May 26, 1919 (13th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)



On the 4th of August she was outside of Canadian waters on her way to Boston, where she arrived on the 5th of August. But, said the hon. member, while she was going down the St. Lawrence, the Naval Service did not watch her, nor make any attempt to capture her. It must be obvious that the reason we did not do so was that war had no.t been declared at that time. The hon. member said, in regard to the Princess Cecelia:-
It was humiliating for Nova Scotians to know- that the North-German-Lloyd SS. Princess Cecilia left Boston a day or two after the war was commenced, with the most valuable
cargo ever shipped1 from that port.and
that no effort could be made by the Niobe or any Canadian cruiser to go out and capture that ship.
The facts are these: The Princess Cecelia left New York on the 28th July, 1914, one week before the declaration of war, bound for an European port. When matters assumed a threatening aspect she was half way across the Atlantic. She was ordered to return to a United States port by wireless and reached Bar Harbour on August 4th before the declaration of war. She left Bar Harbour on the 6th November, 1914, under an agreement between the Imperial and United States Governments, for Boston, in order that better supervision might he exercised over her. She did not leave Boston ['Mr. Rallantyne.]
until after the entry of the United States into the war in 1917, and then flew, the United States flag. The value of sea power was never more startlingly demonstrated. No prizes were made on the North Atlantic coasts, as the German ships simply stayed in neutral ports or fled to them for shelter, making a rich harvest for those neutrals at a later date, when they in turn entered the war and took over hundreds ot thousands of tons of the finest shipping in the world without an effort.
The hon. member's next charge is that relating to what he calls the waste of money on small patrol vessels. I do not suppose the hon. member knew that the Canadian Naval Service had to provide an extensive system of patrols. Not only did we have to have patrols outside our principal Atr lantic seaports such as Halifax and Sydney, but we had to furnish escorts for the numerous convoys conveying Canadian and American troops across the Atlantic from Montreal, Quebec, Halifax and Sydney. These men of our patrol service who have served on small trawlers and drifters in all kinds of weather, performed as good service, and deserve as much commendation for that service, as our gallant soldiers who fought in the trenches in France for all that we hold dear. I cannot help feeling annoyed that the hon. member for Lunenburg should make such slighting and sneering references to the naval men who have performed such signal service for Canada. It might interest the members of the Committee to know what we have done ifi the way of Atlantic coast patrol. The patrol squadron consisted of:
10 Auxiliary Patrol vessels.
12 Canadian Trawlers (named).
7 Trawlers Sweepers Type known as P.V's and numbered).
36 Trawlers (known as T.R's and numbered). 36 Drifters (known as C.D's and numbered). 15 Drifters (Imperial and temporarily lent, known as I.D's and numbered)
6 United States Submarine Chasers.
1 United! States Torpedo Boat (allocated to Air Service, Halifax).
The whole of the above were manned by Canadian Naval Service ranks and ratings (with the exception of the United vessels), the total number of ranks and ratings employed being approximately two thousand.
The area to he patrolled, and over which practical operations were continually carried out, extended from Belle Isle to Shelburne, and from Point Des Mon's (St. Lawrence) to the Virgin Rocks, including the Nova Scotia Banks and Grand Banks. This area gave some 1,800 miles of coast line besides open sea areas and routes which had to be patrolled.

The operations on which the vessels of the Patrol Squadron Area were employed are:
Coast patrolling and investigation at all points of the coast line of reports of suspicious crafts sighted, suspicious lights, possible mines, etc.
Constant patrol of certain positions of strategic importance.
Frequent patrols of the Grand Banks and Nova Scotia Banks and giving warning to fishing vessels of enemy submarine activities.
Port patrols off Halifax and Sydney.
Daily mine sweeping of the approaches, to Halifax, Sydney and St. John's, Nfld.
Frequent exploratory sweeps over mineable waters along the coast routes of shipping.
Convoy escorts to the slow convoys transporting stores overseas for some 150 to 200 miles out to sea. (These convoys number 25 'to 43 vessels in a convoy) .
Convoy escorts to the troops convoys leaving Canada.
Convoy escorts continually along Canadian and Newfoundland coastal routes.
Organized searches over areas where any enemy submarines were known or believed to be operating. In addition to which a very considerable amount of salvage work has been done by the Canadian patrol vessels.
The force was divided between the bases of Halifax and Sydney in proportion to the measure of activities required in the neighbourhood of these ports and the force based on each of these ports were further divided into separate flotillas utilized respectively for patrols, convoy escorts, minesweeping, etc. The main principle guiding the amount of sea time for patrol, convoy escort and other flotillas engaged in work beyond the minesweeping of harbour approaches was that two-thirds of the force were actually in active employment, one-third being in harbour undergoing necessary overhaul, coaling, storing, etc., and their personnel receiving instruction in gunnery, minesweeping, signal, hydrophones, depth charges, etc.
By this it is seen that force was maintained actually at sea for two-thirds of its time, which, when the weather conditions of the coast, the class of vessels employed, the small number of their crews, and consequent strain are considered, together with the amount of work which has to be carried out even when in harbour, is considered as much as can be expected of the
crews and at the same time maintain a good and efficient lookout.
When the war was on, a strict censorship prevented both my predecessor and myself from giving the public any information as to the splendid work the Canadian Naval Service was performing, and in one sense the country should be thankful to the hon. member for Lunenburg for making these charges, because it gives an opportunity not only to refute them in toto, but to place on Hansard the record of the splendid work of the Canadian Naval Service during the four and a half years of war.
I might also say that our Canadian patrols discovered several German mines, and no one can tell how many ships and how many lives have been saved by their vigilance in that respect. There is another thing. The people of Halifax and of Sydney, not familiar with the work of the patrol service, and observing these trawlers and drifters, which look very much alike, as they strolled along the port of Halifax or Sydney, were under the impression that the trawlers and drifters never went out to sea, and that has led sometimes to the unfair charge that the men of the patrol service doing nothing but attending pink teas and wasting the country's money and their own time. As a matter of fact, these trawlers and drifters proceeded to sea as divisions, and when they had stayed out the requisite number of days, they came back to port to refit. Surely no one will begrudge these men the short leave they were granted when they returned to their base.
1 shall not refer to what the hon. gentleman had to say about chartered ve '.sels and motor launches, but here is a statement that T cannot allow to go unchallengj l. He said:
When it was found that Halifax was full of these boats a base was established at Sydney. I have no hesitation in saying that the large expenditure of money for naval purposes at Sydney harbour was absolutely wasted, and there was no good result from having these boats in that harbour.
That is a very strong statement for an hon. member who was not conversant with the facts to make. In view of the brief outline I have given of the work of the patrols at Halifax and Sydney, I cannot understand how the hon. member could get up and state they had performed no service whatever for Canada, and that the expenditure in maintaining the base at Sydney was a waste of money. The hon. member for Lunenburg shakes his head. What I read were his actual words. I will read them again. He said:

L have no hesitation in saying that the large expenditure of money for naval purposes at Sydney harbour was absolutely wasted.
There I take sharp issue with him. I say there was no money wasted at the base at Sydney or at the base at Halifax. Words fail me to do justice to the splendid gallantry and efficiency of the men of our patrol service. Here again is another evidence that the hon. member could not have gathered this information from any trustworthy source.
The naval base at Sydney was first established in the spring of 1915. It was made a permanent base in 1916. During the summer practically the whole export trade of Canada passed through Cabot Straits. During the war Sydney became more important and in 1917 the Admiralty used it as a port for collecting the-convoys proceeding from the North American ports to Europe. Convoys consisting of thirty, forty, or more merchant ships would leave Sydney regularly every week throughout the summer. Sydney was certainly a most important base and was used not only on the judgment of the technical officers of the Canadian naval service but also on the advice of the Admiralty. I think the advice I had, as Minister of the Naval Service, was more to be relied upon than the inaccurate information that the hon. member has received. The hon. member for Lunenburg follows along with this other statement:
Captains and mates were taken from the merchant marine service and held around Halifax for months doing nothing.
That might sound all right if there was a general election on but I do not see why the hon. member should make such an absurd statement as that these men were taken from the merchant marine service and held around Halifax for months doing nothing. What are the facts? When it was decided by the Admiralty to build 60 trawlers and 100 drifters, the department agreed to assist by providing crews for those in Canadian waters. This meant the addition of at least 1,600 officers and men. It is obvious these men could not be recruited, and instructed in their special work in a day, and, therefore, they were recruite .1 and held in readiness, so that as each vessel was ready at the builders the whole crew could be despatched to bring the vessel out to sea without loss of time. That is what these men were doing at the port of Halifax when the hon. member says they were lying around doing nothing.

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