WEST COAST DEFENCE 1942
COMMISSION #2 CAPT. F. L. HOUGHTON RCN 22.06.1942
May of 1942 saw the ROBERT united with her sister ships in Esquimalt. They were taken in hand by the dockyard to have some degree of modernization, plastic bridge armour, elementary Asdic, primitive Radar and several Oerlikon 20mm guns. At last their duties were outlined:
1. To guard focal shipping points in the Northeast Pacific, particularly off B.C. What they were to do in the face of a major warship attack was not spelled out, nor resolved!
2. To patrol sheltered waters where enemy vessels might hide along the coast.
3. To reassure the public by their presence in the absence of any other warships.
4. To obviate American pressure on the sparse Canadian Naval forces in the area.
5. To make credible publicized threats against the enemy.
Whatever the potential dangers of the program, it had the appearance of success in that no enemy patrols were detected off the B.C. coast for the rest of the war except for a Japanese submarine surfacing near Nootka lighthouse and getting off a few rounds at some isolated cabins.
When Japan seized the Aleutian Islands of Kiska and Attu in June 1942, the ROBERT was ordered to cooperate with the American forces being transported to Kodiak, which served as the base for the projected recovery of the islands. In August 1942, the ROBERT sailed for Dutch Harbour. For two months the escort duties covered the 350 miles of open sea between the islands. Although enemy forces were in the neighbourhood, none were encountered. The ship suffered the usual foul conditions in that corner of the mis-named “Pacific” – sudden gales, erratic currents, uncharted shoals and dense fog. She was not aided by the pathetically rudimentary Radar or the rumours of 18 submarines lying in wait. She returned in mid-November from this dismal area to resume patrols off the B.C. coast.
H.M.C.S Prince Robert 1942
William G. Hillman
BILL & SUE-ON HILLMAN ECLECTIC STUDIO
Bill Johnson Material Copyright 1988