HMCS Corner Brook (SSK 878)

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For other ships with the same name, see HMCS Corner Brook and HMS Ursula.
HMCS Corner Brook (SSK 878)
HMCS Corner Brook entering St John's Harbour on the east end of Newfoundland
United Kingdom
Name: Ursula
Builder: Cammell Laird, Birkenhead
Laid down: 10 January 1989
Launched: 22 February 1991
Commissioned: 8 May 1992
Decommissioned: 16 October 1994
Fate: Transferred to Canada
Name: Corner Brook
Acquired: 1998
Commissioned: March 2003
Status: in active service (in dock for repairs/awaiting damage assessment)
General characteristics
Class and type: Upholder/Victoria-class submarine
Type: Fleet submarines / long range hunter-killer submarines
  • 2,185 long tons (2,220 t) surfaced
  • 2,400 long tons (2,439 t) submerged
Length: 70.26 m (230 ft 6 in)
Beam: 7.6 m (24 ft 11 in)
Draught: 5.5 m (18 ft 1 in)
  • 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) surfaced
  • 20 kn (23 mph; 37 km/h)+ submerged
Range: 10,000 nautical miles (18,500 km) at 12 knots (22 km/h)
Test depth: 200 m (660 ft)
Complement: 53 officers and crew

HMCS Corner Brook (SSK 878) is a long-range hunter-killer submarine (SSK) of the Royal Canadian Navy. She is the former Royal Navy Upholder class submarine HMS Ursula (S42), purchased from the British at the end of the Cold War. She is the third boat of the Victoria class and is named after the city of Corner Brook, Newfoundland.


Corner Brook's displacement is approximately 2,200 tons surfaced and 2,400 tons submerged. Covered in anechoic tiles to reduce her detection by active sonar, the submarine is 70.3 metres (231 ft) long, 7.6 m (25 ft) across the beam and has a deep diving depth in excess of 200 m (660 ft). The main hull is constructed of high tensile steel sections stiffened by circular internal frames. Equipment located outside the main hull is covered by the casing, which also gives the crew a safe walkway when the submarine is surfaced. The fin, which helps support the masts, serves as a kind of keel and provides a raised conning position.

Corner Brook has six torpedo tubes and can carry up to eighteen Mark 48 Mod 4 heavyweight torpedoes for use against surface and sub-surface targets.

Corner Brook's sonar sets allow her to locate and track ships and other submarines passively: that is, without transmitting on active sonar and thus giving away her location. She is fitted with radar for general navigation, attack and search periscopes (incorporating video recording and thermal imaging), and an electronic support measures suite.

The boat has two diesel generators, each capable of producing up to 1,410 kilowatts, and one main motor. The generators are used to charge two main batteries, each consisting of 240 cells. These batteries are used to power the submarine, which can reach a submerged speed of up to 20 knots (37 km/h).


The submarine was laid down as HMS Ursula at Cammell Laird's Birkenhead yard on 10 January 1989.[1] She was launched on 28 February 1991 and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 8 May 1992.[1]

Operational history[edit]

Royal Navy and transfer[edit]

Ursula was decommissioned on 16 October 1994.[1]

Looking to discontinue the operation of diesel-electric boats, the British government offered to sell Ursula and her sister submarines to Canada in 1993.[2] The offer was accepted in 1998.[2] The four boats were leased to the Canadians for US$427 million (plus US$98 million for upgrades and alteration to Canadian standards), with the lease to run for eight years; the submarines would then be sold for £1.[1]

Problems were discovered with the piping welds on all four submarines, which delayed the reactivation of ex-Ursula and her three sisters.[1] ex-Ursula was handed over to the Canadian Forces on 21 February 2003, and commissioned as HMCS Corner Brook on 26 June 2003.[1]

Royal Canadian Navy[edit]

After commissioning, Corner Brook was deployed on the east coast of Canada, based out of Halifax.[3] During a refit in 2006, elevated levels of lead were detected aboard the submarine; they were believed to come from the lead-brick ballast blocks used aboard Corner Brook.[4]

Between October 2006 and January 2008, Corner Brook was active for only 81 days.[5] The submarine participated in NATO exercise 'Noble Mariner' during May 2007.[6] During the exercise, which occurred in the Baltic region, Corner Brook successfully closed with the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious without being detected.[6] The submarine returned to Canada, and in August, she participated in Operation Nanook, a sovereignty exercise held in and around Iqaluit and the Baffin Island coastal and the Hudson Strait areas.[6][3] That year, Corner Brook participated in the NATO exercise "Noble Warrior", marking the first time in 15 years that a Canadian submarine had been present in European waters.

In February 2008, Corner Brook departed from Halifax during a snowstorm for a three-month deployment to the Caribbean Sea.[7] As part of the deployment, the submarine operated with the United States Joint Interagency Task Force South, which attempts to counter drug trafficking, people smuggling and piracy in the region.[7] Corner Brook returned to Halifax in May.[7]

In January 2009, Corner Brook was the 'target' for submarine detection exercises performed by HMCS Halifax and HMCS Montreal.[8] This was followed by a four-week, multi-ship training exercise in the North Atlantic during February and March,[9] then participation in the UNITAS multinational exercise off Florida during late April and early May.[10] During August, the submarine was involved in Operation Nanook 2009[11][12] conducting covert surveillance patrols in the vicinity of Baffin Island.[3]

Early in 2011, Corner Brook took part in Operation Caribbe, before transiting to the west coast as part of her redeployment to Esquimalt.[3] In June 2011 the submarine ran aground during manoeuvres off Vancouver Island. Two submariners were slightly injured.[13]

After the grounding incident civilian and military submariners began pre-maintenance work on the submarine, in the expectation of an extended maintenance program. At the time, the process, length and cost of the work was unknown due to existing contracts.[14] A board of inquiry formed after the collision found that the cause of the collision had been human error.[15]

In February 2012, post-collision photos of the dry-docked submarine were published, showing extensive damage to the bow; the media also cited unofficial sources, saying the pressure hull may be damaged beyond repair.[16]

As of July 2014, Corner Brook began her Extended Docking Work Period (EDWP)[3] that was expected to take until 2017 to complete.[17]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Wertheim, Eric, ed. (2007). The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World: Their Ships, Aircraft, and Systems (15th ed.). Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. pp. 77–8. ISBN 978-1-59114-955-2. OCLC 140283156. 
  2. ^ a b Ferguson, Julie H. (2000). Deeply Canadian: New Submarines for a New Millennium. Beacon Publishing. p. 152. ISBN 0-9689857-0-X. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Corner Brook (SSK 878)". Royal Canadian Navy. Government of Canada. 30 July 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ [2] Archived March 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ a b c Blakeley, Darlene. "Trail breakers in the North". Canadian Navy. Archived from the original on June 28, 2010. Retrieved 14 May 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c "Submarine excels in both warm and cold waters" (PDF). Crows Nest. Maritime Command. Summer 2008. pp. 6–7. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 13, 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2010. 
  8. ^ [3] Archived June 9, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ "Navy ships leave Halifax for training mission". CBC News. 17 February 2009. Archived from the original on March 31, 2009. 
  10. ^ [4][dead link]
  11. ^ [5][dead link]
  12. ^ [6][dead link]
  13. ^ Submarine runs aground near Vancouver Island AHN, June 6, 2011[dead link]
  14. ^ McCracken, Erin (26 July 2011). "Investigation continues into sub crash". Goldstream News Gazette. BC Local News. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  15. ^ "B.C. Sub Accident: Board Of Inquiry Blames Human Error". Huffington Post. Canadian Press. 15 February 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2015. 
  16. ^ "HMCS Corner Brook collision damage extensive". CBC News. 13 February 2012. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  17. ^ Pugliese, David (25 September 2014). "Canadian navy gets more money to keep subs at sea". Defense Watch. Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 

External links[edit]