Brandon Sun (Newspaper) - July 5, 2002, Brandon, Manitoba
Leak forces delay of Canadian sub acquisition
By Alison Auld
HALIFAX — A leak that sent water spilling into one of Canada’s new submarines has delayed the country’s acquisition of the troubled vessel and put off the training of crews for at least two months, officials said yesterday.
The country now won’t receive the used sub HMS Ursula from Britain until September or October, two months after it was to be turned over to Canadian officials. It will be renamed HMCS
The British navy informed Defence Department officials it will retain the sub for six weeks so it can do a thorough examination after water leaked in through a small tube-like device and forced the vessel back to port on Scotland’s west coast earlier this week.
“It’s about a two-month delay, but we’re taking a pause that’s necessary to make sure that all the systems are correct,” said Capt. Mike Williamson, project manager for the submarine program in Ottawa.
“It’s frustrating and we’d like to get the boats in service as soon as possible.” The delay, the latest setback in a series of problems for the fleet of used British subs purchased by Canada for $750 million, means dozens of sailors waiting to get training at sea will have to hold on until the sub arrives.
A crew of about 50 Canadians was doing sea trials off Scotland when water was discovered pouring in through the device used to send signal markers to the surface when the vessel is submerged. Ursula, which is still under Royal
Navy command, returned to the western Scottish town of Campbeltown. Williamson said the crew will sail to a shipyard in Britain owned by BAE Systems, a subcontractor Canada hired to provide support and parts for the submarines.
Officials are investigating why the leak occurred, which the crew managed to control. No one was injured in the incident and Williamson said damage to the boat wasn’t substantial.
The head of the submariners’ training division in Halifax said the delay
would not mean training time would be reduced, but that it would be pushed back a couple of months.
“There will be some shuffling around of time,” Cmdr. Randy Truscott said. “As of September, there will be about 50 people who need to have some degree of sea time to complete their qualifications and Corner Brook is an important part of them getting their sea time.”
The latest development comes months after two of the Victoria-class submarines were found to have cracked valves and were pulled out of service.
By Murray Brewster
HALIFAX — A military board of inquiry has dismissed the complaints of nearly three dozen Canadian soldiers who say they are plagued by a series of unexplained health problems related to their tour of Bosnia in the mid-1990s.
The soldiers were interviewed as part of an inquiry called after concerns were raised by Warrant Officer Michael Peace, stationed at CFB Gagetown, N.B., who died of a brain tumour in October 2000.
The health complaints raised by the soldiers ranged from persistent headaches, vision and memory problems to mysterious bleeding. All are symptoms that have also reported by other returning veterans of the Gulf War.
Some soldiers link their illnesses to exposure to chemical agents, or spent depleted uranium munitions.
While the military panel agreed the soldiers are sick, the board’s final report, completed earlier this year, concluded that troops were not exposed to any “significant levels” of toxic material.
The 34 soldiers are members and former members of the Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Gagetown, N.B., who served in Visoko, Bosnia, in 1994-95 at the height of the ethnic conflict.
Just before his death, Peace asked his military superiors to investigate whether dust from special modifications made to armoured vehicles contributed to the development of his tumour.
The cutting and pasting of special ceramic tiles to armoured personnel carriers and reconnaissance vehicles was done in the basement of the building where troops were billeted. The board, that held the inquiry in the fall of 2000, found the “add-on” armour was not toxic and played no role in his death.
The board also looked for other factors, such as depleted uranium weapons and multiple chemical sensitivity, that might have made Peace and the other soldiers sick. It found none.
“Depleted uranium is not considered a factor in the reported illnesses,” said the report, obtained by The Canadian Press.
“We have no information whether or not it was used by belligerent factions, but it is clear soldiers did not pick up anything that might have been depleted uranium, nor did they work around any hazard (tank hulks) that might have had depleted uranium dust.”
A senior medical oificer said an independent toxicology report found nothing unusual and that the illness complaints are all part of modern warfare.
“We’re paying more attention to what we believe is a stress-related phenomenon,” Lt.-Col. Greg Cook, a physician and specialist in internal medicine, said.
He said troops, as far back as the U.S. Civil War, returned from combat with similar complaints as those reported by Gulf War and now Balkan War veterans.
But Peace’s widow rejected the inquiry findings and Cook’s assessment.
“I believe that the troops were exposed to chemicals,” she said.
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An American Chinook helicopter prepares to land near Qalat, Afghanistan, in order to extract elements of the Third Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group, (3 PPCLI BG) IOO km northeast of Kandahar Airfield yesterday.
Canadians disappointed on being let down by Afghan allies
By Nahlah Ayed
SHINKEY, Afghanistan — A Canadian military mission to flush suspected terrorists out of hiding made inroads in an uninspected province this week but their Afghan allies failed to deliver on a promise to push Taliban or al-Qaida fighters into Canadian hands.
The Canadians returned to base yesterday after covering vast terrain without sustaining casualties, but many were clearly disappointed.
Operation Cherokee Sky, Canada’s largest combat mission to date in Afghanistan, is still being hailed as a success for establishing the anti-terrorist coalition’s presence in an area of Afghanistan believed to harbour members of the Taliban regime and Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terrorist network.
But the complex mission, which involved most of the Canadian battalion in Afghanistan, did not turn up any Taliban or al-Qaida fighters.
Hundreds of soldiers who drove through a treacherous mountain pass or descended in U.S. helicopters for the big push early Wednesday spent a sober final night in the Zabul province, dejected that their effort failed to yield the results they wanted on what could be their last major mission before returning to Canada.
They arrived back at base in the Kandahar airfield yesterday — four days after setting out on their third major mission — with a cache of 30 surface-to-air missiles believed to have belonged to hostile forces. The missiles were uncovered by the Afghan military and turned over to the Canadians.
But that was not enough to quell the disappointment.
“All that for nothing,” said one weary soldier in Qalat, their temporary headquarters while out on the mission.
Lt.-Col. Pat Stogran, commander of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, was also disappointed.
“On the first night when we arrived there, there were these hard targets and it certainly got my hopes up: we would secure a couple of high payoff targets,” Stogran said after returning to Kandahar.
“I was pretty discouraged by the whole thing. We had the possibility there, and the (Afghan forces) were certainly on board — just something in the plan went awry.”
“A lot of good has come of this, the only nongood is we didn’t get a high-payoff target.”
The mission started out on a promising note Wednesday when Afghan army troops, followed by a small Canadian contingent, raided a compound thought to be home to hostile forces.
Several people scurried away when they saw the military approaching. But by the time they arrived, Afghan military forces were unable to identify any Taliban fighters there.
Later, with Canadian vehicles and three rifle companies surrounding the village of Shinkey to stop any fleeing suspects, the Afghan soldiers failed to complete the sweep that they had promised.
They told the Canadians that the Taliban were actually hours away and that despite their previous suggestions to the contrary, there were no Taliban members in Shinkey.
Suspicion arose that Zabul’s governor, Hamidullah Khan, may have links with the Taliban and extremist Muslim groups, prompting him to renege on promises of helping the Canadians.
Loose moose in Edmonton eauses wildlife officers to take chase
EDMONTON — Residents of a neighbourhood on the city’s south side watched a wild chase yesterday morning as police and wildlife officers tried to catch up to a moose.
The chase took them along a busy freeway and into a residential area, where the winded female moose paused to rest in a front yard. She then galloped through the neighbourhood before being hit with a tranquillizer dart and passing out in Bob Fletcher’s back yard.
Fletcher said he didn’t believe police when they knocked on his door to tell him there was a moose in his yard. The moose was taken back to the wild.
Last month, a roaming black bear was shot and killed on the city’s north side.
Ottawa gives pork council money to help develop hog farm rules
OTTAWA — The federal government will spend another $300,000 to develop better regulations to govern Canada’s growing hog industry.
Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief announced yesterday the money will be given to the Canadian Pork Council for pilot projects to develop practical environmental regulations for hog farms.
Pork council president Edouard Asnong was pleased.
“We want to reassure the public about Canadian hog producers’ commitment to respect the environment.”
The new rules for the hog industry are set to be in place by the middle of next year. Final regulations will be subject to a public review before they are adopted.
Swiss prosecutors open criminal investigation into air crash
UEBERLINGEN, Germany — Swiss prosecutors opened a criminal investigation yesterday into the collision of two airliners over Germany.
The aim of the negligent homicide investigation is to establish whether any actions by Swiss air-traffic control could prompt criminal charges, said Christoph Naef, a spokesman for Zurich prosecutors.
Already, the Swiss have said there was only one controller in the tower at the time and there should have been two because a crash-avoidance system was out of service for maintenance. The second controller had taken a break.
Chief German investigator Peter Schlegel said analysis of radio transmissions showed the Bashkirian Airlines Tu-154 was given six seconds less than the 50-second warning Swiss and German officials had previously reported. That is nearly one minute less than the Swiss initially claimed.
Escapee found in Saskatchewan after walking from Ontario prison
PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — A convicted murderer was returned to custody yesterday after he walked away from a minimum-security facility in Gravenhurst, Ont., over the Canada Day weekend.
David Resnickoff, 52, was wanted on a Canada-wide warrant after he disappeared from the Beaver Creek Institute on the morning of June 29.
RCMP officers tracked him down at the Sturgeon Lake Provincial Park along with his wife, 36-year-old Tanya, who was also wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for a violation of a court-imposed sentence. They were both taken into custody without incident.
—Canadian Press/Associated Press
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