Tag Archives: HMCS Victoria

Canada’s submarine fleet needs to start from scratch


By the time Canada's submarines are ready for duty, they'll be due for retirement.

By the time Canada’s submarines are ready for duty, they’ll be due for retirement.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay blames the Liberals for Canada’s troubled fleet of second-hand Victoria-class submarines. It was the Liberals who purchased the four British-made vessels for the suspiciously low price of $750-million in 1998. Yet it was none other than MacKay himself who, 10 years later, persuaded his Conservative colleagues not to scrap them. It was MacKay who signed taxpayers up for another $1.5-billion worth of refits and repairs, thereby throwing good money after bad.

It was apparent long before 2008 that the submarines were deeply flawed. The diesel engines were designed for railroad locomotives and not the rapid stops and starts required of submarines. There were defects in the torpedo tubes, making it possible for both the inner and outer doors to be open at the same time, even while the subs were submerged. The subs were mothballed in saltwater for four years before Canada bought them, and years more before we took possession. They suffered serious corrosion — the diving depth of HMCS Windsor is now restricted due to rust damage on the hull.

Shortly after Canada took possession, 1,500 litres of saltwater spilled into HMCS Corner Brook because of a malfunctioning Submerged Signal Ejector — a device that is used to deploy decoys while submerged. HMCS Victoria experienced serious problems with its cooling system. And a deadly fire broke out on HMCS Chicoutimi when seawater entering through an open hatch caused an electrical short in wiring that had just one layer of waterproof sealant, instead of the three layers the construction specifications had required. In 2004, the electrical system on Victoria was destroyed when the submarine was hooked up to an on-shore electric supply. The Halifax Chronicle Herald reported that the Navy spent about $200,000 after the accident “to buy old technology that mirrors what the sub’s British builders used” – equipment that one of the Navy’s own “electrical technologists” said “probably goes back to the ‘60s.”

In 2007, Windsor entered a refit that was supposed to take three years but ended up taking six. Documents obtained by the CBC later explained that every system had major problems. Spare parts are also difficult to obtain.

It was in this context that MacKay pushed for the $1.5-billion refit and repair contract, a move rendered all the more perplexing by the fact that, by 2008, the submarines were already between 15-19 years old. This meant that the most one could hope for from the vessels, after their refits, was a single decade of service.

Chicoutimi has been out of the water since the fire in 2004, and will remain in dry dock until at least the end of this year

Which is not very long when you consider that, for the same amount of money, Canada could have procured between 3-4 brand new diesel-electric submarines based on proven designs from France or Germany.

Today, five years after the $1.5-billion contract, MacKay insists the situation is improving. Which is true, if going from horrendous to bad counts as an improvement. Corner Brook was damaged in an accident in 2011 and put out of action until 2012. It is scheduled to return to dry dock for three years in 2014. In December 2012, a defect was discovered in one of Windsor’s two diesel engines, which resulted in the submarine having to operate on just one engine. This put the sub on limited duty. She will be taken out of service later this year so that the engine can be replaced. Chicoutimi has been out of the water since the fire in 2004, and will remain in dry dock until at least the end of this year. Victoria, which emerged from six years in dry dock in 2011, is scheduled to return there for three years in 2016.

According to the Department of National Defence, Canada’s four Victoria-class submarines have accumulated a total of just 1,131 days at sea in the decade since 2003 — about 30 days per submarine per year. It’s time to stop throwing good money after bad. If Canada wants to maintain this capability, we need to start from scratch.

Source – National Post

Explore HMCS Victoria, submarine docked at Canada Place – Video Clip

The Canadian Maritime Force has four Victoria class diesel-electric submarines, formerly Upholder Class submarines of the UK Royal Navy.

The Canadian Maritime Force has four Victoria class diesel-electric submarines, formerly Upholder Class submarines of the UK Royal Navy.

Click on picture for video

HMCS VICTORIA’s displacement  is approximately 2,200 tons surfaced and 2,400 tons submerged.

Covered in  anechoic tiles to reduce her detection by active SONAR, HMCS VICTORIA is 70.3  meters long, 7.6 meters across the beam and has a deep diving depth in excess of  200 meters.

The main hull is constructed of high tensile steel sections  stiffened by circular internal frames. Equipment located outside the main hull  is covered by the Casing, which also gives the crew a safe walkway when the  submarine is surfaced.

The Fin, which helps support the masts, serves as a kind  of keel and provides a raised conning position.

HMCS VICTORIA has six torpedo  tubes and can carry up to eighteen Mark 48 Mod 4 heavyweight torpedoes for use  against surface and sub-surface targets. She is also capable of carrying  sub-harpoon missiles and laying mines.

HMCS VICTORIA’s SONAR sets allow her to  locate and track ships and other submarines “passively”, that is without  transmitting on active sonar and thus giving way her location.

HMCS VICTORIA is  fitted with RADAR for general navigation, attack and search periscopes  (incorporating video recording and thermal imaging), and an Electronic Support  Measures suite.

HMCS VICTORIA has two diesel generators, each capable of  producing up to 1,410 kilowatts, and one main motor. The generators are used to  charge two main batteries, each consisting of 240 battery cells. These batteries  are used to power the submarine, which can reach a submerged speed of up to 20  knots.

The HMCS Victoria is one of several Canadian navy vessels anchoring in  Vancouver this weekend.

The long-range hunter-killer submarine will be docked at Canada Place until  Sunday, along with the HMCS Algonquin, a destroyer.

While the Algonquin is open to the public, who can enter the ship and meet  the crew, the Victoria is not. But you can take a tour in this video.

The Victoria, decommissioned in 1994, is 70.3 meters long, 7.6 meters across  the beam, and has a deep diving depth in excess of 200 meters. It has a crew of  280. It also has six torpedo tubes and can carry up to eighteen heavyweight  torpedoes for use against surface and sub-surface targets. The Victoria is also  capable of laying mines. The submarine can reach a submerged speed of up to 20  knots.

Source – Vancouver Sun

Submarines ready to enter Royal Canadian Navy fleet

RIMPAC 2012 off Hawaii marks the first overseas deployment of the submarine HMCS Victoria

RIMPAC 2012 off Hawaii marks the first overseas deployment of the submarine HMCS Victoria

TORONTO – Run silent, run deep.

In a matter of weeks the Royal Canadian Navy will have three submarines ready to do just that.

The fourth will be in dry dock and not released until 2015.

These conventional diesel-electric boats were all purchased second  hand from Britain in 1998 and transferred to the RCN at an initial cost  of  $750 million.

Years of controversy and refit followed before last year’s historic  visit by HMCS Victoria to the RIMPAC exercises off Hawaii. That passage  culminated in its firing an MK 48 heavyweight torpedo and sinking the  decommissioned transport USNS Concord.

News that HMCS Victoria is to be joined by its sisters is welcome for  the defence establishment. For critics — of which there are many — it  is just another chapter in a convoluted tale of mismatched procurement  meeting ill-defined strategic needs.

The Canadian taxpayer has been left to pick up the now estimated $3  billion (and rising) tab prompting the question: does the RCN even need  to stay in the submarine business?

It’s in good company if it does.

Across the Pacific Rim, alone, countries as far apart as South Korea  and Australia, Indonesia and Japan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia and  Singapore operate conventional submarines.

Further afield Bangladesh is acquiring its first submarines to boost  its naval power in the Bay of Bengal while India operates 14 boats,  including a nuclear-powered attack submarine leased from Russia.

All are used for sea-lane security in a variety of scenarios  including clandestine work delivering special forces operators in  shallow coastal waters.

Still, those tasks should be viewed through an entirely different  geo/strategic setting to that of Canada’s, cautions Steven Staples,  president of the Rideau Institute, a defence and foreign policy  think-tank in Ottawa.

He acknowledges the growing submarine capabilities in other parts of  the globe but maintains Canada is historically not in the trade of  long-range power projection.

“We live in a self-evidently different neighbourhood to Asia,”  Staples said, “and our submarines are more coastal. They were designed  to sit on the sea floor during the Cold War to watch and listen for  Soviet fleet activity.

“There is a strong argument against whether we need them at all. The  three Oberon class boats that preceded the current subs were mostly used  to provide opposition training for the U.S. Navy.

“We may well find the new boats doing that as well. That’s a pretty expensive way to stay friends with an ally.”

Sitting, watching and listening. Three things non-nuclear submarines excel at.

Surely with increased shipping activity in the Arctic thanks to  receding pack ice and more and bigger ships transiting the route for a  short-cut to Europe, doesn’t it make sense for Canada to have eyes and  ears monitoring a potentially ice free Northwest Passage?

“Well, it would help if they were ever fully operational, put it that  way” Staples said. “If they could dive without hitting the ocean floor  or even remember to close hatches before submerging.

“Look, I just don’t think this project has been worth the money and  the time spent to deliver a marginal capability. I wouldn’t call it a  textbook case of how Canada should NOT go about procuring extremely  complicated defence equipment because, sadly, there are other contenders  for that title.”

If Canada eventually embraces the “use ‘em if you’ve got ‘em”  doctrine, they might want to look at what Australia did with its six  Oberon-class diesel-electric boats during the last decades of the Cold  War.

The Royal Australian Navy conducted perilous intelligence-gathering  operations off the coasts of Vietnam, Indonesia, China and India as part  of an American-led effort to check the Soviet Navy’s formidable fleet.

Between 1978 and 1992 Australian submarines would secretly track Soviet ships as they transited the South China Sea.

There were 16 patrols in all.

In one case an Australian boat famously trailed a new Soviet frigate  all the way to the entrance of Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay naval base and  photographed its hull shape, propellers, weapons systems and sonar. All  undetected despite being just being 1.8-metres from the frigate’s hull  at one stage.

Difficult but not impossible to replicate in Arctic waters if RCN  submariners ever get the call to covertly see just who is using the  trans-polar shipping route. And why.

Source – Sun News Network


‘Freakiest thing’: Hunter-killer class submarine spotted in Howe Sound – Video Clip

News title suggests “Hunter-killer” Not me…!!!

John Buchanan of the Squamish Environmental Society filmed HMCS Victoria, a military submarine, after spotting it near Anvil Island from the Sea-to-Sky Highway on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013.

West Vancouver residents looking out on Howe Sound over the weekend may have seen a 2,500-tonne steel leviathan emerge from the water just off Anvil Island.

The Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Victoria, a hunter-killer class submarine, surfaced in Howe Sound Friday afternoon as part of a training exercise in the area.

The Victoria was spotted by John Buchanan, caretaker with the Squamish Environmental Society, as he made his way down the Sea-to-Sky Highway.

“It was just the freakiest thing. I’ve never seen a submarine before in my life,” Buchanan said. “I looked over at Anvil Island and there’s this bloody submarine. This thing is huge, eh?”

Buchanan pulled over to shoot pictures and video of the rare sighting. No one in Buchanan’s circle could remember any other instances of a submarine coming into Howe Sound in the past, he said.

As a conservationist, Buchanan said he has some concerns with military activity in Howe Sound, but not enough to sound a red alert.

“I don’t want them out there every day with their sonar, do I?” he said. “But I don’t know enough about them to know what the environmental consequences of what their manoeuvres may be.”

The Department of National Defense purchased the Victoria from the British Government in 1998 but it spent years in dry dock undergoing retrofitting and repairs. It successfully fired its first torpedoes in 2012 and is entering service in 2013.

Source – The Province

Canada – Subs headed back under water

Ill-fated Chicoutimi to be operational by year-end

The naval submarine HMCS Chicoutimi , shown here in 2009 prior to being hauled to the west coast via the Panama Canal, is undergoing extensive work. Despite a tragic past that saw a Halifax naval officer die in a fire, the Defence Department says a refit in Victoria, B.C., will have the sub ready for operation later this year.(TED PRITCHARD/Staff)

The naval submarine HMCS Chicoutimi , shown here in 2009 prior to being hauled to the west coast via the Panama Canal, is undergoing extensive work. Despite a tragic past that saw a Halifax naval officer die in a fire, the Defence Department says a refit in Victoria, B.C., will have the sub ready for operation later this year.

OTTAWA — Three of Canada’s four Victoria-class, diesel-electric submarines are to be operational by the end of the year.

But there are still questions about whether Canada still has the personnel to handle a submarine fleet, and if the subs are even worth fixing.

HMCS Victoria, which has been docked since 2005, was declared operational last year on the West Coast after sinking a decommissioned United States navy ship in a live torpedo test.

HMCS Windsor, docked since 2007, has already started live tests in Halifax Harbour. Last November, it completed a live diving exercise in the harbour, known as a camber dive. It made its first run out to sea in December.

HMCS Chicoutimi, on which a navy officer died after it caught fire during its 2004 maiden voyage, is also undergoing extensive work. Despite its tragic past, the Defence Department says the refit in Victoria, B.C., will have it ready for operation later this year.

“What that is is really heavy maintenance on more than 200 systems,” said department spokeswoman Jocelyn Sweet. “So absolutely everything gets looked at and either replaced or fixed or repaired or overhauled.”

With three of the four subs operational, the Defence Department will consider it at a “steady state” of operation.

The fourth submarine, HMCS Corner Brook, ran aground in a test last year. It will undergo repairs until 2016.

But some analysts say it’s a waste of money to repair the submarines, which were bought second-hand from the British navy for $750 million in 1998.

Since they started sailing in 2003, the subs have been at sea for a combined 1,083 days. That means the sticker price alone works out to almost $700,000 per day.

“These things aren’t submarines, they’re lemons,” said Steven Staples, president of the Rideau Institute, a defence and foreign policy think-tank in Ottawa.

Staples said the submarines will never live up to their billing, which is why the British government originally intended to mothball them. He said the submarines are not needed for defence and are in fact sucking resources from more valuable projects.

“The first thing you do when you find yourself in a hole is you stop digging,” he said.

The Defence Department says the subs will be used for various activities, including patrols, intelligence gathering and acting as a deterrent.

While the vessels might work soon, some wonder if Canada still has the staffing capacity to run three submarines after years of very limited testing ability.

In November 2011, Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, said the number of submariners who are active and ready had fallen to 80 from 300. An internal report in early 2012 raised concerns about the navy’s ability to train enough officers in time.

In April, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the navy had 278 submariners who were working within the program, with 60 more on the way.

Source – Herald News

HMCS VICTORIA – A Long Beginning – Video Clip

A Long Beginning shows highlights of making HMCS VICTORIA “in all respects ready” for sea in late 2011 and 2012, culminating in her successful SINKEX at RIMPAC12. The CO shares the challenges faced by his boat and her crew along the way — and their accomplishments.

Source – Royal Canadian Navy Videos