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British Columbia’s Reefs of Steel
The HMCS Saskatchewan is British Columbia's most successful artificial reef. The popularity of the Saskatchewan is apparent when you consider that well over 100,000 dives have been completed since she was sunk on June 14, 1997: more than all other B.C. artificial reefs put together!
Click On The Image To Watch A Video Of The Sinking!Hundreds of boats, including a ferry that B.C. Ferries and it's crew donated as a viewing platform, gathered just off the western side of Snake Island, a bird sanctuary and home to over 250 harbour seals, to watch the sinking. In just over 2 minutes the 366 foot Saskatchewan slipped below the surface and began its descent to the sandy bottom where it came to rest in 130 feet of water with a 6 degree list to the portside. The bow faces to the south and the stern to the north. The top of the mast is at 45 feet and the bulk of the vessel is between 80 and 100 feet.
B.C.'s Most Popular Reef!The approximate depth to some of the most popular and identifiable features are:
Radar Platform on main mast ..........45'
Bridge .......... 65'
Top of guns .......... 85'
Fore and aft decks ..........95'
Aft mortar bay .......... 105'
Keel at bottom .......... 130'
Look at all the diver access holes cut into the vessel. This creates lots of ambient light and a safe diving environment for you!
The community of Nanaimo has wholeheartedly embraced The Saskatchewan. Our community's dedication to diving is evident throughout NanaimoOne of Jeff King's Great Murals! . Downtown, next to the Courthouse, the Weyerhaeuser building boasts one of Jeff King's, Nanaimo's renowned marine muralists', best murals. This large mural and it's amazing detail covers the entire side of the building. Make viewing this mural a part of your visit to Nanaimo.
Make Diving The Saskatchewan part of your travel plans this year! Have a look at the great value we offer in our Diving and Snorkeling packages!
Want to learn a bit more of the history of The Saskatchewan, read T.W. Paterson's article on the Noble past of The HMCS Saskatchewan:
HMCS SASKATCHEWAN HAD A NOBLE PAST
Looking Back Article by T.W. Paterson, Harbour City Star, February 13, 2001
"The bottom of the sea is a funny place for a piece of Canadian prairies, but there you have it since the sinking of HMCS Saskatchewan as an artificial reef, in 1997.
Our second Mackenzie class destroyer escort, she was commissioned at Esquimalt's Yarrows Ltd., Feb. 16, 1963. At 366 feet long, with a 42-foot beam and a displacement of 2,900 tons (fully loaded) she had a top speed of 28 knots and a complement of 230 officers and men.
Built when Canada's destroyers were internationally renowned as 'Cadillacs', Saskatchewan honoured the river of that name, rather than the province, and was the second ship of this name to serve the Royal Canadian Navy.HMCS Saskatchewan Emblem
Her ship's badge shows a sheaf of wheat imposed on a green field, with a wavy white and rad diagonal strip denoting a river. All colours are derived from the province of Saskatchewan's coat of arms.
Her predecessor was commissioned in the Royal Navy in 1935 as HMS Fortune, of the Fearless destroyer class. During the first 3½ years of the Second World War, she steamed more than 2000,000 miles (that's eight times around the world), participated in the Norwegian campaign and the occupation of Iceland, and shared in the sinking of the U-27, U-24 and the Vichy French submarine, Ajax.
While serving out of Malta in May 1941, she was badly damaged by bombs that required six months to repair.
In 1943, after two years with the Eastern Fleet, Fortune was renamed Saskatchewan and transferred to the RCN at London. She joined Escort Group C-3 after refit, trials and workups, for convoy escort duty in the North Atlantic. Saskatchewan and her sisters escorted no fewer than 14 convoys in nine months until withdrawn in May, 1944 to begin special training off Londonderry, North Ireland in preparation for the invasion of Europe.
In June, she helped to patrol the English Channel "as part of a barrier" to prevent U-boats from attacking the invasion route to the Normandy beaches.
During an offensive patrol in the Bay of Biscay, the Canadian managed to destroy three enemy ships and complete further patrols in British waters before Saskatchewan was ordered back to Canada for refit in august, 1944. She spent the last five months of the war as an escort vessel, returned to Canada after V-E Day, and rounded out an outstanding career as a troop transport.
Paid off for disposal on Jan. 28, 1946, the weary destroyer was sold for scrap, leaving three hard-won battle honours: Atlantic - 1943-1944, Normandy - 1944, Biscay - 1944.
There's even more naval history behind Saskatchewan than this. The only naval engagement of the Riel Rebellion was fought on the South Saskatchewan River (Kisikatchewan - rapid river in Cree), in 1885. Government forces requisitioned the stern-wheel steamer Northcote, armed her with a Gatling gun and 50 soldiers, armour-plated here with planks and sandbags, and sent her against the rebels at Batoche.
But they riddled here in small arms crossfire and launched another riverboat into her path, damaging the Northcote and forcing her withdrawal.
In 1968, the latest HMCS Saskatchewan sustained extensive damage from striking a rock at the eastern entrance to Active Pass and again, two years later, off Roberts Bank. Both accidents resulted in courts martial and severe reprimands for her respective captains.
In 1997 HMCS Saskatchewan touched sea bottom for the last time, just three km from Nanaimo. She and several sister destroyers have been sunk as artificial reefs and tourist attractions for divers in recent years, with HMCS Cape Breton to soon follow."