Daily Archives: December 12, 2012

Canadian Submarine arrives at military museum

HMCS Ojibwa is nearly home.

McKeilSub-322 crop//

 

Home, for the last of Canada’s Oberon class submarines, is the Elgin Military Museum in Port Burwell, Ontario on the north shore of Lake Erie.

When it was decommissioned from the Royal Canadian Navy in 1998, the vessel was destined to be scrapped, but a movement to save the ship resulted in it becoming the property of the museum. The plan is for the museum to turn the HMCS Ojibwa into a land-based historical artifact located next to the Elgin Military Museum of Naval History—a submarine interpretation centre—and now that plan is entering its final stage.

The sub arrived at the port November 27th. It was originally scheduled to have arrived the week before, but ongoing dredging work at the port proved insufficient to provide clearance for the sub and the barge that carried it from Hamilton, Ontario. With the work complete, and an obstruction (believed to be an old seawall) cleared, the barge and sub were free to dock.

On November 28th, 2012 the sub is to be lifted off the barge and placed into the concrete cradles that will be its permanent home.

Heavy lift and transport company Mammoet Canada Eastern Ltd and Heddle Marine will work together to carefully shift the weight of the submarine from the barge using 48 axle-lines of self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs).

The SPMT trailers will be assembled and rolled onto the barge using ramps, which will provide the transition between the barge and the shore.

On the barge, the SPMTs are positioned under the transportation stands and the submarine is then hydraulically elevated. When the submarine is secure, the roll-off procedure will use a ballast plan that consists of filling the barge compartments with water as needed to maintain a level position and avoid undue stress on the barge and submarine.

Once it has been successfully rolled off the barge, HMCS Ojibwa will be transported to its final resting place and positioned onto its permanent mount at the museum.

The submarine has spent the past few months making its last voyage from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Port Burwell, with a stop in Hamilton where it underwent some refurbishing.

“Ojibwa presented a unique opportunity to bring the story of Canada’s role in the cold war and our entire rich naval history to central Canada. She began her service in the height of the Cold War earning herself a proud place in Canadian history,” says Ian Raven, executive director of the Elgin Military Museum.

“Many people will be surprised to learn what a key role Canadian O-boats played in the Cold War undertaking dangerous covert missions and shadowing Soviet nuclear submarines.”

The Ojibwa is the second Canadian submarine to be turned into a museum exhibit. The HMCS Onondaga is an Oberon-class (as is the Ojibway) sub that now resides at the Site historique maritime de la Pointe-au-Père in Rimouski, Quebec, and is open to the public.

 Source – Canadian Manufacturing

 

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Navy submariner faces jail over Official Secrets Act

Edward Devenney

Devenney was arrested in Plymouth back in March

A navy submariner who offered to hand over secrets to MI5 agents posing as Russian spies had been passed over for promotion, a court has heard.

Petty Officer Edward Devenney, 30, originally from County Tyrone, admitted breaching the Official Secrets Act by collecting classified coding material.

He gathered details of “crypto material” useful to the UK’s enemies.

He also admitted a charge of misconduct in a public office. He will be sentenced later.

The court has been told Devenney, who was arrested in Plymouth in March, had been passed over for promotion because of defence cuts and was on the verge of being fired.

Devenney, who lived in Barnstaple, Devon, was a communications engineer on nuclear sub HMS Vigilant when he rang the Russian Embassy in November 2011.

According to the Royal Navy website HMS Vigilant, one of four submarines, equipped with Trident nuclear missiles, was launched in 1995. She recently underwent a £300m upgrade and was in dock at Devonport at the time of the offence.

‘Betrayal’

Devenney also offered details of HMS Vigilant’s movements, including plans to sail to its base at Faslane on the Firth of Clyde and then to the United States for nuclear missile testing.

Analysis

The story of Edward Devenney’s attempted betrayal sounds like it comes from the pages of a John le Carre thriller but it raises important security issues.

It is true that he was caught by MI5 without actually passing on any secret information to another country.

But the fact he was able to gather this information aboard a nuclear submarine is worrying. He was able to photograph code material held in a locked safe which he was not supposed to have unrestricted access to.

And when arrested he was found with a spare key for the secure communications room which he was not supposed to have.

There may also be questions as to why, given that he clearly was having problems in the Navy, he had access to sensitive areas.

Mark Dennis QC, prosecuting, said his fellow submariners felt what he had done was a “betrayal of the secrecy, loyalty and trust”.

At the time of the offence Devenney was drinking heavily, suffered bouts of depression and had just been cleared of rape, the Old Bailey heard.

He asked for his training course for promotion to be deferred for a year but he was warned he faced the sack after prolonged absences without leave, the court heard.

The MI5 agents recorded meetings at various venues, including the British Museum, in which he said he was angry with the Navy and did not want payment for the crypto material – programmes used to encrypt secret data.

At one point he told one of them: “Your accent sounds remarkably fake and like British intelligence.”

Mr Dennis said: “The potential damage could have been considerable and could have harmed the safety and security of the United Kingdom.”

The BBC’s security correspondent Gordon Corera said the case had gone into a secret session to assess the potential harm to national security; sentencing is due around lunchtime on Wednesday.

Devenney was charged under the Official Secrets Act for collecting information for a purpose “prejudicial to the safety or interests of the state” between 18 November 2011 and 7 March 2012.

HMS Vigilant sailing into Plymouth: Pic Royal Navy
Devenney was a communications engineer on HMS Vigilant at the time of his arrest

He contacted the Russian embassy on his girlfriend’s mobile phone in an attempt to pass on information on the operation of HMS Trafalgar and two other nuclear submarines.

Devenney denied a second charge under the Official Secrets Act of communicating information to another person. This will not be pursued by prosecutors as no secret information was passed on.

Mr Dennis said he had security clearance to go into a room where secret material was kept in a safe.

He was not authorised to open the safe but managed to take three pictures on his mobile phone which showed secret information which held “the essential piece of the jigsaw” to encrypted material, the court heard.

Devenney transferred the pictures to his laptop – hidden in a folder called The Falklands War – but was arrested before he could pass them on.

If the data had been handed over it might have enabled a foreign power to set up an operation to capture the unique acoustic signature of the submarine – meaning it would lose its ability to move secretly underwater, Mr Dennis said.

He said: “The threat posed by Devenney’s actions was simple. If he had passed on information of the movements of a sub, then a foreign power would have been able to track it and capture its acoustic signature – the sound wave it leaves in the ocean.

“Each sub has its own sound which is effectively like a fingerprint – hear it once and you can identify that sub forever – and that means the nuclear deterrent provided by hidden submarines would be completely compromised.”

Source – BBC

Submarine Highway’ tells of a County Louth fishing trawler sunk by a British submarine in 1982

‘Submarine Highway’ airs on Newstalk on December 22nd at 7am-8am

During this period of the Cold war and Falklands war the Irish Sea was nicknamed ‘Submarine Highway’. Many fishermen lost their lives due to submarines getting caught in their nets. In many cases the submarines did not submerge to save those on the trawlers, but continued to dive so as not to reveal their position.

This is what happened in the case of The Sharelga. The crew which consisted of skipper Raymond McAvoy, his brother Billy McAvoy, his Uncle Noel Kirwin, brother in law Micky Kelly and non-family member Gabriel Hesnan set off to fish for prawns in April 1982. Their boat suddenly stalled and was dragged backwards. Within fifteen minutes the boat had capsized and the men almost drowned.

Only that the incident occurred during the day, the sea was calm and there were other boats in the area at the time, the men believe they would have lost their lives.

Luckily however all five crew members survived the incident and it was for that reason the illegal activities of submarines in the Irish Sea was highlighted.

They were rescued by other boats in the vicinity but had lost their livelihood in a matter of minutes.

The photo features l-r Gabriel Hesnan, documentary maker Mark Hogan and skipper Raymond McAvoy on the right with the life ring that was used during the incident.

The sinking of the Sharelga caused financial devastation for the crew and thirty years on they remain bitter at how they were treated by both the Irish and British governments.

It took almost two weeks for the British Navy to admit liability and four years later the crew received compensation in a Belfast court. The compensation however as Raymond McAvoy puts it “didn’t even match half of what he paid for the boat”.

The documentary features the crew of the Sharelga, skipper Raymond’s wife Barbara McAvoy, Naval affairs expert Pat Sweeney and ex Finanna Fáil TD Hugh Byrne who raised the issue in the Dáil on many occasions.

Submarine Highway will open people’s eyes in to what was going on beneath the Irish Sea during this period. As people got on with their daily lives a new danger lay in the ocean for our fishermen. A nuclear accident was also waiting to happen as submarines from Britain, the USA, Russia and other nations staked each other out under the surface.

Submarine Highway was made and produced by Mike Hogan.

‘Submarine Highway’ airs on Newstalk 106-108 fm on December 22nd at 7am-8am

Source – NewsTalk

Collins Class submarines set for a longer life

 

Stephen Smith

Defence Minister Stephen Smith, visiting a shipbuilding yard in Adelaide, says the Collins Class submarines could keep operating until 2038.

THE life of the navy’s Collins Class submarines may be extended to 2038, with the federal government claiming the boats’ performance can be significantly improved within three years to meet new performance targets.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith released the second part of the Coles report in Adelaide today, which concludes that achieving “acceptable availability and reliability” of the Collins fleet can be achieved by 2016.

Mr Smith said that extending the life of the notoriously problematic boats would not delay the building of the navy’s new submarine fleet, which is slated to begin service in 2036.

“There is nothing in the reports today which would cause us to put off the build of the future submarine program,” Mr Smith said at the ASC shipbuilding yard in Port Adelaide.

“On the contrary, there is a lot of information in the Coles review which will be of assistance to our decisions on the future submarine program.”

Mr Smith said a final decision on which submarine option Defence would choose for the new fleet would be made by 2017, but dismissed criticism of a potential $36 billion cost for an Australian built and designed fleet.

“We continue to exhaustively assess all of the options – all of the options are an off-the-shelf submarine, an off-the-shelf submarine modified, a derivative of the Collinsor a brand new design,” he said.

“The only option we have ruled out is a nuclear-powered option.”

The potential to extend the life of the Collins Class boats for an additional seven-year operating cycle would mean that the ageing vessels would be available to the navy through from 2031 until 2038.

However Mr Smith cautioned that the potential extended lifespan was a finding “on paper”.

“I say on paper because by that time we will be dealing with an ageing platform or an ageing submarine.”

“(But) it gives us confidence that we can do the work on the future submarine program and not have a gap in capability,” he said.

The second part of the Coles Review, which was received by the government in June, recommends new availability targets for the six-boat fleet, which would ensure two submarines are available 100 per cent of the time, three submarines available 90 per cent of the time, and four submarines available 50 per cent of the time.

The review includes 25 recommendations for meeting the new availability targets and says that previous expectations for availability had been overly optimistic.

“The performance of Collins Class submarines can be substantially improved,” Mr Smith said.

“Once the Collins is in the water, it is a very good and effective submarine, what we need to do is get it in the water on a more regular basis.”

Mr Smith said Adelaide-based ASC, which was allocated an additional $700 million in May this year to sustain the Collins Class submarines, would be able to meet the new availability targets with its current resources.

The government also announced today that a future submarine land-based test site would be built in Adelaide at an approximate cost of $100 million to test systems for the future submarines.

However, Mr Smith said the government was still working through the details for the project’s funding, which would be found within the existing Defence budget.

Source – The Australian