Canadian Navy decommissions replenishment ship HMCS Preserver

The Royal Canadian Navy has decommissioned, or payed off as the act is referred to in Canada, its auxiliary oilier replenishment HMCS Preserver after 46 years of service.

During an October 21 ceremony at HMC Dockyard Halifax, Preserver received a final salute from current and former sailors, soldiers, airmen, and airwomen.

The paying-off ceremony signals the end of the oiler’s distinguished service to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). The RCN’s replenishment ship requirements are currently being provided by Spanish and Chilean ships through mutual logistics support arrangements.

“HMCS Preserver has served the Royal Canadian Navy with great distinction. On every voyage, Preserver contributed to the Navy’s reputation for operational excellence,” Rear Admiral J. Newton, Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic, said.

“The ship and its design elements set the standard in modern navies for safe and expedient replenishment at sea. This essential but inherently difficult and dangerous task was executed by Preserver, and sister ship Protecteur, for 46 years in the North Atlantic, across the wide Pacific, and well into Canada’s Arctic waters,” Newton added.

The term “paying off” refers to the British age-of-sail practice of paying a crew their wages once a ship has completed its voyage. In the RCN, the tradition continues with the term paying off referring to the formal ceremony where the naval jack, ensign, and commissioning pennant are hauled down, the crew departs a ship for the last time, and the ship is then no longer referred to as HMCS.

HMCS Preserver has participated in numerous missions and operations, including the United Nations peacekeeping effort in Cyprus and the enforcing of sanctions on the former Yugoslavia, as well as a number of international operations.

Over the course of HMCS Preserver’s 46 years of service, the Canadian Navy estimates that more than 8,000 sailors have been part of its crew.

Authorities are yet to decide on the way the 546-feet (165 meters) is to be disposed of. Options include selling or donating the vessel, or dismantling it for scrap material.