HMC ML Q054 was a wooden Canadian-built Fairmile B Motor Launch (ML) upgunned submarine chaser delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) on 17 October 1941.[1] Originally designed for the Royal Navy by W.J. Holt of the British Admiralty and built by British boatbuilder Fairmile Marine, during the Second World War eighty Fairmile B motor launches were built in Canada for service with the Coastal Forces of the RCN.[2]


Built of double mahogany (diagonally) with an eight-inch oak keel and based on a line of destroyer hulls, the Fairmiles arrived in prefabricated kits to be assembled for the RCN by thirteen different boatyards.[3] In contrast to the British built boats, the Canadian Fairmiles were narrower, had a greater draught, and were slightly more powerful giving the Canadian boats a two knot speed advantage over the British boats.[4] With a fuel capacity of 2,320 gallons of 87 octane gasoline, the early Fairmiles (Q050 to Q111) were powered by two 650 hp engines, could reach a top speed of 20 knots (max), 16.5 knots sea speed and a range of 1925 miles at 7.5 knots. Later versions (Q112 to Q129) were fitted with larger 700 hp engines able to achieve a top speed to 22 knots (max), with a range of 1925 miles at 7.5 knots.[5][6][4] Crewed by two or three officers and fourteen sailors, accommodation on the Fairmiles was thought to be "cramped but comfortable".[5]

Another unique design feature of the Fairmile B was that with forty-eight hours notice each boat could be reconfigured to serve in a different role. Fitted with steel strips and tapped holes to ease equipment swaps, weapons and specialist gear such as torpedo tubes, mines, depth charges, and guns could be quickly stripped and attached to the boat.[7] In two days, a Fairmile could have it's weapons and equipment reconfigured to serve as an escort, minesweeper, minelayer, navigation leader, coastal raider, patrol boat, ambulance or rescue launch.[7] "Armament consisted of three 20mm Oerlikon guns, mounted forward, aft and amidships; two .303 machine-guns; one 9mm Sten gun; two .303 rifles; three .45 revolvers; and 20 depth-charges of 300 Ibs each, including eight fitted for the "Y" gun. Each boat was equipped with sonar, radar and WIT."[5]

The first thirty-six Canadian Fairmile B type were designated and painted up as CML 01-36 (Coastal Motor Launch).[6]

Although listed as being built by Greavette Boats Ltd. of Gravenhurst, Ontario, Q054 along with Q055, and Q056 which were subcontracted and commissioned at Sachau Marine Construction Limited at Humber Bay, Mimico.[8][9]

Fairmile Flotillas

Affectionately known as The Little Ships, Little Fighting Ships or Q-Boats by their crews, during the Second World War the Fairmile B Motor Launches of the RCN played a vital role escorting shipping along the St. Lawrence River, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and between Newfoundland and the mainland of Canada. Regularly deployed in flotillas of six The Little Ships relieved larger escort craft urgently needed elsewhere by carrying out anti-submarine patrols, port defence and rescue duties.[10][11] Based out of shore establishments on the St. Lawrence River, Halifax, Saint John, Shelburne, Sydney and on the West Coast; at sea the RCN Fairmile Fleets were accompanied by two "mother ships" HMCS Preserver (F94) and HMCS Provider (F100) providing fresh water, fuel and medical services.[12]

Operational history

While she flew the White Ensign, Q054 was not a commissioned ship, but rather listed as a tender to escort depot ship HMCS Sambro.[13][14] In December 1944, ML Q054 was listed as part of the RCN North-West Atlantic Command Gaspé Force (Administered by N.O. i/c., Gaspé), 71st Motor Launch Flotilla.[15] After the Second World War she sold as surplus and sold by the War Assets Corporation (WAC) to Capt. E.J. Weaber c/o Marine Industries Ltd. Sorel (MIL), Sorel.[16]

Commanding officers

  • Sub/Lt D.D. Morin, RCNVR – 17 Sep 1941 to ?? Dec 1941
  • Lt Samuel Owen Greening, RCNVR – 24 Mar 1942 to 30 Mar 1942
  • Lt Dudley Gawen King, RCNVR – 19 Apr 1942 to 29 Jun 1942
  • Lt William Campbell Rigney, RCNVR – 29 Jun 1942 to 10 Oct 1942
  • Lt Arthur Drysdale Stairs, RCNVR – 11 Oct 1942 to 1 Nov 1942
  • Lt W.C. Rigney, RCNVR – 2 Nov 1942 to 27 Mar 1943
  • Lt Howard Frederick Bartram, RCNVR – 22 Jul 1943 to 13 Apr 1944
  • Lt Charles Nesbit Blagrave, RCNVR – 14 Apr 1944 to 6 Dec 1944

See Also

  • Coastal Forces of the Royal Canadian Navy
  • Canadian Fairmile B Motor Launch
  • Fairmile B Motor Launch


  1. ^ "RCN ML Q054". Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  2. ^ " Fairmile Type B Motor Launch". Retrieved 2020-01-02.
  3. ^ "Steam Community :: Guide :: The Fairmile B Motor Launch". Retrieved 2020-01-03.
  4. ^ a b "Radio Research Paper - Fairmile Radio Fit". Retrieved 2020-01-04.
  5. ^ a b c Heenan, RCNR (Ret), Captain Joseph A. (1 February 1962). "The Little Ships" (PDF). The Crowsnest. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  6. ^ a b Lambert and Ross, John and Al (1990). Allied Coastal Forces of World War II Vol 1: Fairmile designs and US submarine chasers. Conway Maritime Press. pp. 77–78. ISBN 0-85177-519-5.
  7. ^ a b " Fairmile Type B Motor Launch". Retrieved 2020-01-02.
  8. ^ Pritchard, James (2011-05-20). A Bridge of Ships: Canadian Shipbuilding during the Second World War. McGill-Queen's Press – MQUP. ISBN 978-0-7735-8561-4.
  9. ^ "Where Did the RCN Motor Launches Get To?". Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  10. ^ "Fairmile Motor Launch". Juno Beach Centre. 2014-04-01. Retrieved 2020-01-02.
  11. ^ "Naval Museum of Manitoba - Canadian Naval History". Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  12. ^ "Radio Research Paper - Fairmile Radio Fit". Retrieved 2020-01-05.
  13. ^ "Fairmiles of the Royal Canadian Navy » —Q050 to Q059". Retrieved 2020-01-02.
  14. ^ "RCN ML Q051". Retrieved 2020-01-02.
  15. ^ Navy, Royal (16 December 1944). "Red List" (Part II) Minor War Vessels Abroad. Operations Division Naval Staff Admiralty. pp. 57–61.CS1 maint: location (link)
  16. ^ "Fairmiles of the Royal Canadian Navy » —Q050 to Q059". Retrieved 2020-01-14.

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