After reading Captain Hennessy's story about the incident between the Algonquin and HMCS Buckingham off Bermuda it brings back thoughts where I was that night along with other members of the ship's crew.
While doing darken ship exercises with an American submarine, a situation was created which almost caused a fatal accident. If it were not for the Captain, the crew on the bridge and the efficiency of the engine room crew, that Buckingham would have cut right through the Stokers or Electricians mess. Hitting only part of the quarter deck was a miracle in itself.
I was on duty that night in the Gear Room and I had just made my rounds of the tiller flat checking for hydraulic leaks and other routine chores. Still remember how difficult it was climbing through that 2 foot by 3 foot watertight door between the tiller flats and the rum locker flats. The next part of my rounds consisted of checking the propellor shaft blocks for oil level and leaks. This compartment was below the electricians mess. I proceeded into the Stokers Mess to shake the stokers for the next watch, then I climbed up through the hatch within a hatch to just back of the starboard Squid well.
I was passing under the upper deck cross walk into the port Squid well when I heard the “Whoop, Whoop, Whoop” of the ships siren and the quarter deck shook from the ship going from slow ahead to full ahead. I got to the breakwall door entering the super structure flats, closed the door, secured all the dogs and ran to close up damage control on the door next to the galley. Rushing into the gear room, I started the 40 ton bilge pump in case it would be needed.
I knew we had been hit because I could feel the ship lurch sideways. Didn't know how much damage there was until the next day when I went aboard a tug tied up ahead of the Algonquin and the Buckingham at berth and took a picture. There was the Algonquin at the dock and the Buckingham along side with the 224 of our ship protruding from its bow.
A piece of canvas was placed over the stern of the ship and we sailed back to Halifax that way. The Admiral of all Admirals had to be with us that night, but then again it was also testimony of what a well trained crew could do under extreme conditions.
This photo, taken from the aft end of the tug, shows the Buckingham (right) with a piece of Algonquin's stern still attached to the bow. (Photo by James Whyte)