They were there just for some routine training exercise and yet two of the warships of the Royal Canadian Navy collided with each other in the Pacific Ocean over the weekend, presumably due to human error, while conducting manoeuvres.
The ships, destroyer HMCS Algonquin and supply ship HMCS Protecteur, collided while conducting a routine towing exercise en route to Hawaii. No casualties were reported. A board of inquiry has immediately been convened to determine what went wrong.
HMCS Algonquin (DDH 283), an Iroquois-class destroyer
During the exercise, HMCS Algonquin was to tow HMCS Protecteur. Both have been ordered to return to CFB Esquimalt harbor, near Victoria.
Between the two, HMCS Algonquin received much of the damage, according to Commodore Bob Auchterlonie, the commander of the Royal Canadian Navy's Pacific fleet. The ship bore a large gash in the hangar along the port or left side.
HMCS Protecteur was damaged on its bow.
"To be very upfront and candid, something went dramatically wrong, and that's a bit of an understatement," Mr Auchterlonie said in an interview over the weekend.
"The ships were conducting a towing exercise, which was a normal part of our routine operations and normal business at sea. ... There is an inherent risk of ships operating together at sea in close proximity, but this sort of incident I've not come across in my career."
According to the Royal Canadian Navy's Web site, HMCS Algonquin is an Iroquois-class destroyer commissioned in 1973, while HMCS Protecteur is an auxiliary oil replenishment ship, one of two such vessels launched in 1969. Suffice to say both are aging vessels that need to be badly replaced.
HMCS Algonquin and HMCS Protecteur are stationed in the Pacific. Now the Pacific fleet lacks a supply ship and a destroyer.
"One thing it does demonstrate is the vulnerability of only having two," David Perry, a senior analyst with the CDA Institute, told the Globe and Mail.
To report problems or to leave feedback about this article, e-mail:
To contact the editor, e-mail: