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NavSource Online: Submarine Chaser Photo Archives
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

Aztec (SP 590)


A Mexican Indian tribe who, in the 15th and early 16th centuries, ruled a large empire in what is now central and southern Mexico.

(Yacht: dp. 848:1. 260': b. 30'; dr. 8'; s. 12 k.; cpl. 96; a. 2 3", 2 mg.)
Aztec (SP 590), a steam yacht built in 1902 at Elizabethport, N.J. by the Lewis Nixon Co., was acquired by the Navy on a free lease basis from A. C. Burnage, on 29 June 1917; and placed in commission on 30 June 1917, Lt. Jason H. H. Milton in command. After undergoing extensive overhaul and repairs, Aztec was designated flagship of the 1st Naval District and stationed at Boston, Mass. In this role, the vessel made inspection tours of naval bases within the district. She also escorted submarines sailing from Boston to New London, Conn., and British troop ships steaming from Boston to Halifax, Nova Scotia. On one occasion, Aztec was called to the assistance of a foundering British transport. She lowered her boats and rescued several hundred troops from the ill-fated British ship. During the last three months of World War I, Aztec patrolled the Grand Banks off Newfoundland. On 24 December 1918, she proceeded to New York City and, on the 26th , with Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt on board, participated in a Fleet review honoring the American battleships returning from duty in European waters. Aztec continued serving in the 1st Naval District until she was placed out of commission on 15 March 1919. The ship was returned to her owner on 7 August 1919. After the death of her owner in 1931, the ship was laid up at Boston and remained there until purchased in early 1940 by Mr. T. H. P. Molson, Montreal, Canada, in order that she might be requisitioned for service in the Royal Canadian Navy. The ship was taken over by Canada on 28 May 1940 and fitted out for naval service at Halifax Shipyards Ltd. She was commissioned as HMCS Beaver in March 1941. For the next one and one-half years, Beaver served as an antisubmarine patrol and convoy escort vessel based at various times at Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia, and Saint John, New Brunswick. On 27 December 1942, she was reassigned to duty as a tender to HMCS Cornwallis, which was based at Halifax. In early 1943, Beaver was moved to Deep Brook, Nova Scotia. From 9 February until 24 June 1944, the ship underwent a refit at Halifax. At some point during this time, the Royal Canadian Navy decided to use Beaver as a transport for naval personnel between Halifax and St. John's, Newfoundland. She served in this capacity through late September, when serious defects caused the vessel to be placed in a dockyard at Halifax for repairs. In view of the condition of the ship and the war situation, the repair work was not carried out, and Beaver was paid off on 17 October 1944. The ship was declared surplus on 13 July 1945 and ultimately sold on 7 January 1946 to Mr. Wentworth N. MaeDonald, Sydney, Nova Scotia.

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