Saturday, 26 December 2015

2015 Naval Photography

I seem to have taken enough photos over the last year of the Royal Canadian Navy and visiting ships of foreign navies that I can dedicate an entire post to review them. I will also include photos of the RCAF's Sea King and Cyclone helicopters.

Starting with this Sea King photo taken in late December 2014, I managed to pan with the helicopter using a slow shutter speed to achieve motion blur of both the rotors plus the background. I frequently manage to blur the helicopter as well, so it is a technique I have yet to perfect. 

CH-124 Sea King
The Sea King pilot was evidently jealous of the attention I was trying to pay to HMCS FREDERICTON, and did their best to obscur the ship from my view.

Rotor wash from a Sea King kicking up spray in front of HMCS FREDERICTON.
On January 18, HMCS TORONTO returned from an extended deployment overseas. It was an overcast day, but a ray of sunshine did break through the clouds to briefly illuminate her.

TORONTO illuminated.
It was a cold day that she made her ice-caked appearance.

An ice-caked TORONTO upon her return to Halifax.
Early in 2015, the much-delayed Sea King replacement program, with the CH-148 Cyclone, started to see some visible progress with renewed flight testing from HMCS HALIFAX. There was a fair bit of this activity within the main harbour, so it was within reach of my camera.

Cyclone taking off from HALIFAX.
Cyclone against a sunrise.
Cyclone close-up.
Some of the flight testing occurred on very cold days, with plently of sea smoke to make the images more dramatic.

Sea smoke obscures HMCS HALIFAX during engine startup, with a Cyclone on the stern.
Cyclone lift-off.
That said, Cyclone appearances over the harbour have been rare since then (at least during my morning and afternoon commutes to and from work).

The cold weather continued to make for images of ice-encrusted ships entering the harbour.

It is rare to catch two frigates at anchor in the harbour at the same time, and this shot has a nice orange sky as a backdrop.

In February, I had the opportunity to tour PRESERVER, IROQUOIS, and TORONTO. I wanted to tour the two former before they were paid off and stripped of equipment, and the latter before she was stripped of equipment prior to her FELEX refit. In a handy combination of my engineering, naval history, and photography interests, I focused mainly on the engineering plants of all three ships, but tried to capture other areas as well. I have, and continue to, make numerous posts on this blog from those tours. From a photographic point of view, I can't think of any that are particularly outstanding, so I will only display one here for record purposes, although you can find the first of my posts on these tours here.

PRESERVER's steam engine.
During my tour of IROQUOIS, I came across several pieces of equipment that had been cannibalized for spare parts to keep sistership ATHABASKAN running. "Old smokey" is now the last of the IROQUOIS class destroyers remaining in commission. The exhaust smoke seems to appear mainly when her engines are running at lower power settings.

Despite her age and a few mechanical issues this year, ATHABASKAN still managed an extended NATO deployment in the fall.

In March, the winter-from-hell took its toll on the former HMCS CORMORANT, causing her to list, take on water, and sink at the wharf in Bridgewater where she has been laid up for more than a decade. She was eventually refloated.

Early in May, I tagged along with HMCS HALIFAX for the Battle of the Atlantic service and committal ceremony.

HALIFAX at the jetty.
Battle of the Atlantic veteran Philip Clappison is handed a wreath by HMCS HALIFAX's commanding officer, Graham Roberts, while Commodore (Ret'd) Tino Cotaras looks on.
Committal of ashes.
A salute as a veteran is committed to the deep.
Also in May, IROQUOIS paid off from service in a ceremony at HMC Dockyard. She had been sidelined for over a year due to hull cracking that was not deemed to be economically repairable. This is not entirely unexpected for a 40+ year old warship, especially one that called the North Atlantic her home.

Paying off ceremonies in the RCN have traditionally involved a final sailpast during which the ship flies her paying off pennant from the mast head. It has been many years since this has happened in Halifax (the last one, I believe, being one of the OBERON class submarines), and I have never photographed one. Possibly due to IROQUOIS' material condition, the RCN decided to hold the paying off ceremony alongside and forego the sailpast. The paying off pennant was instead unfurled on the foc'st'le and passed hand to hand down the starboard side and onto the jetty by her crew. If this is the start of a new tradition, I may never get to photograph a proper sailpast.

The paying off pennant is unfurled and passed aft.

IROQUOIS' naval jack (aka the Maple Leaf) is lowered for the final time during her paying off ceremony.
In May, RMS Queen Mary II paid a visit to Halifax to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the first voyage of Cunard's first ship Britannia. MONTREAL escorted her out after she did a loop through the lower harbour.

MONTREAL trailing Queen Mary II.
The MCDV fleet was also busy this year.

In July, GOOSE BAY also escorted the replica French frigate L'Hermione into Lunenburg.

GOOSE  BAY in the approaches to Lunenburg Harbour.
I also got a rare (for me) somewhat aerial shot of SUMMERSIDE on her way through the harbour narrows.


One of my big beefs with naval movements in Halifax Harbour is that the Navy frequently fails to take into account my needs as a photographer. Because, as with most photographers, I feel the world should revolve around my needs. For instance, images of the ships are usually better if they steer west of George's Island on either the inbound or outbound trips. Just say'in. Case in point this image of MONTREAL:

MONTREAL with the George's Island light in the background.
Aside from the Cyclone flight testing program last winter, it is rare to see helicopter operations in the harbour, but occasionally I get lucky. If I get extremely lucky, I also get rotor tip trails and spray kicked up by the rotor wash. I managed to get extremely lucky here:

Sea King taking off from ATHABASKAN.
The 50th anniversary liveried Sea King was still doing the rounds this year.

One Sea King was painted in the 50th anniversary livery a few years ago.
There weren't a large number of foreign warships in port this year, or at least I didn't manage to capture them when they did happen. The first of note that I recall was what I believe the first visit of one of the new US Coast Guard National Security Cutters, USCGC JAMES.

In October, I accompanied HMCS SACKVILLE from her summer berth on the waterfront back to HMC Dockyard.

SACKVILLE headed back up the harbour.

Raising a flag hoist on SACKVILLE.
Fog in the harbour, when it isn't too thick, can make you understand why the RCN chose their paint colour.

In September, a number of ships deployed to Europe for a series of NATO exercises. In November, HALIFAX and ATHABASKAN returned.

HALIFAX with one of ATHABASKAN's Sea Kings in the background.
Sea King flying past HALIFAX.
ATHABASKAN passing the light on McNab's Island.
ATHABASKAN passing the light on George's Island.
Both of ATHABASKAN's Sea Kings did flypasts of the waterfront upon their return.
In October, we did have a unique visitor, the French Navy satellite and rocket tracking ship FS MONGE. 

In December, the third FREEDOM class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) USS MILWAUKEE, made her first (and possibly only) appearance in Halifax. 

She stayed for the weekend, and left early the following week.

I will finish up with this image of CHARLOTTETOWN as she followed USS MILWAUKEE out. 

In case you were wondering, she took the passage west of George's Island. Just say'in.

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