Saturday, September 8 should be a day to remember in Port Burwell, Ontario. That is the day the decommissioned submarine Ojibwa, Canada’s first Oberon Class submarine is set arrive at her new home to become the centerpiece of the Elgin Military Museum’s new naval museum.
The decision to earmark September 8 as the day the sub will be brought ashore and placed on her new foundations was made at a meeting of the Ojibwa Project Team on January 30. The schedule of work that set the September date is one of the remaining pieces required to obtain the final release of Ojibwa to the Museum. “A definitive work schedule and proof of the required financing are still required by National Defence. We now have the schedule, and are working diligently to finalize the financing as quickly as possible”, said Ian Raven, Museum Executive Director.
“There is still much to do between now and then”, Raven said, “our team of engineers, technicians and others met to make sure that everyone is ready to do their part to guarantee all the bits will be in place for the arrival date.”
“We are proud of the team of experts that we have put together to carry out the move and mounting of Ojibwa” said Project Coordinator Rear Admiral Dan McNeil (Retired). “Many complex operations will need to occur simultaneously and we are confident that we have the best people for the job.”
In the plan, in early May Heddle Marine Services will load the submarine onto a floating dry-dock in Halifax and tow her to their shipyard in Hamilton. There she will be transferred to a smaller barge and the task begins to mount her on her permanent cradles. As this is happening, the foundation work will be taking place at the site in Port Burwell, while Riggs Engineering organizes the dredging of the harbour to the required depth. Meanwhile, the heavy lift specialists from Mammoet will be booking and ensuring the availability of their Self Propelled Mobile Transporters and other ancillary equipment, all of which will arrive in Port Burwell immediately before the transfer date.
Three years of planning and hard work will culminate on September 8, when Ojibwa arrives in Port Burwell harbor and is mounted on her final resting place. “This is sure to be a very busy summer for the Project Team”, said Deb Jarvis, Museum President. Once Ojibwa is secure on her new foundation, work will begin to prepare her for her new role as a museum exhibit as well as to build and fit out the new museum support building in time for a planned opening in the summer of 2013.
Ojibwa was the first of her class to arrive new and shiny in 1965, and she will be the last to leave Halifax, where they have been a fixture since their decommissioning in 1996. Onondaga is a museum piece in Rimouski, Quebec while Okanogan and Olympus were towed to a salvage yard to be broken up last summer. Ojibwa’s trip from Halifax to Port Burwell will be the last opportunity to see a Canadian Oberon submarine outside a museum.