Earlier this month, HMCS CHARLOTTETOWN went on the Syncrolift at HMC Dockyard for some cleaning and maintenance. CHARLOTTETOWN returned from an extended deployment earlier this year, so she was probably in need of some TLC. Her hull below the waterline definitely needed a cleaning.
|March 14 - newly on the lift, and looking kind of dirty. © Sandy McClearn.|
I managed to take these two photos from almost exactly the same angle, and cropped them down almost identically. It is somewhat entertaining if you go to the Smugmug site where they are hosted, and use the arrow keys on your keyboard to go back and forth between the two images to see the difference (if you click on the image above or below, it will take you there).
|March 24 - the bright blue anti-fouling paint is nice and clean. © Sandy McClearn.|
In 1970, the original submarine maintenance shed was constructed on the shore side of the platform, and the O-boats could be rolled in and out of the shed to allow maintenance inside a heated shelter. The rails upon which the doors slid open and closed weren't actually long enough to allow the submarine to enter or depart, and the doors had to be removed altogether as shown in the image below to allow the submarine in.
The Syncrolift worked a treat for the RCN's submarines, but it didn't provide the Navy with the ability to perform basic maintenance on their larger vessels. After the near-bankruptcy of Halifax Dartmouth Industries Limited (HDIL) in the 1970s, the RCN got nervous, and looked for a way to achieve some redundancy for HDIL's facilities. A local engineering firm, CBCL, suggested lengthening the platform from 307 metres to 413 metres and upgrading the winch capacity to allow larger vessels to be lifted out of the water. The Syncrolift was actually used during the construction work, as it was used to lower the new caissons into the water (the new caissons may even have been formed and poured on the platform prior to being floated out). The complement of winches were now made up of 26 180-ton winches, and 20 280-ton winches under the heavier middle portion of the ships (e.g. the engine room). The winches were split with 13 180-ton and 10 280-ton winches on each side of the platform. I have seen somewhere this rendered the Syncrolift capable of hoisting a 6,000 tonne "NATO" frigate, but can't find the reference at the moment. It can certainly handle the 5,235 ton Canadian Patrol Frigate and 5,100 ton IROQUOIS class destroyer (those are their full load numbers, and I'm not sure how heavy the ships normally are when they are hauled out).
|HMCS IROQUOIS was the first destroyer lifted by the newly refurbished Syncrolift, on Nov. 1, 1986. The larger winches (the blue "boxes") are of 280 ton capacity each, while the smaller winches are of 180 ton capacity. The 280 ton winches are placed around the machinery spaces of the ship, which weigh more than other portions of the ship. Also seen here are CORMORANT, a Saint class tug, SKEENA, and ATHABASKAN. DND photo, Courtesy of Corvus Publishing Group.|
This meant that one can occasionally get a glimpse of things like the housing for the SQS 510 sonar found under the hull of these ships.
|HMCS ATHABASKAN. The SQS-510 Hull Outfit C3 sonar dome is removed for maintenance. The fairing itself is seen at bottom left, and is facing backwards. The covers are removed from the winches in this photo.|
|SACKVILLE was a Syncrolift customer both before and after her restoration to her original appearance as a corvette. Seen here in 2008, she is showing a considerable amount of marine growth. © Sandy McClearn.|
|A slightly different angle on SACKVILLE. © Sandy McClearn.|
Although the upgraded Syncrolift could handle the newer and heavier VICTORIA class submarines, there was still a problem. Not only are the VICTORIA class heavier than the older OBERON class submarines, but that heavier load is spread out over a shorter length, and that greater load density meant that the inshore winches and platform support beams were not rated to support the new submarines when they were being transferred inshore for extended refit periods. In the photo above, the submarine in the temporary shelter had to be stripped down to reduce the weight and avoid overloading the inshore 180-ton winches and support beams. The old submarine maintenance shed was also too small for the new submarines, which were beamier than their predecessors.
|CORNER BROOK in 2008. You can see the difference in size between the 180-ton (left) and 280-ton (right) winches. |
© Sandy McClearn.
|WINDSOR in 2012. To the left of the photo is the control cabin, from where the winches of the Syncrolift are controlled and monitored during operation. © Sandy McClearn.|
|Clean once again, HMCS ST. JOHN'S is pictured being lowered once again into Halifax Harbour. The new maintenance shed isn't big enough to take a frigate, but could accommodate a smaller vessel like SACKVILLE. © Sandy McClearn.|
In order to write this post, I relied partly on articles in old issues of "Canada's Navy Annual" published by Corvus Publishing Group Ltd. In all, they published 6 issues, plus the original special commemorative issue for the Navy's 75th anniversary in 1985. They have since gone out of business, but were still active in the mid-1990s when I wrote them (while in university) to ask them for permission to reproduce the photos contained therein (which they kindly gave me). I managed to purchase all 7 issues used, probably at J.W. Doull.