The Canadian Navy of Yesterday & Today
Photo Gallery

Submarines of the RCN

WWI - Present

Canada has never had a large submarine force, and has gone for long periods with no submarines at all. In fact, it is only since WWII that the Canadian Navy has built up a professional and well-trained submarine force. Their future has always been uncertain, especially now that the Canadian Government seems reluctant to purchase the submarines to replace the Navy's aging OBERON Class submarines. Here is a look in pictures at the submarines that have served with the Canadian Navy over the years.
Submarines of the Royal Canadian Navy
The RCN's involvement with subs originated on the eve of WWI, when the Premier of British Columbia purchased two submarines. They were built in Seattle, and intended for the Chilean Navy, but were sold to BC when Chili defaulted. Named CC1 and CC2, the two subs resembled the 'C' class of the Royal Navy, and were commissioned into the RCN. After three years of training on the West Coast, they were ordered to Europe by way of Halifax, NS. There it was determined that they would most likely not survive a trans-Atlantic crossing, and they were sold for scrap. DND photo.

At the tail end of the First World War, the Navy obtained two members of the British H Class which had been built in North America. These were considered by the British to be excellent subs at the time, but they didn't see much service in the RCN before being paid off. 

At the end of WWII, two German U-boats surrendered to the RCN, upon which the RCN took possession and used them for testing. Both were of the IX C type. U-190 (shown) was sunk in 1947 by naval aircraft near the position where she torpedoed and sunk HMCS ESQUIMALT. DND photo.

U889 was the other U-boat surrendered to the RCN. She served for a while with the RCN for evaluation purposes before being handed over to the USN after WWII. DND photo.

While RN subs were available to aid with ASW training on the East coast of Canada, it was decided that similiar arrangements would have to be made for the West coast. Thus it was that USS BURRFISH, a GATO/BALAO class sub, was borrowed from the USN for ASW training, and she was renamed HMCS GRILSE. Previous to her service with the RCN, she had carried out 6 war patrols with the USN in the Pacific. DND photo.

To replace GRILSE with a slightly more modern sub, another submarine was purchased from the USN in 1968 and renamed HMCS RAINBOW. The former USS ARGONAUT, a TENCH class boat, had undergone the Fleet Snorkel conversion prior to serving with the RCN. DND photo.

HMCS OJIBWA entered service in 1965, and was the first submarine ever built to RCN order. She is an OBERON class sub, a class designed for the Royal Navy. She has two operational sisters, ONONDAGA and OKANAGAN, and a fourth, OLYMPUS, serves dockside as a training platform. She appears here as she would when she was commissioned. DND photo.

While this is not a picture of a Canadian OBERON class sub (supposedly Chilean), it shows roughly how the OBERON class appears in Canadian service after the major SOUP (Submarine Operational Upgrade Program) refits in the mid-eighties to upgrade sonar and weapons systems. The most obvious difference is the streamlined sonar dome on the bow. (Photo provided by Real Fortin)

Back to the Canadian Navy of Yesterday & Today
This section of the HG&UW site created and maintained by Sandy McClearn.
Copyright © 1997-2003, Sandy McClearn. All Rights Reserved.
Reproduction, reuse, or distribution without permission is prohibited.