The Freighter Fort Camosun – Torpedoed Off the Coast of British Columbia

by John MacFarlane 2017

Fort Camosun

The Fort Camosun settled down to the waterline but kept afloat by her cargo of lumber. The Salvage Queen and a barge are alongside. (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection. )

A Japanese submarine, the IJNS I–25, was spotted off Langara Island by a number of individuals including the light keeper. The Fishermen’s Reserve vessel HMCS Moolock undertook a brief search but made no contact.

On June 7th, 1942 the IJNS I–26 (under Minoru Yakota) torpedoed the freighter Coast Trader outbound from Port Angeles WA to San Francisco. Survivors were rescued by the US fishing vessel Virginia I and HMCS Edmunston.

The IJNS I–25 (under Meiji Tagami) was running on the surface to recharge her batteries and just about 0230 on June 26th she fired one torpedo into the Fort Camosun. The crew abandoned ship in boats and as they left the ship two shells from the submarine’s deck gun hit the ship. The Japanese submarine broke off the attack fearing that aircraft would arrive.

The Fort Camosun sent a distress message but the closest naval vessels, HMCS Edmunston and HMCS Quesnel, were six hours steaming time away. At dawn the Fort Camosun was still afloat and on an even keel when the naval vessels arrived. HMCS Quesnel detected sonar signals and laid down a pattern of depth charges. HMCS Edmunston picked up two boatloads of survivors. She was joined by HMCS Vancouver and the USS Y–994 who unsuccessfully continued the search for the submarine.

Fort Camosun

HMCS Edmunston and another naval vessel moving the Fort Camosun to safety. (Photo from the MMBC collection. )

The Canadian tug boat Dauntless arrived with the USN tug Tatnuck to salvage the Fort Camosun which was still afloat. The tow was very difficult, and she was taken to Neah Bay for temporary repairs. The Canadian tug Canadian National No. 2 arrived and towed the Fort Camosun to the Graving Dock in Esquimalt Harbour.

Fort Camosun

The Fort Camosun in Esquimalt Harbour (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection. )

Fort Camosun

A view of the torpedo damage in the hull of Fort Camosun photographed in the Graving Dock. (Photo from the MMBC collection. )

The IJNS I–26 proceeded north to the entrance to Nootka Sound. The submarine’s commander was determined to destroy what he understood was a radar / radio direction finding installation that had been constructed at the Estevan Point Light Station. The deck gun crew opened fire but their shells landed wide of the intended target and instead fell around homes of the First Nations families living there.

To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2017) Fort Camosun – Torpedoed Off the Coast of British Columbia. 2017.

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