HMCS Bras d’Or: Imagining a Faster Warship

This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.

Model Hydrofoil: Canadian War Museum 19801222-001

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Bras d’Or was developed by the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) for testing anti-submarine warfare technology on an ocean-going hydrofoil. A high-speed vessel, it could operate like a conventional ship, with its hull floating in the water, or travel on its wing-like foils, with its hull completely out of the water, at speeds of up to 60 knots (110 kilometres per hour).

The RCN hydrofoil project had its origins in the innovative ideas of Alexander Graham Bell, who designed and tested a hydrofoil in 1919 on Bras d’Or Lake, in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

The testing of the full-sized craft, which was designed and built in Canada, began in 1968, proving the feasibility of its highly innovative concept. However, the program was cancelled in 1971, due to high costs and changing defence priorities. This model of the Bras d’Or was originally meant for use in a test tank, to evaluate the ship’s design and performance.

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Canadian War Museum

The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history and one of the world’s most respected museums for the study and understanding of armed conflict.

The Museum traces its origins back to 1880, when it consisted primarily of a collection of militia artifacts. The Museum opened at its new location on the LeBreton Flats site in downtown Ottawa on May 8, 2005. Its opening not only marked the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe (V-E Day) but also the 125th anniversary of the Museum itself. Since its opening in 2005, the Museum has welcomed approximately 500,000 visitors every year.