For Posterity's Sake
A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project
Former Yacht Waturus
Then P.E.I. Ferry Hochelaga
Then HaChayal Ha'Ivri (1946)
An armed yacht formerly named Waturus, Hochelaga was purchased in the U.S. in 1914. She served as a patrol vessel from 13 Aug 1915 to 1920, and from then until 1923 took up coastguard duties. On 25 Aug 1918, HMCS Hochelaga ex-Waturus sighted U-156 on the surface off Halifax, but instead of attacking, in accordance with standing orders, retired towards the rest of her patrol group for 'support'. The submarine submerged & was not re-located. HMCS Hochelaga's Commanding Officer was later court-martialled & dismissed from service. This was the only occasion during WW I that the RCN encountered a German U-boat. After WW I, she spend many years as a Pictou-Charlottetown ferry and was sold in 1942, to reappear briefly four years later when she was seized by the RN as an illegal Israeli immigrant ship.
On 31 Jul 1946, HMS Virago detected two vessels on her radar, and passed the details to the Officer on Watch. One vessel was on the list of suspect ships, and so they boarded, but found everything in order. The second vessel was overlooked, until the Officer on Watch aboard HMS Saumarez spotted a suspicious vessel approaching the entrance to Haifa harbour. HaChayal HaIvrit was intercepted by British destroyer, HMS Saumarez, and a pilot, police and boarding party from HMS Saumarez were sent aboard in rapid succession. The British detained the passengers at Atlit Detention Camp.
Excerpt from The Guardian on-line newspaper:
P.E.I. ferry saw wartime service, and a surprising postwar role
"On 15 Jul 1946, Hochelaga set sail from Antwerp with more than 500 Holocaust survivors, bound for the Palestinian port of Haifa. It cannot have been a pleasant voyage, on an aging ship originally built to carry less than 100 souls, and stuffed to overflowing with coal, since the illicit nature of her voyage prevented refueling stops. Still, she reached Haifa safely at month’s end, and was practically in the harbour’s mouth when finally intercepted by British authorities. The ship and all aboard her were placed under arrest, and although the passengers would eventually leave British custody for new lives in Israel, the former Hochelaga, now bearing the heroic moniker Ha’hayal Ha’ivri, “Hebrew Warrior”, was less fortunate. She spent two years rusting away under British arrest in Haifa, and when Israel came into being in 1948, the new state lacked the time and resources to preserve the ships of the “Shadow Fleet” that had carried some 120,000 souls to the Jewish homeland. The former Hochelaga was scrapped in 1950, less than a decade after she last set sail from the green shores of Prince Edward Island."