Daily Archives: April 24, 2013

Quebec museum saves Cold-War submarine from the scrap heap

Onondaga

Just one step inside a unique museum at this St. Lawrence River port and that’s enough for some visitors.

That first step inside gives an immediate impression of what this museum is all about and that’s enough to make some people back out. Other visitors come with a toothbrush, their jammies and the excitement of staying overnight.

Both types of visitors learn what it is like to live and work in a submarine.

HMCS Onondaga patrolled below the North Atlantic for 36 years for the Canadian Navy and there was no life like it for the 70-man crew.

That's museum guide Alberic Gallant looking very much the role of a grizzled submariner at the back amidst ithe sub's diesel engines.

The museum guide Alberic Gallant looking very much the role of a grizzled submariner at the back amidst ithe sub’s diesel engines.

Now the general public can come aboard and experience that same life below the waves. The sub no longer dives below the surface. It has been hauled up on the south shore of The St. Lawrence River. But once those watertight doors are closed, you wouldn’t know the difference.

The Canadian Navy retired Onondaga in 2000 and planned to cut the sub into a half dozen pieces in Halifax, truck it up to Ottawa’s Canadian War Museum and stitch it back together again. The navy’s bean counters said that was too expensive and instead the submarine was to be sold for $60,000 as scrap metal.

But the people who operate a maritime museum in Rimouski decided one of the few Canadian vessels remaining from the Cold War should not end up as razor blades or subway rails.

They managed to put together nearly $5 million to buy the sub and tow it to Rimouski. It was one of the most harrowing voyages this sub ever made.  It had to ride out several late fall storms, which in its active days it would simply duck under.

The last 50 metres were the most dangerous. It rolled on its side as it road on a makeshift dolly up onto the beach.

But Rimouski seafarers have been handling ships since Champlain sailed by in 1608 and they were able to get Onondaga righted and secure its permanent berth.

Volunteers spent a cold winter inside the sub making it ship shape to open as Canada’s only submarine museum.

Visitors can wander through the vessel in 45 minutes escorted by dosun Alberic Gallant, who looks exactly what you’d expect a submariner to look like – but he’s an actor.

Or you can get a deeper impression of what it is like at sea in a sub by spending a night aboard. The overnight visitors duplicate the workday of a submariner.  They track surface ships by radar and sonar, they peer through the telescope at passing ships, or just check on their car in the parking lot.

One of the exercises includes learning how to escape a sub that is sitting incapacitated on the bottom – in water less than 1,000 feet deep.  Visitors wrestle their way into a survival suit, but they’re not required to climb into a tight chamber, inflate their suit with air, flood the chamber and then shoot up like a helium balloon to the surface.

Maurice Allard has done that during his 17 years as a Canadian Navy submariner, including six years on the Onondaga. Fortunately, he only had to do it in training sessions in Hawaii and in the Mediterranean.

Allard helped bring his former sub to Rimouski, worked on its restoration and he sits on the board of directors of the Pointe-au-Pere Maritime Museum.

He can tell stories about sitting quietly below Soviet spy ships stationed off the coast of Northern Ireland and going without hot food to avoid making any noise.

Sailors with claustrophobia didn’t go to sea in subs and visitors with the same affliction likely won’t roam through this museum. If you choose to stay overnight all the conversation and instructions are in French – plus, try to get a bunk amidst the torpedoes in the forward torpedo room. It’s the most spacious area in the vessel.

The Onondaga is the latest addition to Rimouski’s Pointe-au-Pere Maritime Museum.

Source – Canada dot com

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Royal Navy submarine HMS Alliance restoration under way – Video Clip

 

The restoration of a World War II submarine is expected to be completed next year.

HMS Alliance, based at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, Hampshire, is undergoing a £6.75m revamp.

The project, which was awarded £3.4m by the Heritage Lottery Fund, still has a shortfall of £200,000 and efforts continue to raise the cash.

Work on the 1940s submarine, which will be a memorial to 5,300 British submariners who gave their lives in service between 1904 and the present day, started in October 2011 and expected to finish in

ALLIANCE RENOVATION UPDATE – Video Clip

TAKEN FROM WIKIPEDIA

HMS Alliance is a Royal Navy A-class, Amphion-class or Acheron-class submarine, laid down towards the end of the Second World War and completed in 1947. The submarine is the only surviving example of the class, having been a memorial and museum ship since 1981.

The Amphion-class submarines were designed for use in the Far East, where the size of the Pacific Ocean made long range, high surface speed and relative comfort for the crew important features to allow for much larger patrol areas and longer periods at sea than British submarines operating in the Atlantic or Mediterranean had to contend with. Alliance was one of the seven A-class boats completed with a snort mast – the other boats all had masts fitted by 1949.

History

From 9 October 1947 until 8 November the submarine undertook a lengthy experimental cruise in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa to investigate the limits of the snort mast, remaining submerged for 30 days.

Between 1958 and 1960 Alliance was extensively modernised by having the deck gun and external torpedo tubes removed, the hull streamlined and the sail replaced with a larger (26 feet 6 inch high), more streamlined one constructed of aluminium. The purpose of these modifications was to make the submarine quieter and faster underwater. Following the modifications the wireless transmitting aerial was supported on a frame behind the sail; but was later replaced with a whip aerial on the starboard side of the fin which could be rotated hydraulically to a horizontal position.

The original gun access hatch was retained however, allowing Alliance to be equipped with a small calibre deck gun again when serving in the Far East during the Indonesian Confrontation of the earlier 1960s.

In May 1961 the pennant numbers of British submarines were changed so that all surviving submarines completed after the Second World War were now numbered from S01 upwards, and Alliance was given the number S67.

On or around 30 September 1971 a fatal battery explosion occurred on board, whilst at Portland.

From 1973 until 1979 she was the static training boat at the HMS Dolphin shore establishment, replacing HMS Tabard in this role. In August 1979, she was towed to Vosper Ship Repairers Limited’s yard at Southampton to have her keel strengthened so that she could be lifted out of the water and preserved as a memorial to those British submariners who have died in service. Since 1981 the submarine has been a museum ship, raised out of the water and on display at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport.

Damage to the stern of Alliance in 2008

 

Although listed on the National Historic Fleet, Core Collection, in recent years as many as 100 pigeons have been nesting in the submarine, causing extensive corrosive damage. She also sits on cradles over sea water, adding to problems of corrosion and preventing easy and economical maintenance to her exterior. Urgent restoration work is required to save the boat, and a major restoration program is underway, which includes reclaiming land beneath HMS Alliance using a cofferdam and backfill. This will also provide easy access for future maintenance and new viewing platforms for visitors, additionally opening up the conning tower and casing. A new HMS Alliance gallery is also part of the project to help ensure visitors fully appreciate the significance of this submarine and what she represents. It was announced on 30 May 2011 that HMS Alliance would share in a £11 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant. Alliance will receive £3.4 million to repair her bow and stern and address extensive surface corrosion.

HMS Alliance on display at Royal Navy Submarine Museum
Career Royal Navy Ensign
Ordered: 1943 Emergency war programme
Builder: Vickers Armstrong, Barrow-in-Furness
Laid down: 13 March 1945
Launched: 28 July 1945
Commissioned: 14 May 1947
Decommissioned: 1973, static training boat until August 1979
Identification: Pennant number: P147 (S67 from 1961)
Fate: Museum ship/memorial since 1981 at Royal Navy Submarine Museum
General characteristics
Displacement: 1,360/1,590 tons (surface/submerged) 1,385/1,620 tons after streamlining
Length: 281 ft 4.75 in (85.7695 m)
Beam: 22 ft 3 in (6.78 m)
Draught: 17 ft (5.2 m)
Propulsion: Two 2,150 hp (at 450 rpm) supercharged Vickers 8-cylinder diesel engine, Two 625 hp electric motors for use underwater, driving two shafts
Speed: 18.5/8 knots (surface/submerged) 18.5/10 knots after streamlining
Range: 10,500 nautical miles (19,400 km) at 11 knots (20 km/h) surfaced 16 nautical miles (30 km) at 8 knots (15 km/h) submerged 90 nautical miles (170 km) at 3 knots (6 km/h) submerged
Endurance: 36 hours submerged at 2.5 knots
Test depth: 500 ft (150 m)
Complement: 5 officers, 56 ratings (63 ratings after modernisation in 1960)
Armament: Six 21-inch bow torpedo tubes (including 2 external dry close fit) Four 21-inch stern torpedo tubes (including 2 external dry close fit) 20 torpedoes carried (externals could not be reloaded at sea) Mark V mines could be launched from the internal tubes External tubes removed during streamlining/modernisation. One QF 4 inch Mark XXIII deck gun on S2 mounting One 20 mm AA Oerlikon 20 mm gun on Mark VII mounting Submarine was briefly fitted with a twin Oerlikon on Mark 12A mounting. All guns removed during streamlining/modernisation.

Source – BBC News, Wikipedia, Youtube