CSS Acadia

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Port view of bow of CSS Acadia
CSS Acadia preserved as a Museum Ship alongside the wharves of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, 2007
Career (Canada) Canadian Blue Ensign
Name: CSS Acadia
Builder: Swan Hunter, Newcastle, England
Laid down: 1912
Launched: May 1913
Commissioned: as HMCS Acadia January 16, 1917; October 2, 1939
Decommissioned: March 1919, November 3, 1945
In service: September 1913 - November 1969
Refit: New Bridge, Pictou, NS, 1956

Registered: Ottawa

Actual: Halifax & Pictou
Fate: Museum Ship, Halifax, 1982
General characteristics
Class and type: Hydrographic Research Ship/Auxiliary Patrol Vessel
Tonnage: 846 grt
Displacement: 1700 tons
Length: 181 ft 9 in (55.40 m)
Beam: 33.5 ft (10.2 m)
Draught: 19 ft (5.8 m)
Ice class: Ice Strengthened
Propulsion: Single shaft, 2 fire tube Scotch boilers, 1 triple expansion steam engine, 1715 HP
Speed: 12.5 knots
Boats and landing
craft carried:
4 survey launches, 2 lifeboats, 2 dories
Complement: 15 hydrographic staff
Crew: 50

(Wartime) 1 X QF 4-inch (102-mm) Mk IV gun (forward)
1 X QF 12-pounder (76-mm) gun (aft)

8 depth charges
Notes: Now a museum ship owned by the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

CSS Acadia is a former hydrographic surveying and oceanographic research ship of the Hydrographic Survey of Canada and its successor the Canadian Hydrographic Service.

Acadia served Canada for more than five decades from 1913-1969, including being commissioned twice into military service as HMCS Acadia for the Royal Canadian Navy during both world wars. She is currently a historic museum ship stationed in Halifax Harbour at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic; she is the only ship still afloat that served the Royal Canadian Navy in both World Wars.

Retaining her original engines, boilers and little-changed accommodations, she is one of the best preserved Edwardian ocean steamships in the world and a renowned example of Canada's earliest scientific prowess in the fields of hydrography and oceanography.


Acadia was designed in Canada for the Hydrographic Survey of Canada and built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle-on-Tyne in England. Named after Acadia, the early colonial name for Atlantic Canada, she was launched in May 1913 and made her first voyage in July 1913. She saw extensive use prior to 1917 surveying the waters along Canada's Atlantic coast, including tidal charting and depth soundings for various ports. Her first two season were spent in Hudson Bay, along with the first Canadian surveys of notorious Sable Island. In her first year she rescued the crew of a steamship crushed by ice in Hudsons Bay, the first of many rescues the rugged steamship would make. Among her more enduring work was a survey of the Bay of Fundy which became her longest assignment prior to entering military service.

File:CSS Acadia 3.jpg
Bow of CSS Acadia with dory lowered on her starboard davit

World War I

CSS Acadia was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy in January, 1917 as a patrol vessel, replacing the CSS prefix with HMCS, thus becoming HMCS Acadia. From 1917 until March 1919, she conducted anti-submarine patrols from the Bay of Fundy along Nova Scotia's Atlantic coast and through the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. On December 6, 1917, less than 12 months into her war-time service, HMCS Acadia survived the disastrous Halifax Explosion. Acadia was serving as guard ship at the entrance to Bedford Basin but suffered only minor damage. Near the end of the war she served as a platform for experiments with anti-submarine balloons.

Inter-war period

Following the armistice, HMCS Acadia was returned to the Hydrographic Survey of Canada (renamed the Canadian Hydrographic Service in 1928) where she regained her original name CSS Acadia and resumed hydrographic survey work throughout the inter-war period of the 1920s-1930s. Lack of survey funds suspended her operation in 1924 and 1925. In 1926 she resumed surveys and became the first Canadian research vessel to be fitted with an echo sounder. A major achievement were surveys to establish the port of Churchill, Manitoba. Acadia also performed pioneering Canadian oceanographic research.

World War II

File:HMCS Acadia H-558a.jpg
In her armed wartime guise as HMCS Acadia
HMCS Acadia's badge, designed during her World War II service

CSS Acadia was recommissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy in October 1939, once again becoming HMCS Acadia. She was first used as a training ship for HMCS Stadacona, a shore-based facility in Halifax. From May 1940 to March 1941 she saw active use as a patrol ship off the entrance of Halifax Harbour, providing close escort support for small convoys entering and leaving the port from the harbour limits at the submarine nets off McNabs Island to the "Halifax Ocean Meeting Point". After a refit, HMCS Acadia was assigned in mid 1941 for use as an anti-aircraft training ship, serving as a gunnery training vessel for crews onboard the Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships (DEMS) fleet. In June 1944, HMCS Acadia was assigned to the training base HMCS Cornwallis and stationed at the nearby port of Digby, Nova Scotia where she was used for gunnery training for recruits and advanced gunnery training for petty officers and officers. Her wartime name of HMCS Acadia continues in use today for the Sea Cadet summer training camp held at the ship's old base at Cornwallis.

Later years

File:CSS Acadia 4.jpg
Starboard bow of CSS Acadia, with dory lowered on davits

With the end of the war, HMCS Acadia was paid off by the RCN on November 3, 1945 and returned for the second time to the Canadian Hydrographic Service as CSS Acadia. A major post-war assignment was updating and expanding the nautical charts of Newfoundland and Labrador after the province joined Canada in 1949. In 1962, Acadia rescued hundreds of people from forest fires in Newfoundland, evacuating two towns. In addition to her work with the CHS, CSS Acadia participated in military survey missions for the Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and United States Navy. By the end of her career, Acadia had charted almost every region of Atlantic Canada as well as much of the Eastern Arctic.

Museum Ship

She was retired from active service on November 28, 1969 and was transferred to the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO) for use as a museum ship. On February 9, 1982, BIO transferred the CSS Acadia to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic for preservation and interpretation. She is moored at the Museum's North Wharf and open to visitors from May to October. In September 2003 she rode out Hurricane Juan with ease, despite being the oldest vessel in Halifax Harbour. In the summer Acadia is joined at the Museum wharves by HMCS Sackville, operated by the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust. The two nearly identically sized ships present a contrast in shipbuilding eras and offer an ironic comparison as Sackville is a warship which became a part-time hydrographic ship and Acadia is a hydrographic ship which became a part-time warship.

Acadia is currently the only known vessel still afloat to have survived the Halifax Explosion.


Most of Acadia's crew came from the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. Many served their entire careers aboard, an indication that she was regarded as a "happy ship". Many of her officers were from Newfoundland. As a hydrographic ship, the Hydrographer in Charge was the senior officer, deciding where Acadia went and what she did, while the Captain ran the ship's day to day operations. In wartime, naval officers took over.

Hydrographers in Charge

File:CSS Acadia 2.jpg
Starboard view of CSS Acadia
File:CSS Acadia, Halifax Harbour.jpg
CSS Acadia, Halifax Harbour, 2009
  • Capt. Frederick Anderson 1913-1916, 1919-1923
  • R.J. Fraser 1926
  • J.U. Beauchemin 1927-1939
  • H.L. Leadman 1946-48
  • S.R. Titus 1948-1950
  • C.H. Martin 1950-1955
  • H. Furuya 1955-1962
  • J.E.V. Goodwill 1962-1964
  • L.P. Murdock 1965
  • R.C. Amero 1966, 1969
  • P.L. Corkum 1967
  • T.E. Smith 1968


  • Capt. S.W. Bartlett 1913
  • Capt. W.A. Robson 1914-1924
  • Capt. J. Roach 1926
  • Capt. F.V. Ryan 1927-1939
  • Capt. D.M. Snelgrove 1948-1949
  • Capt. R.J. Bell 1949-1952
  • Capt. E.A. Codner 1953
  • Capt. W.N Kettle 1954-1957
  • Capt. J.W. Taylor 1958-1969[1]

Naval Commanding Officers

  • LT J.O. Boothby, (RCN) 20/2/1940 - 1/4/1940
  • LCDR H.G. Shadforth (RCNR-Later renamed RCNVR) 12/4/1940 - ?
  • LT S. Henderson (RCNR-Later renamed RCNVR) 29/4/1941 - 11/11/1941
  • LCDR J.L. Diver (RCNR-Later renamed RCNVR) 12/11/1941 - 19/9/1943
  • LCDR R.V. Campbell (RCNR-Later renamed RCNVR) 20/9/1943 - 15/12/1943
  • LCDR J.C. Littler (RCNR-Later renamed RCNVR) 16/12/1943 - 30/3/1944
  • LCDR R.A.S. MacNeil (RCNR-Later renamed RCNVR) 31/3/1944 - 6/6/1944
  • Skipper/LT F.W. Durant (RCNR-Later renamed RCNVR) 7/6/1944 - 4/3/1945
  • Skipper/LT C.C. Clattenburg (RCNR-Later renamed RCNVR) 5/3/1945 - Decommissioning[2]


  1. Source for Civilian officers: Roger Duhamel, CSS Acadia: 50 Years of Service Ottawa: Marine Science Branch, Dept of Mines and Technical Surveys, 1964, page 13.
  2. Source for Naval Officers: Ken Macpherson & Jon Burgess The Ships of Canada's Naval Forces 1910-1993 Vanwell press, page 190.

External links

Coordinates: 44°38′52.5″N 63°34′11.8″W / 44.647917°N 63.569944°W / 44.647917; -63.569944

See also