In 1998 Canada acquired four diesel-electric submarines from the United Kingdom, which the Canadian Navy has formally designated the Victoria Class Long Range Patrol Submarine. These modern submarines replaced three Oberon Class submarines retired in 2000 after more than three decades of service.
Reactivating the submarines and preparing them for Canadian service requires that a comprehensive verification process take place where every system and component on the vessels is examined to ensure each submarine is fully capable and safe. This extensive process took over four years to complete, and was done with the complete cooperation of the Royal Navy. The final portion of this process involved a series of sea trials and confidence checks to test submarine systems, equipment and crews before they are put into service.
On average, each submarine spent approximately 30 days at sea before acceptance by the Canadian Navy. For example, as part of acceptance trials HMCS Chicoutimi spent 37 days conducting extensive sea trials in Barrow-in-Furness, England. This involved a series of short voyages followed by brief periods alongside to validate submarine systems and correct for any anomalies.
These sea trials also confirm crew training and overall safety of the submarine. Sea Readiness Inspections and crew examinations are conducted prior to the submarine’s final workup period, signaling the culmination of months and sometimes years of cautious and deliberate verification of a submarine’s capabilities and safe operation.
Only after completion of these comprehensive trials and examinations does an official handover and naming ceremony take place, and the submarine accepted by the Canadian Navy.
The Victoria Class submarines give the Navy a wide range of capabilities. They are extremely quiet and stealthy and are well suited to work independently or with other maritime forces in a range of critical naval roles including safeguarding our maritime sovereignty as well as supporting Canadian foreign policy overseas.
For a nation like Canada, the potency and stealth capability of submarines makes these warships one of the most effective means of deterring a military or other major challenge to our national security from anyone who would exploit the sovereignty of our maritime economic zone.