HMCS BURRARD was the name given to the Naval Officer in Charge (NOIC) in Vancouver during the later half of the Second World War. BURRARD was created as a part of the reorganization of Pacific operations in 1942 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the outbreak of war in the Pacific. Before that the Commanding Officer Pacific Coast (COPC) handled the day-to-day administration of the dockyard at Esquimalt, BC. In the summer of 1942, Esquimalt and Vancouver were given separate NOICs, freeing the COPC to focus on other aspects of naval operations.

Between late 1942 and early 1943, military operations for all three services on the Pacific coast were centralized in a new Joint Services Headquarters. This was located at the existing RCAF Station Jericho Beach, outside Vancouver, BC. HMCS BURRARD was commissioned when the COPC and his staff moved into the new facility on 28 November 1942. This coordination between Army, Navy, and Air Force was a step towards the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces in the 1960s.

The role of the Navy on the Pacific coast was much smaller than that on the East Coast, which was engaged in the Battle of the Atlantic and support of the European war. The RCN on the West Coast was mainly focused on coastal defense and shipbuilding. The shipbuilding was never at the level of the East Coast yards, however, and there was never a real threat of Japanese invasion.

Defending the Pacific coast needed innovative solutions. That coast is full of tiny islands and inlets too small for a warship to patrol, even if the Navy hadn’t already planned on sending most of them to the Atlantic. The Fishermen’s Reserve, or the ‘Gumboot Navy’ had been set up before the war to help in this effort. While it was managed by the RCN, this organization was separate from the structure of the RCN and RCNVR. The Fishermen’s Reserve was made up of local sailors and fishermen who knew the coast. For the most part they used their own boats, and, later on, boats that had been taken from Japanese Canadians who had been forcibly moved away from the coasts.

BURRARD was paid off after the war when the RCN was reducing its shore establishments. Its duties were taken over by HMCS Discovery.

Commissioned : 28 November 1942 Paid off : 28 February 1946

By Editor