Naval Ships with Okanagan Names
The Canadian Navy has a long tradition of naming ships after Canadian towns, cities and geographical features such as rivers.
While there are no current naval vessels with Okanagan Valley-related names in commission, there were two ships named after Okanagan Valley place names during WW II.
The allied maritime supply lines to the Aleutians and Alaska were especially important from the initiation of the war in the Pacific with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December, 1941. The threat posed by Japanese Imperial Forces in 1942-43 was especially great with the occupation of two Aleutian Islands, Attu and Kiska by Japanese forces. In addition, Japanese aircraft carriers and submarines presented the constant potential of attack on sea lanes and BC itself.
The main Japanese threat to BC was removed by the victories of the United States Navy in major battles in the far-flung Pacific Campaign however a submarine threat remained throughout the war and HMCS Kelowna and the other ships of the RCN maintained their patrols against this danger throughout the war.
HMCS Kalamalka, a Llewellyn class minesweeper, was built in the Vancouver shipyard of Benson Ltd and commissioned in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) on 2 October 1944. The ship served in a coastal defence role on the west coast until paid off at the end of the war on 16 November, 1945.
4 x. 50 cal machine guns
23 (3 0fficers)
The HMCS Kelowna was a Bangor class minesweeper in the RCN during WWII. The ship was built and commissioned as part of the RCN’s Pacific fleet and patrolled the BC coastline protecting Canada’s west coast maritime frontier.
1-4″ Gun, 1-3″ Gun, 2-20mm
83 (6 Officers)
In the post-war era the Canadian Navy went through a series of changes as Canada’s maritime defence policies adapted to the changing realities of the Cold War and Canada’s role in NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The Canadian Navy had built the third largest navy in the world by the end of WW II and although the navy was drastically reduced in peacetime the tremendous expertise in anti-submarine warfare (ASW) developed during the war continued to serve the Canadian Navy well. Within NATO navies Canada specialized in this field of maritime warfare with the Canadian Navy pioneering major developments such as the incorporation of ASW helicopters on ASW specialized destroyer escorts with advanced sonar sensors.
Submarines had historically played an important role in training Canadian ASW forces during WW II and the immediate post-war era using Royal Navy and ex-United States Navy submarines for this role. Submarines have a critical role in developing the combat readiness skills of the surface fleet in countering potential submarine threats. This important function was continued with the acquisition of three British subs in the 1960s. The post-war O class submarines took their class name from the first letters of their names. In the Royal Navy, the lead boat was Oberon. (Customarily, submarines are called “boats,” not “ships,” no matter what their size.) The Canadian boats were named after First Nations tribes.
Built at the Chatham Dockyard in England, the Okanagan was named after a tribe of the Interior BC Salish Nation. Commissioned into the Canadian Navy on 22 June 1968 the boat served in the Atlantic fleet based in Halifax until 14 September 1998. A special paying off ceremony (the term for bringing a ship’s naval service to an end) including a celebration of 30 years of service in the navy was held soon after on the 28th September that year.
1,610 / 2,410 tons surfaced / submerged
295 x 29 x 18 feet
Mk.37 Mod 2 electric homing torpedoes 6x 21″ tubes forward, 2x 21″ “short” tubes – stern firing- with Mk.37 Mod 0 electric straight running torpedoes.
2 x 3,680 hp V16 diesels, 2 x 3,000 hp electric motors, diesel-electric, 2 shafts, 6000 shp, 12/16 knots
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