Canadian Subs Emerge
After frustrating delays, two Victoria-class boats will be operational this year
By DAVID PUGLIESE, Special Correspondent
Long Road to Readiness
which we base,” said Vice Adm.
Dean McFadden, the head of the
Closely watching the developments on the Victoria-class submarine program is the U.S. Navy. With
the Canadian Navy one of its closest
allies, the U.S. Navy is keen to have
the boats operational, not only for
force generation but to provide
valuable training platforms for
crews conducting anti-submarine
warfare (ASW), Canadian and
American officers said.
“The U.S. and Canadian Navy
submarine force partnership has a
long history of strong cooperation
in training, exercise and operational settings,” said Vice Adm.
John J. “Jay” Donnelly, commander of the U.S. Navy’s
Submarine Force. “Canada’s respected submarine force
is a most valuable partner in the undersea battlespace.”
The Canadian boats originally were U.K. Royal
Navy Upholder-class submarines, removed from service in the early 1990s after a brief period of operations.
Canada paid 750 million Canadian dollars ($690 million) for the boats and related equipment. Delivery of
the subs to Canada took place between 2000 and 2004
but problems materialized almost immediately.
High-pressure welds had to be replaced and cracks
were found in some of the diesel exhaust hull valves on
the four boats. Steel piping needed to be replaced, as the
submarines were put into storage in the United Kingdom
with water in their fuel tanks. Victoria also underwent
repairs after a dent was discovered in its hull.
In addition, there have been delays in installing
Canadian equipment, such as the weapons fire-control
and communications systems. Under the Canadian program, the Navy is transferring parts of the fire-control
systems from its previous fleet of Oberon submarines so
The Canadian Navy expects to have the four diesel-electric submarines it purchased from the U.K. Royal Navy fully operational
■ The former Upholder-class submarines all developed structural problems; one boat caught fire as it was sailing to Canada for
■ The U.S. Navy is keen to have the boats operational to provide
an opportunity for American maritime forces to conduct training
with diesel-electric subs.
■ Two boats already have been used in exercises and some
operations with the U.S. Navy, although they did not have full
operational weapons capability.
After years of delays and technical problems, the Canadian Navy’s diesel-electric subma- rine fleet is on the rebound with a plan to
have fully operational boats on the east and west coasts
HMCS Corner Brook will be operational in the
spring after a short maintenance period and HMCS
Victoria will be back in the water in the fall after a
lengthy refit. HMCS Windsor will return to operations
in spring 2012 after an extended dock work period and
the fire-damaged HMCS Chicoutimi is expected to be
operational in early 2013.
It’s been a long road since the 1998 purchase of the
second-hand boats from the U.K. Royal Navy; a period
marked by ongoing technical problems on all four vessels as well as a fatal fire onboard Chicoutimi.
But that is all in the past for the underwater fleet,
according to Canadian Navy officers.
“By the beginning of 2012, what we have assigned
to ourselves is full operating capability, which is a
weaponized platform in each of the ocean spaces in