Saturday, 25 April 2015

HMCS IROQUOIS: Exterior Tour

To finish up the tour of IROQUOIS, I will walk through some of her exterior features and equipment. When the IROQUOIS class received the TRUMP refit in the 1990s, they were optimized for Air Warfare, but retained the Undersea Warfare capability originally fitted, and had limited Surface Warfare capability. Some of the photos here go back to the 1990s, and may have been taken on ATHABASKAN. My understanding of these systems is very basic, so my descriptions will not be very detailed. Which is probably just as well.

Undersea Warfare:

Designed as anti-submarine destroyers, IROQUOIS and her sisters were fitted with the latest in Canadian sonar equipment, originally the Computing Devices Canada (CDC) SQS-505 hull-mounted and variable depth sonars. These were later upgraded to the SQS-510 model. A number of years ago, I wrote an outline on RCN sonar systems here

SQS-510 Hull Outfit C3 sonar dome, removed for maintenance. The fairing itself is seen at bottom left, and is facing backwards.
Unlike the huge low-frequency bow-mounted sonar domes favoured by the US Navy and others, the RCN currently uses medium-frequency sonars in a smaller faired dome, situated just forward of the bridge. In previous classes, the sonar dome was originally designed to be retracted into the hull to reduce the ship's draft when entering port, but they were later fixed in the down position. I believe IROQUOIS was designed with the dome in a fixed position. This means that special care must be taken when dry docking these ships, to the extent that the graving dock at the Halifax Shipyard has wells cut into the bottom to accommodate the sonar dome and the propellers of these ships.

IROQUOIS also carried a second SQS-505/510 in a Variable Depth Sonar (VDS) system fitted at the stern.

SQS-510 towfish and launching gear. Note the faired cable that would lower the towfish to depth.
The VDS launching gear was installed in a cut-out in the transom. The operator worked behind the windows on the port side of the well, and the two ports on the starboard side are for the Nixie torpedo decoy.
The launching derrick would lift the towfish off its cradle, and pivot out over the stern to lower the towfish into the water. The towfish would be lowered to an appropriate depth via a faired cable, and would provide better detection abilities than the hull-mounted sonar as it would be not be affected by hull noise, and could be lowered below thermal layers that might mask the presence of a submarine.

Towfish being launched. Image courtesy of Corvus Publishing Group.
VDS was a Canadian Development in the 1950s, and was adopted by several other navies before being supplanted by towed array sonar systems such as the SQR-19 / CANTASS towed array sonar fitted to the HALIFAX class. The VDS was removed from the IROQUOIS class sometime in the first decade after 2000. 

VDS towfish cradle after removal of the VDS.
Once a submarine had been detected by sonar, Mk.46 lightweight torpedoes could be deployed against it from either the ship itself or a Sea King helicopter. 

Starboard Mk.32 triple torpedo launcher.
Unlike the fixed double Mk.32 launchers that fire at 45 degrees out the forward corners of the helicopter hangar on HALIFAX class frigates, the triple Mk.32 launcher on the destroyers was trainable and had to be directed out over the side. It is shown here in the stored position. Compressed air would be used to force the torpedo out of the tube and into the water, from where it would deploy its own motor and hunt for a target. 

Air droppable Mk.46 lightweight torpedo. A parachute is fitted in the cowling over the propeller nozzle.
The Mk.46 torpedo could also be carried by a Sea King helicopter, and air dropped with the help of a parachute that would detach when the torpedo hit the surface. These lightweight torpedoes are much smaller than the heavyweight ones carried by submarines.

Air Warfare:

Originally fitted for point-defence against aerial threats, the IROQUOIS class was refitted under TRUMP with area air defence systems that could extend an umbrella of protection to other ships operating in a task group, or to defend a convoy. First, all the radars were upgraded as part of that refit. (I have also written a summary of radars and fire control system used by the RCN over the years).

The main mast is bristling with sensors and other antennas.
Antennas for all of the primary air warfare sensors can be seen in the photo above. Looking from bottom to top, there is the port WM-25 Separate Target Illumination Radar (STIR), the LW-08 (AN/SPQ-502) long range air search radar, two navigation radars, and then the DA-08 (AN/SPQ 501) air/surface search radar antenna on the top of the main lattice mast. 

Port WM 25 STIR, with LW-08 in the background.
IROQUOIS carries two STIRs, port and starboard over the bridge. These would track and designate or "paint" targets for the ship's weapons systems, after being detected by the ship's other air defence radars. All the radars are gimbal-mounted to allow them to maintain a level disposition while at sea.

LW-08 long range air search radar
The LW-08 and DA-08 are the primary air defence radars, the former optimized for the long range detection of aerial targets, and the latter mounted higher on the main mast to provide better over-the-horizon aerial and surface detection. I believe the bar piggy-backed on top of each antenna dish is an Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) device. 

DA 08 air/surface search radar.
The primary air defence weapon is the Standard SM-2MR missile, deployed via a 29-cell Mk.41 vertical launch system (VLS). 

Mk.41 VLS.
Each cell of the 29-cell launcher can fit one SM-2 missile, or four RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM) in a quad-pack. Although the ESSM has now been added to the HALIFAX class ships in their Mk.48 VLS, I do not know if the IROQUOIS class has ever carried them. The launcher actually has room for 32 cells, but three cells are taken up by a strike-down crane (third row in, on the right of the photo above). This crane is apparently never used, and has been removed from later launchers in favour of three additional cells. In way of comparison, a USN BURKE class destroyer carries up to 3 of these launchers.

As an aside, the only vertical launched Sea Sparrow missiles that I am aware of ever being deployed from an IROQUOIS class ship was the 1981 testing of the Mk.48 VLS from HMCS HURON. I have seen a photo somewhere, as I recall showing two Mk.48 cells fixed to the side of the old Sea Sparrow launcher used by these ships pre-TRUMP.

Secondary air warfare defence is provided by both the OTO Melara 76mm gun, and the 20mm Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS). (Another version of this acronym that I have seen reads "Christ, It Won't Shoot"). 

Phalanx CIWS.
The Phalanx is a self-contained unit combining a 20mm gatling gun with a radar system, and is easily bolted onto ships that weren't necessarily designed to carry them. They are intended as a last ditch weapon to try and stop missiles ("leakers") missed by the primary missile system. The RCN retrofitted its Phalanx systems to the Block 1B standard, complete with the camera mounted on the side of the radome to help provide anti-surface capability.

IROQUOIS also carries four Plessey Shield flare and chaff launchers just aft of the bridge, and was also retrofitted with the Australian Nulka active missile decoy system.

Nulka launcher on the quarterdeck of ATHABASKAN in 2010.
Port Nulka launcher aft of the bridge of ATHABASKAN in 2010.
IROQUOIS can carry up to four Nulka launch cannisters, two port and starboard behind the bridge, and two side-by-side on the quarterdeck just aft of the helicopter deck. Nulka launches as a rocket from the cannister, but then can hover away from the ship and attempt to draw incoming missiles away from the ship. I was under the impression that the RCN did not buy enough units to fully equip all ships of the class, and would trade them off between the ships (on the East Coast at least).

Surface warfare:

Lacking dedicated anti-surface missiles like Harpoon (although I believe the SM-2 missile can be used against a surface target in a pinch), IROQUOIS relies primarily upon her 76mm gun and Phalanx CIWS (supplemented by .50 calibre machine guns for small surface craft). A summary of other gun systems used by the RCN over the years can be found here.

OTO Melara 76mm Super Rapid gun.
The Super Rapid version of the gun can fire 120 rounds per minute, and is improved over previous mountings to help counter anti-ship missiles as well as surface targets. The gun has a dedicated fire control system in the Lightweight Radar/Optronic Director (LIROD).

The LIROD is mounted between, and slightly forward of, the two STIRs.

This concludes, at least for now, my photo tours of IROQUOIS. I finish writing this just in time on April 25, 2015, less than one week before IROQUOIS pays off on May 1, after which 43 years of being "Relentless in Chase" will come to an end. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Abandoned Earth Satellite Station

And now, for something completely different....I though I would digress from my recent Naval-related posts for one of my other photographic endeavours. 

One of my favourite things to point a camera at (other than ships) is abandoned buildings and structures. For a number of years, I had scoured the Nova Scotia countryside looking for old houses, not realizing that there was a significant abandoned complex fairly close to home - the old Teleglobe earth-satellite station in Charleston, NS. Very close, in fact, to my home town. 

An old information board lies partly buried in the grass outside one of the main buildings.
Teleglobe started off life as the Canadian Overseas Telecommunications Corporation (COTC), and the facility in Charleston was built in the 1960's as Canada's first earth-satellite station. I remember watching parts of the 1984 Winter Olympics from Sarajevo, and seeing the graphics showing how the signal was being beamed into Canadian households, via the Charleston facility. Around the same time, I also visited the facility on a field trip with the Beavers or Cubs. The time lag present in satellite communications was demonstrated to us by allowing us to use a telephone that bounced a signal off the satellite; we could say something, and hear it bounce back with some delay. I don't remember what I said. 

When I was there, the original satellite dish still stood under a large inflatable dome, accessed via airlocks to prevent the air from escaping.

Interior of the original pressurized dome. It had been converted for salt storage. In order to get this image, I had to shoot through a hole in the wall, to fit everything in.
The original dish was installed on the large concrete base in the middle of the photo above, and the bottom of the inflatable dome rested on the rim of the concrete wall that circles it. I seem to recall that there was a small window in the dome for the dish to "see" out, but that was 30 years ago and I may be mistaken. The wooden roof trusses were added later, to shelter the area to allow storage for road salt on the far side of the base - at least, I assume that is what was done. Remains of the salt are still there, along with the green air filters that I assume have been strewn about by vandals. The trenches in the floor once accommodated electrical cables and the like. 

This map once showed showed a network of satellite stations. 
Light peaks down into the chamber under the original dish mounting.
The original dish eventually became obsolete, and was replaced by two more modern dishes that were installed outside, and did not require a dome for protection.

The only remaining dish had been cut down, but was not immediately scrapped.
Of those two dishes, one had already been scrapped, and the final dome had been cut down - but was not scrapped for several years. It was kind of eerie to see this dish crashed down to the ground. 

Demolition had begun on the base for the scrapped dish, but crews appear to have given up trying to break up the heavily reinforced concrete. A yellowish scum coated the surface of the water that filled the base.
My understanding is that when the facility was abandoned, it was left largely intact, and it was some time before things started being removed. I don't know if the facility was stripped by the legitimate owners, or if it was scavenged by others. 

Access panels remain open on electrical equipment.
By the time we started exploring the facility, it had been heavily stripped of any equipment and materials that had any residual value. These open panels exposed the gutted remains of the equipment. 

The missing pieces are presumably valves or other fittings that were more valuable than the pipe itself.
I really liked the way the light fell right on the desk, leaving the fringes of the room darker.
Remains of the raised floor panels littered this room, after being removed to access the cables below.
A friend of mine made a nice art print from a photo of the caution tape wrapped around the column in this photo during one of our earlier visits to Teleglobe. He went back on a subsequent trip to see if he would get a better image from his new camera, only to find it had been vandalized by the paintballers that occasionally used the facility for their war games. My revulsion for paintball probably stems from the paintball paint still oozing from many of the surfaces during our expeditions there. 

Oh, look - the remains of a green paintball clutter this image.
This long breezeway connected the two main complexes on the site.
We visited the facility four times, starting in November 2007. By the time of our last visit in April 2011, one of the two main buildings had been torn down, and the fallen dish had been removed. Google Maps has high resolution imagery of the facility taken before some of the larger buildings were demolished, but apparently after the last dish was scrapped, so I would guess this was taken sometime in the summer of 2010.

Lighthouse NOW has prepared a short video showing the facility in its prime, as well as some interviews with former employees. 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

HMCS IROQUOIS: Miscellaneous Interior Shots

To finish up the interior of HMCS IROQUOIS, this post will cover the helicopter hangar. 

The Royal Canadian Navy pioneered the operation of large helicopters from frigates and destroyers in the 1960s with the refit of the ST. LAURENT class to include a hangar and flight deck for the then-new CH-124 Sea King, followed by the commissioning of the purpose-built follow on ships ANNAPOLIS and NIPIGON. IROQUOIS and her sisters went one better, by incorporating a dual hangar to carry not one, but two, Sea Kings. 

Starboard hangar looking aft, with hangar door in the background.
The three tracks on the deck in the photo above are for the Helicopter Hauldown and Rapid Securing Device (HHRSD, otherwise known as the "Beartrap"). Wikipedia has a great entry on this piece of Canadian technology, so I won't go into great detail, other than to say that this device travels in these tracks and traverses the Sea King back and forth from the landing deck to the hangar. The two objects at the bottom right of the image are the refueling bells, used to accept the refueling hose from a tanker while Replenishing At Sea (RAS). Normally they are mounted at main deck level outside, between the forward superstructure and the hangar, but had been removed prior to my tour. Firefighting gear is laid out to the left, along the starboard side.

Looking forward and to port in the starboard hangar.
Easily the largest open area on the ship, the hangar wouldn't have been quite so roomy with a couple of Sea Kings embarked. In later years, only one Sea King was ever carried at one time (to the best of my knowledge), and in this photo the exercise equipment that is squatting in the port hangar can be seen. The divider between the two hangars up forward is actually trunking from the generators in the Auxiliary Machinery Room (AMR) leading up to the funnel. I believe the ammunition magazine for the Phalanx CIWS is also up there somewhere. In ALGONQUIN, it was the hangar wall to the left of the image that was shredded by the bow of HMCS PROTECTEUR as if it was a can opener, necessitating an estimated $13M in repairs (which were not carried out, leading to her premature retirement from service). 

76mm gun ammunition hoist.
For one final miscellaneous interior photo, above is the view into the compartment that houses the ammunition hoist for the 76mm gun. The hoist itself is self-contained within the green cylinder, unlike the previous generation of guns, where the hoist cylinder was much bigger and could be easily entered by the crew. 

That is the last of the interior photos that I will be sharing (for now at least) of HMCS IROQUOIS, and I will move to some exterior photos and then probably a tour of HMCS PRESERVER in subsequent posts. My thanks to the Navy and the crew of IROQUOIS that made these posts possible prior to her being paid off.

Saturday, 11 April 2015


If the bridge of a ship is considered its brain, then warships could be considered somewhat schizophrenic: IROQUOIS has both a bridge, from where the ship is directed during normal operations, and also an Ops room, from where the ship is fought and all the combat sensors and weapons are directed. In IROQUOIS, I didn't manage to photograph the latter compartment (though I did on TORONTO, to be featured in a future posting), but I did manage to tour the bridge.

Having never served in the Navy, my descriptions of the bridge will be somewhat limited. Any feedback I receive will be added in due course.

View from the bridge, overlooking the 76mm gun and foc'st'le.
The bridge is located high on the forward end of the main superstructure, and overlooks both the 76mm gun and the 29-cell Mk.41 vertical launch system on the foc'st'le (hidden behind the gun shield in the photo above). It provides good visibility looking forward, port and starboard, and limited visibility aft (blocked by the funnel and hangar). 

CO's chair looking to port.
The CO sits up front on the port side, with a SHINCOM (Ship Integrated Communications) panel to the CO's right. The flat panel TV in front of the CO's chair will have been a relatively recent addition. 

CO's chair looking port and aft.
Immediately behind the CO's chair is a communications station that accommodates three SHINCOM panels. 

Bridge communications station.
The three SHINCOM panels are located side-by-side running port to starboard, and appear to be operated by two personnel based on the number of chairs present. There is some sort of sonar control box mounted near the top left of the image - I am told this is for the underwater telephone for communicating with submerged submarines (presumably the AN/WQC-2 "Gertrude" or a more modern version).

Aft again from the communications station is a chair for a flag officer, on those occasions when one is embarked. 

Flag officer's chair looking forward and to starboard.
I'm not sure what allowances were present in the original IROQUOIS class configuration, but the final TRUMPed configuration is intended to accommodate a flag officer and task group command staff, and the bridge has a chair for the flag officer. The flag officer's chair received its own SHINCOM panel to the left of the chair. The bridge communications station can be seen to the left (forward of which is the CO's chair), and the helm station can be seen in the centre background of the image.

Bridge helm station looking to starboard.
Bridge helm station: helm is on the left, throttle station on the right.
I have covered the ship's helm and steering in a previous post, so I won't cover it in detail here. However, I will comment on the photo immediately above - in that previous post, I had indicated I didn't have a better photo of the helm and throttle stations, but then I found this photo, so I will have to update the previous post. The throttle station on the bridge is one of four in the ship, and provides direct throttle control for the two main and two cruise gas turbines in the engine room. The screen at this station will provide some of the machinery control system (MCS) readouts available in the MCR. 

Forward bridge, starboard side, looking to port.
On the starboard side of the bridge there is a radar display (not sure which radar it is associated with, though I assume the navigation sets), and above there is a status panel for a variety of things such as: man overboard, fire, gyros, and the variable depth sonar (VDS) which was removed from all ships of this class several years ago.

Raytheon radar display and SHINCOM panel (to the left).
Above is a close-up of the Raytheon radar display. I assume this is for one of the navigation radars, or perhaps can display output from more than one of the ship's radars. 

Looking to port from the starboard side.
Aft of the radar display is a chart table.

On the bridge centreline is a station for coordinating helicopter operations. 
Between the Raytheon radar display and the CO's chair is a station for coordinating helicopter launch and recovery operations. The dials at the top right indicate wind speed and direction, the box with the red display provides ship's speed, and the grey box in the middle between the windows has switches with labels such as "Launch", "Recover", "helo AIRBOURNE", and "helo ONBOARD". To the left of that is a smaller box for controlling the window wipers. I wonder if this was the original location of the helm and throttle stations before the TRUMP refit. 

AN/SPA-25F PP remote indicator (radar display).
Almost immediately aft of the helo operations station in the previous photo is this radar display. The AN/SPA-25F is a Range-Azimuth Indicator has a 10-inch screen "...designed for any standard Navy search radar system..." and can accept inputs from up to seven radar installations. To the left of the display unit is a selector switch for the LW-08 (long range air search), DA-08 (air/surface search), and Mk.127E (Sperry navigation set, of which there are two) radars. The glare shield on the display is optional, and may allow its use during night operations, or perhaps is required during the bright of day.

On the back bulkhead on the centreline is this desk. The SHINCOM panel is labelled "BOSNMATE". 

When they first arrived on the scene in the early 1970s, the bridge on the IROQUOIS class must have seemed like heaven compared to the bridges of the previous class of destroyers. Instead of a cramped bridge with only voice communication with the wheelhouse several decks below, and communication with the engine room via telegraph, these ships came on the scene with not only direct helm and throttle control, but also room for multiple radar displays and other items. While large well-equipped warship bridges are very common these days, this would have been fairly rare in the early 1970s, especially for the previous steam powered generation of destroyers in various navies. 

Looking forward and to starboard across the bridge.
Although the layout has changed, the large bridge and general concepts were also carried over to the HALIFAX class frigates 20 years later. 

Friday, 10 April 2015

Halifax Harbour Ship Movement Photos: April 4-11, 2015

There wasn't a huge amount of civil traffic in the harbour during my ferry rides this morning, however, I did see a fair number of naval movements. Photos arranged by day:


On Tuesday morning, HMCS CHARLOTTETOWN returned from standing by CCGS Ann Harvey off the south shore of Newfoundland. She returned to snow.

Glenbrook, MONTREAL, PRESERVER, and a Ville class tug.
HMCS MONTREAL was refuelling alongside PRESERVER, before being cold moved away.

CHARLOTTETOWN headed into the basin during MONTREAL's cold move.

Atlantic Companion
Atlantic Companion arrived and headed to Fairview Cove the terminal during the afternoon.


HMCS ST. JOHN'S in dockyard hands, completing her refit.
On Wednesday, HMCS ST. JOHN'S had an interesting arrangement of scaffolding and tarps on the foc'st'le. I don't think I have seen this before during the FELEX refit process.

Atlantic Tern
The rig supplier Atlantic Tern headed into Basin, but soon headed back out again.

CH-148 Cyclone
A Cyclone passed over, heading south. Interestingly, this airframe has had the civilian registration removed, and now only bears the military airframe numbers. The last time I photographed a Cyclone, it still had the civilian registry number painted on the sponson. Now there is a Canada logo.


Tanker East Coast at anchor.


This morning, MONTREAL and HALIFAX both returned from the sea.

HMCS HALIFAX in the background of the George's Island lighthouse.
Too far away for a good shot, HALIFAX still had some speed on in this photo.

Closer now, HALIFAX had slowed down to harbour speed.

HALIFAX and Chebucto Pilot heading into the Eastern Passage.
HALIFAX didn't proceed up into the main harbour, and instead headed over to Shearwater.

Personnel transfer from HMCS MONTREAL.
MONTREAL transferred some personnel to the Dockyard via a ladder and a RHIB, before she headed into the narrows.

MONTREAL headed into the narrows.