The Royal Canadian Navy’s one of the four Victoria-class submarines will be equipped with a new modern mast system, similar to the one fitted in the United States Navy Virginia-class submarines.
Canadian Submarine (HMCS) Corner Brook will become the first to get such a system, acquired under the US Foreign Military Sales program. It will provide air supply, communications, radar and periscope capability.
“What the UMM (when coupled with the Protected Military Satellite Communication (PMSC) antenna) will do is provide near real-time high-speed communications with shore. This will allow for improved picture and video transmission, and quicker transmission of messages, therefore reducing counter-detection opportunities as the submarine will spend less time with its mast out of the water,” Lieutenant-Commander Darryl Gervis, RCN Deputy Director Submarine Combat Systems, says.
The new equipment will also include the ability to “plug-and-play” a Communications Intercept Suite antenna that will provide the class that capability. This is because the UMM has two multi-purpose ports, like data ports on a computer. This will enable other antennas and intelligence gathering equipment to be swapped in and out to better suit the needs of a specific deployment or changing technology.
“It improves the Victoria class as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform,” said Cdr Mangin. “It increases our utility so much – the upgrades to the comms fit that UMM enables can be compared to using an old dial-up modem to one of today’s high-speed modems,” Commander Mike Mangin, Deputy Commander, Operations, of the Canadian Submarine Force, says.
Work is expected to begin on the UMM installation in HMCS Chicoutimi in 2019, with subsequent work to be performed on HMCS Victoria and HMCS Windsor.
All four submarines will be retrofitted with the new equipment by 2026.