Navy technicians blew submarine's electrical system: report

A navy technician blew the electrical system of HMCS Victoria when he hooked up the wrong power.

Navy technicianscaused "catastrophic damage" to one of Canada's trouble-plagued submarines two years ago, says a Halifax newspaper report that cited military documents.

The technicians blew out the electrical system when they hooked up HMCS Victoria to a modern electrical generator, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald reported Saturday.

"Attempts to use a DC [direct current] feed … caused catastrophic damage to certain onboard filters and power supply units," the Chronicle-Herald reported, quoting recently released military documents about the incident, which occurred in British Columbia.

The navy is now spending about $200,000 to buy old electrical equipment that mirrors the original equipment found on the submarine.

Victoria is slated to come out of dry dock next spring, about one year behind schedule. It is expected to be operational in early 2009.

The Victoria is one of four Upholder-classsubmarines that the British Royal Navylaunched in the late 1980s and early 1990s before withdrawing them fromservice in 1994. Canada bought from the British navy in 1998 for $891 million.

The deal was considered good at the time, but the fleet has been plagued with problems ever since. There have been serious electrical problems, rust and general deterioration in the submarines, whichhad sat mothballed in salt water for the previous four years.

Only one vessel, Halifax-based HMCS Windsor, has gone to sea lately.

HMCS Chicoutimi caught fire off Scotland on its maiden voyage in 2004, resulting in the death of Lieut. Chris Saunders. It won’t be ready for sea until about 2012.

Its sister vessel, HMCS Corner Brook, hasn't left Halifax since April 2004. It won't start sea trials until this summer.