HMCS Toronto heads to the Arabian Sea as part of Operation Artemis, in Halifax on Monday, Jan.14, 2013. A Royal Canadian Navy ship taking part in NATO exercises off the United Kingdom was forced to head into port in Belfast after experiencing a loss of power at sea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Military investigating series of fires, power outages on board naval vessels

The Royal Canadian Navy has been rocked over the past two weeks by fires on two of its frigates during operations at sea

The Canadian military is investigating a rash of fires and power outages on board several naval ships, but says preliminary indications are that there are no connections among the various incidents.

The Royal Canadian Navy has been rocked over the past two weeks by fires on two of its frigates during operations at sea near Europe. One of those frigates and a coastal-defence ship in the Pacific also experienced power outages.

Crew members were able to put out the fires quickly and restore power in each incident. A senior navy officer said there were no injuries and the problems had little impact on the vessels’ missions.

Navy Capt. Trevor MacLean, chief of staff to the commander of maritime operations, said initial investigations have also failed to uncover any links among the various incidents.

READ MORE: Federal government announces $115 million for Royal Canadian Navy

There was also no indication that the problems on the two frigates, HMCS Halifax and Toronto, were connected to a series of recent technical upgrades that all 12 of the navy’s frigates have undergone in the past few years, he said.

“The initial returns from those investigations are indicating that there is absolutely no relationship between these four incidents and it was really just coincidental that they happened in such a short period of time,” MacLean said.

Still, MacLean acknowledged the sheer number of incidents was both unprecedented and of great concern to the navy, and said more detailed investigations will be conducted in the coming weeks.

The problems started when a fire broke out in an engine room on HMCS Halifax on Oct. 26 as the frigate was participating in a NATO exercise off the coast of Norway. A clogged drain in the engine enclosure is believed to have been the culprit.

Three days later, HMCS Toronto lost power while patrolling off Britain. Power was restored, but a fire broke out in the engine room after the ship docked in Belfast. Indications are that a tank overflow, likely caused by the power outage, was to blame.

While HMCS Halifax escaped without significant damage and remains deployed, MacLean said HMCS Toronto is heading back to Canada and that the affected engine is “quarantined,” meaning it can only be used in an emergency.

The most recent incident came Monday, when the coastal-defence ship HMCS Edmonton also lost power while involved in a U.S.-led drug-interdiction mission in the Pacific. Power was quickly restored and Edmonton later intercepted an illegal drug shipment.

“To the best of my knowledge, this is definitely the highest concentration I’ve seen in this short a time,” MacLean said. “But the great thing we did see is we didn’t skip a beat on operations.”

Fires have caused significant damage — and even death — on board Canadian navy ships in the past.

Crew members on board HMCS Protecteur spent 11 desperate hours fighting a fire on their navy resupply ship in 2014, while 21 sailors on HMCS Ottawa were treated for minor injuries in 2004 after a blaze on the frigate.

And navy Lt. Chris Saunders died and three fellow crewmates were treated for serious injuries after a fire on board the submarine HMCS Chicoutimi while traversing the Atlantic in 2004.

Retired navy captain Harry Harsch said the type of fires that struck HMCS Toronto and Halifax aren’t common, but do happen, and he expected a detailed investigation to identify the causes and ensure they don’t happen again.

“Fire at sea, that’s the one thing everyone takes very seriously,” he said.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Top bowlers to compete in Campbell River at provincial and national championships

Crystal Lanes to host major tournaments as local bowlers bring home medals

Home Away from Home to support families during kids’ medical treatment

Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island has lead gift to start project campaign

Plastic use is subject of Earth Week event at library

Drop-in event features displays, films and more on Saturday afternoon

People’s Party of Canada plan to have a candidate in the North Island-Powell River riding

Elections Canada formally recognized the North Island—Powell River PPC Association

UPDATED: Alcohol and speed believed to be factors in collision – Campbell River RCMP

Woman injured after driver ran into her car on Highway 19A, says fire captain

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand ‘a roof too’

Wealthy people have donated millions to effort to rebuild cathedral after devastating fire

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

United Way opens grants to help charities tackle social issues

Charities north of the Malahat can apply for grants $2,000 to $20,000

Second earthquake in less than two hours strikes off Vancouver Island

The first earthquake happened at 1:27 p.m., the second at 2:44 p.m.

PHOTOS: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says ‘I do’ on Earth Day

May and John Kidder got married Monday morning in Victoria

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Man’s body found in popular Cowichan Valley hiking area

Police say death not suspicious after discovery in Stoney Hill area overlooking Saltspring Island

Multiple sailing waits as BC Ferries deals with Easter Monday traffic

89 extra sailings had been added to the long weekend schedule

Most Read