Thursday, June 27, 2013

New Ojibwa's Crew, prepping for the big day

 Among the hard-working folks labouring to get Ojibwa ready for opening day July 6th is retired admiral Dan McNeil, project coordinator. Dan retired from the Royal Canadian Navy in 2006 and came on board to assist Project Ojibwa shortly after. Here, he poses beside his charge's rudder, after planes, and once-secret propellers.

Much of the day-to-day running of Project Ojibwa will fall on the shoulders of (left to right) Melissa Raven, media and communications; Amanda Laurie, tour coordinator; and Catherine Raven, webmaster.
Behind them, the Ojibwa, in her recently-painted glory, showing the stairs and access door cut into her forward torpedo room.

And here is reality, even if you are a retired rear-admiral. When this photo was taken, Dan had his flashlight on his belt, his toolkit at his feet, and had just finished wiring some new lighting in the boat.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Strange Sights in Port Burwell

Can you honestly say you would know what this photo depicts, with no other information? If so, you are either a) a submariner, past or present; b) a very imaginative person; or c) you have visited Port Burwell, Ontario, and spotted HMCS Ojibwa. Ojibwa, who has emerged from the depths one last time to inch her way up Highway 472, to become the second Oberon-class Canadian submarine to be so preserved.
The big day for the Ojibwa is July 6th, when she officially opens to the public. If you are there, you will join with many former submariners and retired Admiral Dan McNeil as the Ojibwa is launched on the next phase of her service. See

 Here is another view of the Ojibwa, showing an access door that was never there when she was in active service. It has been cut into the after ends to allow visitors to exit--stairs yet to be added!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

HMCS Ojibwa, at Home in Port Burwell

About half way between the mega-cities of Toronto and Windsor-Detroit, the hamlet of Port Burwell, Ontario is nestled on the north shore of Lake Erie. Part of the Municipality of Bayham, Port Burwell has a rich history that includes fishing, farming, and recreational activities.
On a recent drive eastward along Nova Scotia Line and a swing south on Bridge Street toward the lake, a startling sight appeared as we crossed the bridge over Big Otter Creek. There on the right loomed a sight many would think of as foreign.
Retired Royal Canadian Navy Rear-Admiral Dan McNeil, project manager of Project Ojibwa for the Elgin Military Museum, would not agree. "HMCS Ojibwa belongs to all Canadians," he said. Dan has been instrumental in bringing Project Ojibwa to fruition.
The Ojibwa, a Cold War-era Oberon-class Canadian submarine, was retired from active service in 1998. The first of three such boats built for the RCN in Chatham, England, Ojibwa paved the way for sister vessels Onondaga and Okanagan. Onondaga is a museum-piece in Rimouski, Quebec, while the Okanagan, alas, went to the wreckers' yard. HMCS Ojibwa is undergoing last-minute installation and tiddlying-up for her grand opening to the public on July 6th. A magnificent sight, indeed.

Monday, June 10, 2013

HMCS Victoria a Potent Warship

The RCN's HMCS Victoria, left, at home in Esquimalt Harbour. Victoria is one of four diesel-electric submarines in the navy, and the only one that has sunk a ship during an exercise. A very persuasive argument in favour of an effective submarine force.
For a glimpse inside this modern SSK, here is a relatively recent YouTube item that provides some glimpses inside the boat.

Monday, June 3, 2013

"Canadian" Submarines in the Cuban Missile Crisis (Part 1)

On October 24th 1962, Rear-Admiral K. L. Dyer, DSC, was Flag Officer Atlantic Coast and Maritime Commander Atlantic for the Royal Canadian Navy. He was in close touch with opposite numbers in the US Navy and had a clear view of a very dangerous situation.
How bad were things? American forces had been raised to Defcon 3, their highest ever. Soviet naval and civilian vessels were about to be blockaded from Cuba by the US Navy. Nikita Krushchev and Fidel Castro were rattling sabres. President John Kennedy, in Washington, was not about to back down.
While politicians dithered in Ottawa, Dyer quietly prepared for the worst. On his own initiative he set in motion the dispersal of his naval forces from their home base in Halifax, and those already at sea were recalled.
HMCS Bonaventure

The RCN was primarily an anti-submarine force, with Tracker aircraft on board HMCS Bonaventure, squadrons of destroyers, frigates, and...submarines! Not officially, of course, because the submarines at Admiral Dyer's beck and call were British. A-boats, in fact. They belonged to the Sixth Submarine Squadron, based in Halifax and partly manned by Canadians.
HMS Alderney

One of them, HMS Alderney, was already at sea. She had stored for a "war patrol" on the night of the 22nd, and sailed on the 23rd for the North Atlantic. Joined later by sister boat HMS Astute, she would take up station two hundred miles northeast of the Grand Banks, on the lookout for Soviet submarines.