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Submarine on fire !!!

( formerly HMS OLYMPUS )

12 October 2011

British submarine HMS OLYMPUS arrived at the scrapyard in Port Maitland, Ontario in September 2011.

 

On October 12, 2011, as demolition work was going on, a fire was ignited onboard the submarine. Here are the details of the incident.

Donald Courcy


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Scrapped sub catches fire at drydock
John Burman, TheSpec.com

12 October 2011

PORT MAITLAND Haldimand firefighters are battling a major, unusual blaze aboard a decommissioned Canadian Navy submarine. The sub is one of two towed to the Feeder Canal Road East yard near Lowbanks for scrapping this past summer. The blaze started around noon inside the submarine, where workers were stripping down parts, said Haldimand OPP Constable Mark Foster. Nobody was injured. The Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Labour have been advised. Haldimand Fire Chief Rob Grimwood said the workers were using a grinder when something let off a spark. “I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure what caused it,” he said.


The vessel was empty. But the submarine walls and cargo were lined with what Grimwood described as cork board.
This cork board product went up in smoke, literally. Firefighters from six different Haldimand fire stations spent the afternoon fighting the smoky blaze with 12 fire trucks. HMS Olympus and HMCS Okanagan, two Oberon class 1,250-tonne subs, were towed to the yard over the summer and are being recycled by Marine Recycling Corp. at the company’s shipyard.


It is not known which took fire, since the names on the subs have been stripped off
.

 

Note from the webmaster. It is easy to identify which submarine caught fire. OKANAGAN had the new type sonar dome but it was removed in Halifax a long time before OKANAGAN was towed to the graveyard. OLYMPUS has the older type sonar dome which can be seen on the submarine on fire... Donald Courcy

 

The pair, two of Canada’s four retired submarines, were floated by special barge to Hamilton on their way to the “ship breaking” yard on Lake Erie in August.


The subs’ journey from Halifax to Hamilton and on to Port Maitland was overseen by Hamilton’s McKeil Marine and Heddle Marine Service Inc.
Heddle provided a floating dry dock for the sub, while McKeil provided the tugboats that pushed and pulled the warship up the St. Lawrence River and across Lake Ontario. Careful engineering work was required to ensure the 2,500-ton cargo remained stable during the 10-day voyage, Heddle’s president Rick Heddle said at the time. Olympus was the first of three subs the companies moved. Her sister ship, Okanagan followed the Olympus to Port Maitland in a similar journey. A third, the Ojibwa, may be repurposed as a museum in Port Burwell on Lake Erie. Onondaga became a museum in Quebec in 2008.


Every stage of the 1,200-nautical mile voyage was carefully planned to ensure the vessel and cargo were never too far from a safe port—a refuge they’d need whenever waves on the lake got higher than two metres or the wind blew faster than 25 knots.
The boats are diesel-electric Oberon class submarines built in Britain in the 1960s and used by Canada’s navy for 30 years - Ojibwa, Okanagan and Onondaga doing Cold War-era surveillance patrols off the east coast while Olympus remained tethered as a training vessel.


At the time they were built, the boats were the latest technology, according to the Canadian Naval Centennial Internet site.


Between 1979 and 1981, they were upgraded, but by the late 1990s “Though respectable enough craft in their prime, the ‘O’ boats had long since reached the end of their useful lives and by July 1999, the three had been paid off and replaced by the Victoria class.”
The subs were “paid off” between 1998 and 2000.


Fire breaks out in retired submarine

MATT DAY/QMI Agency

12 October 2011

 

Welland - PORT MAITLAND - A fire inside a retired Canadian submarine berthed at Port Colborne-owned Marine Recycling Corp. in Port Maitland forced workers to evacuate the vessel once used by the Canadian Department of National Defence on Wednesday afternoon. Ontario Provincial Police and Haldimand firefighters from Dunnville, Byng, Moulton and Jarvis were called to the scene at about 12:30 p.m. after a worker inside the Olympus was cutting material with a grinder when a stray spark ignited pieces of wood inside.

 

"The interior of the sub is teak wood and cork, so it's fairly flammable," said OPP constable Mark Foster. "The company had been taking all the precautions to avoid this kind of thing, but sometimes things like this happen."

 

Foster said the workers inside tried to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, but when that didn't work, decided to vacate the sub and called 911. The Jarvis department was called in for its aerial truck. No injuries were reported and the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Labour have been called in to assess the situation. "The fire is self contained inside and most of the hazardous material, like leftover fuels, had already been removed," said Foster. He added the layout of the sub posed some difficulties for firefighters to battle the blaze. "Firefighters are keeping safe, though, and fighting the fire from the outside as no one's life is in danger. It was strictly a fire."

 

The 1,250-tonne sub made a two-day stop in Port Colborne on Sept. 13 on way to being recycled. The Olympus was never officially commissioned. Heddle Marine Service and Mckeil Marine Ltd., both of Hamilton, were commissioned by MRC to lift and tow the sub - and the Okanagan - from Halifax to Port Maitland. MRC plans to take the tops of the submarines, including the conning towers, to Derek Point Memorial Gardens in Port Colborne, where they will be on display. The company built the park, which also contains nautical pieces from various Great Lakes freighters, about eight years ago. The submarine pieces will be placed to look as though one is submerging and the other surfacing.


Scrapped sub catches fire

Hamilton Spectator

13 October 2011

 

PORT MAITLAND Haldimand firefighters spent Wednesday afternoon battling a major, unusual blaze aboard a decommissioned Canadian Navy submarine.

 

The submarine HMCS Olympus is one of two towed to the Feeder Canal Road East yard near Lowbanks for scrapping this past summer at Port Maitland, about one hour south of Hamilton.  The fire started around noon inside the submarine, where workers were stripping down parts, said Haldimand OPP Constable Mark Foster.  Nobody was injured. The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Labour were advised. The MOE had staff on site making sure nothing was leaking.

 

Haldimand Fire Chief Rob Grimwood said the workers were using a grinder when something let off a spark.

“I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure what caused it,” he said.

 

The vessel was empty. But the submarine walls and cargo were lined with teak wood and what Grimwood described as cork board. This cork board product went up in smoke, literally.  Firefighters from six different Haldimand fire stations spent the afternoon fighting the smoky blaze with 12 fire trucks.

 

HMS Olympus and HMCS Okanagan, two Oberon class 1,250-tonne subs, were towed to the yard over the summer and are being recycled by Marine Recycling Corp. at the company’s shipyard.  Although the subs’ names have been stripped off, Olympus is identifiable by an older type radar dome near her bow Okanagan does not have.  The pair, two of Canada’s four retired submarines, were welded to a special barge and then ‘dry towed’ to Hamilton on their way to the “ship breaking” yard on Lake Erie in August.  The subs’ 10-day journey from Halifax to Hamilton and on to Port Maitland was overseen by Hamilton’s McKeil Marine and Heddle Marine Service Inc.  The diesel-electric submarines were built in Britain and used by Canada’s navy for 30 years. At the time they were built, the boats were the latest technology, according to the Canadian Naval Centennial Internet site. They were upgraded between 1979 and 1981, but by the late 1990s were retired.


The fire was onboard former HMS OLYMPUS

17 OctOBER 2011

 

At around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday morning October 12, 2011, a fire inside the Olympus, a decommissioned submarine once used by the Canadian Department of National Defence, broke out as workers from Port Maitland's Marine Recycling Corporation were inside . No injuries were reported and as of 3 p.m., the Haldimand County Fire Department was busy extinguishing the fire inside.

Fire burnt for 24 hours inside retired submarine


UPDATE BY MATT DAY, THE CHRONICLE

A fire inside the Olympus submarine at Port Maitland's Marine Recycling Corp. forced about 10 workers to evacuate the vessel once used by the Canadian Department of National Defence on Wednesday afternoon. Ontario Provincial Police and Haldimand Firefighters from Dunnville, Byng, Moulton and Jarvis were called to the smoky scene at around 12:30 p.m. after a worker inside was cutting material with a grinder when a stray spark ignited pieces of wood covered in a cloth-like fabric nearby.


"The interior of the sub is teak wood and cork, so it's fairly flammable," said OPP constable Mark Foster. "The company had been taking all the precautions to avoid this kind of thing, but sometimes things like this happen."
Foster said the workers inside tried to put out the flames with fire extinguishers, but when that didn't work, decided to vacate the sub and called 911.


At one point, firefighters from six different Haldimand fire stations spent parts of the afternoon fighting the blaze, using 12 fire trucks.
It wasn't until 24 hours later when Haldimand Fire Chief Rob Grimwood declared the fire completely extinguished. No injuries were reported and the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Labour were called in to assess the situation.


"Safety for our workers is the first thing," said Wayne Elliot, director of business development for Marine Recycling Corp. "From there, they made sure there would be no more unnecessary damage to the environment outside."
Elliot said the slipway was boomed off to prevent any potentially harmful chemicals or substances from entering the Grand River, even though most of the hazards had been removed from the sub prior.


"The Ministry of Environment said they were satisfied with our preparedness."


The configuration of the sub made battling the blaze complicated.
"It was in the top of the submarine casing and firefighters couldn't get on board to fight it. We had to be concerned with stability as well. With all the water coming on board we had to make sure the vessel wasn't getting too heavy in the water or leaning too much to one side," said Elliot. "I'm happy with all of the training we've done to prepare for something like this and the fire services did a great job." Elliot went on board the decommissioned submarine Thursday morning using portable air monitoring equipment.


"We got as far as we could towards the engine room before the alarm on the monitor went off warning us to not go any further," said Elliot, adding damage to the aluminum walkways was "extensive".
As of Friday Elliot said the company hasn't been able to assess the damage, but is expecting the only real loss to be time.
With the fire, Elliot said changes will be implemented when they begin working on recycling both 1,250-tonne Oberon class submarines at the Port Maitland shipyard.


"Any grinding work will now be considered as 'hot work' much like welding or using a torch and any flammable material in an adjoining space will be wet down …
One thing is to be sure, we are certainly going to prepare so something like this doesn't happen again." In the 40-plus years Elliot has been in the ship recycling business, he's only had to rely on fire departments to put out blazes twice. Both times the fires began when sparks managed to crawl up wires after workers had left. The $4.5 million recycling project was expected to be completed in three months.

 

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