07 October 2004

Fire cripples Canadian sub

A Canadian submarine is critically damaged. A fire broke out on the HMCS Chicoutimi as it was making its voyage from Scotland to Nova Scotia. At least one crew member is dead, and the submarine is without power.

CNN has the story:


The HMCS Chicoutimi caught fire on Tuesday morning about 100 miles (62 km) northwest of Ireland as it was making its first voyage as a Canadian ship from Scotland to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

British forces mounted a comprehensive operation to go to the Chicoutimi's rescue, after the captain of the vessel called for help at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, but have been battling against "treacherous" weather conditions.

...

The blaze happened just over a week after The Times newspaper reported that Canada might sue Britain over the purchase of four second-hand submarines -- including the Chicoutimi -- after they had been plagued by "serious malfunctions and corrosion."

Canada.com has more:

"HALIFAX (CP) - A British tug pulled alongside HMCS Chicoutimi off Ireland early Thursday as the race began to attach a line to the crippled, fire-damaged Canadian submarine."

The sub's crew had reportedly restored hydraulics on the boat, allowing them to use the rudder to reduce some of the rolling and battering Chicoutimi has received since the incident began. The vessel was still without propulsion, however.

Chicoutimi is one of four used diesel-electric submarines Canada has leased from the Royal Navy.

The fire, which at first was described as minor, damaged key electrical cables, leaving the sub dead in the water.

By Wednesday, the military had confirmed the fire, which is believed to have started between the commanding officer's cabin and an electrical room, was more serious than first thought.

...

The used vessels were built for the Royal Navy in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The British subs were mothballed in 1994 when Britain decided to stick with an all-nuclear submarine force. A deal to replace Canada's old Oberon-class boats was reached in 1998.

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