HMCS Onondaga (S73)
The museum submarine HMCS Onondaga on display in 2009
|Namesake:||Onondaga First Nations people|
|Builder:||Chatham Dockyard, England|
|Laid down:||18 June 1964|
|Launched:||25 September 1965|
|Commissioned:||22 June 1967|
|Decommissioned:||28 July 2000|
|Status:||Preserved as museum vessel|
|Badge:||Blazon Azure, within a representation of the wampum of the Iroquois nation, another of the head of the mace used at the sitting of the first Parliament of Upper Canada in 1792, both proper.|
|Class & type:||Oberon-class submarine|
|Length:||295.25 ft (89.99 m)|
|Beam:||26.5 ft (8.1 m)|
|Draught:||18 ft (5.5 m)|
|Propulsion:||2 diesel electric engines|
|Range:||9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km; 10,000 mi)|
|Test depth:||120–180 metres (390–590 ft)|
|MEL Manta UAL or UA4 radar warning|
|Armament:||8 × 21 in (530 mm) tubes (6 bow, 2 stern), 18 torpedoes|
HMCS Onondaga (S73) is an Oberon-class submarine that served in the Royal Canadian Navy and later the Canadian Forces. Built in the mid-1960s, Onodaga operated primarily with the Maritime Forces Atlantic until her decommissioning in 2000 as the last Canadian Oberon.
Several plans for the disposal of the submarine were made and cancelled before the Site historique maritime de la Pointe-au-Père in Rimouski purchased the boat for preservation as a museum vessel. The submarine was moved into location during 2008, and is open to the public.
Design and construction
The submarine, built at Chatham Dockyard in England, was laid down on 18 June 1964, and launched on 25 September 1965. She was commissioned on 22 June 1967. The submarine was named after the Onondaga First Nations people, and was assigned the pennant number 73.
Decommissioning and preservation
Onondaga was decommissioned by Maritime Command on 28 July 2000. She was the last Oberon class submarine operational in Canadian service. On decommissioning, Onondaga and her sister boats were left to await disposal in Halifax harbour.
In 2001, it was planned to cut Onondaga into pieces and reassemble her inside the Canadian War Museum. This plan was cancelled before the end of the year, because of the excessive cost. In May 2005 the Halifax Chronicle-Herald announced that Maritime Command was looking to sell Onondaga for scrap metal, along with three other Canadian Oberons. MARCOM stated that the submarines were not in suitable condition to be used as museum ships, and predicted that each submarine would sell for between C$50,000 and C$60,000.
Instead of being scrapped, the submarine was purchased by the Site historique maritime de la Pointe-au-Père, Rimouski in 2006, for C$4 plus tax to become a museum ship[fr]. The submarine would be towed from Halifax to Rimouski during the summer of 2008, floated onto a temporary marine railway, then hauled up the shore into the final position. Getting the submarine onto the marine railway would require a high tide of 4.6 metres (15 ft), which would only occur during a 2-hour window on 2 August. The removal of torpedoes and batteries following decommissioning had significantly affected Onondaga's displacement, and 180,000 litres (40,000 imp gal; 48,000 US gal) of water had to be pumped into the ballast tanks before the submarine could be safely towed. Originally due to leave Halifax on 9 July, the tow was delayed by two days due to foul weather. One of the tow bridles snapped before the tugboat and submarine left the harbour, causing a half-day delay. On 12 July, submarine and tugboat were forced to divert via the Canso Canal to avoid Hurricane Bertha; a second tugboat was called into to help Onondaga traverse the locks.
Onondaga arrived in Rimouski harbour on time for the 2 August high tide, but a heavy storm prevented the operation from occurring. The marine railway was extended further into the water to permit an attempt in September[when?] with a 4.3-metre (14 ft) tide. The second attempt succeeded in half-removing Onondaga from the water, but the submarine was not properly aligned with the support cradles. As the water receded overnight, the submarine rolled to the right and off the railway, puncturing the outer casing on a nearby boulder. A third attempt was made two weeks later, after the submarine was shored up and the cradles were replaced. Two tugboats were used to help position the submarine over the railway, but as the pull from shore started, one of the tugboats applied too much tension and pulled Onondaga back off. A fourth and final attempt was made on 28 November; after this, there were no more opportunities before winter struck and froze Rimouski harbour, further damaging the submarine. Onondaga was successfully removed clear of the water. The transportation and removal of Onondaga from the water was featured in the 'Supersize Submarine' episode of the Monster Moves documentary series.
- Moore, John, ed. (1977). Jane's Fighting Ships 1977-78. Jane's Fighting Ships (80th ed.). London: Jane's Yearbooks. p. 63. ISBN 0531032779. OCLC 18207174.
- Massarella, Monster Moves, p. 114
- "In Depth: Canada's Submarines". CBC News. 1 November 2005. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
- "For sale: 4 submarines, not shipshape". CBC Online News. 25 May 2005. Retrieved 10 December 2006.
- Massarella, Monster Moves, pgs. 116, 119
- Massarella, Monster Moves, p. 117
- Massarella, Monster Moves, pgs. 118, 120
- Massarella, Monster Moves, pp. 120-1
- Massarella, Monster Moves, p. 122
- Massarella, Monster Moves, pp. 124-5
- Massarella, Monster Moves, p. 125
- Massarella, Monster Moves, pgs. 125, 127
- Massarella, Monster Moves, pp. 127-8
- Massarella, Monster Moves, p. 128
- Massarella, Monster Moves, p. 129
- "Onondaga Museum - Homepage".
- Massarella, Carlo. Monster Moves: Adventures in Moving the Impossible. London: Quercus Publishing. ISBN 9780857386335. OCLC 751789641.
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