The first HMCS PRESERVER served with the Royal Canandian Navy during the Second World War. Built by Marine Industries Limited in Sorel Quebec, the ship was commissioned 11 July 1942, paid off 6 November 1945, and sold to the Peruvian Navy in 1947, serving in that country until 1961 and then sold for scrap. The first PRESERVER was employed as a depot ship supporting the Fairmile motor launch flotillas operating off Canada's East Coast during the Battle of the Atlantic. As a depot ship she provided services required to maintain, supply and refuel the motor launches assigned to patrol coastal waters and escort local convoys. The Commanding Officer of PRESERVER controlled the operations of such flotillas, operating out of the bays and inlets of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
Today's PRESERVER was built by Saint John Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company and commissioned in St. John, NB on 7 August 1970. She is the third of three operational support ships built in Canada for the Canadian Navy and has now been in commission for forty-one years.
PRESERVER is an Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment vessel or AOR. Such ships are designed to carry large amounts of fuel, provisions, and dry stores for the support of naval operations far away from port. Replenishment oilers are also equipped with more extensive medical and dental facilities than destroyers and frigates can provide. Such combination of capabilities provides Canada with the ability to deploy naval forces for extensive periods, off our coasts or overseas, for the defense of Canada at home and in support of foreign policy abroad.
Following her commissioning in 1970, PRESERVER spent the next 20 years supporting Canadian ships and those of our NATO allies conducting operations in the Atlantic. Such operations were primarily focused on Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), seeking to deter Soviet forces and contributing to the larger strategy of containment until the Warsaw Pact eventually collapsed and the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991.
Hopes for a New World Order rapidly gave way to a New World "Disorder" in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Canadian Navy was called upon to change focus from the North Atlantic, sending ships and task groups to fight instability and re-establish security around the world. PRESERVER was at the heart of this increased tempo of operations, responding to crisis after crisis:
These deployments do not include the myriad of exercises conduct at home and abroad, with other government departments in Canada and military allies overseas, which constitute the bulk of the Force Generation effort required to keep our ships and sailors ready to fight and provide humanitarian assistance at such short notice. PRESERVER sailors have made individual contribution to numerous missions through years, serving on land alongside Army and Air Force personnel, on domestic operations in Canada and overseas.
PRESERVER has completed a year-long, $44.7 million refit March 2011, and is now working up to a high operational tempo. PRESERVER is once again the “Heart of the Fleet,” and stands ready to protect Canada at home and abroad.