Floating dry dock leaves for Halifax – the first step in Ojibwa’s last mission
Ian Raven, Executive Director of the Elgin Military Museum signs the donation agreement officially transferring ownership of HMCS Ojibwa to the Elgin Military Museum.
After more than three years of discussions between the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Elgin Military Museum (EMM), Ian Raven, Museum Executive Director, signed the official Donation Agreement to transfer ownership of the decommissioned submarine HMCS Ojibwa to the Elgin Military Museum in St. Thomas, Ontario. “It went right down to the wire, but I am thrilled to say that Ojibwa is finally ours and Project Ojibwa is going full speed ahead!” said a happy Raven. The final signing took place at the office of Joe Preston, MP who worked hard behind the scenes to facilitate the donation. The Hon. Peter McKay, Minister of Defence, had signed the agreement on behalf of the Government of Canada earlier in the day clearing the way for the transfer of ownership.
Peter Mansbridge, Honourary Chair of Project Ojibwa was quick to respond to the news. “I’m very excited that such a unique part of Canada‘s naval history will now be entertaining visitors from all over the world right here in the heart of southwestern Ontario. Congratulations to all who worked so hard to make this happen.”
Ojibwa will become the centrepiece of the new Elgin Military Museum of Naval History to be built in Port Burwell, Ontario on the north shore of Lake Erie. “This is going to be a museum of national and international status, bringing Canada‘s naval history to the centre of the country and making it easily accessible to a huge audience,” remarked Project Coordinator Dan McNeil, Rear Admiral Retired.
The EMM began discussions with DND to acquire HMCS Ojibwa in March of 2009 shortly after they became aware that the government planned to send the then three remaining Oberon submarines to scrap. Ojibwa has a proud history as Canada‘s first Oberon Class submarine, purpose-built at the Chatham Ship Yards in England to provide service to Canada and NATO during the Cold War. “We couldn’t let her go for scrap without making an effort to save her,” said Ian Raven, Executive Director and force behind Project Ojibwa. “This is a huge accomplishment for a small museum from St. Thomas, Ontario. I don’t mind telling you that there were times when we wondered if it was ever going to happen, but we never let ourselves give up.”
“Everyone connected with the Museum is especially grateful to the Municipality of Bayham and its residents who have thrown their full support behind the project.” said Lynn Acre, Museum board member and former Mayor of Bayham. The Municipality came forward in March by becoming the financial guarantor for the project, putting the last piece of the puzzle in place. “Excitement in the community has been building as the arrival day grows closer. You can see signs of it everywhere. We have been re-energized,” smiled Acre. Local residents have started a theatre group called The Periscope Playhouse, while another group formed a fundraising group, The SubMissions and are holding their first event, a giant yard sale, on May 19th in Port Burwell. Restaurants are selling t-shirts and hats and new plans are forming every day. “Everyone should get on-board to make this thing a success,” says Mayor Ens of the Municipality of Bayham. “It will be great for the community.”
An expert team of engineers, led by Project Manager Andy Wills from BMT Fleet Technology of Ottawa, has carefully planned every aspect of the move and mounting of the submarine. “We have been looking forward to this move for a long time,” said Wills recently. “The planning is all complete. Now things will start moving rapidly. Foundations will be built, dredging will begin and the site will be transformed.”
“Things will move very quickly now that we finally have a signed agreement,” said McNeil. Heddle Marine’s floating dry dock has left Hamilton, towed by the tug Florence McKeil, on the 10-day trip to Halifax. There the dry dock will be submerged while Ojibwa is carefully positioned above it. The dry dock will then be refloated and Ojibwa secured for the journey. She is expected to depart for Hamilton on May 28.
The 10-day journey back to Heddle’s Hamilton shipyard will take Ojibwa through the St. Lawrence Seaway and across Lake Ontario giving many Canadians the opportunity to salute her as she goes by. In Hamilton, she will be transferred to a shallow-draft barge and fitted with permanent cradles. Ojibwa will leave Hamilton on her final voyage travelling through the Welland Canal and across Lake Erie to an official arrival in Port Burwell on September 7.
September 8 has been designated as Landing Day in Port Burwell when the most complex part of the move will take place. The international heavy-lift company Mammoet will use their Self Propelled Mobile Transporters to carefully remove Ojibwa from the barge and slowly transport her over land to her permanent foundation overlooking Otter Creek and Lake Erie.
Once Ojibwa arrives in Port Burwell, she will be spruced up, and made ready for tours to begin in the spring of 2013. The 15,000 square foot interpretive centre, expected to open in 2014, will be an industry leader in application of green energy to museums and will house exhibits covering the breadth of Canadian Naval history.
As Ojibwa makes her final journey to Port Burwell, Canadians along the route will have a last opportunity to wish her Godspeed to her new home. Her route and schedule will be available on the Project Ojibwa web site www.projectojibwa.ca . Her location will be updated frequently to enable anyone interested to watch her go past.
For more information, please contact:
Melissa Raven, Marketing and Media Relations 1-519-633-7641 firstname.lastname@example.org www.projectojibwa.ca
Click here to download EMM Press Release
Click here to Download DND Press Release