Saturday, 28 November 2015

HMCS MONTREAL return from NATO exercises

HMCS MONTREAL was the last RCN surface ship to return from NATO exercises in Europe (Task Group Exercises, Joint Warrior, and Exercise At Sea Demonstration 2015). The RCN press release on the subject can be found here.

HMCS MONTREAL returning on Friday November 27, 2015.
HALIFAX, MONTREAL, and WINNIPEG have all been putting their upgrades from the FELEX refit to good use, with MONTREAL firing an Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) and HALIFAX demonstrating her newly added command and control facilities.

Some more photos of her return:

MONTREAL in the foreground, with TORONTO (left) and VILLE DE QUEBEC (right) in the background at Halifax Shipyard, in the midst of their own FELEX refits.

Friday, 20 November 2015


The first RCN ship I saw this morning (November 20) was HMCS KINGSTON, which I assume has just returned from a refit elsewhere, based on the way the towing gear was rigged and the emergency tow line running down the port side with the float trailing aft.

HMC Ships HALIFAX and ATHABASKAN, and ATHABASKAN's two embarked (I assume) Sea Kings, also returned to Halifax this grey and blustery morning. Both ships, along with other RCN assets (a submarine and minesweepers), departed around September 8 to participate in the NATO Joint Warrior (UK waters) and Trident Juncture (off the coast of Spain and Portugal) exercises. Excited family members were waiting at HMC Dockyard for their homecoming. One person I spoke with on the waterfront was waiting for a sailor on HALIFAX who had previously deployed on FREDERICTON, and had spent most of the past year at sea away from home. 

The two ships represent two RCN extremes: although 20+ years old, HALIFAX is newly refitted with the latest in sensors and weapons, while ATHABASKAN is 40+ years old and principally filling the role of a training platform at the moment. The RCAF Sea Kings are older than both.

HALIFAX was already on her way in when I got my first photos, with the small general cargo ship Dinkeldiep in the foreground.
An RCAF CH-124 Sea King also soon appeared.
CH-124 Sea King, airframe #429
I'm pretty sure the crew hanging out the door waved, but my hands were full with the camera and I didn't manage to return the wave. ATHABASKAN carried two Sea Kings, which is somewhat unusual these days, as the second hangar is often used as a gym. 

CH-124 Sea King, airframe #419
CH-124 Sea King, airframe #429

CH-124 Sea King, airframe #429
#429 did two full circuits of the lower harbour, while #419 did one, before returning to Shearwater.

HALIFAX rounding George's Island.

Sea King #419 flies past HALIFAX.

A ferry passes HALIFAX.
The wind was fairly blustery, and blowing up the harbour, as illustrated by the spray being kicked up by the ferry. HALIFAX maintained this station for some time until two tugs came out to greet her. 

ATHABASKAN passing the light on McNab's Island.
When I first checked the Marine Traffic website this morning, HALIFAX was in the lead doing 15 knots with ATHABASKAN some way behind. By the time I arrived on the Halifax waterfront, ATHABASKAN was doing 20 knots, which increased to 25 knots for a while, before slowing back to 15 knots or so when the above photo was taken. Her exhaust plume was visible over the horizon before she was.

ATHABASKAN passing the light on George's Island.

The old warrior showing her age.
As mentioned in previous posts, ATHABASKAN is the last of her class in service (and to be serviceable at all, for that matter), and presumably doesn't have that much time left. It will be interesting to see if she remains in commission long enough to see the return of the last of the frigates from their FELEX refits, or if she will pay off before then. 

All the while I was waiting between HALIFAX's arrival and ATHABASKAN's appearance, a large contingent of sailors ran and walked past me on the boardwalk, for what I later discovered was a Navy 5k run along the waterfront. It seemed like the entirety of the east coast fleet personnel were running past.

Note: Updated on 29 November 2015. 

Saturday, 14 November 2015

HMCS PRESERVER: Interior Crew Spaces

To complete the tour of PRESERVER's interior spaces, I will cover a collection of crew spaces. 

PRESERVER's forward superstructure is home not only to the bridge (on No. 4 deck), but also various other spaces to support the ship's company. Starting on No. 3 deck immediately below the bridge is the cabins for the CO and SO (Senior Officer). 

PRESERVER's CO, LCDR Hutt, does paperwork in his day cabin.
The CO's night cabin (sleeping quarters) and head are on the port side, with his day cabin between these cabins and the centreline. The table and chairs are in a conference room located on the centreline of the ship, with the SO's day cabin beyond. 

Conference room looking to starboard.

SO's day cabin.
SO's cabin on the starboard side is presumably a mirror image of the CO's (just messier). The window to the left overlooks the foc'st'le, while the window on the right looks to starboard. 
Immediately below on No. 2 deck is the wardroom, or officer's mess. The wardroom runs the full width of the forward end of the forward superstructure. This is where the ship's officers relax and dine.

Wardroom looking to port.
Wardroom looking to starboard from the ship's centreline.
Wardroom also looking to starboard, but from the port side.
One deck below, on No. 1 deck, is the medical bay including a surgery, dental hospital, and treatment areas.

Operating Room looking to starboard. 

This ward has four beds, and sits on the ship's port side.
The ship also has x-ray facilities.
The dental hospital had a patient in it during my visit, so I couldn't go in, and don't have any photos of it.

Also on No. 1 deck, but in the aft superstructure under the helicopter hangar, is the ship's main galley. 

Main galley looking to starboard and forward.
Opposite the main galley, on the ship's port side, is the Chief's and Petty Officer's recreation space. Just aft of this, still on the port side, is the Chief's and Petty Officer's cafeteria. 

Chief's and Petty Officer's cafeteria, looking aft.
Opposite this, back on the starboard side, is the Crew's cafeteria (forward) and recreation space (aft). When I entered the cafeteria, backs were turned to the door, and the flash from my camera took some of them by surprise!

Crew's cafeteria.
This carved plaque of PRESERVER greets you as you enter the crew's recreation space.
Crew's recreation space looking aft. 
I will finish off this tour with a shot inside one of the messing, or accommodation, areas. This particular compartment was, I believe, the mess for the HELIDET (HELIcopter DETachment) personnel. With PRESERVER alongside and no helicopter embarked, it was therefore empty and I was table to take photos.

HELIDET mess with bunks stacked three high.

HMCS PRESERVER: Helicopter Hangar tour

If one ignores the three aircraft carriers, the RCN ships with the largest helicopter hangars (each for three CH-124 Sea Kings) were the three AORs collectively in service from the 1960's through to the 2010's: HMC Ships PROVIDER, PROTECTEUR, and PRESERVER. Unlike the earlier PROVIDER which had a single funnel on the ship's centreline, splitting the hangar in two and requiring two hangar doors to port and starboard, the later PROTECTEUR and PRESERVER had twin funnels port and starboard which allowed one large uninterrupted hangar space and a single hangar door. 

Looking aft from a platform at the forward end of the hangar, with the hangar door in the background.
PRESERVER's hangar has a narrow throat aft at the hangar door, and widens out as it goes forward. Storage for a full complement of three Sea Kings would have two helicopters port and starboard at the forward end of the hangar, and a single Sea King aft. 

Hangar from deck level looking aft.
The hangar was mostly given over to exercise equipment during my visit, and it will almost certainly never see a Sea King again.

Helicopter tractor in front of the hangar door.
The AOR's were big enough that they did not require the Beartrap helicopter hauldown system (presumably the hangar configuration and helicopter stowage positions would have complicated things anyway), and they instead required a tractor to haul a Sea King back and forth from the hangar to the landing deck. To the left of the photo, behind the door, is the ladder up to the FLYCO office on the starboard side of the hangar. The FLYCO office is effectively the ship's Air Traffic Control tower for helicopter flight operations.

FLYCO office looking aft.
The port side of the FLYCO office looking aft.
View from FLYCO.
View to starboard from FLYCO.
The view out the starboard window is partially blocked by one of the Hepburn cranes, and the starboard LCVP is visible to the bottom left of the photo.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Remembrance Day 2015 at Sullivan's Pond

Although I have done the rounds of various Remembrance Day services in downtown Halifax over the years to get photos, it has been many years since I actually attended a single service at the cenotaph. This year the kids are old enough to start appreciating it, so the family headed down to Sullivan's Pond for the service there. While chilly and windy, the weather didn't treat us too badly, and the threatened rain held off. Largely without comment, I include some of the photos I took this morning.

Originally erected in the 1950s, the Sullivan's Pond cenotaph was completely disassembled this year and reassembled in time for the service. A new plaque on the side dedicates the cenotaph to five conflicts, including the Boer War, First World War, Second World War, Korean War, as well as Afghanistan.

The "before" photo of the cenotaph.

The "after" photo of the cenotaph.

Marching away on Octerloney Street.