HMCS Windsor, one of Canada's trouble-plagued submarines, will go into the water this week after undergoing five years of costly repairs.

The Department of National Defence hopes to have the submarine in the water on Wednesday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay told reporters at a news conference in Halifax on Tuesday, making it the second submarine to begin sea trials this year after an extensive refit program.

Windsor has been in drydock since 2007. A refit was supposed to take two years, but it dragged on and costs skyrocketed. In 2010 alone, the navy spent $45 million repairing the boat when it had budgeted to spend just $17 million, according to documents obtained by CBC News last year.

The documents itemize a litany of problems with the British-built sub, including bad welds in the hull, broken torpedo tubes, a faulty rudder and tiles that can fall from the boat's topsides (the area between the waterline and the deck).

Windsor is expected to be fully operational next year. Canada bought the submarine and three others from the British Royal Navy in 1998.

There have been serious electrical problems, as well as rust and general deterioration in the subs, which had sat mothballed in salt water for the previous four years:

  • HMCS Chicoutimi caught fire on its maiden voyage in 2004, resulting in the death of Lieut. Chris Saunders. It's not expected back in service for another two years.
  • HMCS Corner Brook ran aground last June during manoeuvres off Vancouver Island. Like Chicoutimi, it will be another couple of years before it's ready for service.
  • HMCS Victoria has had its share of problems too. It was at sea for only 115 days between 2000 an 2010.

Torpedoes tested

HMCS Victoria, based on the West Coast, was the first submarine to complete the refit. It successfully test-fired torpedoes last month.

The Royal Canadian Navy is expanding the number of submariners it has to 330 from 278 in the coming months, MacKay said.

New training courses and personnel are meant to synchronize with the availability of the submarines, the minister said, with three of the boats scheduled to be in the water in the next 12 to 18 months.

"There are courses in place to match the arrival of operational submarines," MacKay said. "That should give us sufficient personnel."

With files from The Canadian Press