Only three of our five Oberon class submarines were operational from the late 1960s to the late 1990s: Ojibwa, Okanagan, and Onondaga. The other two, Olympus and Osiris (in thousands of pieces), acquired much later, were never commissioned and were used for harbour training and spare parts respectively.
By the time Rainbow joined the Canadian navy, the three O-boats had arrived in Halifax in 1968. They were built for Canada at HM Dockyard in Chatham in England with modifications to meet Canadian requirements. The acquisition process had been politicized and cut by fifty percent, but the O-boats marked a modest acceptance of submarines by the navy as well as the government of the day as being necessary for defence.
The submariners themselves were cock-a-hoop and set about proving their new boats were more than just ASW clockwork mice for the surface fleet and maritime patrol aircraft. The Oberons conducted occasional patrols in the Canadian sector of the North Atlantic, participated in multi-national exercises in Europe and the Caribbean, and ran successful missions for the interdiction of illegal fishing and drug runners.
The Canadian O boats were decommissioned at the end of the 1990s when the new-to-us Upholders arrived from the RN. Olympus and Okanagan were scrapped, but Onondaga and Ojibwa were preserved as museums in Quebec and Ontario.
The Great Submarine Race in the English Channel, 1980
L-R: HMS Oberon, HMCS Okanagan,
and HMS Orpheus.
Okanagan (centre) won