Tuesday, 31 March 2015

FWSAR - Another kick at the can...

Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) has relaunched the Fixed Wing Search & Rescue Aircraft Replacement project by issuing a new Request for Proposals (RFP).

The new aircraft, once procured, will replace the Royal Canadian Air Force's aging CC-115 Buffalo and some older model C-130 Hercules aircraft that are mostly tasked with SAR.

At the 2004 Nova Scotia International Airshow, a number of the aircraft in question flew demonstrations for the crowd. Both of the types of aircraft to be replaced were represented:

CC-115 Buffalo SAR aircraft.

CC-130 Hercules

In addition, two of the contenders were also present:

Airbus C-295 just after takeoff.

Airbus C-295
Alenia-Aermacchi C-27J Spartan.
Alenia-Aermacchi C-27J impressing the crowd with a barrel roll.
Also in the running, potentially, are new model C-130J Hercules, and perhaps other contenders as well, assuming everyone shows up to bid on the RFP after all the previous hiccups in the procurement process. It will be interesting to see who submits!

Also at the same airshow was a demonstration of another aircraft, this time a helicopter, that was being considered for procurement by the RCAF (in fact, it may have already been selected at the time of the airshow - I don't remember).

An airshow demo of the proposed CH-148 Cyclone.
The development of the Sikorsky S92/H92 that was to become the CH-148 Cyclone was indeed selected, and while it has not yet entered service, the RCAF is trialing interim models of the helicopter from HMCS HALIFAX during the winter and spring of 2015.

Interim CH-148 Cyclone helicopter taking off from HMCS HALIFAX.

Interim CH-148 Cyclone.
Military procurement is seldom a simple procedure.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

CCGS Cape Roger and a Dutch Submarine

The ferry was well timed this morning to let me capture CCGS Cape Roger on her way from BIO out to sea. After passing under the MacDonald Bridge, she headed out through the passage west of George's Island.

CCGS Cape Roger under the MacDonald Bridge. The tower crane to the right is on the site of the Navy's new Junior Ranks mess and accommodation building, scheduled for completion in 2016.
CCGS Cape Roger. When ships are departing in the morning, I often get three main photos: 1. Ship X in front of Purdy's Wharf.
CCGS Cape Roger. 2. Ship X with only horizon for background, so she appears as if she is at sea.
CCGS Cape Roger. And 3. Ship X with the George's Island or McNab's lighthouse somewhere in the background.
The Dutch Walrus class submarine HNLMS BRUINVIS also made an appearance today. I didn't manage to get her underway (though others did), but I did manage to catch her alongside in HMCS WINDSOR's usual berth.

Yesterday morning, I managed to capture sister ships HMCS IROQUOIS and HMCS ATHABASKAN both alongside and emitting steam.

HMC Ships IROQUOIS and ATHABASKAN. The latter is the last IROQUOIS class ship remaining in active service.
I also caught a Sea King that buzzed the ferry I was on in the afternoon. I had to be quick to get my camera out and select a shutter speed slow enough to show some movement in the rotors.

CH-124 Sea King.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

HMCS IROQUOIS paying off on May 1.

IROQUOIS alongside in HMC Dockyard this morning.
Halifax Shipping News is reporting that HMCS IROQUOIS (DDG 280) will be officially paid off in a ceremony on the afternoon of May 1. She is already listed as "Retired" on the Navy's website, and her impending paying off was announced last year after her hull was discovered to be suffering from cracking and corrosion brought on by pounding around on the North Atlantic for more than 40 years. She was deployed at the time, and as I recall, was inspected in Boston to determine the extent of the cracking before returning to Halifax. I don't think she has been underway under her own power since her return.

IROQUOIS launching a NATO Sea Sparrow missile from her original missile launcher. DND photo, courtesy of RCNA Peregrine.
Laid down in 1969, launched in 1970, and commissioned in 1972, IROQUOIS was the lead ship of the IROQUOIS class of ASW destroyers, and was originally designated as a DDH denoting a helicopter carrying destroyer. In the photo above, her original appearance is dominated by the 5"/54 OTO Melara gun on foc'st'le and the large globes of the two Signaal WM-22 fire control directors above her bridge. Her armament was rounded out by NATO Sea Sparrow anti-aircraft missiles launched from a one-of-a-kind launcher in a deckhouse ahead of the bridge, two Mk.32 triple torpedo launchers for Mk.46 ASW torpedoes, and a 3-barreled Limbo ASW mortar in a well immediately behind the flight deck. She could also carry two CH-124 Sea King helicopters in side-by-side hangar bays to augment her ASW capabilities. 

IROQUOIS departing Halifax Harbour, as seen from Chebucto Head.
Along with the rest of her class, she was refitted in the early to mid-1990s as an area air defence destroyer. The 5" gun was replaced by a 29 cell Mk.41 vertical launch system for Standard SM-2MR anti-aircraft missiles, and a smaller 76mm OTO-Melara gun was installed on top of a deckhouse in the location of the earlier Sea Sparrow launcher. The Limbo was removed, and various sensors and equipment were replaced, greatly altering their appearance. Somewhere along the line her designation was changed from DDH to DDG, although it was my impression that even the Navy continued to refer to them by the DDH designation for some time after the refits. 

IROQUOIS passing the light on George's Island.
Her paying off after 42 years of active service leaves the Canadian Navy without area air defence capability, as the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM) currently carried by the modernized HALIFAX class frigates, while capable, are unable to provide the same kind of umbrella protection of an area air defence weapon. This capability will not be replaced until (and if) the promised replacements arrive as part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy sometime in the 2020s. Fortunately, the modernized HALIFAX class at least has been refitted with command and control facilities to emulate those found in the destroyers. 

Of this class, only ATHABASKAN remains in service.

I will end this post with some more of my favourite photos of IROQUOIS from years past.

IROQUOIS leads VILLE DE QUEBEC and HALIFAX into a sunrise in November 2013. Perhaps it would have been more appropriate to be a sunset, but you can't have everything.
IROQUOIS passing the light on McNab's Island at dawn.
IROQUOIS launches her Sea King on her return from a NATO deployment in 2006.
Also a sunrise, darn it!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

HMCS IROQUOIS: Electrical Power Generation (Corrected)

Warships have large electrical power requirements, in order to run everything from heating and the lights, to galley equipment, electric fire pumps, sensors, and weapons systems. On IROQUOIS class destroyers, the Auxiliary Machinery Room (AMR) houses two 750 kW Solar Saturn gas turbine generators and one 1000 kW diesel generator to provide this power. A third 750 kW Solar Saturn is located forward of the bridge at deck level, in the port side of the deckhouse that formerly housed the Sea Sparrow launcher pre-TRUMP. If truth be told, I managed to get myself completely turned around in the AMR, and didn't take enough video and wide shots to help properly orient myself in the photos that follow, so some of my typical directional commentary will be lacking in this post. I didn't get a clear picture in my head of where each piece of machinery is located.

Looking down into the lower level of the AMR. Port propeller shaft at left of ladder. The AMR is a very crowded space that houses a variety of equipment, not just the generators.
In the 1960s when the IROQUOIS class was designed, gas turbines provided the best "bang for the buck" in terms of high power from a compact package, so the Solar Saturns are the primary power source. As with the propulsion engines, all the generators are housed within skin-tight enclosures that serve to insulate the surrounding space from noise and, in extreme events, fire. They are also generally shock mounted, but I have no specific details regarding this.

The Solar Saturn gas turbine generator in the main engine room with the cover rolled back.
The two Solars in the AMR are located port and starboard on the upper level of this space. During the time of my tour, two of the three Solar Saturns onboard had been dismantled and transferred from IROQUOIS to ATHABASKAN for spare parts on the latter ship. ATHABASKAN is the last remaining IROQUOIS class destroyer remaining in active service, and was on deployment at the time of this tour.

No.2 Solar Saturn gas turbine generator, looking forward in the AMR.
Possibly to hedge their bets, a diesel generator was also included (originally a 500 kW Fairbanks Morse opposed piston engine, replaced during TRUMP by a 1000 kW Detroit Diesel). It is installed at the forward end of the AMR's lower level, between the two propeller shafts. The local control switchboard for this generator was retrofitted during the TRUMP refit, to accommodate the larger 1000 kW generator.

The diesel generator sits inside this enclosure, the interior of which doesn't appear quite as easy to access as the rolling enclosures for the Solars.
1000 kW diesel generator inside its enclosure through an open port.
Local control switchboard for the diesel generator. Built in 1987, this would have been a retrofit during the TRUMP refit.
All the electrical power on the ship is routed through the main switchgear, which is located elsewhere in the ship.

Main switchgear compartment.
As with the propulsion gas turbines, all the generating equipment is controlled remotely in the Machinery Control Room (MCR) which I will cover in a subsequent post on this blog.

Correction: Previous versions of this post were mistaken in the location of all three Solar Saturn generators. In fact, only two are located in the AMR (upper level), and the third is located at deck level in the deckhouse forward of the bridge. Many thanks to members of various Facebook groups for setting me straight.

Capsize of ex-HMCS CORMORANT

Added to the woes of the derelict ex-HMCS CORMORANT (ASL 20) is her capsize at the former Bridgewater Government Wharf this past week.

Ex-HMCS CORMORANT capsized at the former Government Wharf in Bridgewater, NS.
Although she still appeared to me to be afloat, she has listed in the range of 45 degrees from the vertical (far enough to expose her port bilge keel), and CTV is reporting a CCG statement that she is on the bottom and not moving with the tidehttp://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/concerns-over-pollutants-after-ex-navy-ship-topples-in-n-s-harbour-1.2291416. Perhaps her starboard bilge keel is in contact with the bottom.

Ex-HMCS CORMORANT listing in the range of 45 degrees. Her port anchor is deployed.
Snow load is being blamed for heeling her far enough to take on water that caused her to sink.

A view of the snow buildup on CORMORANT.
The snow buildup, even in her listed condition, seems fairly even across her beam, so I am not sure how this is causing her list.

A Bridgewater Fire Department crew is working to remove the snow and ice buildup with a fire hose.
Snow and ice are being removed by the Bridgewater Fire Department with a fire hose so that no one has to board her in her current state.

CORMORANT has been laid up in Bridgewater since she arrived in 2002 under tow by the tug Swellmaster. Prior to that she was laid up in Shelburne, NS, and I'm not sure where she was prior to that, and after being paid off by the Navy.

Ex-HMCS CORMORANT arriving on the LaHave River in 2002. She sheered wildly behind her tug. © Sandy McClearn
CORMORANT still has one of her old submersibles on board in the hangar at her stern. Presumably it would have been well stowed, as it would have had to withstand CORMORANT rolling around at sea when she was in service.

Ex-CORMORANT in 2013.

Cape Rouge on the bottom.
Almost exactly a year ago, it was the laid up fishing boat Cape Rouge that sank at the same former Government Wharf and went to the bottom. She was refloated, and still sits alongside the wharf two berths back from CORMORANT.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

HMCS IROQUOIS: propeller shaft & running gear

Following on from my earlier post with a tour of IROQUOIS' engine room, this post will trace the path of the propeller shaft after it leaves the gearbox. After departing the gearboxes, each propeller shaft passes through a thrust block (which transfers the thrust of the propeller to the hull) and several plummer blocks (which support the shaft along its length).

Looking down into the AMR. A yellow and black propeller shaft runs down the left side of the photo.
  Immediately aft of the main engine room, where the propulsion machinery is located, is the Auxiliary Machinery Room (AMR). The AMR houses three Solar Saturn 750 kW gas turbine generators plus one 1000 kW diesel generator, as well as numerous other pieces of smaller equipment. The port and starboard propeller shafts also pass through the AMR.

A propeller shaft (painted yellow & black) runs through the AMR heading aft (e.g. to the right).

Plummer blocks support the propeller shaft at the aft end of the AMR.
Due to the shape of the hull and there being two of them, the shafts must pass through not only the AMR, but also a DFO service tank, and finally the Gland Compartment before passing through the hull.

Starboard propeller shaft running through the Gland Compartment. I believe the blue hose is a hydraulic hose from the hydraulic pump for the CP props.
CP prop hydraulic pump unit.
Modern warships, including the IROQUOIS and HALIFAX classes, often use variable-pitch or controllable-pitch (CP) propellers, where the blades of the propeller can be rotated to different pitches. This is necessary because gas turbines can not be run backwards, and otherwise it might be necessary to include an extra "reverse" turbine on each shaft as was done with steam powerplants in the previous generation of warships. The CP prop allows the gas turbines to run in the same direction at all times, and the transition between forward and astern power is handled by the pitch of the propeller blades. The hydraulic pump that controls the pitch of the propeller blades is located in the Gland Compartment, two compartments aft of the AMR.

The starboard shaft passes through seals and exits the hull in the Gland Compartment.
The other side - the port shaft exits the hull.
Port propeller shaft intermediate support strut.

Port variable (or controllable) pitch propeller. A V-shaped strut supports the shaft just ahead of the propeller.

Starboard "running gear": the propeller shaft showing both intermediate and V-shaped support struts.
The original variable pitch propellers fitted to IROQUOIS and her sisters were only four bladed and were shaped differently (as I recall), and new propellers (presumably quieter and more efficient) were retrofitted at some point, possibly during her TRUMP refit in the early 1990s.

Update: The port variable pitch propeller, removed from HURON before she was sunk, is on display at the Naval Museum of Alberta in Calgary.

Friday, 13 March 2015

RCN Arrivals in Halifax

I managed to time my ferry ride this morning to coincide with the arrivals of HMCS HALIFAX (FFH 330) and HMCS ATHABASKAN (DDG 282). HMCS MONTREAL (FFH 336) also returned today, but I didn't see her. The latter two were on exercises, while the former was returning from sea trials for the new (and interim) CH-148 Cyclone helicopter. HALIFAX also visited St. John's during her trip.

HMCS HALIFAX (FFH 330) returning from sea trials.
HALIFAX's return also coincided with just the right angle from the rising sun, which provided nice warm lighting. It being -13 this morning, she is displaying some icing, and the remains of her bow wave can be seen from the lack of ice buildup on her waterline at the bow.

HMCS HALIFAX against the Halifax waterfront skyline.
According to a tweet by Rear Admiral John Newton this past week, HALIFAX has been "conducting launch and recovery trials [of the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter] in increasingly heavy weather. Storm chasing!" Roughly 50 years ago, it was HMCS ASSINIBOINE that was carrying out similar trials with the then-new CH-124 Sea King.

The CH-148 Cyclone is still folded up from storage in the hangar, which is open here.
HALIFAX went alongside in the Dockyard, then apparently headed over to Shearwater, and was being cold moved back from Shearwater by two tugs this afternoon. Hopefully the Cyclone didn't have to be craned off!

HMCS ATHABASKAN (DDG 282) reappears in a puff of smoke. Well, more of a cloud. Photographing over water is frequently subjected to distortion and image degradation, which is the case here when the image is magnified (which I haven't done here). I'm more used to seeing this from heat haze, but at -13 it can happen too.
ATHABASKAN was producing a considerable amount of smoke the entire time that I observed her, and she apparently continued once in the Bedford Basin where she went for a while before returning to the Dockyard. Normally one only sees this much smoke upon startup of one of the engines, and the smoke dies down once the engine in question warms up.

HMCS ATHABASKAN proceeding into the Narrows.
Once engines are warmed up, all you normally see is light emissions and a heat haze from the funnel (see first image of HALIFAX above), so this suggests some sort of malfunction in the engineering plant on board.

IROQUOIS was also receiving some nice lighting this morning while alongside.