Royal Canadian Navy submarine HMCS Corner Brook was scheduled to return to service in 2020 after years of repairs, but will have to remain in dry dock for several more months due to a ruptured ballast tank.
According to information obtain obtained by the Canadian Press, the Victoria-class submarine’s return to operational duties is being held up by a failed ballast tank test carried out by Babcock Canada, which is maintaining all four submarines in the class.
A CBC report even said that the damage could prove to be permanent and potentially continue to pose a risk for the foreseeable future, even after repairs.
The fleet of submarines has been plagued by accidents and malfunctions ever since being brought second-hand from Great Britain in 1998. One of the unluckiest was exactly HMCS Corner Brook which struck the ocean floor off British Columbia in 2011, only to suffer a fire outbreak while docked for repairs in August 2019.
According to CBC, the defense ministry report said the ballast tank successfully passed the pressure test but ruptured as the test team tried to accelerate drainage of the tank by reapplying pressure.
The defense ministry report acknowledged that the navy may have to continuously monitor the structural integrity of the ballast tanks to ensure the submarine can surface of stay surfaced during operations.
The Victoria-class as a whole has spent more time under repair than underway. The Canadian Navy recently spent an entire without a submarine capability. Despite this, military officials are pushing ahead with the plan to keep the boats in service by 2027. Upgrades and upkeep costs required to achieve this have been estimated at over C$2 billion.