Navy returns submarine HMCS Corner Brook to the water

HMCS Corner Brook hit the water for the first time in 10 years on Sunday morning.

The submarine, which was purchased from the United Kingdom in 1998, has been subject to significant repair and refit work and will undergo sea trials late this year.

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Public affairs officer Capt. Chelsea Dubeau said the process of getting the vessel back into the water went smoothly from its rollout from the repair facility through to refloating the submarine at Ogden Point and its return tow to CFB Esquimalt.

Seaspan’s Careen barge transported the vessel from Esquimalt Graving Dock to Ogden Point, which Dubeau said was chosen because of the depth of the water and the layout of the jetties.

During the extended repair process, the submarine had 47 separate equipment upgrades, including a new communication mast to allow high-speed and secure satellite communications, and equipment to allow it to fire modernized torpedoes.

“Following the completion of its [extended docking work period] in early 2022, HMCS Corner Brook will be the most advanced submarine in the fleet,” said Dubeau. “The remaining Victoria-class submarines will receive these upgrades as they progress through their respective work periods.”

HMCS Corner Brook hasn’t been at sea since 2011, when it struck the bottom of the ocean off B.C.’s coast.

The vessel was put into a state of preservation between 2011 and 2015, when it entered the extended repair and refit process.

A fire broke out while it was docked in August 2019. Last spring, while it was in the care of maintenance contractor ­Babcock Canada, one of the vessel’s ballast tanks was ruptured — damage that could limit the vessel’s capabilities.

Dubeau said a repair plan was chosen to maximize capability and availability of the submarine and Babcock Canada took decisive action to repair the damage in April.

“As a result, HMCS Corner Brook remains a fully capable submarine in our fleet,” she said. “Our top priority is the safety and security of our personnel.”

Dubeau said the vessel will remain alongside at Esquimalt Graving Dock until sea trials in late 2021 to verify system performance and support crew training.

The submarine is expected to return to full service in 2022, she said.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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