Sailing Maggie Home
The Montreal Gazette, 11 April 1957
The Royal Canadian Navy is sailing the carrier Magnificent home to Britain. The carrier, on loan from the Royal Navy since 1948, is to be replaced by the new Bonaventure this year , a vessel which is wholly Canadian-owned. The Bonaventure was commissioned in January.
The story of the Magnificent is representative of Canada's military duties and emergencies during the cold war period. She was not Canada's first carrier, but her second, HMCS Warrior, commissioned in 1946, was operated by the RCN for 18 months. The Warrior, however, was not equipped for cold-weather operation and was returned to Britain when the "Maggie" became available early in 1948.
This was a time when the world was watching and listening to the "Battle of the Carriers" in the United States , where the American Air Force and Navy chiefs were fighting for the watered-down military appropriations of the time. There was some discussion in Canada along the same lines.
The issue was somewhat different in Canada. Here is was largely a discussion with the RCN itself, for Canada's single carrier required more than 10 percent of the RCN's manpower at the time and operating costs took some 19 percent of total appropriations.
It was quietly resolved that the Magnificent should continue in service. During the following years, her main function was training ship's crews and aircrews. Based in Halifax, she was sent to European waters during the Korean War. She engaged in many major NATO naval exercises and completed her service career as an emergency transport carrying Canadian equipment, supplies and troops to the United Nations Emergency Force in Egypt in January of this year.
The "Maggie" fired no shots, launched no aircraft in anger, but the seamen and the airmen who will man the Bonaventure will remember her fondly as the floating home and training field where they learned their professions.