Thursday 30 August 2012

Oberon-class Submarine HMCS ONONDAGA (S73)

I can't say how many times over the years I've been in Halifax and have seen one of our submarines sitting high and dry on the elevated drydock at HMC Docks. In this photo which I took back in the late 60's, one of our three Oberon class boats was getting the facelift or whatever then. Built in Chatham, England, and commissioned between 1964-68, our Oberons consisted of the OJIBWA (S72), ONONDAGA (S73) and OKANAGAN (S74), and were said to be the best conventional submarine class of its time. They remained in service until 2000 when four Upholder class subs were purchased from the Royal Navy. However, to date, only one sub from that purchase, HMCS VICTORIA, is actually in service while the others are currently high and dry getting refitted or repaired.

Two years ago while driving to Gaspésie, I found HMCS ONONDAGA (S73) sitting high and dry (no surprise there) at Pointe-au-Père near Rimouski where it is now a museum. The 295' ONONDAGA was assigned to Canadian Maritime Forces Atlantic, and serviced for 33 years which was longer than any other submarine in the RCN. 

Meanwhile, sister boat OJIBWA which my son Andrew snapped (right) in Halifax in 1996, also currently sits high and dry as a maritime museum in Port Burwell, Ontario. However before eventually making long journey to Lake Erie, the OJIBWA also performed as a Russian sub in the movie 'K-19 The Widowmaker'. OKANAGAN, which I had the pleasure of touring in Toronto during its Great Lakes cruise in 1990, coincidentally also ended up high and dry like her sisters, unfortunately though while being dragged ashore to be scrapped in Port Maitland ON in 2011.

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