HMCS Avalon

There have been two establishments named Avalon in the Royal Canadian Navy.

Avalon (1st of name) / Shore Establishment

Avalon was the name given to the Headquarters Flag Officer that was a part of the independent Newfoundland Command set up in June of 1941. This command would eventually become a sub-command under the Commander in Chief Canadian Northwest Atlantic. Avalon was located at Buckmaster’s Field near St. John’s, NL. While this establishment was referred to as “HMCS Avalon,” it was never formally commissioned. It was instead set up as an independent accounting establishment. There were two harbour craft also named Avalon (HC 30 and HC 70) which served in St. John’s, as did the floating barracks Avalon II, which had been the passenger steamer Georgian. Kipawo also served as a tender to Avalon.

Newfoundland, which had not yet joined Confederation, was vital to Canadian defence planning. It had been agreed that Canada would provide fixed coast artillery defences and reinforce their army and air force on the island. In exchange they would be able to use the ports at St. John's and Botwood for examinations and a local coastal defence force. The British would also allow the United States to establish a base there, as well as in other British possessions in the western hemisphere. As the war went on, the routes of the Atlantic convoys were pushed further and further west. The British Admiralty decided to use St. John’s as a base for an escort force and not just for local defence, earning the port its place in the Battle of the Atlantic. The RCN designed and administered the new base facilities that were required for this change.

Avalon would be closed after the war, but the RCN would return to Newfoundland only six days after it formally became the tenth Canadian province on 31 March 1949.

HMCS Avalon (2nd of name) / Shore Establishment

HMCS Avalon was the Senior Naval Officer in Command (SNOIC) and, along with the reserve division HMCS Cabot, the naval component of the Joint Services Headquarters. Throughout its service, Avalon was one of the smallest RCN Shore Establishments, with only eight people assigned to her in early 1960.

HMCS Avalon was originally located at Buckmaster’s Field, the same site as the first Avalon. However, on 10 December 1962, HMCS Avalon moved to the former US base at Pepperrell, on Quidi Vidi Lake, near St. John’s, NL. She was closed less than a year and a half later.

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