Mine sweeper

Cloaking devices engaged –mine-sweeping capabilities added to coastal defence vessels at CFB Esquimalt

Don Denton/News staff Petty Officer (2nd class) John Wood

Don Denton/News staff Petty Officer (2nd class) John Wood



Petty Officer (2nd class) John Wood peers at a computer screen aboard HMCS Saskatoon, where a sonar image reveals small boxes on and beside a sunken ship. He leans in for a closer look and quickly identifies them as crab traps.

The high-tech imagery allows the Royal Canadian Navy reservist diver to identify possible underwater bombs.

HMCS Saskatoon is one of six maritime coastal defence vessels at CFB Esquimalt and 12 in the naval fleet. It boasts the navy’s only submersible bottom-object inspection vehicle, which resembles a high-tech bobsleigh.

The submersible vehicle is remote-controlled, can pick up objects and relay sonar images, still photos and video back to the ship. It’s also integral to the navy’s ability to detect naval mines.

“(Mines) are a very inexpensive way to take a very expensive asset out of play,” said Wood, who leads a team that pilots the submersible wherever it is deployed.

The submersible mapped the ocean floor and ensured there were no undersea mines planted near Vancouver during the 2010 Olympic Games.

“Once you have an idea what (an underwater object) looks like, it makes it easier to hunt for mines,” Wood said.

The mine-sweeping capabilities of Canada’s Kingston-class coastal defence vessels, which patrol the coasts, conduct search-and-rescue missions and train with the U.S. navy, are getting a boost with the installation of a magnetic cloaking device.

If the ships ever pass over mines that are triggered to explode near metal objects, it will be like the ship isn’t there. There are said to be hundreds of different types of underwater mines in the world.

In September, the federal government awarded a $4.9-million contract to New York City-based L-3 Communications to install the German-built cloaking devices, known as degaussing systems, in the vessels over the next three years. The company has equipped 15 navies with similar technology.

The Canadian patrol ships, which are manned by naval reservists, were built and launched in the 1990s with cloaking-device receptacles in the event the equipment was ever purchased.

Today, mines in Canadian waters pose less of a threat than they did during wartime, but HMCS Saskatoon’s commanding officer, Lt.-Cmdr. Pat Montgomery, said the degaussing technology is an important piece of the puzzle.

“It would be wrong to say (not having the cloaking system) has held us back, but we can do more in the future. Our operational capability is enhanced and we will have more protection near mines,” he said.

“I think the more little pieces that we have, the more effective we are as a team.”

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police are looking for 45-year-old Charlene Woods. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Missing woman last seen in Victoria on New Year’s Day

Police working to locate Charlene Woods, 45

Camosun Cares hampers will be delivered weekly to students for a period of nine weeks. (Photo courtesy of Camosun College)
Weekly care hampers offered to Camosun College students in need

The Camosun Cares hamper delivers fresh produce, prepared meals, hygiene products and even recipes

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon to listen to speakers decry COVID-19 restrictions. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents protest masks, COVID-19 restrictions

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

The humanoid sensing robot has a 3D printed finger cap that measures oxygen levels. (Dr. Woo Soo Kim)
Medical care robots being made with 3D origami in B.C. lab

Would you let a robot take your temperature?

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent must come first and last for B.C. industrial projects

UN declaration seen as end to a history of horror stories

FILE  - In this Friday, Jan 1, 2021 file photo, a lorry driver's documents are scanned on a phone as he passes a checkpoint for the train through the Eurotunnel link with Europe in Folkestone, England. One month after Britain made a New Year split from the European Union's economic embrace, businesses that once traded freely are getting used to frustrating checks, delays and red tape. Meat exporters say shipments have rotted in trucks awaiting European health checks. Scottish fishermen have protested at Parliament over the catch they can no longer sell to the continent because of byzantine new paperwork. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)
FINLAYSON: Government should focus on strengthening B.C.’s leading export industries

To revive the economy, this piece in the strategy is integral, writes Jock Finlayson

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

Weather Network is forecasting a slower than average start to spring in British Columbia

AstraZeneca’s vaccines are ready for use at the vaccination center in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb.28, 2021. (Michael Reichel/dpa via AP)
Feds hoping for AstraZeneca shots this week as Pfizer-BioNTech prepare next delivery

The first of those doses could start to arrive in Canada as early as Wednesday

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Most Read