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HMCS Ojibwa leaves Halifax for Ontario museum

05/27/2012 05:53 EDT | Updated 07/27/2012 05:12 EDT

HMCS Ojibwa left Halifax on the weekend to begin its new life at a museum in Ontario.

The decommissioned submarine slipped out of a Halifax dry-dock Saturday and was towed out of the harbour on an ocean-going dry-dock. The Oberon-class vessel is heading to Port Burwell, Ont., on the shore of Lake Erie, where it will undergo extensive restoration and become a part of the Elgin Military Museum.

Three years of talks with the Department of National Defence concluded Friday when documents were signed transferring ownership to the museum.

"We are all very pleased and relieved," museum president Deb Jarvis said in a news release.

The Project Ojibwa website quoted a member of the submarine's original 1965 crew as celebrating the Ojibwa's new lease on life.

"This is the day I have been waiting for to open the special bottle of Pusser rum that was given to me when I retired," said Jim Gordon. "We shared it today in salute to the old girl."

Cold War veteran

The Ojibwa served Canada and NATO during the Cold War until its decommissioning in 1998.

"We are proud to be part of Project Ojibwa," said Rick Heddle, who was in Halifax to supervise the loading of Ojibwa aboard the dry-dock. "Last year we took her two sister boats, Okanogan and Olympus, to the breaker's yard. It is such a different atmosphere this year. It has been great fun sharing it with her former crew."

The crew had a moment of drama in Halifax when the tug started to pull away with the Ojibwa, before noticing a mooring line had not been released. The team blogging about the project has posted a video of the departure here.

The Ojibwa, which is due in Hamilton June 4, will spend the summer at the Heddle Marine shipyard. The boat should arrive at Port Burwell Sept. 7. It will be opened as a museum exhibit by next summer.

The museum site is about 1,000 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean, but its operators are confident the submarine will attract up to 100,000 visitors annually to the shore of Lake Erie.

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