Diving the 🇨🇦 Destroyer HMCS Annapolis
A Canadian Naval Destroyer, still serving her country's waters, but now serving in a different command capacity. And a "US CBP Form 4457?"
[Be sure to check out the voiceover for this article above, it more like a mini-podcast - hope you enjoy 🎙️]
This has been the dive I’ve been looking forward to all month. A diver’s road trip that goes to a boat that will take us to explore a (purposely) sunken destroyer. What more could you ask for on any given Sunday?
Early in the morning, passport in hand I meet up with my dive buddy, Andy, at a meeting point we established just north of Bellingham. Sipping on coffee and sharing our excitement about the day, three of our fellow Bellingham diver compatriots started to roll in. We all piled ourselves, and more importantly our gear (more about that at the end), into his truck to head due-north to cross the Canadian border into British Columbia. Our destination; North Vancouver. Where a dive boat would be waiting to take us out into the waters of Howe Sound, north of Vancouver.
Aboard the TopLine
After figuring out the trick to getting a cart, we loaded all our gear aboard the dive boat the TopLine, and we met our captain and divemaster for the day. As we set off from the dock out of Horseshoe Bay, the captain went through all the mandatory marine vessel disclosures and procedures, then the divemaster followed up with a diver roll-call. Nearly everyone was pumped to get to our first dive, the HMCS Annapolis (DDH 265), a purposely sunken Canadian destroyer made out as both an artificial reef as well as a destination and training ground for us divers.
As we were underway, “An interesting fact about the vessel you’ll be diving today, the former medical officer of the Annapolis, today also serves as the provincial health officer at the British Columbia Ministry of Health …” the divemaster announced before the dive briefing. “I think that is probably similar to something like your US surgeon general?” he added.
Not being Canadian, I hit Google before writing this post to find out more about that reference. Some Googling brought me to the bio for Dr. Bonnie J. Fraser Henry and her public service bio in British Columbia as well as her Canadian military history.
“She dove with Fleet Diving Unit clearance divers to understand the unique challenges of the underwater environment and their medical needs should a situation arise where the decompression chamber is required…As a medical officer, she sailed in Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Annapolis, Provider and Regina, and attended to the medical needs of the crew. She recalls many late night knocks at her cabin door from sailors needing medical aid.”
I may not be Candian, but with a background like that, BC, hey, you have a pretty cool provincial health officer if you ask me.
The Dive and Dive Site
The Annapolis is located in Halkett Bay Marine Provincial Park. It is home to just one of the five artificial reefs created by the non-profit society Artificial Reef Society of BC (ARSBC). The ARSBC, driven by volunteers and based in Vancouver BC, strategically establishes artificial reefs to help strengthen the natural habitat within the waters of British Columbia and supports divers in making it a destination dive site: