100 Years of Submarines
August 5, 2014, marks 100 years since Canada acquired its first submarines and highlights the pinnacle of commemorations by the RCN to honor and celebrate the dedicated service and contributions of thousands of Canadian submariners to our nation’s defence and security.
On August 5, 1914, the government of British Columbia secured the purchase of Canada’s first submarines – His Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) CC 1 and CC 2 – at the very start of the First World War in a transaction with a Seattle shipyard in order to counter the threat of a squadron of German Navy warships reported on the coast. This event marked the beginning of service in submarines for Canada.
In commemoration of the Canadian Submarine Centenary, the RCN, along with serving and veteran submariners, rededicated the refurbished Canadian Submarine Memorial Cairn at CFB Esquimalt on August 7. Rear-Admiral William Truelove, Commander of Maritime Forces Pacific, presided at the event.
The RCN is collaborating with the Naval Association of Canada in the presentation of a one-day academic conference on October 2, at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, on the subject of “Submarines in Canada: Past, Present and Future”.
On June 13, the Synchrolift Submarine Shelter (Building D-294) in the Halifax Dockyard was named for Captain Bernard Leitch (“Barney”) Johnson, CBE, DSO, RCNVR. Johnson was the first Canadian appointed to command a submarine, HMS H8 (in the Royal Navy during the First World War), and was decorated for his courageous leadership in saving the submarine and sailing it safely home through enemy waters after it struck an enemy mine.
Beginning with HMCS CC 1 and CC 2, the RCN has commissioned a total of 15 submarines throughout its history. In addition to the RCN submarines, Canadian submariners also served with distinction on board Royal Navy submarines during both World Wars, and during the intervening years following the Second World War until the First Canadian Submarine Squadron was created in 1965.
In addition to their wartime service, Canadian submariners were active in a wide variety of missions. They assisted in training Canadian allies in anti-submarine warfare and participated extensively in covert Cold War patrols where they tracked Soviet submarines and collected intelligence. Canadian submariners have also conducted counter-terrorism support for special operation forces and performed constabulary roles in support of RCMP anti-narcotic operations, Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ patrols, and illegal immigration interdiction operations.
Ordinary seaman Hiebert, left, and former chief petty officer Donald Brown were chosen to place a new time capsule in the updated submarine memori