Protecteur-class replenishment oiler
HMCS Protecteur (AOR 509)
|Builders:||Saint John Shipbuilding|
|Operators:||Royal Canadian Navy|
|Succeeded by:||Protecteur class and MS Asterix (interim)|
|In commission:||30 August 1969 – 21 October 2016|
|Length:||171.9 m (564 ft 0 in)|
|Beam:||23.2 m (76 ft 1 in)|
|Draught:||10.1 m (33 ft 2 in)|
|Speed:||20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)|
|Range:||4,100 nmi (7,600 km; 4,700 mi) at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)|
|Complement:||365 officers and crew (men and women) including 45 in air detachment|
|Aircraft carried:||3 × CH-124 Sea King helicopters|
The Protecteur-class auxiliary oiler replenishment (AOR) ships were used by the Royal Canadian Navy to resupply ships at sea with food, munitions, fuel and spare parts. They had more sophisticated medical and dental facilities than smaller warships. At 172 metres (564 ft) the ships were the largest operated by the RCN. Entering service in 1969, the last vessel of the class was paid off in 2016.
The Protecteur-class replenishment oilers were 171.9 m (564 ft 0 in) long, 23.2 m (76 ft 1 in) wide, and displaced up to a maximum of 24,700 tonnes (24,310 long tons) when fully loaded. Powered by two Babcock & Wilcox boilers, feeding a single General Electric steam turbine engine, the ships reached a maximum speed of 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph). At 20 knots, the range of the Protecteur class was limited to 4,100 nautical miles (7,600 kilometres; 4,700 miles), but could be extended to 7,500 nmi (13,900 km; 8,600 mi) when only traveling at 11.5 knots (21.3 km/h; 13.2 mph). The Protecteur class could safely navigate in as little as 10.1 m (33 ft 2 in) of water.
Three hundred and sixty five men and women served in Protecteur-class oilers, including 27 officers, and 45 air detachment personnel who operated and supported three embarked CH-124 Sea King helicopters. The crew was also responsible for loading and unloading the cargo of the Protecteur class, which included up to 14,590 t (14,360 long tons) of fuel, 400 t (394 long tons) of aviation fuel, 1,048 t (1,031 long tons) of dry cargo, and 1,250 t (1,230 long tons) of ammunition.
Two 20 mm Phalanx close-in weapon system points and six .50 calibre machine guns helped protect the cargo and crew of the Protecteur class if their BAE Systems Mark 36 SRBOC chaff launchers or AN/SLQ-25 Nixie towed decoy did not prevent enemy weaponry from endangering the ship.
Ships in class
|Ship||Hull Number||Laid down||Launched||Commissioned||Status||Home port|
|Protecteur||AOR 509||16 December 1966||18 July 1968||30 August 1969||Paid off 14 May 2015||CFB Esquimalt, British Columbia|
|Preserver||AOR 510||17 October 1967||30 July 1970||7 August 1970||Paid off 21 October 2016||CFB Halifax, Nova Scotia|
Retirement and future
On 19 September 2014, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman of the Royal Canadian Navy announced the retirement of both Protecteur and Preserver, along with the Iroquois-class destroyers HMCS Iroquois and HMCS Algonquin. General wear and tear notwithstanding, Protecteur was involved in a very serious engine room fire in February 2014 and more recently corrosion problems were found on Preserver. On 27 November 2015, Protecteur and Algonquin were sold to R.J. MacIsaac Ltd. of Antigonish, Nova Scotia for scrapping. They were towed to Liverpool, Nova Scotia where the vessels will be broken up. Preserver was paid off on 21 October 2016.
Plans for replacing the class were first introduced in 2004. Lack of spare parts for the boilers and the fact that the Protecteur class are monohull tankers were the main driving points to replacing the class. The ships were intended to continue to operate until 2017, however, the Joint Support Ship Project will not be completed until two years later, leaving a gap in the ability for the RCN to refuel and resupply her own ships while deployed.
The Royal Canadian Navy looked at other options to fill the gap until the arrival of the two Protecteur-class auxiliary vessels in 2019 at the earliest, The navy is currently leasing replenishment vessels from other navies, and is in the process of converting a civilian container ship to a replenishment vessel.
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Media related to Protecteur class replenishment oilers at Wikimedia Commons