The former HMCS Fraser, last existing vessel of the St-Laurent class of destroyer escorts, returned to Halifax after a dozen years in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. An attempt to restore the ship there could not come up with the money. A public outcry about the ship's appearance finally convinced the navy to buy the ship back for $1.
The naval auxiliary tugs Glenbrook and Glenevis towed the ship out of Bridgewater yesterday and arrived in Halifax at 2200 hrs last night. They tied the ship up at jetty November Lima (identifiable by the large letter "L" on the hammerhead crane.) Also known as the Naval Armaments Depot, the pier has become an elephant's graveyard for old navy ships.
Behind Fraser are Terra Nova and Gatineau (similar vessels from the later Restigouche class.) and three Oberon class submarines, Ojibwa, Okanagan and Olympus.
Fraser DDE 233 was built by Burrard Dry Dock Co of Vancouver and commssioned in 1957, third ship of the class. She was converted to a DDH (helicopter capability) in 1966 and had another major refit called Delex in 1981, before finally paying off in 1994. She went to Bridgewater in 1997. Although little restoration work was done there, she was stored in the fresh water of the La Have River, which probably prolonged her hull life by a few years.
The navy has not said what is next for Fraser - all things are possible, including restoration or sinking as a reef.
Interestingly Terra Nova and Gatineau, which are closer in appearance to their original build, have languished at NAD since 1997 and 1996, with no decision on their futures either. It seems the navy is not in any hurry to decide the fate of these last ships of the steam navy era.