HMCS VICTORIA is one of four VICTORIA class submarines obtain from Britain in the 1990’s. While designed in the 1980’s and built in the 1990’s, the VICTORIA class submarine have gone through an extensive upgrade and refit to bring them into the 21st century.

They are not “new”, but, after their upgrade, they would be equal or better than most diesel-electric submarines built up to 2005.

hmcs vic may 19:2013

HMCS VICTORIA, May 2013 (Photo by John Webber)

DND photo RIMPAC 2012 by Jacek Szymanski
HMCS VICTORIA by John Webber
A submarine is one of the most complex pieces of equipment on the planet.
It must supply everything it needs while below the ocean and navigate under
the sea by using an inertial guidance mapping system that is an underwater
version of a GPS system. A submarine is a thousand times more complex
than an automobile and more complex than a space station. There are over a
million parts on a submarine. Each part must pass stringent specifications and
tests to meet the rigors of underwater warfare. Canada
s Victoria class
submarines weigh 2,400 tons and have over 100 gauges, 1,000 valves,
100 kilometres of cables, 2 kilometres of pipes and 100 digital sensors.
Each sub has a crew of 49 working 6-hour shifts. With all its equipment, it’s
extremely tough to finda space just to hang a picture.

I know a lot of home garages like that.

While an automobile driver can stop any time to eat or fuel, a submarine
must carry all its food, fuel and air, operate 24 hours a day and must withstand
up to 300 tons per square meter sea pressure. A sub also has its own fire
department, electric generators, repair shop, office, food service, crew quarters
and, of course, weapon systems. When purchasing a new computer or a used
high tech submarine, there is always compromise. Each size and type of
submarine has advantages and disadvantages just like an automobile or a
computer. There are no used submarine dealerships and because they require
maintenance one-third of the time, they are purchased in groups of three or
four to ensure two are available.

During each maintenance period, the sub crew takes time off with their
family or obtains further technical training. The submarine must have all its
systems and equipment certified regularly to meet stringent standards and
ensure the proper safety of its crew. While an auto is maintained from the
outside, most submarines parts are removed from the inside and are
maintained by over 1,000 workers. Canada
s submarines are an advanced
diesel-electric prototype designed by the RN. This new design made it
challenging for our navy to change the maintenance procedures from the
previous Canadian
Oberon class to our new Victoria class submarines.

Submarines by nature are hidden and sneaky. There are over 40 nations with
submarines. A sub during peacetime is primarily used for training the crews
of warships and aircraft to locate foreign submarines. They are also used for
intelligence gathering, and to locate smuggling or illegal fishing operations.
Submarines are necessary to help maintain our nation
s security and are an
asset to our NATO commitment.

Tactically, one submarine can tie up a whole fleet of surface ships searching
for it. The lessons of WWII taught us that we must have our navy trained and
equipped for any conflict. Homeowners put up a fence around their home to
stop an intruder, we must also put up a defence around our country to stop an
intruder. Omitting submarines from a navy would be like building only the
top half of a fence around your home. Canada
s new Victoria class submarines
are extremely capable and stealthy. They will provide the needed underwater
support for the RCN during the next 20 to 30 years.

DND photo RIMPAC 2012 by Jacek Szymanski

hmcs victoria 3
DND photo Feb 2012

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  • A letter by Comd RCN in response to the negative press about the VICTORIA class submarines during the summer of 2011.

“Dear Editor,

I wish to take this opportunity to reply to an article that your paper recently published.

I am pleased that the article accepted that submarines are essential to Canada’s defence and security. Unrivalled in their stealth, persistence and lethality, submarines permit Canada to act decisively at sea. That capacity has been demonstrated in operations and exercises from tropical to Arctic latitudes, and in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Our boats have conducted surveillance at home and supported the interdiction of drug-traffickers in the Americas. They have helped to prepare our allies for operational missions and acted as formidable adversaries during advanced warfare training. In every instance, our boats performed admirably in the hands of Canadian submariners—outstanding men and women who have chosen to serve Canada at sea in one of the most challenging environments possible.

Our Victoria-class submarines are physically capable of firing the Mk48 heavyweight torpedo, among the world’s most advanced weapons. Had a national emergency made it essential to certify the submarines, we would have done so.

The boats will soon reach full operational status.
Victoria and Windsor will be weaponized next year, and Chicoutimi the year after. From 2013 until the class is retired, Canada will have a submarine available for operations both east and west, with a third boat able to deploy where the Government so chooses. A fourth submarine, Corner Brook will be with industry, undergoing necessary deep maintenance.

Our submarines remain an exceptional value. They were acquired at roughly one-quarter of the projected cost of a comparable new build. Our operating and maintenance costs are comparable to those of other navies. Given that the boats were purchased with 80% of projected hull life remaining, Canada will see a solid return on its investment well into the 2020s.

Admittedly, it has taken us longer to bring the boats into service than we would have wished. We underestimated a number of challenges, including: the effort needed to re-establish the class integrated logistics and supply chain; the need to establish a capability to sustain the boats in operational service on both coasts; and, finally, the effort associated with transferring strategic skills and knowledge into industry for the deep maintenance of the submarines. Each of these challenges was overcome through the tremendous effort and dedication of our people.

Submarines are an exceptionally demanding business. They are among the most sophisticated machines on the planet, and they operate in one of the world’s most extreme environments—underwater—where any error can be greeted by disaster. Operating submarines safely and effectively requires concentrated investments in training and maintenance. No shortcuts can be taken in any aspect of submarine operations.

We are near the end of a long beginning, and I believe that Canadians should be proud of the leadership, determination and professionalism of their submariners, who have brought us collectively to this point.

Yours aye,”

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5 sub hmcs wiring

2005 (USN photo)

Apr 21, 2011

May 18, 2011 (Dockyard removed from background)

HMCS VICTORIA and HMCS CORNER BROOK (right) in Esquimalt May 29, 2011

YES VIC section Good
Cross-section artwork by John Webber

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Forward torpedo room

Docked in Esquimalt

hmcs vic crew dec 2000
CREW 2 DEC 2000

casing section hmcs victoria

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