HMCS Toronto heads to the Arabian Sea as part of Operation Artemis, in Halifax on Monday, Jan.14, 2013. A Royal Canadian Navy ship taking part in NATO exercises off the United Kingdom was forced to head into port in Belfast after experiencing a loss of power at sea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Military investigating series of fires, power outages on board naval vessels

The Royal Canadian Navy has been rocked over the past two weeks by fires on two of its frigates during operations at sea

The Canadian military is investigating a rash of fires and power outages on board several naval ships, but says preliminary indications are that there are no connections among the various incidents.

The Royal Canadian Navy has been rocked over the past two weeks by fires on two of its frigates during operations at sea near Europe. One of those frigates and a coastal-defence ship in the Pacific also experienced power outages.

Crew members were able to put out the fires quickly and restore power in each incident. A senior navy officer said there were no injuries and the problems had little impact on the vessels’ missions.

Navy Capt. Trevor MacLean, chief of staff to the commander of maritime operations, said initial investigations have also failed to uncover any links among the various incidents.

READ MORE: Federal government announces $115 million for Royal Canadian Navy

There was also no indication that the problems on the two frigates, HMCS Halifax and Toronto, were connected to a series of recent technical upgrades that all 12 of the navy’s frigates have undergone in the past few years, he said.

“The initial returns from those investigations are indicating that there is absolutely no relationship between these four incidents and it was really just coincidental that they happened in such a short period of time,” MacLean said.

Still, MacLean acknowledged the sheer number of incidents was both unprecedented and of great concern to the navy, and said more detailed investigations will be conducted in the coming weeks.

The problems started when a fire broke out in an engine room on HMCS Halifax on Oct. 26 as the frigate was participating in a NATO exercise off the coast of Norway. A clogged drain in the engine enclosure is believed to have been the culprit.

Three days later, HMCS Toronto lost power while patrolling off Britain. Power was restored, but a fire broke out in the engine room after the ship docked in Belfast. Indications are that a tank overflow, likely caused by the power outage, was to blame.

While HMCS Halifax escaped without significant damage and remains deployed, MacLean said HMCS Toronto is heading back to Canada and that the affected engine is “quarantined,” meaning it can only be used in an emergency.

The most recent incident came Monday, when the coastal-defence ship HMCS Edmonton also lost power while involved in a U.S.-led drug-interdiction mission in the Pacific. Power was quickly restored and Edmonton later intercepted an illegal drug shipment.

“To the best of my knowledge, this is definitely the highest concentration I’ve seen in this short a time,” MacLean said. “But the great thing we did see is we didn’t skip a beat on operations.”

Fires have caused significant damage — and even death — on board Canadian navy ships in the past.

Crew members on board HMCS Protecteur spent 11 desperate hours fighting a fire on their navy resupply ship in 2014, while 21 sailors on HMCS Ottawa were treated for minor injuries in 2004 after a blaze on the frigate.

And navy Lt. Chris Saunders died and three fellow crewmates were treated for serious injuries after a fire on board the submarine HMCS Chicoutimi while traversing the Atlantic in 2004.

Retired navy captain Harry Harsch said the type of fires that struck HMCS Toronto and Halifax aren’t common, but do happen, and he expected a detailed investigation to identify the causes and ensure they don’t happen again.

“Fire at sea, that’s the one thing everyone takes very seriously,” he said.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Alleged child abduction attempt in Langford a family issue, RCMP say

Const. Matt Baker with West Shore RCMP says parents should not worry

Wolverines hopeful for deep playoff run

Sooke high school has young ‘talented team’

‘Spread love’: UVic Pride replaces white supremacy posters in Victoria

Around 50 people walked through downtown on Nov. 12 to share posters of love

City of Victoria passes new cannabis retail bylaw

The bylaw is an update to the city’s previous bylaw, which was instated in 2016

Feds kickstart Indigenous Guardians program with $5.7M in early funding

Part of $25M announcement from March to commit financial help for First Nations to remain stewards of their land

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

Disabled boy has ‘forgiven’ bullies who walked on him in stream, mom says

A Cape Breton teen who has cerebral palsy was told to lie in a stream as other kids walked over him

Letters shed light on state of mind of B.C. mom accused of daughter’s murder

Trial of South Surrey mother Lisa Batstone begins in BC Supreme Court

Vancouver man must pay $22,000 after breaking strata rules

Peter Gordon took his fight over his rented condo to the civil resolution tribunal, but lost

B.C. cheese linked to 5 E. coli cases

People are asked to throw out or return ‘Qualicum Spice’ cheese

Search and rescue piggybacks plucky injured senior out of Vancouver Island woods

Rescue crews don’t have same success with dog swept away by Comox Valley river

Canada Post no longer guarantees delivery times amid more rotating strikes

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers closed two major processing centres in Ontario and B.C.

B.C. city councillor resigns as AutismBC director amid SOGI controversy

AutismBC president Gary Robins says Laurie Guerra’s resignation is effective Nov. 12

Most Read