HMCS Onondaga (S73)
HMCS Onondaga is an Oberon Class Patrol Submarine built at Chatham for the Royal Canadian Navy. She was the 2nd of 3 boats of the class ordered by the Canadians and was the second to last Chatham-built submarine.
HMCS Onondaga was laid down on No 7 slip on 18th June 1964. She was launched into the Medway on 25th September 1965. After fitting out, she commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy at Chatham on 22nd June 1967. On completion, HMCS Onondaga was 295 ft long and 26ft 6" wide across the beam. She displaced 1610 tons surfaced and 2410 tons dived. She was armed with 8 21" torpedo tubes, 6 in the bow and 2 in the stern. She carried 18 reload torpedoes. After commissioning, she was assigned to the Canadian Maritime Forces Atlantic and spent her entire career with the Canadian Navy in the North Atlantic.
During the 1980s, all three Canadian Oberon class boats went through 'SOUP' (Submarine Operational Upgrade Program) refits. These major upgrades saw their Sonar equipment and weapon control systems replaced with new, state-of-the-art equipment. Their stern torpedo tubes were removed and the boats were fitted to carry the American supplied Mk48 smart torpedoes, which are more advanced, faster and deeper operating than the Mk36 torpedoes they replaced.
HMCS Onondaga was eventually decommissioned from the Royal Canadian Navy on 28th July 2000. By the time she decommissioned, she was the longest-serving of all the Canadian Oberon class submarines. She had been in service for 33 years, the longest serving submarine in the history of the Royal Canadian Navy and was the last of the Canadian Oberon class submarines in service. In her time, she had travelled more than 500,000 miles, half of which was submerged. She visited 53 ports in 12 countries.
In 2001, a plan was revealed which would have involved dismantling HMCS Onondaga and reassembling her inside the Canadian War Museum. Not suprisingly, this was cancelled on grounds of cost.
In May 2005, the Canadian Armed Forces Maritime Command announced that all their Oberon Class submarines were unsuitable for use as museum vessels due to their poor condition and that they would all be sold for scrap, expected to reach C$50,000 - C$60,000 per hull. This, however, turned out not to be the fate of HMCS Onondaga. She was bought by the Site Historique Maritime de la Pointe-au-Pere in Rimouski, Quebec in 2006 for the princely sum of C$4 plus tax. She was towed from Halifax to Rimouski via the Canso Canal in July 2008 and this journey was the subject of the 'Monster Moves' episode 'Supersize Submarine'. The museum planned to haul the boat out of the water and display her ashore. This operation went pear-shaped when the boat fell off the ramp designed to support her.
Eventually, these problems were resolved and the boat was modified for public display and opened to the public in 2009.