Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Torpedoed tanker "Nipiwan Park"

Operated by the Park Steamship Company, Nipiwan Park (sometimes spelled Nipawan Park, although the park after which she was named was apparently called "Nipawin Park") was a Great Lakes type tanker that was torpedoed off Halifax on January 4, 1945. Two of her 31 crew were killed when she was hit just forward of the bridge, and the bow (which sank) was separated from the rest of the ship. The bulkhead below the bridge held, and the stern portion of the ship stayed afloat long enough to be rescued and towed to port by Foundation Maritime Limited. The remaining 29 crew were rescued by HMCS KENTVILLE.

While I have photos from the Foundation Maritime collection indicating she was salvaged, I don't know which tug brought her in. 

The stern portion of Nipiwan Park safe in port.

The bridge superstructure suffered some damage in the blast.

Nipiwan Park carried a gun for self defence. It looks to be a 3"/40 (12 Pdr) Mk.V QF HA.

A better angle of the damaged bridge superstructure.

A shot of the all-important bulkhead that kept the ship afloat.
According to S.C Heal's "A Great Fleet of Ships" (my main source for this post), the Great Lakes type tankers were 259 feet long overall, had a deadweight tonnage of 3,600 tons, and could manage 10 knots on their 6 cylinder diesel engines (not sure if they had one or two of these). They were the only Canadian war-built ships (above the size of tugs) to be designed wholly in Canada, to be of all-welded construction, and they were the largest of the war-built standard types to be fitted with diesel engines. They were designed by the Montreal firm Milne, Gilmore & German. Nipiwan Park herself was built in Collingwood, Ontario, and was completed in November, 1943.

Nipiwan Park's engine room. 
Nipiwan Park was lucky in that unlike some other torpedoed ships rescued during the war, she was actually rebuilt by Foundation Maritime at the shipyard in Pictou, NS, and continued in service after the war. Purchased by Irving Oil, she was renamed Irvingdale in 1952, and was eventually cut down (and had her engines removed) for use as a barge in 1962.

Bibliography & Acknowledgements:

Fisher, Robert C. Downloaded 2002. "Canadian Merchant Ship Losses of the Second World War, 1939-1945".

Heal, S.C. (1999) "A Great Fleet of Ships - The Canadian Forts and Parks". Vanwell Publishing Limited, St. Catharines, ON.

Photos displayed here were scanned from the files of AECON, the successor firm to the Foundation Company of Canada.

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