Published on Wednesday, April 2, 2014
A Canadian military ship will be limited in future operations after cracks were discovered on the upper part of the vessel in late February.
The HMCS Iroquois, an air defence destroyer ship that has been in use by the Royal Canadian Navy since 1972, suffered stress fractures to the superstructure – the part of the ship above the main deck – as a result of stress from the sea’s movement.
The damage, on a portion of the ship that is above water, were discovered while HMCS Iroquois was completing a fleet exercise off the East Coast of the United States.
Further examination of the ship while it was docked in Boston, Mass. showed that the cracks’ impact were not serious enough to affect the current exercise. HMCS Iroquois was able to complete its mission and return to Canada.
However, the Citizen has discovered that the ship, which is currently docked in Halifax, N.S. while engineers further assess the damage, will only be able to operate at limited capacity when the weather is bad.
Specifically, the Iroquois will be unable to navigate waters when the waves are particularly heavy.
The 42-year-old vessel typically operates in the North Atlantic Ocean, known for its rough water. The ship was declared safe enough to continue sailing in winter conditions during the examination in Boston.
As the Citizen reported in November 2013, Iroquois-class destroyers received a major upgrade in the 1990s and are scheduled for replacement in the mid-2020s if the government schedule remains on target.
Previous reports, though, have shown that officials do not expect the lifespan of these ships to last longer than 2017. As it stands, the ships will not be replaced before they are retired, leaving a sizeable gap in Canada’s navy. Although the navy’s Halifax-class frigates will pick up some of the slack, the retirement of the Iroquois class will limit the range of operations the navy can undertake.
The Iroquois class has only three remaining ships: HMCS Iroquois, HMCS Athabaskan and HMCS Algonquin.
It’s unclear whether the Iroquois will be left in its current, restricted state, repaired for use until 2017, or retired from the fleet ahead of time.
The commanding officer of the ship was not available for comment.