A bid to have the storied Second World War destroyer HMCS Haida recommissioning has been rejected by National Defense.
Responding to an e-petition tabled recently in the House of Commons, Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said the warship– currently in the custody of Parks Canada and docked in Hamilton — is a valued part of the country’s naval history.
” While the government does not support the re-commissioning of the HMCS Haida, it will designate the HMCS Haida the Flagship of the [Royal Canadian Navy] for ceremonial purposes,” said the written response.
It’s a victory for supporters of the group Project Naval Distinction, which has been lobbying for the honour for well over a year.
It wanted the government to formally designate the Haida the ” fightingest” ship in Canadian history, to make it a permanent part of the Canadian War Museum and to issue a commemorative coin.
This summer marks the 75th anniversary of Haida’s commissioning. The warship fought in the North Atlantic and off Normandy during the Second World War, and was in service during the Korean War.
‘ Difficult and costly’
It is credited by historians with sinking more surface ships than any other Royal Canadian Navy warship.
The destroyer was decommissioned in 1963 and taken completely out of service the following year. It became a museum ship along the Toronto waterfront.
” From a technical perspective, HMCS HAIDA can no longer be sailed and moving it even short distances is challenging, difficult and costly,” said Sajjan’s response, explaining why the government is opting for a ceremonial honour.
” While the RCN will not provide the crew, funding or any official unit designation that are usually provided for a commissioned warship in the RCN, and all responsibility for care, custody, maintenance, crewing and any other issue will remain with Parks Canada, this option will allow Canadians to honour the spirit of the HMCS HAIDA at no additional cost.”
When it is open to the public between May and October, the destroyer will be given an honorary commanding officer and will observe the traditional sunrise and sunset ceremonies.
The response does not say whether the Haida will get a commemorative coin. The Project Naval Distinction website says it submitted a letter to Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s office last December with two possible designs and “is awaiting a response.”
The Trudeau government has faced opposition criticism for its plan to buy used Australian FA-18s to supplement the air force’s existing fleet of CF-18s.
The decision has made the Liberals the butt of jokes in the military and among editorial cartoonists.
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