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Halifax says goodbye to HMCS Athabaskan as Canada’s last destroyer heads to scrap heap

Family, veterans, and dignitaries watch as the HMCS Athabaskan makes its final sail in the Halifax Harbour during the ship's paying off ceremony in Halifax on Friday, March 10, 2017.
Family, veterans, and dignitaries watch as the HMCS Athabaskan makes its final sail in the Halifax Harbour during the ship's paying off ceremony in Halifax on Friday, March 10, 2017. Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press

Canada’s last Cold War-era destroyer was towed out of Halifax harbour Thursday, headed for Cape Breton where it will be scrapped.

Athabaskan, flanked by tugboats as it left the harbour that was its home port for almost 45 years, will be recycled by Marine Recycling Corporation in Sydney.

READ MORE: Canada issues tender for disposal of country’s last destroyer

The 129-metre warship was one of Canada’s largest fighting ships, built for operations in the North Atlantic as a helicopter-carrying submarine hunter with a crew of more than 250.

Commissioned in September 1972, the ship was decommissioned or “paid off” last March after a final tour around the harbour, which featured several thunderous blasts from its main gun.

The Iroquois-class ship was deployed during the first Gulf War in 1990, delivered aid after Hurricane Katrina in 2006 and Haiti’s 2010 earthquake.

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WATCH: HMCS Athabaskan wraps up a 44 year career serving Canada

Click to play video 'HMCS Athabaskan wraps up a 44 year career serving Canada' HMCS Athabaskan wraps up a 44 year career serving Canada
HMCS Athabaskan wraps up a 44 year career serving Canada – Mar 8, 2017

It was also dispatched to handle fisheries and sovereignty patrols, as well as missions to fulfil Canada’s NATO obligations under the ship’s motto “We Fight As One.”

A new class of 15 combat ships is to replace Canada’s destroyers – there were four – and its 12 Halifax-class frigates.