Fire Cripples Canada's Last Working Submarine

Western unilateral disarmament continues

Canada's once proud military slipped further into irrelevance this week when a transformer aboard HMCS Windsor (ex-HMS Upholder) went up in flames just 13 months after a fire aboard her sister ship killed one sailor, injured eight and sparked a national controversy.

The crew aboard Windsor reported smelling burning plastic during a training exercise on October 30, 2005, as 'white smoke drifted into a forward engine compartment and crews were called to emergency stations.' Luckily, the electrical fire was isolated to the air-conditioning system and extinguished quickly. No injuries were reported.

In October, 2004, a fire aboard HMCS Chicoutimi during its maiden voyage from England killed LT Chris Saunders when water flooded the boat through an open hatch and soaked power cables, generating an explosion that holed interior bulkheads and filling the boat with smoke. Saunders bravely refused to abandon his post despite the toxic smoke and lack of smoke masks and his actions contributed to the saving of the submarine. The cause of the fire aboard Windsor is under investigation. Following the fire aboard Chicoutimi, the surfaced sub drifted without power with the injured LT Saunders aboard until the US Navy arrived to help. After the fire aboard Windsor, the Canadian Government waited a day before telling the public.

Windsor and Chicoutimi are two of four ex-Royal Navy diesel-electric submarines bought used from England for $891 million (CD), before refitting. They are of the Royal Navy's Victoria class subs, displacing 2400 tons submerged and measuring 211 feet in length. They were designed to travel at 12 knots surfaced and 20 knots submerged (typical of modern D/E subs) and carry a crew of 46. They were originally equipped with the Lockheed-Martin Librascope SFCS Mk 1 Mod C tactical system and the Condor Systems Sea Search 2 radar warning receiver. They have six forward 21" torpedo tubes for 18 Mk.48 Mod 4 torpedoes. The Royal Navy Sub-Harpoon cruise missile systems were removed before sale to Canada.

The other two subs in the class are HMCS Victoria and HMCS Cornerbrook. The former was immediately sent for repairs upon returning to Canada and will be laid-up until 2007 or later. The latter is still undergoing retrofit.

Canada -- like most Western countries -- has, since the fall of the USSR, tripped over itself in its haste to disband its armed forces so as to free up more money to spend on domestic and social programs. This has created a largely disarmed Western world just as militant Islam has emerged to create the most dangerous times since the rise of fascism in the 1920s and 1930s. Once proud Canada currently has no submarines with which to protect its 122,000 mile long coastline, the world's longest.

Heavy sealift ship Eide Transporter returns HMCS Chicoutimi to Halifax Navy Yard