Full name: Her Majesty's Canadian Ship DISCOVERY
Motto: "Steadfast and Vigilant"
A brief history of Her Majesty's Canadian Ship DISCOVERY
By SLt Carli Rachel Sussman, Public Affairs Officer
HMCS DISCOVERY was named in honour of HMS DISCOVERY, which, under the command of Captain George Vancouver, was responsible for surveying much of the northwest coastal area of North America.
The roots of HMCS DISCOVERY as a Naval Reserve Division can be traced as far back as 1914, with the formation of the No. 2 (Vancouver) Company of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR). This group was subsequently demobilized at the end of World War I.
In 1922, an Act of Parliament provided for the creation of a Canadian naval reserve of 1,000 men and 30 officers, which would be spread amongst companies and half-companies throughout the country. In April 1924, then Acting Lieutenant J.W. Hobbs, RCNVR, was appointed to command the Vancouver Half-Company, which was officially established and approved by Naval Service Headquarters one month later. The group began parading at the Beatty Street Drill Hall in August 1924.
In 1926, the Department of National Defence leased the former Coal Harbour premises of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, which had been built by the Admiralty. These premises became known as the "Stanley Park Barracks," and became the first dedicated home of the Vancouver Half-Company.
In November 1941, during a change of command ceremony, the Stanley Park Barracks were commissioned as HMCS DISCOVERY, in a move designed to ensure conditions and discipline at shore-based units were similar to those at sea. While Commander J.W. Hobbs is credited as being the first commanding officer of the unit, it was Lieutenant W.H. Richardson, RCNVR, who first commanded the unit under its present day name of HMCS DISCOVERY.
DISCOVERY's wartime contributions during World War II included assisting with the mass confiscation of Japanese-Canadian fishing vessels following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. Many of DISCOVERY's (and the Vancouver Half-Company's) early vessels were personally purchased by the unit's officers, or were private yachts, owned by the unit's officers and leased to the Navy.
DISCOVERY's present site on Deadman Island was first proposed for use as a Naval Reserve Division in 1874, though the property was not transferred to the Department of National Defence until 1942. On June 26, 1943, the cornerstone was laid for the original red-brick building that still stands today. Since 1943, several additional buildings have been built: the large drill hall; the boat shed; the dive shed; and a former accommodations building that now houses classrooms, offices, a storage warehouse, a galley, and two of the unit's messes.
DISCOVERY 's ship's badge, developed in 1946, has been the subject of much controversy. The badge takes the form of a rebus - an ancient heraldic art form in which a word is represented with pictures. The main part of the badge contains a gold disc over top of a shake fork shaped like the letter 'Y,' hence, "DISC-OVER-Y." It is surmounted by a crown with sails, thought to represent its namesake ship, Captain Vancouver's HMS DISCOVERY.
In 1946, the unit returned to peace-time operations, acting as a discharge and demobilization centre for volunteers from the war. Since then, DISCOVERY has been busy fulfilling its mission as a recruiting and training base for the Naval Reserve, as well as providing operational assistance to the Canadian Forces in times of crisis and disaster. In 1948, HMCS DISCOVERY 's personnel assisted with the disaster response to the Fraser River floods. Other notable contributions include: subsequent Fraser River floods, Red River floods in Winnipeg, Okanagan forest fires, and providing security for the 1998 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vancouver. DISCOVERY 's personnel have served in several Canadian Forces deployed operations, including those in Bosnia, the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. In 2010, HMCS DISCOVERY will be involved in providing maritime security for Canada's largest peacetime domestic operation: the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
1. Thornton, Jack.M. H.M.C.S. DISCOVERY and Deadman's Island. Vancouver, BC. 1977.
2. Winters, Barbara. H.M.C.S. DISCOVERY: A history of the Naval Reserve in Vancouver. Vancouver, BC. 1995.