Rimouski museum buys surplus sub for $4

Rimouski's marine museum has bought a surplus Canadian submarine for $4 plus tax

A Quebec museum has bought itself a submarine for the princely sum of $4, plus tax.

The submarine is the former HMCS Onondaga, one of Canada's Oberon-class submarines that was decommissioned in 2000 when the navy picked up its new Victoria-class subs from the British navy.

Annemarie Bourassa, assistant director of the Musee de la Mer de Pointe-au-Pere, told the Canadian Press that the sub will be a big draw for her museum.

"Rimouski is not a big city and there's not a lot of big tourist attractions, so there's a lot of people who are convinced that this will be good for everyone," Bourassa said.

The submarine was headed to the Canada War Museum as an exhibit for children to climb through, but that museum bailed out when it worked out the cost of transporting the submarine to its new building in Ottawa.

That is when the Rimouski museum decided to get involved. It contacted Ottawa's war surplus department and bought the submarine for a couple of toonies, plus tax.

But the story, and the costs, don't end there.

The submarine will be towed to Rimouski this summer from its temporary berth in Dartmouth, N.S., across the basin from the Halifax naval yard where it spent much of its life. The museum will then build a reception centre and upgrade the submarine as a tourist destination in time for its grand opening on July 1, 2007.

Total cost: $2.6 million.

Rimouski may have scooped a bargain from under the noses of Canada's many other marine museums, but there are three other Canadian submarines coming up for sale sometime soon.

The Onondaga's sister ships, the Ojibwa and the Okanagan, and the Olympus training vessel, will probably end up in a museum, or as underwater destinations for scuba divers or sold for scrap.