Diving Support Ship



HMCS Cormorant 20

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Battle honours and awards:  Quebec  1759,   Minorca  1798,   China  1856, 1959



Built: 1965

Acquired by RCN: Jul 1975

Commissioned: 10 Nov 1978

Paid off: 02 Jul 1997

Fate: 18 Nov 2020 - Departed Bridgewater, NS under tow to the breaker's yard of RJ MacIsaac Construction at Sheet Harbour, NS.


Built at Cantiere Navale Apunia, Marine-Carrara, Italy in 1965, she was the former Italian-flag stern trawler Aspa Quarto. She was purchased for Maritime Command in Jul 1975, and converted principally at Davie Shipbuilding, Lauzon, Que., to her new purpose. She was commissioned there 10 Nov 1978. She served as mother ship to SDL-1 (Submersible Diver Lockout), a mini-sub capable of reaching a depth of 2000 feet, and which has been extensively used to chart the bottom of Halifax harbour. Between 23 Aug and 05 Oct 1989, Cormorant, along with CFAV Quest, was deployed to Canada's eastern High Arctic waters, conducting defence research in Baffin Bay, Lancaster Sound and Davis Strait. In the course of the operation, dubbed NORPLOY 89, she visited Canada's northernmost Inuit community, Grise Fjord, on Ellesmere Island. Her SDL-1 also found and filmed the Breadalbane, crushed and sunk by ice off Beechey Island in 1853 while searching for John Franklin's lost Northwest Passage expedition. During this deployment she holed her bow on pack ice. Her crew made emergency repairs and she was able to return to Halifax and repairs were effected on the syncrolift. During her career she was used for a variety of purposes ranging from retrieval of illegal drug caches; covering vents in the sunken barge Irving Whale to recovering the bell from the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Cormorant had among her complement the first women to be assigned to a Canadian naval vessel. She was paid off on 2 July 1997. Initially sold  to United States owners for diving operations, she remained docked in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, rusting away. The Cormorant was purchased at auction by Neil Hjelle in September 2009 to be refit and used for research in the Mediterranean and Middle East. As of Nov 2019, Cormorant still lay idle and deteriorating at Bridgewater, NS.


On 30 Jun 2020, Public Works and Government Services of Canada issued a tender to interested parties for the disposal / breaking up of Cormorant.


On 18 Nov 2020, the former HMCS CORMORANT was towed out of Bridgewater, NS destined for the breaker's yard.



Photos and Documents          Ship's Books          Ship's company photos          The Ship's Bell



Commanding Officers


LCdr James Gilmore Morrison - 24 Jul 1978 - 17 Aug 1981

LCdr Jack W.D. Alexander - 17 Aug 1981 - 27 Jun 1983

LCdr Brian John Fisher - 27 Jun 1983 - 30 Jul 1984

LCdr R.W. Bowers - 30 Jul 1984 - unk

LCdr André Georges D. Perusse - Jun 1986 - 10 Jun 1988

LCdr M.P. Palmer - 10 Jun 1988 - 10 Aug 1990

LCdr P.O. Gaynor - 10 Aug 1990 - 08 Oct 1992

LCdr A.T. Pinnell - 08 Oct 1992 - Aug 1994



     In memory of those who have crossed the bar    

They shall not be forgotten




Former Crew Members


Atkinson, Mike, MS, Clearance Diver


MacDonald, James A., LS.SW


Miniou, Scott, RP/NESOP

Ouellette, Jim, Lt (N)


Weir, Garry, Master Seaman Radioman


White, Jim, LS



Ship's Books




Welcome Aboard - undated

Courtesy of Janet Lawrence



Photos and Documents









(COR002) Battle Board for HMCS Cormorant 20 at the Naval Museum of Halifax, CFB Halifax, NS  // Courtesy of Jarrod David

(COR003) HMCS Cormorant and CFAV Quest, NORPLOY 1989  //  Courtesy of John Newton, Rear-Admiral, RCN

(COR004) SDL-1 in the hangar of HMCS Cormorant 20  //  From the collection of Dale Silvester  //  Courtesy of Jim Silvester

(COR005) HMCS Cormorant recovering SDL-1  //  From the collection of Dale Silvester  //  Courtesy of Jim Silvester

(COR006) HMCS Cormorant 20  //  From the collection of Dale Silvester  //  Courtesy of Jim Silvester






(TB001) Crew of CORMORANT - believed to be Ireland Island, Bermuda - 1996

(TB02) Blank C&POs Mess membership card

(TB03) Label from wine that was produced for CORMORANT'S Paying-off

Courtesy of Tom Bond, CD, PO1 ERA ret'd








(WD01-WD05) HMCS CORMORANT 20 during visit to Hamilton, Ontario - early 1990s







(WD06-WD07) SDL-1 onboard HMCS CORMORANT 20.  SDL-1 (Submersible Diver Lockout) was a mini-sub capable of reaching a depth of 2,000 feet

(WD08) Exhaust pipes for the ship's diesel going up into the funnel on HMCS CORMORANT 20

(WD09-WD10) Diver recompression chamber and controls onboard HMCS CORMORANT 20

Courtesy of William Duff



The end .....


A long slow ending ......






(COR007) Former HMCS Cormorant, Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, awaiting disposal,19 Jul 2003  //  Source:  Photographer: Gerrard

(COR008) Former HMCS Cormorant, Bridgewater, NS, 16 Mar 2015  //  Having been sold to private interests, Cormorant has been laying derelict at Bridgewater for many years  //  Courtesy of Dennis Morrison

(COR009-COR010) Former HMCS Cormorant at Bridgewater, Nova Scotia - 21 Mar 2015.  Although she still appeared to be afloat, she has listed in the range of 45 degrees from the vertical (far enough to expose her port bilge keel) and the Canadian Coast Guard reported that she is on the bottom and not moving with the tide. Perhaps her starboard bilge keel is in contact with the bottom. You can see in photo 1 that her port anchor is deployed  //  Source: Sandy's Ramblings  //  Photos © Sandy McClearn 2014  //  These photos are published here with permission of the copy write owner. They are not to be republished or sold without permission of Sandy McClearn



(COR011) Former HMCS CORMORANT, now a derelict vessel, alongside at Bridgewater, NS

Photographer / Courtesy of Sean McDermott



(COR012) 18 Nov 2020 - The former HMCS CORMORANT under tow departing Bridgewater, NS - where she languished as a hulk for 20 years - destined for the breaker's yard of RJ MacIsaac Construction at Sheet Harbour, NS.

Photo credit: CBC News / Paul Palmeter



(COR013) The former HMCS CORMORANT at the breaker's yard at Sheet Harbour, NS.  The hangar was demolished to remove her mini sub for display at FDU Atlantic

Photographer / Courtesy of Paul Wardlow