Orca-class patrol vessel

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Orca sailing in the Gulf Islands in support of RCN naval officer training (2007)
Class overview
NameOrca class
BuildersVictoria Shipyards, Esquimalt
OperatorsRoyal Canadian Navy
Preceded byYAG 300
  • CA$90.7 million (2004) for 8 vessels
  • CA$11.3 million (2004) per unit
BuiltNovember 2004 – October 2008
In service17 November 2006 – present
General characteristics
TypeTraining tender and patrol boat
Displacement210 tonnes (207 Imperial tons)
Length33 m (108 ft)
Beam8.34 m (27.4 ft)
Draught2.6 m (8.5 ft)
  • 2 x Caterpillar 3516B diesel engines, 2,500 hp each at 1,600 rpm
  • 2 x ZF 7550A gearboxes
  • 2 x 1,400mm fixed pitch propellers
Speed20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph) governed
Range660 nmi (1,220 km; 760 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement5 (minimum); 24 (maximum)
ArmamentNot armed. Foredeck is strengthened to accept a 12.7 mm M2 machine gun.
  • 1 x Zodiac SR2 rescue boat
  • 1 x Allied Systems D2500S deck crane

The Orca-class patrol vessels are a class of eight steel-hulled training and surveillance vessels in service with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) at Patrol Craft Training Unit (PCTU) Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt.[1] Based on the Australian Pacific-class patrol boat design, all of the Orca vessels were constructed by Victoria Shipyards between November 2004 and November 2008. In addition to carrying the RCN designation of patrol craft training (PCT),[2] the Orca class are not formally commissioned in the RCN and as such do not possess the His Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) prefix.[3]

Design and description[edit]

In the early 2000s, the Canadian Forces Maritime Command (MARCOM) began searching for a replacement for its aging 1950s-era wooden-hulled YAG 300 training tenders.[4] While training aboard the YAG vessels was considered useful, initial training of naval officers was moving towards more modern land-based simulators that more accurately replicated the conditions aboard RCN capital ships. On 8 November 2004 the Department of National Defence (DND) announced a C$69.7 million contract for six new ships, with an option for two more for a total budget of C$90.7 million.[1][4]

Based on the Australian Tenex Defence designed Pacific-class Seahorse Mercator, the Canadian-built Orca class shares the same hull design as the Australian vessel, but is uniquely 15% larger. Stretched to the maximum allowed by the contract, the Canadian Orca class was designed to allow for the hull to be able to withstand any increase in the size and weight of future equipment. With the change in size, also came a change to the propulsion system, crew accommodations and bridge structure.[5]

Designed to accommodate a 12.7 mm M2 machine gun, the foredeck was strengthened and extra fire protection was added, requiring a new firemain supply to the new ammunition storage lockers. This redesign led to several systems, including the auxiliary seawater and bilge systems to be upgraded.[5] In addition, requirements under the Canada Shipping Act and Canadian naval requirements also necessitated the installation of a third generator, changing the electrical supply to 120 Volts/60 Hertz and a redesigned water cooling system.[5]

Designed as a "'stepping stone' to larger fleet warships", the Orcas were also designed with a larger wheelhouse fitted with warship-grade navigational equipment.[2] The large bridge offers expansive views all around ensuring safety and enhancing training value. Below the bridge, is a sixteen-seat training room with reconfigurable seating, desks and a multimedia centre, also serves as a mess and medical area.[1] As the training room sits atop of the machinery space, a multi-component acoustic system and absorbent material was used for sound deadening.[1]

The Orca class were the first vessels of its size to be built to the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) High-Speed Naval Craft (HSNC) A1 classification[6] and are constructed using CSA G40.21 50W/350WT high strength structural steel.[1] Known for its reliability in cold climates, it is the same type of steel used in the Canadian Halifax-class frigates.[1][7]

Each Orca-class vessel shares the same dimensions of being 33 metres (108 ft 3 in) long,[4] a beam of 8.34 metres (27 ft 4 in), a draught of 2.0 metres (6 ft 7 in), and a displacement of 210 tonnes (210 long tons).[5] Powered by two Caterpillar 3516B marine diesel engines, each rated for 1,900 kilowatts (2,500 hp) at 1,600 revolutions per minute, they are capable of 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph), and have an endurance of 660 nautical miles (1,220 km; 760 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph).[2][4] Able to be operated by a core crew of five, the maximum bunk space on the Orcas is twenty-four with two two-bunk cabins for the crew (officer in charge, executive officer, senior bosun's mate, Orca-class engineer) two six-bunk cabins and two four-bunk cabins for instructors and trainees.[4][5] Each Orca carries one Zodiac SR2 inflatable rescue boat that holds two sailors.[8]

Renard, Moose and Raven alongside at CFB Esquimalt in 2017


During the early stages of the Second World War, the Canadian Government acquired fourteen large yachts from the United States and all were given animal names upon commissioning in the RCN.[9] All but Orca and Raven perpetuate the names of those armed yachts and all have a connection to First Nations lore. Cougar, Moose, and Wolf are the third vessels to carry those names as they also perpetuate the names of Canadian Fairmile B motor launches used by the Canadian Forces Naval Reserve as training ships after the Second World War.[10]

All eight Orca-class vessels were constructed by Victoria Shipyards at Victoria, British Columbia with the first in class Orca, was laid down in September 2005, launched in August 2006, and delivered to MARCOM in November 2006.[2] The remaining Orcas delivered were: Raven in March 2007; Caribou in July 2007; Renard in September 2007; Wolf in November 2007; Grizzly in March 2008; Cougar in July 2008 and Moose in November 2008.[8]

Construction data
Name Pennant number Builder Launched Service entry Last refit[11] Next refit[11] Homeport Status
Orca PCT 55 Seaspan ULC, Esquimalt, British Columbia 8 August 2006 9 November 2006 2015 2020 CFB Esquimalt Active
Raven PCT 56 10 January 2007 15 March 2007 2015 2020 CFB Esquimalt Active
Caribou PCT 57 2 May 2007 31 July 2007 2016 2021 CFB Esquimalt Active
Renard PCT 58 1 August 2007 13 September 2007 2016 2021 CFB Esquimalt Active
Wolf PCT 59 22 October 2007 29 November 2007 2017 2022 CFB Esquimalt Active
Grizzly PCT 60 14 February 2008 19 March 2008 2017 2022 CFB Esquimalt Active
Cougar PCT 61 28 August 2008 2 October 2008 2018 2023 CFB Esquimalt Active
Moose PCT 62 23 October 2008 27 November 2008 2018 2023 CFB Esquimalt Active



As dedicated training tenders, the Orcas are primarily used to facilitate numerous one-to-six-week long at-sea training evolutions for training both regular and reserve force RCN naval officers.[2] The vessels are also used to train non-commissioned members and provide an at sea experience for the teenage members of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets.[2] The Orcas are considered vessels of opportunity for surveillance and search and rescue and are all homeported at CFB Esquimalt.[2][12]

During Operation Podium, the Canadian Forces support of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, three Orcas were temporarily fitted with 12.7 mm machine guns for port security duties.[5][12]

On 15 June 2017, while HMCS Chicoutimi was docked at CFB Esquimalt, Cougar struck the submarine as it was exiting the dockyard. The initial inspection following the collision showed only superficial damage to the protective gear around the submarine and only minor damage to Cougar's propeller.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Bill van Dinther". Canadiana Naval Technology History Association. 22 April 2017. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Fast tests keep new Canadian navy training ships on schedule". Diesel Progress (North American ed.). Diesel & Gas Turbine Publications (April 2007). 1 April 2007.
  3. ^ "Orca Class". hazegray.org. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e "New Training Vessels for the Navy: The Orca Class". CDNMilitary.ca. January 2007. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Peer, David (Summer 2013). "Making Waves – The Orca Project: A Procurement Success" (PDF). Canadian Naval Review. Retrieved 27 May 2023.
  6. ^ "Rules and Guides for Naval Ships". American Bureau of Shipping. Retrieved 16 May 2023.
  7. ^ "350WT Cat 4 - Terra Nova Steel Inc". terranovasteel.com. Retrieved 27 May 2023.
  8. ^ a b "Orca Class Patrol Craft Training (PCT) Vessels". Naval Technology. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  9. ^ Tucker, Gilbert Norman (1952). The Naval Service of Canada : Activities on Shore During the Second World War (PDF). Vol. II. Ottawa, Ontario: King's Printer. p. 23.
  10. ^ "Canadian Naval History". Naval Museum of Manitoba. Retrieved 23 January 2020.[dead link]
  11. ^ a b Government of Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada (17 December 2019). "Minor Warships and Auxiliary Vessel (W8482-171789/B)". buyandsell.gc.ca. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  12. ^ a b Thomas, Doug. "Warship Developments: Training Ships: Virtual or Actual?" (PDF). Canadian Naval Review. Retrieved 27 May 2023.
  13. ^ Smart, Amy (15 June 2017). "Patrol training vessel runs into docked submarine at CFB Esquimalt". Times Colonist. Retrieved 17 June 2017.

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