Canada's geriatric Atlantic fleet flagship, HMCS Athabaskan, is getting a reputation for impromptu port calls when its tired engines falter and fail.
The old warrior was on its way to scare the bejeezus out of Vlad Putin when one of its engines crapped out sending it dockside in the UK to await repairs. Ottawa Citizen defence correspondent, David Pugliese, writes that the navy's last destroyer, a veteran of 43-years service, has been having a pretty rough time of it lately.
HMCS Athabaskan, the flagship of Canada’s Atlantic fleet, was also sidelined earlier in the summer with cracks in its hull and various other engine issues, the Citizen reported in July.
Earlier this year, the ship broke down in Florida because of engine problems. It later broke down in the Caribbean, again because of engine issues.
HMCS Athabaskan sailors have contacted the Citizen to note a litany of problems, including limitations on fresh water on board the vessel. The ship has also been stripped of some of its radars and weapon systems, sailors say.
But the navy says it has confidence in the ship’s ability to continue to meet its duties. “It should be mentioned that HMCS Athabaskan’s role within the fleet has evolved over time,” said navy spokeswoman Lt. Linda Coleman. “During its service life, it has served as a platform capable of long-range anti-submarine warfare, area air defence, and enhanced command and control. Today, HMCS Athabaskan continues to fill a role that meets the current requirements of the fleet.”
The navy is trying to cope with a dwindling number of ships. The destroyers HMCS Algonquin and HMCS Iroquois were recently decommissioned. Iroquois was taken out of service after cracks were found in her hull. Another destroyer, HMCS Huron, was decommissioned, then sunk in 2007.
Of course Athabaskan's role "has evolved over time." With any luck, some day it'll evolve into an artificial reef.