HMCS Cape Breton

The HMCS Cape Breton became an artificial reef on October 20, 2001 at 12:40 pm. She sits upright in 140' of water with a slight list to starboard. At the time of her sinking the Cape Breton was the second largest artificial reef in the world at a length of 441'.

Crows nest on main mast ..........45'
Bridge .......... 90'
Helicopter deck .......... 90'
Fore and aft decks ..........110'
Bottom of engine room .......... 130'
Keel at bottom .......... 140'



Here is a dive map of the Cape Breton Courtesy of the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia.



A short history of the HMCS Cape Breton.

HMCS Cape Breton was launched in 1944 at the Burrard Drydock facility in North Vancouver, British Columbia as the HMS Flamborough Head. Flamborough Head was one of a series of ships intended to operate with the British Pacific Fleet in the war against Japan and for the recolonization of Asian territories. While they were under construction, the Royal Navy was experiencing a severe manpower shortage. To this end, Sir Winston Churchill attempted to get Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King to provide Canadian crews. This offer was refused by the wartime Canadian leader for political reasons. Ultimately the war ended before the whole class was completed and several completed as merchant ships. HMS Flamborough Head commissioned into service of the Royal Navy in North Vancouver in 1945. It sailed from Vancouver and remained in active service with that service until 1952 when purchased by the Royal Canadian Navy. The ship commissioned as HMCS Cape Breton at Halifax on January 31, 1953.

Ships of Canada's Naval Forces 1910-1981 by Macpherson and Burgess states, "She served at Halifax until August 25, 1958 as a repair ship and training establishment for technical apprentices. Converted to escort maintenance ship at Esquimalt, she was commissioned there on November 16, 1959 for service on the West Coast. On February 10, 1964, Cape Breton was paid off into reserve, but since 1972 she has functioned as a towed mobile support facility and accommodation vessel at Esquimalt, designated Fleet Maintenance Group (Pacific)." This was undertaken from a semi permanent position at the old "C" Jetty at the Esquimalt dockyard; being known unofficially as "Building 100." When this old dock area was demolished as part of the base redevelopment of the late 1980's, Cape Breton was berthed across the harbour adjacent to the Public Works Graving Dock, sometimes referred to as "D" Jetty. With the completion of the dockyard redevelopment and the advent of superior shore based facilities, Cape Breton was declared surplus and assigned to the reserve fleet in Colwood. Various attempts at returning the ship to peaceable service or preservation after have not led to fruition.


3D Dive cards for the Cape Breton are available from most dive shops including Nanaimo Dive Outfitters