1. HMCS Athabaskan creeps back into port this afternoon, in hot hazy weather. She seems to be missing a lot of gear on her main mast.
Over the past week or so HMCS Athabaskan has been seen in Bedford Basin and putting out to sea. This may signify that she is nearing the end of the refit that started in the spring of 2012 when she sailed to St.Catharines, ON. When that work expanded in scope so that it could not be completed before freeze up, the decision was made to have the ship towed to Halifax - in December. The wisdom of that tow was immediately brought into question when delays with the tug put the ship in way of some very bad weather. The tow line parted more than once, during which the tug and ship made contact, resulting in the ship's hull being holed in several places. All this only added to the time needed to get the ship back to sea and for its sister HMCS Iroquois to go into its refit.
Was there any time saved by bringing the ship back to Halifax in December instead of leaving it on the Lakes over the winter? In view of the original April completion date of the refit, one would have to say no.
If the RCN wants to have refits in St.Cathareines that is OK with me, but they should be prepared to leave the ship there long enough to complete the work. The problem was that the shipyard in St.Catharines had scheduled work on other ships over the winter and couldn't accommodate Athabaskan at the same time. Unlike a shipyard on the coast, it has no water alongside in winter when the Welland Canal locks are drained. The ship could have been moved to Hamilton or Toronto or other convenient port for the three months of freeze up, and returned to Halifax in early April, but would have limited the work that could be done on her. So as far as the RCN was concerned the only alternative was to get the ship back to Halifax, no matter what.
In looking at the ship's main mast it appears that a lot of communication/navigation/detection gear has yet to be installed, so perhaps the refit is not complete even now.