14 October 2011

Scrapped sub catches fire:

PORT MAITLAND Haldimand firefighters spent Wednesday afternoon battling a major, unusual blaze aboard a decommissioned Canadian Navy submarine.

The submarine HMCS Olympus is one of two towed to the Feeder Canal Road East yard near Lowbanks for scrapping this past summer at Port Maitland, about one hour south of Hamilton.

SUB FIRE Firefighters on the scene of a blaze at a Lowbanks scrapyard, where a decommissioned Canadian submarine caught fire Wednesday

The fire started around noon inside the submarine, where workers were stripping down parts, said Haldimand OPP Constable Mark Foster.

Nobody was injured. The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Labour were advised. The MOE had staff on site making sure nothing was leaking.

Haldimand Fire Chief Rob Grimwood said the workers were using a grinder when something let off a spark.

“I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure what caused it,” he said.

The vessel was empty. But the submarine walls and cargo were lined with teak wood and what Grimwood described as cork board. This cork board product went up in smoke, literally.

Firefighters from six different Haldimand fire stations spent the afternoon fighting the smoky blaze with 12 fire trucks.

HMCS Olympus and HMCS Okanagan, two Oberon class 1,250-tonne subs Canada bought from Britain’s Royal Navy between 1965 and 1968, were towed to the yard over the summer and are being recycled by Marine Recycling Corp. at the company’s shipyard.

Although the subs’ names have been stripped off, Olympus is identifiable by a large radar dome near her bow Okanagan does not have.

The pair, two of Canada’s four retired submarines, were welded to a special barge and then ‘dry towed’ to Hamilton on their way to the “ship breaking” yard on Lake Erie in August.

The subs’ 10-day journey from Halifax to Hamilton and on to Port Maitland was overseen by Hamilton’s McKeil Marine and Heddle Marine Service Inc.

The diesel-electric submarines were built in Britain and used by Canada’s navy for 30 years. At the time they were built, the boats were the latest technology, according to the Canadian Naval Centennial Internet site. They were upgraded between 1979 and 1981, but by the late 1990s were retired.

Source: John Burman, and Nicole O’Reilly. 13 October 2011

A painting of Olympus

Career (United Kingdom)
HMS Olympus (S12)
Vickers-Armstrongs at Barrow,England
Laid down:
4 March 1960
14 June 1961
sold to Canadian Forces as training vessel
Career (Canada)
In service:
Out of service:
late 1990s
To be scrapped
General characteristics
Class and type:


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