HMCS Victoria (SSK 876)

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HMCS Victoria (SSK 876)
HMCS Victoria arrives at the Pacific Northwest Region Bangor Complex in December 2000
United Kingdom
Name: Unseen
Builder: Cammell Laird, Birkenhead
Laid down: 12 August 1987
Launched: 14 November 1989
Commissioned: 20 July 1991
Decommissioned: 1994
Fate: Transferred to Canada
Name: Victoria
Acquired: 1998
Commissioned: 2 December 2000[1]
Identification: SSK 876
Motto: "Expect No Warning"[1]
Status: in active service, as of 2022
Notes: Colours: Gold and Red
General characteristics
Class & type: Upholder/Victoria-class submarine
  • 2,185 long tons (2,220 t) surfaced
  • 2,400 long tons (2,439 t) submerged
Length: 70.26 m (230 ft 6 in)
Beam: 7.6 m (24 ft 11 in)
Draught: 5.5 m (18 ft 1 in)
  • Diesel-electric (37 MW (50,000 hp))
  • 2 Paxman Valenta 16 RPA diesel generators, 4,070 hp (3,030 kW)
  • 2 GEC, 5,000 kW (6,700 hp) motor-generators
  • 12 knots (14 mph; 22 km/h) surfaced
  • 20 kn (23 mph; 37 km/h)+ submerged
Range: 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km) at 12 knots (22 km/h)
Test depth: 200 m (660 ft)
Complement: 53 officers and crew

HMCS Victoria (SSK 876) is a long-range hunter-killer (SSK) submarine of the Royal Canadian Navy, the lead ship of her class. She is named after the city of Victoria, British Columbia. She was purchased from the Royal Navy, and is the former HMS Unseen (S41). The class was also renamed from the Upholder-class.


HMCS Victoria's displacement is approximately 2,200 tons surfaced and 2,400 tons submerged. Covered in anechoic tiles to reduce her detection by active sonar, the submarine is 70.3 metres (231 ft) long, 7.6 metres (25 ft) across the beam and has a deep diving depth in excess of 200 metres (660 ft). The main hull is constructed of high tensile steel sections stiffened by circular internal frames. Equipment located outside the main hull is covered by the Casing, which also gives the crew a safe walkway when the submarine is surfaced. The fin, which helps support the masts, serves as a kind of keel and provides a raised conning position.


HMCS Victoria has six torpedo tubes and can carry up to eighteen Mark 48 Mod 4 heavyweight torpedoes for use against surface and sub-surface targets.

HMCS Victoria's sonar sets allow her to locate and track ships and other submarines "passively", that is without transmitting on active sonar and thus giving away her location. She is fitted with radar for general navigation, attack and search periscopes (incorporating video recording and thermal imaging), and an electronic support measures (ESM) suite.

The vessel's propulsion is a conventional diesel-electric layout, in which an electric motor driving a single screw is powered by two main batteries, each consisting of 240 cells, the battery is charged via two diesel engines, each capable of producing up to 1,410 kilowatts when running on the surface or snorkeling. The generators can float the load but this is not a normal configuration. HMCS Victoria can reach a submerged speed of up to 20 knots (37 km/h).


The submarine was laid down as HMS Unseen at Cammell Laird's Birkenhead yard on 12 August 1987.[2] She was launched on 14 November 1989, and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 20 July 1991.[2]

Operational history

Royal Navy

Unseen was decommissioned on 6 April 1994, and placed in reserve.[2]


Looking to discontinue the operation of diesel-electric boats, the British government offered to sell Unseen and her sister submarines to Canada in 1993.[3] The offer was accepted in 1998.[3] The four boats were leased to the Canadians for US$427 million (plus US$98 million for upgrades and alteration to Canadian standards),.>

Unseen was the first to be reactivated, and was due to enter service in May 2000.[2] However, problems were discovered with the piping welds on all four submarines, which delayed the reactivation.[2] Unseen was handed over to the Canadian Navy on 6 October 2000, and was commissioned as HMCS Victoria on 2 December 2000.[2]

Royal Canadian Navy


On arrival in Halifax, Victoria was placed into dockyard hands for refitting.[4] This was originally scheduled to take six months, but was not completed until 2003.[4] Victoria was then transferred to Esquimalt, British Columbia, becoming the first Canadian submarine stationed in the Pacific since the 1974 decommissioning of HMCS Rainbow.[5] The submarine was in and out of dock during 2004 and 2005, culminating in a planned two-year repair program in late 2005.[4]

Quoting a CBC News report from May 2006:

Navy technicians caused "catastrophic damage" to one of Canada's trouble-plagued submarines two years ago, says a Halifax newspaper report that cited military documents.
The technicians blew out the electrical system when they hooked up HMCS Victoria to a modern electrical generator, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald reported Saturday.
"Attempts to use a DC [direct current] feed … caused catastrophic damage to certain onboard filters and power supply units," the Chronicle-Herald reported, quoting recently released military documents about the incident, which occurred in British Columbia.
The navy is now spending about $200,000 to buy old electrical equipment that mirrors the original equipment found on the submarine.[6]

Recent events

Between 2000 and 2010, Victoria had only been at sea for 115 days;[4] and was expected to re-enter service in mid-2011, after six years in drydock.[7]

As of March 2011, repairs were still ongoing.[4] As of 23 April 2011, the submarine was reported to be out of drydock and going through trials.[8] On 5 December 2011, Victoria departed Esquimalt Harbour to conduct sea trials and crew training.[9][10] Victoria arrived at Bangor Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor for Deperming (degaussing or the erasure of magnetism) on 13 December 2011,[11] returning to Esquimalt on 16 December.[9]

On 16 March 2012, Victoria fired her first exercise torpedo since beginning her refit.[12][13]

While participating in RIMPAC 2012 exercises, Victoria successfully fired a Mark 48 torpedo on 17 July 2012 striking and sinking the discarded USNS Concord. [14] Victoria was declared fully operational in 2012.[15]

Victoria participated in Operation Caribbe in 2013.[16] In July 2014, Victoria sailed to Hawaii to participate in RIMPAC exercises.[17]

In popular culture

She was the focus of the novel H.M.S. Unseen.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Volume 2: Extant Commissioned Ships - HMCS Victoria". Official Lineages. National Defence and the Canadian Forces.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Wertheim, Eric, ed. (2007). The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World: Their Ships, Aircraft, and Systems (15th ed.). Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. pp. 77–8. ISBN 978-1-59114-955-2. OCLC 140283156.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ferguson, Julie H. (2000). Deeply Canadian: New Submarines for a New Millennium. Beacon Publishing. p. 152. ISBN 0-9689857-0-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 "Military helicopter delays". The Victoria Times. 23 February 2010. Retrieved 14 May 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  5. "HMCS Victoria Arrives Sunday". National Defence. Archived from the original on 6 July 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Navy technicians blew submarine's electrical system: report". CBC News. 14 May 2006. Retrieved 7 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Sub Fleet Creating Canadian Controversies". Defense Industry Daily. Retrieved 2 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "HMCS Victoria Back In the Water". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 23 April 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  9. 9.0 9.1 "HMCS Victoria Returns To Sea". National Defence. Archived from the original on 25 January 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Turner, Migs, ed. (January 2012). "Victoria sails past Fisgard Lighthouse" (PDF). Lead and Line. Victoria: Naval Officers' Association of Vancouver Island. 27 (1): 1. Retrieved 7 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Friedrich, Ed (31 December 2011). "Canadian submarine visiting Bangor base". Kitsap Sun. Retrieved 17 January 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Submarine HMCS Victoria fires its first exercise torpedo". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 17 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  13. "Sub HMCS Victoria fires 1st torpedoes in test". CBC News. 16 March 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "RIMPAC sinks second ship". KITV4 (ABC). 18 July 2012. Retrieved 1 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Royal Canadian Navy Submarines: Fleet Status". Archived from the original on May 24, 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Pugliese, David (22 September 2014). "Crew of HMCS Victoria to receive Operational Service Medals". Defence Watch. Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 1 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Pugliese, David (2 July 2014). "HMCS Victoria arrives in Pearl Harbor to take part in RIMPAC 2014". Defence Watch. Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 1 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links