May 9, 2019

HMCS OrioleIt’s history in the making. The oldest yacht club in the Americas welcomes Canada’s oldest commissioned ship in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) this Saturday in Halifax.
An official reception was held at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron (RNSYS), Saturday, May 4th.

The most recent addition to the Atlantic fleet based in Halifax, HMCS Oriole is a 101ft ketch launched nearly a century ago that has, for most of her naval career, been assigned to adventure training for junior and non-commissioned officers.

Known as the ‘people’s boat’, HMCS Oriole is sailed entirely by hand without a single winch onboard, a feature unknown to modern sailors. The permanent crew of nine sailors is augmented with changing groups of Sea Cadets and Reservists to make up 21 sailors on deck. Although modern navigation aids and safety gear have been fitted, the sailing gear is rigged and operated much as when it was originally built in 1921. An ambassador for seamanship, she offers a true introduction to sailing.

When fully rigged, HMCS Oriole sets 13,133 sq ft of Dacron sail. She weighs in at approximately 92 tonnes, with a beam of 19.5 ft with sleeping accommodations for 22. Her hull is steel and decks, cabin house, skylights and hatches are teak. She is a true beauty reflecting yesteryear’s Age of Sail.

HMCS Oriole spent the last 60 years at the Canadian Forces Base in Esquimalt, B.C., until being sailed through the Panama Canal to her new home port of Halifax, N.S.
Last summer for the 2018 Great Lakes Deployment, HMCS Oriole along with HMCS Moncton, visited communities along the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes as an agent for an event that connects Canadians to their Navy. Serving as both a sail training vessel and a piece of Canada’s naval history open for public tours, HMCS Oriole is often in ports that seldom see an RCN vessel. Her busy calendar consists of various community events such as yacht club openings, sea fairs and local sailing events in addition to RCN sponsored adventure training for other units.

The RNSYS is the oldest yacht club in the Americas and its athletes have represented Canada in many past Olympic and Paralympic Games. In the summer of 2014, the RNSYS welcomed more than 150 competitors from 20+ countries for the 2014 International Federation of Disabled Sailing (IFDS) World Championships.

The RNSYS is the corner stone of the sport of sailing in Nova Scotia, offering programs and hosting events both for experienced sailors and the next generation of upcoming champions.

RNSYSOriole was originally to be Oriole IV, the successor in a line of personal yachts of prominent families at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto, ON. It was built for then Commodore George H. Gooderham. Due to a strike construction was halted and Oriole was taken to Neponset, Massachusetts where she was completed. The ship was launched June 4th, 1921.

During the Second World War she was chartered by the RCN as a training vessel. The ship was transferred to the Navy League following the war and was again chartered as a recruit training vessel in 1950.

Oriole IV subsequently moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1951. She was officially commissioned HMCS Oriole 19 June 1952 and was moved to her previous home port of Esquimalt two years later for use as a training ship for junior officers.

In 1956 she was purchased outright by the RCN and attached to HMCS Venture at Esquimalt.