A person more suspicious than I might make something of that coincidence.
 

Pat in Halifax

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Actually our first ship was HMCS RAINBOW but Rainbow Day...Well, that has a whole different meaning!
I read somewhere that this day was identified to actually distance us from Trafalgar Day so we would have our own day.
 

The Bread Guy

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ModlrMike said:
Has anyone else noticed that Niobe Day falls on the same day as Trafalgar Day? A person more suspicious than I might make something of that coincidence.
Mind you, if you're going to "mask" another holiday for your own, this one at least has a reasonable anniversary "hook" to hang it on.
 

quadrapiper

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milnews.ca said:
Mind you, if you're going to "mask" another holiday for your own, this one at least has a reasonable anniversary "hook" to hang it on.
If memory serves, NIOBE's captain arranged the date of arrival in Halifax so it would fall on Trafalgar Day.
 

rotrhed

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Richard Sanderson, the director at the Naval Museum of Halifax, said the anchor and chain are in good condition.  "You could take this and if you had a big enough ship, you could use it," he said.

The RCAF is scavenging Herc parts out of the museum in Trenton and more budget cuts are coming. Don't give them (the RCN) any ideas! ;)
 

The Bread Guy

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quadrapiper said:
If memory serves, NIOBE's captain arranged the date of arrival in Halifax so it would fall on Trafalgar Day.
Now there you go making it LESS special ....  ;D
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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Pat in Halifax said:
Actually our first ship was HMCS RAINBOW but Rainbow Day...Well, that has a whole different meaning!
I read somewhere that this day was identified to actually distance us from Trafalgar Day so we would have our own day.

Not so, according to historian Marc Milner's "Canada's Navy - the first century", which is pretty authoritative, HMS RAINBOW arrived in Esquimalt on November 8, 1910. Considering she had sailed around the horn to come to the West coast, she would have entered Canadian waters the day before, or one day earlier at most.
 

Pat in Halifax

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I am not meaning to be pedantic but this 'minor error' is being perpetuated in several DND pubs. If you look on page 21 of said book, it is actually HMCS Rainbow vice HMS. This is what I flipped out in response to the latest version of "Your Navy Today" which had a story on NIOBE Day.

HMCS NIOBE was commissioned into the RCN 6 Sep 1910 in Devonport, England (arriving in Halifax 21 Oct 1910) and formally turned over to the Naval Service of Canada (renamed the Royal Canadian Navy 29 Aug 1911) on 12 November 1010 (when we made the last payment on her)
HMCS RAINBOW was commissioned 4 Aug 1910 and sailed for Esquimalt arriving there 7 Nov 1910…
…which makes HMCS RAINBOW our first ship and not HMCS NIOBE.

This information is common knowledge to most students of history and is readily available on the internet including our own historical archives. Not sure where this error started but it does make us look bad in the eyes of some. (HMCS NIOBE was the first commissioned Canadian warship to sail in Canadian territorial waters as RAINBOW had to sail to Esquimalt via the southern route around the Straits of Magellan as the Panama Canal had yet to be built)

Maybe RAINBOW Day would have a different connotation which is why we went with NIOBE Day?


That said, the discovery of one of her anchors is indeed an interesting find for even the novice Naval historian.
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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Thanks Pat.

First of all, and to my shame, I don't know why my "C" didn't type - and it is a typo that matters here. My intent was always to refer to HMCS RAINBOW.

Second point: You are correct on the commissioning order and I did not dispute that. The powers that be elected to use the day the ship entered Canadian waters as the date of the "holiday". That's all: RAINBOW entered Canadian waters later, and that was my sole point.
 

Pat in Halifax

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OGBD:
My intent was not to 'shame' and I apologize profusely if that was how I came across.

Again, my concern (within the RCN) is that this 'misunderstanding' is being perpetuated. I suppose this is how history gets changed!
I am up at the (Naval...) Museum (...of Halifax) tomorrow and will ask Rick if there is anything new about where this anchor may end up.

Pat
 
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