Canadian Balao/Tench - class Submarines
Following WWII, the Royal Canadian Navy had an interest in re-establishing its submarine service and in the late 1950s, as an essential stopgap to further purchases, they sought a boat to train in. The United States Navy gave them a choice from among ten boats in the Reserve Fleet and USS Burrfish
was selected. An official agreement to loan a submarine to the Royal Canadian Navy for five years was finalized after approval by the Canadian Cabinet and ratification by the United States Congress in May 1960.
In the fall of 1960, the prospective crew was sent to New London, Connecticut for US submarine training. On 11 May 1961, USS Burrfish
was decommissioned and recommissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy at New London as HMCS Grilse
(SS-71), the second vessel to bear the name.
Having re-established the Canadian submarine service, Grilse
was acquired by the Royal Canadian Navy for use as a training vessel for anti-submarine warfare training on the Pacific coast; while more modern, newly acquired Oberon
- class submarines would serve on the Atlantic. However, the HMCS Grilse
lacked the speed of more modern subs and her sensor and weapons outfit were not up to the task of anti-submarine warfare. As a result, Grilse
spent most of her time serving as a mobile target for Canadian and American surface ships and aircraft.
In May 1966, her five-year loan was renewed for $1 million, and the sub underwent a refit in 1967 for $1.2 million. In 1968, the Canadian Navy, now called Maritime Command, was offered a more modern Tench
-class submarine by the US, and Maritime Command chose to accept the offer. Despite being recently refit and having three years left on her lease, the Canadian government was unwilling or unable to fund the operation of a second submarine for Canada's West Coast, thus Grilse
was left to languish alongside once her successor was selected.
The former USS Argonaut
, a Tench
-class submarine, was purchased by Canada outright for a cost of $153,000 and refit at an additional cost of $2.5 million. Argonaut
had received the Fleet Snorkel upgrades which included a snorkel system, streamlined sail, as well as a chin-mounted sonar. She was commissioned on 2 December 1968 as HMCS Rainbow
(SS-75). The modernization took eight months to complete and following its completion, Rainbow
took up the duties of the out-of-service Grilse
of performing anti-submarine warfare training on the West Coast.
With the arrival of the new HMCS Rainbow
never sailed again. Some of Grilse
's more modern gear was taken out and transferred to Rainbow
, however Grilse
had to remain operationally capable in accordance with the lease agreement and the transfer was limited. The sub returned to the US in September 1969.
was struck from the Naval Register on 19 July 1969. Grilse
was officially paid off from Maritime Command on 2 October 1969 and returned to the US Navy the same day. She was sunk as a target off San Clemente Island, California, on 19 November 1969.
was decommissioned on 31 December 1974, after only six years, due to budget cuts and her need for a refit. Maritime Command kept the submarine in reserve, laid up until 1976, hoping to return her to service. However, in 1976, the boat was returned to the United States and scrapped at Portland, Oregon in 1977. After this, the story of Canadian submarines on the West Coast would come to a close for more than 30 years, until HMCS Corner Brook
, the first of two Victoria
- class submarines to be assigned to Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC), would be transferred to Esquimalt, BC in May 2011.
As always, comments and critique are much appreciated! Many thanks and much respect to Colosseum - 99% of the work is his, this is more or less a simple repaint and small modification on my part. Hopefully it's acceptable to post this here instead of creating a new thread.