No known link between fires aboard 2 Halifax-based navy ships

There's no reason to believe fires that broke out recently on two Halifax-based Royal Canadian Navy ships are sign of a widespread problem with the fleet, says a senior military official.

A third navy vessel in a different class experienced technical problems this week

HMCS Toronto practises high-speed manoeuvres in the Indian Ocean off Somalia in this 2007 DND file photo. The ship experienced technical problems last month. (Master-Cpl. Kevin Paul/Canadian Forces Combat Camera)

There's no reason to believe fires that broke out recently on two Halifax-based Royal Canadian Navy ships are sign of a widespread problem with the fleet, a senior military official said Wednesday.

The Defence Department continues to investigate the incidents aboard HMCS Halifax and HMCS Toronto, which occurred within days of each other last month.

Navy Capt. Trevor MacLean, chief of staff for Maritime Component Command, said the navy is "extremely confident" the ships remain fit for service.

"We have a rigorous routine of preventative maintenance and inspections that occur," he said.

"After the initial days of the investigations, we're fairly confident already that there's absolutely no relationship between any of these occurrences."

Fire aboard HMCS Halifax

The first incident occurred Oct. 26, when a fire broke out in the starboard gas turbine enclosure in the forward engine room for HMCS Halifax, the Defence Department said Wednesday in a news release. The ship was deployed off the coast of Norway at the time.

"Upon discovery of the fire, the crew immediately engaged the fire suppression system and the fire was quickly extinguished," the release said. "No one was injured."

The Royal Canadian Navy says there was a 'minor' fire onboard the HMCS Halifax on Friday Oct. 26 while on deployment off the coast of Norway. (CAF Operations Twitter)

Navy officials said the incident did not effect the ship's operations and it was able to continue participating in military activities. The engine has since been repaired and is functioning normally.

"Initial indications are that the fire on board HMCS Halifax ... was a result of a clogged drain in the engine enclosure, but again more will be confirmed when the investigation is complete."

Loss of power aboard HMCS Toronto

Three days later, HMCS Toronto experienced a total loss of power while conducting operations and anti-ship missile defence training in the Hebrides Sea off the coast of the United Kingdom.

"The ship was able to restore power and safely sail to Belfast," said the release.

When the ship arrived in Belfast on Oct. 30, a fire started in the same location as the one that happened on board HMCS Halifax. As with Halifax, it was quickly extinguished and no one was hurt.

"At this point, initial indications are that the cause of the fire on HMCS Toronto was due to a tank overflow," said the release. "The ship is returning to Halifax as planned and while the engine is functional, it is being kept in reserve while the investigation concludes."

Problems with a third ship this week

Earlier this week and on the opposite coast, a third navy ship experienced technical problems.

According to the release, HMCS Edmonton was conducting routine operations Monday in the eastern Pacific Ocean when it experienced a short loss of electrical power. Crew were able to restore power within a minute.

"When power was restored it was discovered that the electronic control of the propulsion system had not come back online. Eventually it was determined that two blown fuses were the cause of the propulsion failure."

The release noted the issue with HMCS Edmonton is not related to the other incidents because it's a different class of ship and has different types of equipment onboard.

No effect on operations

MacLean said there's no threat of interruption to future operations and noted all three of the affected ships were able to complete their work.

He praised the ability of the ships' crews to deal with the problems as soon as they happened.

"All three ships are carrying on as initially planned," he said.

About the Author

Michael Gorman

Reporter

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia who covers Province House, rural communities, and everything in between. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca