View Full Version : Submarine issues call for help

Mick O'Toole
5th October 2004, 23:24
Submarine issues call for help

BBC News

The submarine was sold to Canada by Britain
A major rescue effort has been launched off Ireland after a Canadian submarine asked for assistance.
The Canadian Defence Force said HMCS Chicoutimi had suffered a mechanical failure and its crew were all safe.

A Royal Air Force Nimrod from Kinloss has been diverted to the area and a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter is on its way from HMS Gannet in Ayrshire.

The submarine, which was bought from Britain, is not nuclear-powered or carrying nuclear warheads.

The request for assistance came from the vessel some 100 miles north west of Ireland.

Neil Smith, a spokesman for the Faslane submarine base on the Clyde, said that Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel Wave Knight had been turned round and was on its way to the scene.

A Type 23 frigate, HMS Montrose, is being sent from Faslane, accompanied by tug boat support.

"At this moment in time we don't have the exact details," said Mr Smith.

"We are in communication with the people on board.

"We are doing everything we can to assist them, and at this moment in time my colleagues are working hard to make sure that happens as quickly as possible."

There were unconfirmed reports of a fire on board the vessel, he added.

The Chicoutimi was one of four Upholder Class submarines originally built for the Royal Navy.

Patrol submarines

The diesel-powered vessel was called HMS Upholder when it was part of the Royal Navy's fleet.

It was bought by the Canadian Navy, where it is now one of four Victoria Class long-range patrol submarines.

This is the second time in a month the Chicoutimi has been involved in a rescue at sea.

Last month, she was involved in an incident when an ocean-going tug boat accompanying it ran aground off Skye during sea trials.

Eight sailors were taken off the tug by Portree lifeboat.

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Goldie fish
6th October 2004, 01:32

She has had a history of problems since being bought from the RN,and this is turning into a shambles almost equal to the Seaking Fiasco.

Sun, October 3, 2004

Tax dollars drowning in sub sinkhole

Tab for problem-plagued fleet approaching $1B


CANADA'S SUBMARINE program is sinking deeper in red ink, a Sun Media investigation reveals. The bill for four used submarines acquired by the Department of National Defence in 1998 is quietly climbing toward $1 billion.

Even though only one of the submarines bought from the British navy is actually patrolling the ocean, the cost of the project has reached $897 million -- 20% more than the estimated cost of $750 million, according to National Defence figures.

A series of technical flaws, equipment breakdowns and delays in delivery of the submarines is inflating the bill, say documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.


The Sun also learned that National Defence had to purchase 5,500 used replacement parts that were not included in the initial deal with the British navy. The cost of those parts was censored in the documents.

The list of deficiencies is staggering. Leaks. Rust. Broken-down instrument panels. Blocked rudders. A communications blackout. Rotten decks.

Corrosion problems and turbine breakdowns on the HMCS Chicoutimi -- which is still being repaired in the U.K. but did have its naming ceremony yesterday -- have made headlines.

But a series of less spectacular but nonetheless worrisome failures have also struck the fleet.

The four subs' control panels, which register navigation data, are outdated and don't function properly. The apparatus is so old that replacement parts no longer exist, an incident report notes.

"This equipment is out of date and no support is offered. It should be replaced by modern equipment," the report says.


Crews face a "potential safety risk," the report says, adding the subs' computer system "freezes" and loses critical data.

When the subs' equipment works, it does so at a speed that "is unsuitable for deployment under operational conditions."

To add to the crews' worries, crucial parts of HMCS Victoria's sonar have shown signs of "excessive corrosion." It's the "main sonar for avoiding collisions," according to an incident report from August 2002.

"If the rust pierces the connectors, water could make contact with the electrical system and ... degrade the performance of the sonar," a lieutenant wrote.


Canada agreed to buy four British Victoria-class submarines in 1998 for $750 million. Six years later, the ill-starred fleet remains plagued by serious mechanical problems:

- HMCS Windsor, based at Halifax, is the only one of the four subs patrolling the ocean. Attempts at going out to sea were successful earlier this year.

- HMCS Corner Brook is undergoing repairs in Halifax. Reports indicate repairs are more complex than expected and will take months.

- HMCS Victoria is moored at its Esquimalt, B.C. base, where it will undergo testing at sea this fall. Torpedo tests are on the agenda.

- HMCS Chicoutimi remains docked in Britain. Corrosion problems and turbine breakdowns have delayed delivery of the sub for three years.

6th October 2004, 01:47
And we thought we had problems

6th October 2004, 03:37
Is it nor fair time that the Irish Government pout there hand in there pockets and actually pourchased long range SAR aircraft. Is everyone here not sick and tired of the amount of times that the RAF and there Nimrods have to come to the assistance of SAR calls in the Atlantic.

What would it cost to keep these type of aircraft in the air, maybe a long term replacemnt for the Casa's is required.

6th October 2004, 03:49
What would it cost to keep these type of aircraft in the air
The only Nimrods in service are with the RAF and the airframes are 30 years + old and are currently about to undergo rebuild to MRA4 class so there is no chance for Irish Nimrods. Best bet is extra CASAs. Nice, simple and you know how they work if ever anyone thinks about increasing the MP fleet.
Other options- USN surplus Orions or converted biz jets such as the new Challengers the Danish are now using.

I heard about this accodent earlier this afternoon but I just caght something at the end of the news, have things got worse? it started at a fire and 3 crew injured. Has it increased?

6th October 2004, 04:16
These four subs. were built by Vickers about ten years ago,they are the last diesel powered Subs. built for the RN.They were trouble from the word go,and never joined the fleet, after the sea trials of one vessel one Officer was quoted as saying "I hope we never have to fire a torpedo from one of these tubes".
The reported electrical fire probably had nothing to do with the origonal reasons the RN rejected them, but after a three year refit and numerous sea trials you would think they would have the problems sorted.
You can conclude (a) beware of buying second hand and (b) thers must be a good book to be written about the Upholder class Submarines.

Goldie fish
6th October 2004, 05:49
According to the News, LE Roisin is on the way to provide any assistance.

Goldie fish
6th October 2004, 11:07
Just heard,Roisin has been forced to turn back,due to poor weather,and has suffered minor damage.

6th October 2004, 13:54
The submarine is in the UK SAR area, hence they are providing the resources.

Goldie fish
6th October 2004, 16:07
Latest word is Roisin has suffered serious damage to the Bow, and 2 Naval vessels have been sent from the south west coast to the Submarines Location to provide any assistance they can.

In relation to Roisin,remember when she was delivered,a part of the Bilge Keel broke off during sea trials,and one of the propellor blades almost detached? I understand at the time,much of the electrical equipment aboard did not take kindly to being battered about. All this was rectified by the builders,under warranty,but you have to wonder if a vessel which is supposed to be able to handle all types of atlantic weather(as well as asian Typhoons) could become damaged by heavy seas? I do not remember this happening in the past, or is it that the P50 Class is taken out in worse seas than the P20 class were?

Goldie fish
6th October 2004, 19:42
Originally posted by yellowjacket
The submarine is in the UK SAR area, hence they are providing the resources.


The incident happened off the North west coast.

6th October 2004, 19:49

7th October 2004, 03:50
It appears that the home built P21 classa re far better sea boats then the P50s.

the P21 class weathered many a storm without suffering this type of damage. Is there an inherent flaw in theP50s as roisin especially seems to have given endless trouble since her acceptance.
Funny how Appledore went into receivership after the Niamh.......

the RN were glad to see the back of the upholder class as they were always problematic....they are under lease to the canadians ..no wonder they are in a hurry to get there ...sense of responsibility perhaps?

Big Al
7th October 2004, 03:56

Three airlifted from stricken submarine

06 October 2004 22:53
Three casualties from a stricken Canadian submarine off the northwest coast have been airlifted to Sligo General Hospital.

The three are believed to be suffering the effects of smoke inhalation. One man's condition has been described as critical.

The Canadian submarine with 57 crew on board had been drifting without power off the northwest coast of Ireland.

The British naval frigate reached the submarine this afternoon, and several other Irish and British naval vessels also converged on the scene.

High winds and heavy seas had hampered efforts to reach the submarine, which issued a mayday call yesterday afternoon.

A fire had knocked out its engines and nine crewmembers suffered from the effects of smoke inhalation.

The HMCS Chicoutimi is to be towed back to a port in Scotland, but a request may be made to bring the submarine into Blacksod Bay in Co Mayo for shelter.

The vessel is a refitted British submarine, formerly HMS Upholder, which only officially joined the Canadian Navy five days ago under a deal agreed in 1998.

I assume they can expect to see indymedia types in mayo soon

mutter nutter (again)
7th October 2004, 04:04
one of the crew has apperently died, RIP:(

mutter nutter (again)
7th October 2004, 04:18

HALIFAX -- One of the crewmembers injured in a fire aboard HMCS Chicoutimi is dead. Prime Minister Martin announced the death in Ottawa today.

Three injured sailors, including one reportedly in critical condition, were arlifted from a heavily damaged Canadian submarine late Wednesday as the rest their crewmates remained adrift off the coast of Ireland for a second night.

The men were declared the most in need of medical attention after a major fire Tuesday left HMCS Chicoutimi dead in the water.

"They were the worst of the casualties," said Richard Buckland, a commander with the British Navy.

Buckland said the navy had planned to take the injured men by helicopter to a hospital in northern Ireland, but the chopper was diverted to a closer hospital in Sligo, in southern Ireland after one of the men's condition worsened.

Officials at Sligo General Hospital said one of the men was listed in critical condition while his two shipmates had been able to walk in, the Associated Press reported from London. No further details were available.

Canadian navy officials in Halifax couldn't confirm the report.

The diesel-electric submarine, one of four used subs recently leased from the Royal Navy, was on its maiden voyage to Canada when the fire broke out.

A British frigate pulled alongside the sub Wednesday and dropped off a doctor and an assistant.

Canadian officials admitted the fire, which is believed to have started between the commanding officer's cabin and an electrical room, was more serious than first thought.

"This was a major fire," Commodore Tyrone Pile told a news conference in Halifax.

"The fire was of sufficient strength that most of the submarine's portable firefighting equipment was used to put it out."

7th October 2004, 16:47
Just listening to this mornings "Morning Ireland", this submarine is now well inside the Irish SAR area. The minister for state stated that it will now be RNLI, Irish Helicopters co-ordinating the rescue. Ithas still not been determined what they are to do with the submarine, Either to be towed back to the Clyde or brought to an Irish inlet to get out of the inclement weather. He was also saying that the Captain of the LE Aoife was now the scene commnader.

I would also like to know why if the s61 based in sligo has a range of 400 miles plus, wnhy it was not used earlier or was it?

7th October 2004, 17:07
Maybe up until now the Canadians and British had preferred to deal with the situation with the UK services based in Northern Ireland??? Im sure our coastguard and the Aer Corps s61 were on standby to assist if requested.

8th October 2004, 04:12
Answered my own question, seen clips on the 9 o'clock news, the aerial shots were from Irish Coast Guard.

Does the Irish Navy have any ocean going Tugs? Is there a need for such equipment?

8th October 2004, 04:17
It also seems that the Canadian Gov were in the process of sueing the UK DOD because of the state of the 4 submarines they purchased.

8th October 2004, 04:25
we should have at least tugs !!

I dont know who to blame though, the canadians cos they are always doing dum cock ups like this or the brits flogging dodgy gear to make a quick buck.

8th October 2004, 04:33
A Lt. Chris Saunders has died from his wounds from the fire in the submarine and eight other crew men are still injured. He was being transported to a hospital in Londonderry but his situtation worsened and the flight was diverted to Sligo. I don't have anymore details than that currently but condolences to his family and friends.

Goldie fish
8th October 2004, 05:01
There has been a need to provide ocean going tugs with a 150tonne Bollard pull for some time now. The UK has tendered this out to a private company who work under the control of HM Coastguard,located in the North and south of the country.

8th October 2004, 05:06
according to tonights news it was reported that a request may be made to allow the the submarine beth in an irish port if the adverse sea conditions persist. can u imagine how this will go down with the greenies and the crusties ?

these would be the same greens who are attacking the government for not buying an ocean going tug for such emergencies.

they attack defence spending but when something like this happen they bemoan the lack of defence spending
god help us if they ever hold the balance of power

8th October 2004, 05:44
It was like the "Green" praising the Gov for deploying the Coast Guard and the Navy to look out for the nuclear transport over the weekend, however if you said to the greens the Navy need larger ships and more crrew to crew them, they will put their heads in the sand, and mouth off saying we dont need a military. As they have said on previous occassions, they would like us to have the same set up as Peurto Rico, however PR is a US protecterate.

8th October 2004, 14:39
RE: Towing

From Dail report in 2003

"The Irish Lights tender Granuaile was designed with anti-pollution capabilities in mind. Its 50 tonne towing capacity can hold a stricken vessel offshore pending arrival of tugs. Naval Service vehicles are also equipped with limited capabilities and demonstrated them when the LE Eithne and Air Corps helped to salvage the Yarrawonga, the 85,000 tonne bulk carrier abandoned 170 miles off the west coast with 800 tonnes of fuel oil on board in January 1989."

15th Oct 2003..
Mr. Coveney: Does the Minister of State have information on the emergency towing vessel, which was promised a number of years ago?

Mr. Browne: In May 1998 an emergency towing vessel study was commissioned by the Government. The study was published in May 1999 and in May 2000 the Government agreed in principle to the recommendations of the study to provide an emergency towing vessel. A memorandum is being prepared for Government with a view to recommending the procurement of such a vessel for south west approaches and the Irish Sea

Gov't taking their time I see.

Goldie fish
8th October 2004, 16:27
Shur whats the hurry,no ships have sunk..yet.

Three submarine crew members airlifted to hospital

By Dan Collins
THREE crew members of the crippled secondhand Canadian submarine drifting towards the Co Mayo coastline were airlifted to Sligo General Hospital last night.

One of the men was said to be in a critical condition following the fire which broke out on board the vessel on Tuesday as the former British navy diesel-powered sub was being sailed from Scotland to Halifax in Nova Scotia.

A spokeswoman for the hospital last night said: “The three men landed on the helicopter deck at the hospital almost an hour ago and were rushed in - one of them is in a critical conditions and the other two walked in. Doctors are seeing them just now.”

Irish air/sea rescue crews were on standby last night amid reports the skipper and crew of the HMCS Chicoutimi were preparing to abandon ship.

A naval vessel that responded to the mayday call was forced to return to Haulbowline after being hit by a freak wave.

The LE Róisín had to abandon its efforts to assist the HMCS Chicoutimi after it sustained damage to its hull.

A Navy spokesman said: “The naval ship suffered significant damage in heavy weather conditions. On completion of temporary repairs the ship will return to the Haulbowline.”

During last Saturday’s renaming ceremony in Faslane, Scotland, Canada’s Minister of National Defence Bill Graham said: “HMCS Chicoutimi’s handover to the Canadian Forces illustrates the progress we are making in establishing a modern submarine fleet that will serve Canadians extremely well for the next 25 years.”

The broken sub is the last of four Victoria Class submarines purchased at a cost of £244million from the British for Canada’s Navy under a deal agreed in 1998.

The submarine, with 57 crew on board, remained at the mercy of rough seas off the northwest coast of Mayo last night. The fire had knocked out its engines.

A British naval frigate and other Irish and British naval vessels were at the scene.

Goldie fish
9th October 2004, 16:51

Tugs to tow submarine to safety

By Eddie Cassidy
TUGS last night connected towlines to the stricken Canadian submarine drifting for the past three days in waters off the west coast.

Rescuers began to tow the vessel, HMCS Chicoutimi, directly to Scotland last night after it sustained a fire and power loss on Tuesday.

Canadian sailor Lieutenant Chris Saunders, aged 32, a married father of two, died from smoke inhalation.

Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, Mark Moher, yesterday visited Sligo General Hospital where two other crew members are still being treated.

The vessel, due to treacherous conditions, had drifted into the Irish coastguard’s search and rescue zone.

Irish naval service Commander Gerard O’Flynn said yesterday that north-west gales, which had been rocking the vessel to and fro, had eased.

“It is expected that the sub will proceed directly to Scotland,” he said. A total of 54 crew are still aboard the vessel.

Cmdr O’Flynn said the sub yesterday recovered some of its power functions, hydraulic and electrical systems, but it did not have full propulsion.

The LÉ Aoife, providing communications and logistical support at the scene, was working in co-operation with the British and Canadian authorities.

Cmdr Andy Webb of the British Royal Navy’s HMS Montrose, which was also at the scene, said everything possible was being done to reach the remaining crew despite treacherous conditions.

“Our priority remains the safety of the crew. We are in constant dialogue with them and they are in great spirits,” he said. “There is no immediate risk but the situation is still serious.”

Weather permitting, the sub is expected to be towed into Faslane in Scotland by Sunday.

Meanwhile, one of the two remaining hospitalised sailors was transferred to intensive care yesterday. However, the hospital’s medical consultant Dr Joe McKenna said he was happy with the men’s progress. Both are conscious.

The sailors were among nine casualties who suffered smoke inhalation after a blaze broke out on the sub, 100 miles off the west coast.

The sub was on its way to Nova Scotia from a Royal Navy base on the Clyde after being sold by Britain.

Goldie fish
9th October 2004, 17:13
A summary of this crafts history can be found below


11th October 2004, 15:09

Ships at the scene, in addition to the tug and submarine, include: HMS Montrose, acting as incident command post; RFA Argus, which has helicopters onboard and the capability to accept more; MV Carolyn Chouest, a US submarine support ship; and an Irish coastguard ship, LE Aoife, acting as on-scene co-ordinator, given that the operation is for the moment taking place off the coast of the Irish Republic.

Goldie fish
12th October 2004, 01:33
Thats an interesting error..

The Sultan
12th October 2004, 03:52

Is it really an error?...?.

12th October 2004, 19:30
Unless the Naval Service had it's name changed without telling anyone, then yes it is an error.

Goldie fish
16th October 2004, 07:57
From what I have heard, Damage to Roisin was relatively light, but the plating was no longer watertight in the bow area(Though structural integrity was not compromised,and the ship was never at risk),so to prevent further damage,and after being informed by the Captain of the Sub that no lives were at risk,the decision was made for Roisin to return to port. I understand that had the information not been passed that no life was at risk,Roisin would have been able to continue to the scene.

16th October 2004, 19:17
Check the RN sight YJ listed again, the error has been corrected.

The Sultan
17th October 2004, 19:16
so its not only Top "Irish" Brass that read this....

Goldie fish
17th October 2004, 21:54
You are assuming Irish Top brass can read,never mind use a computer..

Goldie fish
6th November 2004, 02:18

Goldie fish
8th November 2004, 11:00

An investigation into a fire on a former British submarine that killed a Canadian sailor will blame the crew, according to reports.

The Royal Canadian Navy board of inquiry will say they left open hatches that should have been closed.

This allowed water to reach the battery compartment, causing a short circuit.

It happened as HMCS Chicoutini was sailing through heavy seas on its maiden voyage from Scotland to Nova Scotia.

The vessel caught fire last month west of Ireland days after it was handed over to the Canadian navy.

Formerly HMS Upholder, the sub was one of four bought by the Canadian government from Britain for £244m.

There were suggestions she had not been refitted properly and that the Canadian Navy could sue Britain for damages.

A souce told the Mail on Sunday: "It's a mystery as why the submarine was on the surface.

"She should have been underwater in those conditions. This looks like a simple case of a drill being carried out."


Canadian perspective
20th April 2005, 22:48
I would personnaly like to thank the Irish navy for helping the HMCS Chicoutimi. My cousin serves on the HMCS Victoria. The news we got here in Canada was that the Irish were the first on the scene to help out and that the Brits were going to take some time to get there. We also heard that the Captain of the Chicoutimi at first refused Irish assitance. Thanks again guys.

28th April 2005, 02:28
CANADA is facing a huge bill for the operation to save their ill-fated submarine Chicoutimi, which was stricken by a fatal fire on board days after it was purchased from the Ministry of Defence.

British ministers have revealed that they are considering charging the Canadians a six-figure sum for the concerted effort to recover the vessel following the fire, off the coast of Ireland, which claimed a sailor’s life.

The remarkable revelation, which comes as it emerged that the Canadian Prime Minister had warned Tony Blair that the UK could be facing legal action over the wrangle, effectively shatters the public show of unity maintained by both governments in the wake of the tragedy.

The Chicoutimi, bought from the MoD as part of a £270m deal for four used diesel-electric submarines, was on its maiden voyage under the Canadian flag when it caught fire in the Atlantic almost two weeks ago. The vessel surfaced but rescue crews, including crew from HMS Montrose, struggled to reach it because of bad weather conditions.

Lieutenant Chris Saunders was airlifted to hospital in the Republic of Ireland suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation. He later died.

The death of the father of two shocked politicians in Ottawa and London, and stifled escalating concerns about the deal and the seaworthiness of the Chicoutimi when it was handed over to the Canadian navy.

An inquiry into the incident is already underway, obliging many to hold their tongues until the official explanation is established. But, as the vessel undergoes extensive repairs at Faslane naval yard on the Clyde, ministers have begun to voice their concerns in public for the first time and the Chicoutimi suddenly threatens to become an international incident.

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin said last night after meeting Blair on the sidelines of the Progressive Governance Summit in Hungary: "I pointed out to Mr Blair that there were costs, liabilities that obviously arise from this."

When asked if Canada would press for compensation, Martin replied: "I just simply said there’s going to be an inquiry and there are going to be results flowing from that inquiry and that we, both sides, obviously should act in accordance with the results of that inquiry."

Martin also admitted that he had chided Blair over the comments of his Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, who insisted it was up to Canada, as the buyer, to ensure the vessels were up to standard.

"They had undergone rigorous trials and tests," Hoon said, "and, indeed, Canada has had the opportunity over very many years of surveying the boats, and obviously has been in negotiations with the United Kingdom during that period."

But the Canadian leader said he had told Blair "that this was not the time for intemperate or unfortunate remarks".

Nevertheless, British ministers, while offering their condolences to Canada over the loss of Sounders, continue to parrot Hoon’s declaration, and refuse to accept blame for any failings identified in the Chicoutimi.

"The submarine met all appropriate Royal Navy standards for acceptance and was ready for the handover on October 2," Baroness Crawley told peers last week, in a robust rebuttal of claims that the MoD had sold ‘dodgy goods’.

"It was ready to be brought into operational service. Canada decided to purchase the submarines after its teams undertook extensive surveys of the vessels and had thorough negotiations with UK MoD."

Canada is already facing up to the prospect of a multi- million-pound bill for the repairs to the stricken submarine. But, in a disclosure that will not appease counterparts in the Canadian capital, Crawley revealed that the costs of the incident could climb even higher.

She said: "As for the costs of rescue, Canada will not be charged for any efforts to prevent loss of life. But it is far too early to say what additional recovery costs there will be and where those costs will fall."

Blair has expressed his sympathy over the tragedy, and promised his government will co-operate with the board of inquiry set up to investigate the causes of the incident.

Some 500 members of the British and Canadian navies attended a memorial for Saunders at a village church in Dunbartonshire last week,

as Saunders was being laid to rest in Nova Scotia, Canada.

28th April 2005, 02:35
Personally I think if the MOD goes ahead with this compensation claim it will be seen as being in bad taste, even though it looks like the Canadians left a hatch open when operating on the surface during a heavy sea state.

Goldie fish
31st December 2007, 17:49
The canadians have announced their intention to dispose of the three remaining Submarines of the Victoria class(Ex RN Upholder), due to excessive costs. It will cost a further US $865m to put each boat through mid life Modernisation to keep them in service up to 2025. Replacements are being considered, and would not come into service until 2015 at the earliest. However the Canadians have other financial commitment, including the Joint Support Ship programme, and the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship.

11th March 2008, 00:42
How things can come back to haunt you:

Three-and-a-half years after a fatal submarine fire, surviving crew members of HMCS Chicoutimi are falling ill with debilitating conditions - severe enough to force some of them out of the navy. And researchers, who only recently analyzed the noxious substances in the smoke that crew members inhaled during the electrical fire, have yet to determine the impact on long-term health.


Goldie fish
11th March 2008, 04:06
Did I read recently that Canada have decided to dispose of the three remaining boats?

11th March 2008, 16:40
Did I read recently that Canada have decided to dispose of the three remaining boats?

They still are committed to the program. As far as I know only HMCS Windsor and HMCS Corner Brook go to see regularly. HMCS Victoria had it's electrical system destroyed a few years ago when technicians connected an unsuited modern electrical generator. She will not be operational until next year. All of them are being modernized, including HMCS Chicoutimi which will not be operational untill 2012.

All told it's been a bit of a nightmare program. This article helps to understand how the Victoria class was chosen.

Why did Canada buy the four British Upholder-class submarines?

In the early 1980s the initial steps were taken to replace Canada’s three operational Oberon-class submarines. Those submarines, designed in the 1950s and built in the 1960s, would become obsolete in the 1990s after roughly 25 years of use. In terms of fighting equipment, the submarines were already obsolete when plans were first made to replace them. But as ASW training platforms they remained useful. At that time several options existed for new submarines. These included the Dutch Walrus-class, the Swedish Nächen-class which became the basis for the Australian Collins-class, various German designs such as the TR-1700, and the, then, very new British Type-2400-class which
emerged later as the Upholder-class.

Building submarines in Canada was considered too difficult as it had not been done since the First World War. To build a submarine in a Canadian shipyard there would have to be either a major technology transfer from another country or a very long and expensive learning period. Simply, it was more cost-efficient to buy submarines from an experienced builder than convert a Canadian yard for a small requirement.

By 1986, planning was well advanced; however it was interrupted. The 1985 voyage of the US Coast Guard Icebreaker, Polar Sea, through the Arctic brought the issue of Canadian Arctic sovereignty to the forefront of public attention. Concern was also expressed in the media that American, British and Russian nuclear submarines were using “our” Arctic waters to conduct strategic strike and antisubmarine warfare. In 1986, the new Conservative government decided to use the idea of acquiring nuclear-powered submarines as a political solution to the Arctic problem. Between late 1986 and April 1989 the Canadian Navy was committed to a nuclear- powered submarine program and actively looked at options for buying either British or French submarines and of making the necessary technology transfer to allow them to be built and maintained in Canada.

This was not the first time the Canadian Navy had sought these vessels; proposals had been made on at least three previous occasions, all with the same result – it was just too expensive. When the government cancelled the nuclear-powered submarine program in April 1989, the Navy was left without a plan to replace the rapidly aging Oberons. In the interim, though, those submarines had been given new equipment and offered to NATO as front-line ASW vessels to offset the decline in the Canadian surface fleet antisubmarine capability.

Even though a new proposal was put together quite quickly, the options had started to decrease – the Dutch Walrus- class was out of production and most of the various German options were too small for North Atlantic operations. The government procrastinated. When the Liberal government took office in the fall of 1993 their focus was more on disarmament than on replacing what was then seen by many politicians and lobbyists as a Cold War legacy system. It seemed as if the submarine replacement program would remain stalled.

A year later, after a comprehensive defence review, the strategic and operational value of a diesel-electric submarine capability was re-confirmed. But again, time had marched on and only the four British Upholder-class submarines remained as valid options: the Australians were having problems with the Collins-class and costs were escalating and the Oberons were already on borrowed time and there was not enough time or money to build a new class of submarine in Canada. Buying the four Upholders from Britain was the only realistic option left open if the submarine capability was to be retained.


3rd April 2009, 14:54



Crippled Chicoutimi set to head west


It sat crippled in Halifax for five years, but yesterday the HMCS Chicoutimi was scheduled to bid the East Coast adieu. Canada bought the four Victoria-class submarines from Britain for nearly $900 million more than a decade ago. Lt. Chris Saunders was killed Oct. 4, 2004 when the submarine suffered a fire during its maiden voyage. After the fire the Chicoutimi was towed back to Scotland before being delivered to Halifax.

In 2007, a B.C. consortium won a $1.5 billion contract to maintain all four submarines. Irving Shipyards contested the tendering process in a lawsuit. Several media inquiries on the Chicoutimi were not returned by the navy this week, but Nova Scotia MP Bill Casey spoke on the issue yesterday.

"Last year I was advised that the plan to transfer this submarine was just speculation, and (yesterday) I learned that this submarine is being hoisted onto the back of a heavy-lift vessel for a highly expensive voyage to the west coast. Based on the government's options to transfer this submarine, this decision is hard to comprehend," Casey said in a statement issued yesterday.

He said he wants the government to provide a detailed explanation of how the transfer was finalized and how much it will cost.


3rd April 2009, 16:12
I taught I was knackered when I saw the 3rd picture above, time to go to specsavers!

Its a semi-submergable vessel

2nd May 2009, 14:21

HMCS CHICOUTIMI arrives in Ogden Point, Victoria. The submarine will be later transferred to the graving dock in Esquimalt where she will eventually be refitted. Chicoutimi has not been considered seaworthy since 2004, when a fire on board killed one person and injured eight others.

It was one of four submarines acquired from Great Britain in 1998 that have suffered technical problems from the start. The Chicoutimi's arrival in Victoria will begin a five-year, $370-million maintenance contract for Victoria Shipyards. The company has said that about 175 jobs could be created by the Chicoutimi contract.

Two of the other three submarines are based in Halifax. The fourth, HMCS Victoria, is currently being worked on at HMC Dockyard in Esquimalt.

2nd May 2009, 19:39
it also begs the question; were they any good in British service? After all, if they survived a life of tough Atlantic and worldwide service with the RN, they ought to have been fit for Canadian duty.Is there a past history of this Class being mechanically unsound from Day 1?

2nd May 2009, 22:52
Their previous life as the RN Upholder class was not exactly trouble free. The program was delayed by three years due to technical problem such as they being deemed unsafe to release torpedoes and engines unable to quickly start/stop(they were originally designed as locomotive engines). It's not unexpected for a new class to experience teething problems and the fact that the British were pulling back from the entire program at this time added to the delays.

The Canadians had thought about nuclear subs but with the end of the cold war they settled on conventional boats to replace the old Oberon class. The contenders were the Dutch Walrus, the German Type 209, what would become the Australian Collins class and the slightly used Upholders. It seemed a good deal and the Navy was enthusiastic. The politicians were not convinced and this lead to delays during which the subs seemed to deteriorate.

Unfortunately, getting them back into proper condition hasn't been easy and along the way they've discovered more problems consistent with a new class.