For Posterity's Sake
A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project
HMCS CORMORANT 20
Former Italian Stern Trawler ASPA QUARTO
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 Mar 2015, Cormorant still lay idle and deteriorating at Bridgewater, NS.
HMCS Cormorant - Commissioning Booklet