HMS Shearwater (1900)

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HMS Shearwater at Esquimalt circa 1908
HMS Shearwater at Esquimalt circa 1908.
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Shearwater
Builder: HM Dockyard, Sheerness
Launched: 10 February 1900
Commissioned: 1900[1]
Fate: Transferred to Royal Canadian Navy, 1915
Career (Canada) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMCS Shearwater
Acquired: 1915
Decommissioned: 13 June 1919
Fate: Sold in May 1922
Career (Canada) 60px
Name: Vedas
Operator: Western Shipping Company
Acquired: May 1922
Fate: Register closed in 1937
General characteristics
Displacement: 980 tons
Length: 204 ft (62 m)
Beam: 33 ft (10 m)
Draught: 11 ft 6 in (3.51 m)
Installed power: 1,400 indicated horsepower (1,044 kW)
Propulsion: Four Belleville boilers
Three-cylinder vertical triple expansion steam engine;
Twin screws[1]
Sail plan: Barque-rigged, changed to Barquentine-rigged, later removed
Speed: 13 kn (24 km/h)
Endurance: 3,000 nmi (5,600 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h)[1]
Complement: 130
Armament: As HMS Shearwater:
6 x QF 4-inch (102-mm) guns
4 x QF 3-pounder (47-mm) guns
As HMCS Shearwater:
4 x QF 4-inch (102-mm) guns
4 x QF 3-pounder (47-mm) guns
Armour: Protective deck of 1 in (2.5 cm) to 1.5 in (3.8 cm) steel over machinery and boilers.[1]

HMS Shearwater was a Condor-class sloop launched in 1900. She served on the Pacific Station and in 1915 was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy as HMCS Shearwater, serving as a submarine depot ship until 1919. She was sold to the Western Shipping Company in May 1922 and renamed Vedas.


The Condor class was constructed of steel to a design by William White, the Royal Navy Director of Naval Construction.[1] Shearwater was powered by a Thames Iron Works three-cylinder vertical triple-expansion steam engine developing 1,400 indicated horsepower (1,000 kW) and driving twin screws.[1]

Sail Plan

The class was originally designed and built with barque-rigged sails, although some pictures show ships of the class with a barquentine rig. Condor was lost in a gale during her first commission, and the contemporary gunnery pioneer Admiral Percy Scott ascribes her sinking to the encumbrance of sails, and furthermore believed that her loss finally convinced that Admiralty to abandon sails entirely.[2] All other ships of the class had their sails removed during the first few years of the twentieth century.


The class was armed with six 4-inch/25pdr (1ton) Quick Firing Breech Loaders and four 3-pounder Quick Firing Breech Loaders.[1] By the time she became a Canadian warship in 1915, two of the 4 inch guns had been removed.[3]

Royal Navy service

From first commissioning Shearwater served on the Royal Navy's Pacific Station. The station itself was suspended in 1905, and the facilities at Esquimalt, British Columbia passed to the Canadian Department of Marine and Fisheries. Shearwater and Algerine remained at Esquimalt, and in 1910 the Naval Service Bill was passed, creating the Royal Canadian Navy. Shearwater recommissioned, still as a Royal Navy vessel, at Esquimalt on 27 November 1912.[4]

Royal Canadian Navy service

Shearwater recommissioned on 8 September 1914 and was transferred in 1915 to the Royal Canadian Navy, becoming HMCS Shearwater.[1] Two of Shearwater's 4-inch guns were taken ashore and used with a shore battery position to defend the Seymour Narrows, while the crew of Shearwater was sent to Halifax to man HMCS Niobe, which was short of trained sailors.

File:HMCS Shearwater c. 1919.JPG
HMCS Shearwater c.1918

Shearwater was subsequently re-manned to become a submarine tender to the two submarines CC-1 and CC-2. In 1917 Shearwater escorted the two submarines to Halifax, transiting through the Panama Canal. For the remainder of the war, she saw very limited duty as an Royal Canadian Navy support vessel on the Atlantic coast.


Shearwater was paid off from the Royal Canadian Navy on 13 June 1919. She was sold to the Western Shipping Company in May 1922 and renamed Vedas. Her register was closed in 1937.


  • Macpherson, Keneth R. and Burgess, John. (1982)(Second Printing) The Ships of Canada's Naval Forces 1910-1981. Collins Publishers. ISBN 0-00-216856-1

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