HMCS Victoria undergoes crucial dive testing

Navy News / April 1, 2020

By Peter Mallett

Her Majesty’s Canadian Submarine (HMCS) Victoria and crew have completed a critical step in the submarine’s workups in preparation for 2020 submarine operations.

The submarine conducted a camber dive at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, B.C., where it submerged to verify the integrity of water tightness, as well as the functionality of several key submarine systems.

In order to ensure fitness before returning to operational service, a submarine must be certified following the successful completion of harbour acceptance and sea trials. Once certified, the submarine must be manned with a qualified and experienced crew and be deemed safe to sail, enabling it to conduct trials and execute operations.

Throughout a combined 20-hour period, HMCS Victoria’s 48-person crew successfully completed three dives to depths of 11 metres.

“It was the fourth camber dive in which I have participated throughout my career, and I can say from my experience that the submarine, and most importantly its crew, performed outstandingly well throughout the whole evolution,” said Lieutenant-Commander (LCdr) Eric Isabelle, Victoria’s Commanding Officer. “A variety of systems were tested to ensure the submarine is safe to operate in dived condition.”

Subject matter experts from Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Breton and the Directorate of Maritime Equipment Programs Management Submarines were part of an 11-person rider crew that recorded data and analytics in support of all submarine testing functions.

Among the systems evaluated during the camber dive were the submarine’s trim and ballast systems.

The ballast system enables the submarine to dive or surface through tanks that store the proper proportion of air or water via main blows, emergency blows and the low pressure blower. Meanwhile, the trim system compensates for depth changes when the submarine is dived. This process, known as trim and incline, is a highly sensitive testing process where even the slightest movements on board can have a dramatic impact on the recording of data. Precision and care is crucial to ensure the accuracy of the test, as the slightest movement of personnel in the submarine causes a sufficient disturbance, resulting in changing the submarine’s attitude.

“Any sort of movement can have a noticeable impact on the submarine’s trim, and in this case, the ordered movement of five people from the centre line of the vessel to the engine room was sufficient to deliberately change the position of the submarine by 2.5 degrees, despite not using any water compensation to do so,” said LCdr Isabelle.

HMCS Victoria and crew are preparing to participate in the multinational RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) event this summer off the coast of Hawaii.

“RIMPAC is expected to be in Victoria’s future, with my crew’s immediate priority being to successfully conduct workups and sea trials to ensure Victoria can be employed to the best of its newly upgraded capabilities, as required both at home and abroad,” said LCdr Isabelle.