Patrol training vessel runs into docked submarine at CFB Esquimalt

A patrol training vessel sustained minor damage when it ran into a submarine at the CFB Esquimalt dockyard Thursday morning, the Navy says.

No injuries were reported after the incident, which occurred about 8 a.m., Lt. Greg Menzies said.

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Cougar, an Orca-class patrol boat used for training, was exiting the dockyard at a slow speed when it struck HMCS Chicoutimi, a Victoria-class submarine, he said.

The submarine was docked.

“It’s considered to be an allision. That’s when one ship hits another while stationary,” Menzies said. “A collision is when both are travelling together.”

Divers from the fleet diving unit have completed an initial inspection of both vessels. They found minor damage to the Cougar’s propeller, which hit a wooden guard on the submarine’s stabilizer fin.

The wooden guards are in place to protect the vessel from damage, said Katelyn Moores, communications adviser for Maritime Forces Pacific.

“They are running tests as a precaution on Chicoutimi’s systems and sensors,” she said. “But the only damage seen is superficial.”

The cost of repairing the propeller has not yet been estimated, but Moores said the damage is not affecting operations, and training schedules are unchanged.

An internal summary investigation is underway to determine what happened and whether any recommendations should be made to prevent future incidents, she said.

Cougar is one of eight Orca-class vessels, which are 33 metres long and used for training missions. They also appear at local festivals and maritime events.

HMCS Chicoutimi is one of four Victoria-class submarines that Canada purchased from the United Kingdom. It became operational in 2015.

Later that year, problems were discovered with 30 welds on the long-range, diesel-electric submarine, prompting a lengthy repair and inspection process.

The navy has had to deal with several incidents over the years.

A 2013 collision between supply ship HMCS Protecteur and destroyer HMCS Algonquin hastened the demise of the latter. Facing a $3-million repair bill, the Navy decided to scrap the aging Algonquin instead.

HMCS Protecteur was repaired and put back into service, only to be crippled by an engine-room fire 630 kilometres off Hawaii in 2014. It was towed back to Esquimalt and eventually scrapped, as well.

The frigate HMCS Winnipeg was knocked out of service for several months after being struck by an out-of-control American trawler while tied up at an Esquimalt jetty in April 2013. The federal government accepted $3.1 million in damages from American Seafood Co. in an out-of-court settlement last year.

The submarine HMCS Corner Brook has been out of action since hitting the ocean floor off Nootka Sound in 2011.

Another frigate was involved in a high-profile incident in 1996. HMCS Regina accidentally fired an unarmed, 20-kilogram chaff rocket three kilometres across the harbour and into the back shed at Pete’s Tent and Awning in View Royal.

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