Weak Welding Docks Two Canadian Subs

Two Canadian submarine's can't claim to be leakproof, as subpar welding forced the mooring of the HMCS Chicoutimi and HMCS Victoria in Vancouver Island port. The vessels will be out of commission for most of the year as necessary repairs take place. 

The craft represent half of Canada's Upholder submarine fleet that wash purchased for $750 million from Britain in 1998. Time has shown the investment may not be the bargain then Prime Minister Jean Chretien proclaimed them to be. In 2000, the HMCS Victoria ported to Halifax with a pizza-sized dent in its hull. One sailor died in an electrical fire on board the HMCS Chicoutimi in 2004. 

Michael Byers, a defence expert at the University of British Columbia, said the latest debacle is far from surprising. He said the diesel-electric Uploader submarines were a lousy purchase and are avaible for operations roughly one month out of every year.

"These are unusually bad submarines. These are submarines that were rejected by the British Royal Navy, which tried to sell them to South Africa and Greece, both of which rejected them," Byers said.

Officials say a subcontractor is at-fault for the substandard welding. Canada's warranty through Babcock Canada, Inc., means the firm will pick up the cost of most inspections and repairs. It's unclear who will carry the financial burden for the HCMS Victoria's welding repairs. 

At this point, subcontractors have not received a penalty or fine.