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Retired Royal Canadian Navy submarine now a tourist attraction in Port Burwell

January 2020

The Town of Port Burwell in southern Ontario has a unique military museum featuring a Cold War relic as the centrepiece. HMCS Ojibwa was an Oberon-class submarine that served in the Royal Canadian Navy from 1965 until it was decommissioned in 1998.

Powered by a two shaft diesel-electric system, equipped with two ASR 1 16-cylinder diesel engines and two English Electric motors creating 3680 brake horsepower and 6000 shaft horsepower respectively, Ojibwa had a maximum surface speed of 12 knots (14 mph) and a submerged speed of 17 knots (20 mph), with a range of 9,000 nautical miles (10, 000 miles).

The 295 foot long submarine, with a beam of 26 feet and a draught of 18 ft, was armed with eight 21-inch torpedo tubes, six in the bow and two in the stern, carrying 30 torpedoes. HMCS Ojibwa was also equipped with Type 187 active-passive sonar, Type 2007 passive sonar and Type 2019 sonar.

Ojibwa was assigned to the First Canadian Submarine Squadron in April 1966 and spent almost her entire career with Maritime Forces Atlantic out of HMCS Stadacona in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

By the late 1970s, Ojibwa was already obsolete, but the Royal Canadian Navy maintained her and her sister ships, Onondaga and Okanagan, giving them mid-life refits that included new sonars, periscopes, communications and fire-control systems. They also had their armament upgraded with the fitting of torpedo tubes capable of firing the Mk 48 torpedo, making them capable of being deployed on NATO service in the North Atlantic to monitor Soviet submarines.

After the end of the Cold War in 1991, the Oberons were re-tasked with performing fisheries patrols on behalf of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in the North Atlantic. Ojibwa was involved in monitoring Spanish fishing fleets in the Grand Banks area off the coast of Newfoundland during a fishing dispute between Canada and Spain, known as the Turbot War, in 1995. Ojibwa also served a six-month stint on the west coast.

After being decommissioned and paid-off on 21 May 1998, HMCS Ojibwa was destined to be sold for scrap, but ended up being saved and fourteen years later, on 26 May 2012, HMCS Ojibwa was towed to Port Burwell to become part of a new Museum of Naval History, operated by the Elgin County Military Museum.

The submarine opened for tours on 29 June 2013, resting on land in a specially made cradle.

It’s interesting to note that there is a noticeable dent on the port side of the Ojibwa, the result of shock testing conducted on the old submarine in 2010.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMCS_Ojibwa_(S72), http://www.hmcsojibwa.ca,

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/retired-royal-canadian-navy-submarine-now-a-tourist-attraction-in-port-burwell/

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