November 16, 2006 by Joseph Krohn
A Canadian warship that has been tied up at the dock at CFB Esquimalt since 2001 will be towed out to sea off the west coast of Vancouver Island next year and used for target practice. HMCS Huron was commissioned in 1972 and saw service in the Persian Gulf during the first Gulf War.
If it gets environmental approval, the navy will tow the decommissioned destroyer to a firing range 100 kilometres out in the Pacific Ocean next May. There the Canadian and U.S. navies will open fire and send the 34-year-old ship to the bottom, Cmdr. Stan Bates says. “We’re currently planning a surface-to-surface missile firing, using a missile fired from one of our frigates as well as strafing runs by aircraft and possibly a submarine firing as well.” The navy says this will be the first time it has used one of its ships for target practice. In the past, it’s sold old vessels for scrap or turned them into artificial reefs for divers.
Rob Huebert, a military historian at the University of Calgary, says a lack of parts and too few sailors sealed Huron’s fate. “We did not have enough personnel to properly man her, so that ultimately her systems deteriorated to such a point that economically it made more sense to get rid of her rather than keeping her on as one of the four destroyers.” Huron was officially retired from service last year.