ROVworld Subsea Information

Stricken sub arrives at Faslane
Date: Sunday, October 10, 2004 @ 11:09:34 EDT

HMCS Chicoutimi docks at FaslaneA Canadian submarine which was left drifting in mid-Atlantic after a fire five days ago has arrived at a Scottish naval base.
One crewman died and two were injured in the blaze on board HMCS Chicoutimi, 100 miles off Ireland, on Tuesday.

The submarine and its 54 crew were towed to Faslane, on the Clyde, by two tugs from the naval base.

Crew members lined the deck to acknowledge onlookers as they docked at the base where their journey began.

It has emerged that a second crew member nearly lost his life, after being swept overboard as rescuers battled to attach a tow line to the submarine.

He was rescued by a Royal Navy diver.

The salvage vessel Anglian Prince began towing the sub, which was adrift 140km off the coast of Ireland, on Thursday night.

Taken on board

The Carolyn Chouest, a US support vessel, took over that task and allowed the vessel to increase its speed from three knots to eight or nine knots.

Two tugs from Faslane then took the Chicoutimi on tow as it passed Cumbrae.

A Canadian patrol frigate, HMCS St John's, is also providing logistic and moral support for the crew.

Small groups of Canadian submariners were taken on board the Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose to allow them to shower, get hot food and to make phone calls and send e-mails home.

The submarine, once the property of the Royal Navy, was handed over at Faslane last Saturday.

But on Tuesday, as it headed back to Nova Scotia, a fire broke out on board, seriously injuring three crewmen.

Lieutenant Chris Saunders, a 32-year-old father of two, died from smoke inhalation.

One of the injured crewmen is no longer in a critical condition, although he remains seriously ill in Sligo General Hospital in the Republic of Ireland. The other man is expected to be discharged soon.

The sub being towed by tugsCanadian Prime Minister Paul Martin delayed a visit to Russia, France and Hungary by 48 hours in order to attend the return home of the crew member's remains.

The fire on Tuesday damaged the submarine's electrical distribution system and switchboard - although steering has been restored.

HMS Montrose was first on the scene, followed by HMS Marlborough and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary's Wave Knight and Argus vessels, along with two tugs - the Anglian Prince and the Carolyn Chouest.

Commander Andy Webb of HMS Montrose said the crew were tired, but in good spirits.

"We managed to get some hot food and hot drinks across to them.

"They have been without cooking facilities for the last couple of days and living off sandwiches but they are all fine."

The fire has prompted opposition parties to accuse the Canadian government of buying "inferior submarines" on the cheap.

The leader of the official opposition has demanded "a full inquiry" into the affair.

All four former Royal Navy vessels are said to have had technical difficulties.

Up to standard

HMCS Chicoutimi was decommissioned in the early 1990s. It was then refitted by Bae Systems before being re-commissioned for service in the Canadian Navy.

On Thursday Commodore Tyrone Pile, of the Canadian Navy, said it was too early to say what had caused the fire and a full investigation would take place.

UK Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said he would be meeting his Canadian counterpart on Monday.

He told BBC Radio 4's World this Weekend programme that the vessels had been brought up to Royal Navy standards.

"They had undergone rigorous trials and tests and, indeed, Canada has had the opportunity over very many years of surveying the boats and obviously has been in negotiation with the United Kingdom during that period," he said.

10 October 2004

BBC News

This article comes from ROVworld Subsea Information

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