As reported more than a week ago, HMCS Athabaskan has been having issues getting back home to Halifax. She had been refitting at Seaway Marine and Industrial Inc. in Welland, Ontario, but the work had been extended longer than planned due to issues discovered while the work was underway. Instead of being back in service by the end of the year, the ship had to be towed back to Halifax with the work incomplete.
On the way, the tow line broke and HMCS Athabaskan drifted for several hours off Scatarie Island. At some point, the ship took additional damage (the darkened areas around the hull number below):
(Screencap image detail from Halifax Shipping News)
One of the Royal Canadian Navy’s destroyers was supposed to have finished a refitting back in November, but due to delays in the work had to be towed back to Halifax. On the way, further problems arose:
A navy destroyer moored in Cape Breton has been damaged and was set adrift while under tow after problems arose with repair work carried out at an Ontario dockyard, the military said Thursday.
HMCS Athabaskan drifted for several hours off Scatarie Island on Friday after the tow line broke, said Capt. Doug Kierstead of the Royal Canadian Navy in Halifax.
Kierstead said there is damage to the hull behind the ship’s identifying numbers, though he declined to say what the damage was and how it came about.
“At this point all I can say is that we are aware that there is damage visible,” Kierstead said in an interview.
He said the vessel was supposed to have undergone a routine refit by the end of November last year and was expected to be capable of sailing after that work was completed at Seaway Marine and Industrial Inc. in Welland, Ont.
Photo from Wikimedia
One of the Royal Canadian Navy’s four submarines, HMCS Windsor, is supposed to be getting wet again later today:
Good news, of a sort: One of Canada’s four Victoria-class submarines is set to achieve a major milestone Wednesday. It’s going to be in the water. Huzzah!
After years of extensive refit work, HMCS Windsor is set to be lowered — lowered “extremely slowly,” but lowered — into the Atlantic Ocean. Assuming it does not instantly sink, explode or simply dissolve like a giant, oddly shaped sugar cube, the Windsor will then begin a long series of tests at sea. It is hoped that the sub will be fully operational by early 2013. Fingers crossed. Canada should have submarines. They are a useful part of a modern navy’s arsenal, and Canada has an enormous coastline. Although the subs have had an uneven history, to say the very least, they finally seem to be getting to a state where they’ll be useful to us. There had been speculation before last month’s federal budget that they’d be scrapped, but at this late point, that would be wasteful. It’s cost a lot to get these incredibly complicated machines as operational as they are (again, fingers crossed).
[. . .]
Purchased second-hand from the British for the rock-bottom price of $750-million in 1998, they’ve fallen well short of expectations. They only entered Canadian service in 2003, and have proven glitchy and outright dangerous — HMCS Chicoutimi caught fire during its maiden voyage in 2004. Lt. Chris Saunders was killed fighting the blaze, and the sub has been out of service undergoing repairs ever since. It, too, is hoped to be back in service next year. All told, the subs have been at sea, collectively, only 900 days since 2003, and have cost billions of dollars to bring up to spec — money the cash-strapped navy didn’t really have. Costly, under-performing, sucking up needed resources … sound familiar?
The National Post editorial board has lots of nice things to say about the federal government’s attempt to take politics out of the huge shipbuilding contract process:
On Wednesday, the Tory government released its Solomonic decision regarding which shipyards will build $33-billion in new military and non-military vessels over the next two decades. The evaluation of bids for the largest government procurement contract since the Second World War was handled by senior bureaucrats, rather than cabinet ministers. Even the announcement of the winning contractors was made by Francois Guimont, the top civil servant from Public Works and Government Services, rather than his minister or the minister of National Defence, as would have been the case with past contracts of this magnitude.
Of course, that’s not to say there will be no political backlash from the decision. Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax will be given $25-billion to build new joint support ships, Canadian Surface Combatants — a sort of destroyer-frigate hybrid — and offshore patrol vessels capable of sailing off all three of Canada’s coasts — east, west and Arctic. Seaspan Marine of Vancouver will build science vessels for the Coast Guard and for the Fisheries department, plus icebreakers worth a total of $8-billion. That means Davie Shipyard in Levis, Que. was left without a major shipbuilding contract (though Davie is still eligible to bid on a further $2-billion contract to provide smaller government boats, such as Fisheries patrol vessels). It must have been tempting for the Tories to intervene in the contract-award process and toss Quebec a bigger bone. Their recent decision to expand the grasp of the official languages commissioner to several airlines, and their willingness to give new seats to Quebec in the House of Commons (despite the fact Quebec was not underrepresented there), just because Ontario, B.C. and Alberta were getting more, shows the Tories have become very concerned about their appeal to Quebec voters.
You can guarantee that many Quebec politicians will benefit for having yet another stick to beat the federal government with — this would be true in all scenarios except the one where the Quebec shipyard got both contracts. It would be an even better deal for the taxpayers (and perhaps even the Royal Canadian Navy) if the contracts hadn’t been restricted to Canadian shipyards: it wouldn’t fly politically, but it would almost certainly have been better bang for the billions of bucks.
I find this hard to believe:
A row over a staircase has led to the Queen withdrawing from an appearance at the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo during her forthcoming visit to Canada.
The tattoo would seem to be an ideal event to be graced by Her Majesty. It was a favourite of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who opened the original one in 1979, and gained its royal title in honour of the Queen’s 80th birthday in 2006.
However, the Canadians reckon that Her Majesty is too old to manage the stairs.
Insulting and idiotic. Nicely played, organizers! You get to look like right twits, you’ve managed to offend the Queen, and you still appear as blithering bureaucratic meddlers to the rest of us.
He added: “If it is a condition [to use the stairs] for her to turn up then we can’t accept it. Do people still get their heads chopped off for defying the Queen?”
H/T to Taylor Empire Airways for the link.