Ojibwa - inside and out

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Touring the inside of the former HMCS Ojibwa will be an unforgettable experience.

And for many, touring the outside of the 295-foot-long decommissioned submarine will prove as memorable.

“We’re actually working ahead of schedule,” said Ian Raven, executive director for the Elgin Military Museum. “We didn’t expect to be able to get as much work done in this cold weather as we have. We are right on track for our July 1st opening.”

Restoration personnel and officials from the Elgin Military Museum were in Port Burwell Friday to provide local media with a first glimpse inside the former HMCS Ojibwa. Raven took a few minutes to share information and interesting facts about the submarine from the outside.

One of those interesting facts is quite noticeable when standing next to Ojibwa on her port side.

“This was caused by what was referred to as shock testing - where they are testing new equipment as to how it reacts to shocks in the hulls for how they react to shock by setting explosives off at various distances from the hull,” said Raven standing next to the noticeably-large dent in the side of the submarine. “One was a little too close and caused some damage, but this was all done after it was decommissioned. So this is a final opportunity for Ojibwa to contribute to the next generation (of submarines) by helping them create better hull designs and by being able to measure the effect of the explosives on it.”

In doing so, it would also help the military design ways to absorb or deflect the shock for the next series of ships and submarines.

“It was her last real service to her country,” Raven said, adding that although it was not planned to cause that much damage to Ojibwa, there was great interest in measuring it once the submarine was out of the water.

“We had a call from the naval equipment testing establishment asking if they could come down and measure it because they had never seen this damage out of the water until we took Ojibwa out of the water.

“But it’s part of the story and it’s an important part of the story.”

The testing was done in 2010 but the first opportunity for the Canadian Navy to test the damage was just last year when it was taken out of the water in Hamilton.

Other outside features include two newly-built doors, one at either end - at the bow and the stern, the navigation light near the top of the submarine, the propellers, and the exhibit stands which are welded directly to the pressure hull.

“The people in the shipyard did such a great job of doing it, that they welded everything back in place,” said Raven. “This was set up in such a way that if there had been a catastrophic failure of the barge, the submarine would have still floated.”

While touring the outside of Ojibwa, one can also see two metal plates fitted lengthwise and two metal plates fitted widthwise on the underside of the submarine.

“The boat’s metal and metal expands, so what those are designed to prevent is to keep the boat from sliding forward or backward too far,” added Raven. “All these stands are actually set up in such a way that these will move – this is actually moving every day as the temperature and shape of the ship changes.”

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