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Canada's Submarine Heritage 1914–2014

CC1 underway in 1914 (DND)
L: SLt. Maitland-Dougall  on D3 (RNSMM #30270); R: Lt. BL Johnson, RCNVR (VCA)
X-craft at sea (Ruse Collection)
Lts Bonnell (L) and Moreton, Canadian charioteers
HMCS/M Grilse off Esquimalt, 1962 (Photo: Charles Dobie)
HMCS/M Ojibwa (DND)
On the bridge of HMCS WIndsor, 2016

Our First Submarines

CC1 and CC2 were bought by the BC premier, Richard McBride, on the eve of WWI from a yard in Seattle. He spirited them away at dead of night to defend the neglected west coast from German cruisers. The boats were toothless on arrival with no torpedoes or crews ....​

Our WW1 Submariners
​The RCN hastily recruited two retired RN submariners to man and train raw recruits for CC1 and CC2. ​Several Canadians became sub-mariners, much to their surprise, and when the Pacific threat evaporated, two sailed for Britain and served with distinction in the RN ....

Our WWII Submariners
The RCN did not field any submarines in WWII, but several Canadians volunteered for the RN and served in all theatres and all types of submarines, including chariots, X-craft, diving units, and even captured U-boats. Several exhibited conspicuous gallantry ....

Our Charioteers
​Very few Canadians know about our charioteers, known as human torpedoes, who were the first two recruited in WW2. These men underwent grueling training and hazardous operations to destroy warships behind enemy lines in heavily defended harbours. This is their story ....


Our Modern Era Begins

Royal Navy A-boats form the Sixth Submarine Squadron in Halifax with 200 Canadians in their crews, and later HMCS/Ms Grilse and Rainbow arrive in Esquimalt from the USN .... 

Our O Boats
Canada's Oberon class submarines served our country from the 1960s to the end of the 1990s, initially as ASW clockwork mice for the surface fleet and later operationally in NATO sectors and in interdiction missions for illegal fisheries and drug runners ....​ 


Our Victoria-Class

Canada acquired four surplus RN Upholder-class submarines in the new millennium to replace the Oberons. The author visited the sales team in Britain and the purchasing team in Ottawa, and this story is in Deeply Canadian. The tale from 2000 to the present can be found in the centennial edition of Through a Canadian Periscope.