Sub completes mission on second try: 'The boat's living up to its obligations'

By The Canadian Press
August 9, 2016 - 1:41pm

HALIFAX — Canada's only fully operational submarine returned to its Halifax port Tuesday after completing a voyage to Scandinavian waters on its second attempt.

HMCS Windsor spent about 53 days at sea for a North Atlantic Treaty Organization exercise off Norway dubbed "Dynamic Mongoose."

Windsor first headed out in early June, but had to turn back because of diesel engine problems. It docked in Halifax for more than a week before resuming its voyage.

Lt.-Cmdr. Peter Chu, the sub's commanding officer, said Windsor's mechanical issues were "manageable." 

"We had very, very little issues for the last two months," said Chu. "Our team has been doing a very good job making sure the boat's running and living up to its operational obligations."

Vice Admiral Ron Lloyd said Windsor has an "action-packed" program coming up, including a multi-national exercise in September off Halifax and St. John's.

"It's a very short turnaround, unfortunately, for the ship's company and their families." Lloyd said. "It's more of a challenge for the young sons and daughters who have that date circled on their calendar, and they're counting the number of sleeps until they get home."

Brianne Johnston knows the feeling. As Windsor pulled into port, the 11-year-old girl sat on the edge of the dock trying to spy her father through her black-and-neon glasses.

Brianne said she missed "everything" about her dad, Bob Johnston, an electrician on board Windsor. She planned to hug him "as hard as I can, which isn't very much."

Brianne said she worried about her father while he was away.

"I've seen the inside of (the submarine) and it's really confusing, so you have to be kind of really smart to actually work down there," Brianne said.

Brianne spotted Johnston, wrapped her arms around him and exclaimed: "Daddy!"

Amanda MacKay said she was most looking forward to seeing her husband's face after not being able to communicate with him for two weeks while Windsor was underwater.  

"I'm sure there's certain risks, but I don't worry about him," MacKay said. "They all have each other's backs."

Windsor logged nearly 200 days at sea in 2015, and is on track to do the same this year.

Windsor is one of the four submarines that Canada bought from Britain in the late '90s, but the vessels have been beset by mechanical issues. 

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

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