Three Royal Canadian Navy Victoria-class diesel-electric submarines have reached operational status.

Canada acquired HMCS Windsor, Victoria, Chicoutimi and Corner Brook from the UK for nearly $900m.

Since 2003, the Victoria-class submarine fleet has actively sailed and participated in exercises such as patrolling coastal areas, including in the Arctic and for international operations.

The first three vessels were at sea in December. HMCS Corner Brook is scheduled to remain in an extended docking work period under the Victoria in-service support contract (VISSC) until 2017.

Canada’s Treasury Board approved nearly $1.5bn of in-service support in 2008, running over a period of up to 15 years. The VISSC was awarded to Babcock Canada.

Armed with two submerged signal ejectors and small vertical discharge tubes, which can launch either acoustic or bubble decoys, the 70.3m-long and 7.6m-wide submarines use the passive Condor Systems Sea Search II electronic support measures (ESM) unit.

"Victoria-class submarines can operate in any weather conditions for up to 45 days."

They also feature CK 35 search and CH 85 attack optronic periscopes, a global positioning system and Kelvin Hughes Type 1007 and Foruno portable navigation radar, as well as an extremely quiet electric propulsion system.

Victoria-class submarines can operate in any weather conditions for up to 45 days and perform a range of peacetime naval operations, including fisheries patrols and surveillance of Canadian coastlines, as well as support for maritime law enforcement and other governmental departments.

In addition, they are used for bilateral engagements with continental defence partners, multinational exercises and act as a deterrent to would-be terrorists, smugglers and polluters.

Image: HMCS Victoria departs Her Majesty’s Canadian Dockyard Esquimalt. Photo: courtesy of the National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.