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HMCS Chicoutimi {MERGED}

What's the big deal, so what if they use it for spare parts right now?  The parts are right there!  So take them!

As for the sub ever making it back to sea, I have my doubts, especially when the submarine community is probably used to having a sub kicking around for various training activities (OLYMPUS)

I was on the Chicoutimi, and it was in the best shape of the 4 boats because it was used for spare parts, so most of its kit was NEW...

Also when one reads quotes from other sailors knocking the program or the submarine in general, you always have to consider the source, you can have 500 guys saying the same thing, and it will the 501st guy saying something negative that will get all the attention.

The media has never had anything positive to say about this program, and as long as there is a submarine program the public will always view it as such.
redleafjumper said:
When you buy second-hand, you are often buying other people's problems. 

I don't think second hand is the problem, what is the problem is the time spent sitting and collecting dust. About a decade of doing absolutely nothing will create these sorts of problems.
The Brits commissioned the ships between '90 & 93
and mothballed them in '93.
The "DEAL" with Canada was announced in '98.... so the ships were, by most standards "like new" BUT it would appear that some of the people involved in the mothball process didn't go about their tasks in "bristol" fashion.  If memory serves me right, think that one of the subs had it's ballast tanks filled with saltwater for the 5 years "on the beach".... not good.

Hangar Queen = Parts bin..... the army does it often enough, so shouldn't be much of a surprise if the Navy uses that option.... they only have 4 of that line of ships.
cobbler said:
I don't think second hand is the problem, what is the problem is the time spent sitting and collecting dust. About a decade of doing absolutely nothing will create these sorts of problems.

On top of that, no one has ever re-comissioned a warship of this complexity after a long period of being decomissioned. Purchasing right after the Brits were about to retire them would have been more sensible, but the decision to wait for so long was political (government had to tighten its purses due to the ballooning deficit).
Submariners' health to be tracked over long-term
Updated Wed. Jul. 29 2009 5:54 PM ET

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- Submariners who survived the deadly electrical fire aboard HMCS Chicoutimi almost five years ago will be the subject of a long-term health study.

The navy and the military's medical branch have signed a formal arrangement for a first-of-its-kind review that will assess and track the medical conditions of submariners who were exposed to smoke with possible toxins.

It's the first time the Canadian Forces has embarked on a systematic study of its members following an "occupational exposure," says a briefing note obtained by The Canadian Press.

The agreement commits both military branches to monitor the 56 sailors -- both serving and retired -- until at least 2014 when an assessment will be made whether to follow them until the end of their lives.

The study was one of the last orders issued by Vice-Admiral Drew Robertson before he retired as chief of maritime staff last month, and is among the steps taken after The Canadian Press reported in 2008 that sailors were falling ill with debilitating medical conditions.

Part of the challenge will be to keep track of crew members as they leave the military, the document said.

Lt.-Col. Marcie Lorenzen, an interim medical adviser to the maritime staff, said the study is groundbreaking for the military but not necessarily precedent-setting.

"It's probably what we should be doing and would have been doing had we had the information technology in the past to do it," she said in an interview Wednesday.

Be it former soldiers exposed to atomic tests in the 1950s, troops sprayed with Agent Orange in the 1960s, peacekeepers with illnesses or survivors of a submarine fire, the military has faced repeated criticism about the way it handles long-term health concerns of its members.

Lorenzen said the Chicoutimi study could pave the way for similar projects in future, depending upon the nature of the mission and the members involved.

An assessment shows over half the Chicoutimi crew suffered from post-traumatic stress following the October 2004 fire, which crippled their submarine off Ireland in the stormy North Atlantic. Over 20 sailors have subsequently complained of breathing trouble, said the May 7, 2009, briefing note.

The study will examine each man's medical condition before the fire and compile a database of their ailments as the years unfold. That information will be compared against a control group of submariners, who were not exposed to the raging fire caused when electrical cables were inundated with water.

In a series of 2008 interviews, sailors also spoke about unexplained fainting spells, short-term memory loss and chronic conditions, such as asthma. There were also reports of neurological disorders.

Roughly half the crew members have been discharged, will soon leave the military or have been placed on a medically disabled list.

Many of the sailors said at the time they were angry the navy had not provided them with a detailed chemical analysis of the smoke and its potential health effects, as promised in the aftermath of the fire.

They were also upset about having to fight running battles with Veterans Affairs over pension entitlements. They said they felt "forgotten."

Through the National Research Council, the military eventually came up with a chemical analysis and other tests. But queries to National Defence and internal emails show no testing was carried out dealing with "cold smoke."

The crew was most concerned about possible exposure to burning Peridite, an epoxy and known carcinogen used to glue insulation to the deck and hull.

When the chemical analysis was eventually released, it showed that the fumes and soot likely contained established carcinogens such as benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and dioxins and furans.

And it clearly stated that the crew likely inhaled cancer-causing contaminants.

"It is reasonable to conclude that the HMCS Chicoutimi smoke contained chemical carcinogens, and that the crew were exposed to them," the June 2008 report said.

"The actual risk of developing cancer will depend on the amount, or dose, of exposure."

The crew and their families were given the news at a town hall meeting, ordered by the chief of defence staff in the aftermath of the sailors' published complaints.

The British-built Chicoutimi was on its maiden voyage to Canada from Faslane, Scotland, when a fire broke out on Oct. 4, 2004. Lt. Chris Saunders of Halifax died later in an Irish hospital.


I have a naive question:

How does the air recycling system work in a submarine?
Any exhaust or a way to deviate the contaminated air, or masks such as found in civilian airplane for passengers, any equipments that the firefighters use to breath when they need to get in a burning house?

Just wondering.

OK, it was a stupid question, I found the answer on internet by a quick search :

Board of Inquiry - HMCS Chicoutimi Fires and Casualties

And also:

Submarine air Quality: Monitoring the air in submarines, National Academy press, Washington D.C. 1988
On a Diesel powered sub we get a lot of our air when we charge.  Most gets sucked in for the diesel the rest is ours.  When we are dived and if it’s a long time we monitor the atmosphere and if it gets to low we burn a O2 candle and turn on our C02 absorption unit.  If we have a fire or our air is contaminated and we can’t come back up for what ever reason we have emergency breathing masks.  Running out of air is really the least of our worries.

An update on her current deployment


I'd love to know if she managed to 'sink' their carrier during this exercise!
Czech_pivo said:
I'd love to know if she managed to 'sink' their carrier during this exercise!

If they release any info like that to the media, I'll eat my hat*.

*Beret though - wedge is too thick and I only have 1 muskrat hat  :nod:
Dimsum said:
If they release any info like that to the media, I'll eat my hat*.

*Beret though - wedge is too thick and I only have 1 muskrat hat  :nod:

I don't think that we'd want to embarrass our Japanese ally if we did or ourselves if they managed to 'sink' us.....but I'm sure the story will be making the rumour mill once they are back home.
Czech_pivo said:
I don't think that we'd want to embarrass our Japanese ally if we did or ourselves if they managed to 'sink' us.....but I'm sure the story will be making the rumour mill once they are back home.

I’m fairly confident that if the JMSDF set out to find the Chi, they’d sink her before she had a chance to sink the “carrier”.

I suspect both sides tried their best to sink each other and learn from it, regardless of who got who.
Submariners' health to be tracked over long-term
Updated Wed. Jul. 29 2009 5:54 PM ET ...
Bumped with the latest on that from the info-machine ...
The Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Forces Health Services Group have finalized the first phase of a health study which was designed to systematically document and describe the health effects associated with exposure to the October 2004 fire onboard Her Majesty’s Canadian Submarine Chicoutimi.

The Health Study followed 250 participants including 56 crewmembers, 42 members of the Care and Custody Team who looked after the submarine following its return to Faslane, Scotland, and 152 randomly selected submariners (acting as a control group). Stage one of the study analyzed the health of participants in the five years preceding the fire and five years following the fire.

The Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy has invited the former members of HMCS Chicoutimi, and the Care and Custody Team, to attend a Town Hall meeting at Canadian Forces Base Halifax where the results of the health study will be shared, and options for the next phase of the study will be discussed.

The Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Forces Health Services Group remain committed to undertaking this study, and will continue with the next phase of the study with input received at the upcoming Town Hall.

Media will be invited to attend a briefing following the Town Hall, where the results of the study will be released to the public.


Quick facts

    In 2004 HMCS Chicoutimi sustained a fire during a transatlantic voyage from Scotland to Canada. The fire resulted in a number of casualties, and the death of Lt(N) Chris Saunders.

    The crewmembers of HMCS Chicoutimi received comprehensive and enhanced medical and mental health care immediately following the fire, and over the subsequent months. Chief concerns at the time included respiratory conditions, and mental health issues. A number of crewmembers were also concerned that they may have had exposure to carcinogens that could have long-term health impacts. 

    At a Town Hall with crewmembers in 2008 the Royal Canadian Navy committed to undertaking a study to monitor the health of crewmembers, and members of the Care and Custody Team. The RCN reached an agreement for this study with the Canadian Forces Health Services Group in 2009.

    The results of this study were unfortunately delayed due to several factors including insufficient tracking and follow-up, and while the draft report of the study was completed in 2015, it was not finalized until January, 2019.

    Our intent now is to communicate the results of the study to crew and Care and Custody Team members and stakeholders in an open and transparent fashion, as quickly as possible, and to discuss options for further study ...
Also attached in case link doesn't work.


  • HMCS Chicoutimi Health Surveillance Study Phase One Results - C.pdf
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From CTV News

Navy to release health study 15 years after deadly submarine fire

The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, July 11, 2019 4:40AM EDT 

HALIFAX -- Sailors who survived a devastating fire aboard the submarine HMCS Chicoutimi almost 15 years ago were expected to learn details today of a study into the long-term impact on their health.

The used British submarine, one of four purchased by the Canadian military in 1998, was on its maiden voyage to Canada on Oct. 5, 2004, when it caught fire in rough seas off the coast of Ireland.

A board of inquiry later determined that as the sub's conning tower was being repaired on the surface, a rogue wave pushed a torrent of seawater through two open hatches, partially flooding two compartments and causing an electrical short-circuit and fire.

Much of the sub was quickly engulfed in black smoke as the 55 crew members fought the blaze.

Navy Lt. Chris Saunders later died from smoke inhalation, and two other crew members were badly injured by the toxic fumes.

After the fire, many of the submariners spent an additional five days on the sub -- working on equipment covered in grey soot -- as the ship was towed to Scotland.

The navy conceded early in its investigation that the crew had been exposed to a nasty chemical cocktail, though it would take years of laboratory work to determine what was in the smoke.

If anyone is curious, here is the June 2008 study on the health effects.  Found it on the CBC link below, but attached a copy in case it gets removed at some point. This is the study refd in the Health Canada report released yesterday over here https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/corporate/reports-publications/health/hmcs-chicoutimi-health-surveillance-study.html

Looks like they did some pretty comprehensive testing and actually burning a number of different materials.  They outline the limitations in detail, but seems like a reasonable approximation.

Their conclusion that the crew is at no increased risk to cancer is a bit of an oddball, as they are doing a pretty quick comparison against firefighters in general (doing mostly house fires where they can fight it from outside), while ignoring some of the other single events (plastinet fire in Hamilton, 9/11) where the first responders had a significantly higher rate of health problems.  Can't compare exposure from outside the building to being in a steel tube with something burning for assessing exposure.

from https://www.cbc.ca/ns/media/pdf/HMCSCHICOUTIMI_PotentialChemica-Health.pdf



  • HMCSCHICOUTIMI_PotentialChemica-Health.pdf
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