By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
Oshawa’s loss is Whitby’s gain.
The city’s harbour was slated to receive a visit from a second Canadian naval ship as part of the Great Lakes Deployment.
The HMCS Oriole was scheduled to dock in Oshawa from Aug. 10 to Aug. 13.
However, the visit was switched to Whitby due to need for a low freeboard to conduct boat transfers.
A vessel’s freeboard is the distance from the waterline to the upper deck level.
A low freeboard offers drag and weight reduction and therefore increased speed.
The HMCS Oriole is the oldest ship in the Royal Canadian Navy, built 97 years ago.
It started as a flag ship for the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto and was commissioned to the Navy in 1952.
It weights approximately 92 tonnes, has a beam of 19.5 feet, and sleeping accommodations for 22.
Drew Foran took over as the commanding officer on April 16.
“The Oriole is unique because our main focus is outreach. For most war ships that is a secondary task,” Foran told The Oshawa Express in July. “We’re like the Snowbirds of the Navy. We interact with Canadians and tell the story of the Navy and the work we are doing around the world.”
The HMCS Oriole is also widely used in training with both sailors and Sea Cadets.
According to Foran, this is the first time the ship was on the waters of Lake Ontario in quite a while.
“She was actually based on the west coast for close to 60 years. She hasn’t been back to the Toronto-area since 1949, the closest was on the St. Lawrence Seaway in the 1980s,” he says.
Not much has changed in how the Oriole navigates through any body of water in the past century.
“The method of sailing her is the same as it was 97 years ago. It’s all people power,” Foran says. “To make it work it really requires the work of all 21 crew. But that’s what is the most rewarding.”