By Jeff Bolichowski, The Standard
Thursday, August 9, 2012
ST. CATHARINES – The warships navigating the Welland Canal this week are sailing into history.
All told, five warships — three Royal Canadian Navy vessels and two American boats — used the canal between Monday and Thursday. They’re heading south, said St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. inspector Capt. Anil Soni, for ceremonies marking the bicentennial of the War of 1812.
“They are all part of what we call the Great Lakes 1812 mission,” he said.
Soni said three ships went through Monday, highlighted by the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Ville de Quebec.
He said it was joined by two American ships, the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS De Wert and the Cyclone-class patrol ship USS Hurricane.
On Thursday, he said, two Canadian minesweepers followed. He identified them as HMCS Moncton and HMCS Summerside and said they were bound for Sarnia before heading to the War of 1812 ceremonies.
In a media release, the navy said the Ville de Quebec left Halifax July 23 for a 10-week tour of 14 Great Lakes cities on both sides of the border.
The release said the ship previously visited Quebec City and Montreal. She’s due to visit Milwaukee through Aug. 13.
In Canada, she’ll visit Toronto, Windsor, Hamilton, Oshawa, Cornwall, Trois-Rivieres, Que., Sept-Iles, Que., and Halifax before Oct. 9.
The navy described the trip as a chance to inform Canadians about how the navy protects Canadian waters. The trip is also being used to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812.
The excursions will give visitors a chance to tour the vessels.
Soni said the canal is easily able to accommodate ships the size of frigates.
“It’s the other way around: can the ships handle the canal?” he said. He said the freighters that normally use the canal are huge and slow, but the frigates are light and powerful and have to be more careful as they go from lock to lock.