Canada’s stealth surveillance abilities are getting a boost in Esquimalt as the Canadian Navy’s four Victoria-class long-range patrol submarines rotate into dry dock to be fitted with new masts and communication systems.
HMCS Corner Brook is currently at Victoria Shipyards undergoing its Extended Docking Work Period (EDWP) and will become the first of the submarines to be equipped with the new Universal Modular Mast being referred to as a “game changer.”
In Canada’s diesel-powered submarines the masts provide air supply, communications, radar and periscope capability – the new one allowing for near real-time high-speed communications with shore.
“The communications antenna for the protected military satellite communication system moves us from an era of low-speed, low-data rate to high-speed, high-data rate. I liken it to the change from a dial-up modem to high-speed internet,” said Deputy Commanding Officer Michael Mangin, Canadian Submarine Force Operations.
The main role of a Victoria-class submarine is intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Prior to it going into dry dock in 2015, HMCS Corner Brook participated in various NATO and Canada/U.S. exercises. It was deployed to the Arctic in support of Operation Nanook in August 2007 and again in August 2009, participating in a counter-narcotics exercise and covert surveillance patrols near Baffin Island. In March 2008 and again in 2011, the submarine also deployed as part of Operation Caribbe, working to eliminate illegal trafficking in the Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific Ocean by organized crime, earning the crew the Operational Service Medal.
In 2018, HMCS Windsor was deployed in the Mediterranean to work with NATO, supporting counter-smuggling and counter-narcotics operations. HMCS Chicoutimi was deployed to Japan to operate with U.S. and Japanese allies for training and enhancing skills in submarine and anti-submarine warfare
The submarine operating environment is very complex and hostile to the submarine itself, taking a toll on the pressure hull which is why so much maintenance work is required.
“The environment is very unforgiving. The high pressures we see when the submarine dives and the corrosive sea water extract a great toll on the hull of the submarine which is why there is such a high maintenance burden,” said Mangin.
HMCS Corner Brook is expected to have the retrofit complete by 2020.
Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.