HMS Crusader was built at the Portsmouth, Hampshire, naval dockyard in England and commissioned in 1932. In 1938 she was re-commissioned as HMCS Ottawa, a River class destroyer with a crew of 180. On 19401106, working with the Royal Navy’s HMS Harvester, the Ottawa helped to sink the Italian submarine Commandante Faa’ Di Bruno in the north Atlantic. Although the kill was not confirmed until after the war, it was in fact the first submarine sinking in which the Royal Canadian Navy had played a part.
Not quite two years later HMCS Ottawa was leading convoy ON-127 between Londonderry and Newfoundland when she was struck in the bow by a torpedo from U91. Fifteen minutes later a second torpedo amidships broke her in two and sent her to the bottom, 19420913. Just 69 men were saved. There were 141 lost, including crew and survivors of other ships, among them GK Campbell, RD Chisholm, A Douglas, JA Fisher, HJ Gallagher, KG Heiberg, EI Holmes, WED Hunt, N Kostenko, CH Madole, MH McKechnie and CL Simons.
The sinking of the Ottawa was the low point in the submarine war. Of the 37 ships in her convoy, seven besides the Ottawa were sunk and four more heavily damaged, yet not a single one of the dozen or so U-boats in the area were even scratched. In the months to come huge investments in new technology and better management of resources gradually turned the tide.