For nearly 50 years, naval personnel were trained on vessels known as YAG's. They provided an invaluable and relatively inexpensive at-sea training for junior naval officers, boatswains, reserve personnel and Sea Cadets.  By the year 2000, a total of 1830 personnel had been deployed on the YAGs for a total of 585 days and steamed over 25,000 nautical miles in support of training.

These wooden-hulled vessels had become prohibitively expensive to maintain, hence replacement became the only option.  The lack of current technology, proper environmental systems, poor habitability and inadequate workspaces did not meet the Navy’s requirements, and reflected poorly on the Canadian Forces.

Replacement of the YAG fleet began in July 2001 when the project was formally identified.  Following a thorough analysis of replacement options, it was decided that purchasing a proven commercial design would significantly reduce the risk to the Crown.  In October 2001, the project issued a Letter of Interest to industry seeking responses from companies who had a proven capability in the construction of vessels of similar size and complexity within the last ten years.  Five companies responded to the Letter of Interest and a request for proposals was subsequently issued in December 2003.  The competition closed in April 2004, and the submissions were evaluated against the mandatory requirements.

The new vessels, designated the ORCA class training vessels will provide an excellent means for both the Regular Force and Reserve officers to hone their bridgemanship and navigation skills.  It will have significant advanced training capabilities, closely simulating the performance and conditions experienced on the major warships. The vessels will have a twin shaft configuration to provide excellent shiphandling characteristics and be able to conduct transits at much higher speeds. The contract was awarded to Victoria Shipyards and the first vessel, PCT55 , began taking shape.

As sailor's cheered and waved their hats, Orca was officially accepted into the Canadian Navy during a ceremony on Nov. 17, 2006. It was to be the first of eight new Patrol Craft Training (PCT) vessels, Orca  features a bridge with navigation electronics updated from the previous Yard Auxiliary General (YAG) 300 series vessels including a global positioning system and improved accommodations. Crew will be housed in double cabins, while cabins of between four and six bunks will house trainees. This vessel reflects the rest of the fleet much more than the YAG's did and is several generations advanced from what the navy had been using for training vessels.

ORCA concept. (Graphic courtesy Canadian American Strategic Review)
Neil Bell, who toured an Ocra, observed a few of the advanced features found in these vessels. "The helmsman’s position has a chair and a wheel and throttles rather than the combi-levers of the MCDVs as well as two computer screens that can pull up any of numerous “pages” of information regarding propulsion, electricity, tank capacity, etc.  The switchboard automatically adds or takes off line generators according to the electrical load. A screen in the CO's cabin allows him/her to access any information that is presented to the bridge."
Most importantly,  the ORCA class will allow the freeing of the HALIFAX frigates and KINGSTON defence vessels from cadet training duties. As a result, there will be less of a backlog created by the wait for one of those larger vessels to be freed up from regular duties for training. Furthermore, not having to employ large vessels like the 240-crew HALIFAX for mere cadet training duties will be highly economical to the military.

The ships, built by Victoria Shipyards Vancouver, replace the 50-year-old wooden hulled YAG training vessels. Malcolm Barker, general manager of Victoria Shipyards Limited handed over Orca 55 to Cmdre David Gagliardi, Deputy Commander Canada Command, representing the Chief of Maritime Staff at the ceremony on ''A" Jetty, Esquimalt, BC.

"Today, we usher in a new era in navigation and seamanship training for the Canadian Navy. Designated "Patrol Craft Training", the Orca class ships represent a quantum leap into the future of the Canadian Navy replicating the capabilities found in the Navigation and Bridge Simulator at the Naval Officer Training Centre and on the bridge of the Halifax and Kingston class ships as well as the navy's future ships. Sailors will now train in an environment that emulates the ships they will ultimately serve in," said Cmdre Gagliardi.

After Barker signed over Orca to Cmdre Gagliardi, representatives from the Naval Officer Training Centre (NOTC), the Naval Tender  Section and the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets unveiled the kisbee ring at the event. LCdr James Brown, senior chaplain of Canadian Fleet Pacific blessed the ship and then it was time for Orca's future sailors to board and ceremonially man the ship for the first time. Teenage cadets stood next to naval officers on the deck as they waved their hats and shouted, "three cheers for Orca, hip, hip, hooray."

The ORCA class vessels are not in commission  with the RCN therefore it would be incorrect to use the prefix "HMCS" in reference to any of the vessels in the ORCA class.

Orca cutaway. (Graphic courtesy Canadian American Strategic Review)
The remaining Orca class ships will be delivered in coming months and are named PCT 55 Orca, PCT 56 Raven, PCT 57 Caribou, PCT 58 Renard, PCT 59 Wolf, and PCT 60 Grizzly, plus the two newly added vessels PCT 61 Cougar and PCT 62 Moose. "The names of each of the eight ships remind us of the original sailors on the Pacific coast of North America, the Coast Salish First Nations people," said Cmdre Gagliardi. The names of six of the vessels were names also given to the "armed yachts" the Government  acquired in the early years of the Second World War, he added.

Orca class is rather broad in the beam due to its training role. Accommodation was a major factor – three crew cabins (for the crew of four) and three large student cabins (for 16 trainees) were required. Duplicate training stations, etc. also imposed additional space and weight requirements. This limits the usefulness of the Orca as a patrol boat.

 Although the boats were designed with the Junior Officer Training requirement in mind, they may also provide a secondary inshore patrol capability on the West Coast. All the boats will be based at CFB Esquimalt in British Columbia.

On Thursday November 27, 2008 ship horns blared, a red fireboat spurted fountains of water, and cameras flashed to mark the delivery of Moose, the last of the eight ORCA class training vessels built by Victoria Shipyards. Under bright white tents, 250 shipyard workers were treated to a catered lunch to celebrate their work on the Orca-class vessels. All the vessels were built for $86 million with the last one delivered exactly four years to the day since the contract was signed -- and 14 months early, to boot.

Orca      (PCT 55) CGAB 9 Aug 2006 17 Nov 2006 
Raven    (PCT 56)  CGAM 10 Jan 2007 15 Mar 2007
Caribou (PCT 57) CGAA 2 May 2007 31 Jul 2007
Renard   (PCT 58) CGAS  1 Aug 2007  13 Sep 2007 
Wolf       (PCT 59) CGBP 22 Oct 2007  29 Nov 2007
Grizzly    (PCT 60) CGCA  14 Feb 2008 19 Mar 2008
Cougar   (PCT 61) CGCY June 2008 July 2008
Moose    (PCT 62)  CGCZ Oct 2008 27 Nov 2008


orca_11_ds_s.jpg orca_05_jd_s.jpg orca_16_ds_s.jpg
Photo by Darren Scannell
DND photo. Submitted by Jarrod David
Photo by Darren Scannell
orca_06_gk_s.jpg orca_13_ds_s.jpg orca_14_ds_s.jpg
DND photo. Submitted by George Keats
Photo by Darren Scannell
Photo by Darren Scannell
orca_15_ds_s.jpg orca_02_jd_s.jpg orca_07_gk_s.jpg
Photo by Darren Scannell
DND photo. Submitted by Jarrod David
 DND photo. Submitted by George Keats
Orca 55 - from hull fabrication to completion to sea trials. Click to enlarge.

Orca-class training vessel PCT 58 Renard, followed by RCMP rigid hull inflatable boats, conducts maritime boarding exercises near Victoria B.C. in late January 2008. The exercise was part of the RCMP Emergency Response Team’s Maritime Operations course. The navy routinely conducts exercises with other government departments, including the RCMP, to ensure the compatibility of skills and knowledge in the event of local or national emergencies .(RCMP photo in Crowsnest Vol. 2, No. 1 Spring 2008)

Orca-class training craft are seen in North Vancouver on July 25, 2008. (Photo by Dave Shirlaw) 


Note: There are minor differences in some of these specifications depending upon the source of the data.  Orca’s design is restricted by its training role. Other than a higher top speed, the sole concession to patrol duties are a bow gun, namely a 12.7 mm M2 machine gun.
ORCA Class Training Vessel – Technical Data Sheet (Circa 2006)
General Particulars:

Length, overall .......... 33.00 m
Length, waterline ...... 30.57 m
Breadth, moulded...... 8.34  m
Depth, moulded ........ 4.00 m
Draft, Waterline.........2.00 m
Displacement............. 210 tonnes


Maximum  speed ...... 18 knots
Cruising .................... 15 knots
Range ....... 660 nm at 15 knots
Endurance ................... 4 days


4 crew
16 trainees
4 spare berths

Tank Capacities:

Fuel Oil .............. 25000 litres
Fresh Water ....... 11000 litres
Lubricating Oil ....... 800 litres


Classification ........ ABS – High Speed; Naval – Coastal.

MARPOL ................ 73/78

Transport Canada ...... Home Trade II

Construction Material...Steel



Main Engines .......... 2 x Caterpillar 3516B rated 1864 kW at 1,600 rpm. 69 litres each.
Gearboxes ........... 2 x ZV 7500A
Propellers ............ 2 x 1400 mm diameter fixed pitch.
Control System .... L-3 MAPPS
Electric Generators ... 3 x Caterpillar 3054T (4 litre) rated 72 kw@ at 1,800 rpm.

Deck Equipment:

Deck Crane/Davits ..... Allied Systems D2500S

Daughter Boat ... 1 x Zodiac SR2

Anchor Windlass ....... Muir VRC 11000


Perlorus .......  Anschütz  142-117 [4]

Radars/APAR (Two). Raytheon NSC1810 [1]

D-GPS  (Two) Raytheon MX420/2

Speed Log ... DL850 or SAL-R1

AIS ..........Raytheon RM 80AS [3]

Gyrocompass ... Anschütz  110-233 [4,6]

Echo Sounder... Raytheon GDS101


VHF .......... Sailor RT4822 DSC

VHF Portable .......... SP3300

VHF DF .... .. Taiyo TD-L1630A [5]

MF/HF/SSB .... Sailor HC4500B

Fixed Wireless Terminal.... Telular SX3E [2]

Multiband Transceiver . Wulfsberg RT-5000

SART .................. Kannad

EPIRB ................. S1210

Batteryless Telephone ..... Zenitel

Talkback/PA System .... Zenitel

orca_outline_specs_s.jpg ORCA Class profiles. Click to enlarge. (Drawing courtesy Victoria Shipyards, Victoria B.C.  Submitted by  Jarrod David)


Engine Room. Take a good look. It will likely never be that clean again.  (Photo by A/SLt Nick Kucher)
Electrical switchboard.  (Photo by A/SLt Nick Kucher)
General view of the bridge. (Photo by A/SLt Nick Kucher)
Helmsmans position. (Photo by A/SLt Nick Kucher)
Navigation console. (Photo by A/SLt Nick Kucher)
Classroom area. (Photo by A/SLt Nick Kucher)
Dual bunks. (Photo by A/SLt Nick Kucher)



Click to enlarge.

orca_4822_s.jpg VHF Comm - Sailor Model RT4822 DSC. The Sailor RT4822 VHF DSC simplex/semiduplex VHF radiotelephone with built-in DSC is a part of Sailor's compact System 4000 GMDSS solution.

Frequency range: 150.8 MHz - 163.6 MHz 
Channels: All international channels plus 55 private channels.
Power Output: High 25 watts; low  0.9 watts.
Transceiver dimensions: 100 mm H x 200 mm W x 176 mm D
Manufacturer :  Zora Advanced Technologies. Russia  (Photo courtesy Zora Technologies) 

orca_sp3300_s.jpg VHF Portable Radio -  Sailor Model  SP3300. This is a portable GMDSS VHF transceiver.

Normal channels: 54 international channels 
Channel spacing: 25 kHz 
Frequency range: 155 to 163 MHz 
Operating modes: Simplex / semi-duplex RF Output power: 2.5W and 1W switchable. 
Weight: 370 grams 
Height:  Including antenna, 308.5 mm  (Image courtesy Busse Yachtshop)

orca_taiyomusen_tdl1630_s.jpg VHF DF  - Taiyo Model TD-L1630A

Triple superheterodyne set with synthesized local oscillator. 
Frequency range : 110 MHz - 170 MHz in 5 kHz steps 
Modes : A3 and F3
Size : W368mm  x H195mm x D327mm; Weight 8.5 kg 
Uses Adcock antenna : W 410mm x H930mm x D410mm, 3.4 kg 
(Image courtesy Taiyo Musen Co.)

orca_hc4500_s.jpg MF/HF/SSB - Sailor Model HC4500B. This is a three piece radio. Pictured (L-R) is the transceiver unit, the control head/handset and the antenna tuner. 

Modes: SSB telephony and Double Sideband AM 
Power Output :150 watts
Frequency range: 150 kHz to 30 MHz 
Channels: 199 frequency pairs 
Manufacturer :  Zora Advanced Technologies  (Photo courtesy Zora Technologies)

orca_sx3e_s.jpg Fixed Wireless Terminal - Telular Model  SX3E.

This terminal provides access for up to five pieces of standard telephone equipment to the cellular telephone network. This can include a voice normal telephone, a FAX machine or a modem equipped computer. (Image courtesy Telular Corp) 

orca_rt5000_control_head_s.jpg Multiband Transceiver - Wulfsberg Model RT-5000. Pictured is the base-model control head. This radio consists of a transceiver unit and a control head. 

The RT-5000 can take the place of six transceivers since it can cover the bands 30-50, 118-136, 136-174, 220-240, 400-512 and 800 to 960 MHz. In addition, an optional second receiver called a "guard" can be added for monitoring an additional frequency. This receiver can be a single channel crystal-controlled receiver or a synthesized 29.7-960 MHz receiver. Each RT-5000 radio contains a frequency synthesized main receiver/transmitter capable of operating from 29.7 to 960 MHz.   With a synthesizer capable of tuning in 1.25 kHz steps, all RT-5000 models can operate on 12.5 kHz and 25 kHz FM channels.  Two other IF bandwidths, 35 KHz and 70 KHz, come standard for interfacing with military encryption systems. 

Power/Modes: 10 watts using FM., 15 watts using AM 
(Image courtesy Wulfsberg Electronics) 

orca_rt5000_s.jpg Wulfsberg RT-5000 base-model transceiver unit for use with the control head shown above. Dimensions: 4.88 in W x 7.54 in H x 14 in D. (Image courtesy Wulfsberg Electronics) 
orca_sart.jpg SART by Kannad.  SART (Search and Rescue Transponder) is a 9 GHz receiver/transmitter. On receiving a pulse from any standard 9 GHz X-band radar, the SART immediately transmits a signal which clearly identifies the survival craft on the radar screen.  The SART code displayed on the radar screen is a series of dots extending radially outwards from the location of the transponder. The series of dots represents a range of approximately 10 nautical miles. This indication is an internationally accepted signal for Search And Rescue operations. The device pictured in the photo is intended for use in a life raft. (Image courtesy Martec)

Bigger image not available

orca_s1210_epirb_s.jpg EPIRB -  Model S1210 . The S1210 is an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) and is a vital safety aid for all vessels. Once activated, the SS1210 will  send an encoded distress signal, indicating the location of the emergency and the EPIRB's unique ID, to the nearest search and rescue center.

The EPIRB's ID number is kept on file by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) in the US and the National Search and Rescue Secretariat (NSS) in Canada. When a 1210 is purchased,  there is a registration card that must be filled out and sent to NOAA in the US or NSS in Canada. This ID number tells the search and rescue centre who owns the vessel, the size and name of the vessel, the next of kin, the home address and phone number of the EPIRB owner. 

The device uses a  Xenon light strobe for visual identification, a 121.5 MHz (VHF distress) local homing radio signal and a  406.028 MHz satellite transmitter. (Photo courtesy Rapid Response Marine) 

Batteryless Telephone - Zenitel Model VSP. It  is designed as replacement of the traditional sound powered telephone. Cranking the phone charges a capacitor-battery which can provide up to 20 minutes of talk time before the unit needs re-cranking.  Optionally, the system can also be operated from a 24 VDC external power source to eliminate cranking. By use of a dynamic microphone and a  "receiver-insert" , a sound level four times louder than a traditional Sound Powered Telephone can be achieved. A PDF file explaining the telephone system diagram can be found here.   (Images and courtesy Zenitel  Group)
orca_zenitel_pa_system_s.jpg PA System - Zenitel  Model SPA. The system has up to 4 zones, and operates either 230 VAC or 24 VDC. It is tested according to EN 60945 and  type approved by RMRS and CCS. System options are: Chime generator,  rack expansion, alarm generator modules, monitor modules wtih speaker/volume control and a radio/CD player. (Image courtesy Zenitel Group)


Click to enlarge

No photo has been located  Pelorus -  Anschütz Model 142-117. No information located at this time [7]
orca_repeater_compass_s.jpg Bearing Repeater Compass  -  Raytheon Marine (Gmbh) Model  #133-407-NG001-E02 mounted on a Raytheon Pelorus stand 133-407-NG001-E00.  Confirmed by Neil Bell by actual observation. 

It's  equipped with a 360 degree card and a digital heading indicatior. A fixed 360 degree scale on the graduated ring enables relative bearings to be taken.
(Photo courtesy Klein Associates)

orca_nsc18_radar.jpg Raytheon X-band radar antenna for Model NSC18. [1] (Image courtesy Raytheon Marine, Germany)

Bigger image not available

orca_nsc18_radar_display_s.jpg Model NSC18 radar display with a 9 inch square TFT (thin film transistor) flat screen display.[1] All three versions of this set offer full ARPA( Automatic Radar Plotting Aid)  functionality and can plot up to 70 targets simultaneously. The system is designed with a PC based radar processor. (Image courtesy Raytheon Marine, Germany)
orca_mx420_s.jpg Differential GPS - Raytheon Model MX420/2.  This Differential GPS offers resolution of Latitude and Longtitude to 4 decimal places. The suffix indicates the number of NEMA 0183 ports that thedevice is optioned with. [1] (Image courtesy MX Marine)

Differential Global Positioning Systems (DGPS)  is a way of collecting GPS data with increased accuracy. It involves using a radio beacon installed on a surveyed, known point  to help resolve the location of a roving receiver. It does this by correcting the error of all visible satellites that are sending data to a conventional GPS unit.

orca_dl850_speed_s.jpg Speed Log  - Skipper DL850 

Speed Range: 0-40 knots in both axis 
Accuracy: 0.2% of speed 
(Graphic courtesy Radio Holland USA) 

orca_rm808_s.jpg AIS - Raytheon RM 80AS. [3] The new SOLAS convention Chapter V, Regulation 19, adds a requirement for carriage of an Automatic Identification System (AIS) capable of providing information about the ship to other ships and to coastal authorities automatically.

AIS is  a shipboard broadcast transponder system in which ships continually transmit their ID, position, course, speed over ground, static data and voyage related data to all other ships and shoreside authorities on common VHF radio channels. (Image courtesy Klein Associates)

orca_gyrocompass22_s.gif Gyrocompass - Anschütz Model 110-233 [6] . Pictured are the control head and gyro only. The distribution box is also part of the system but not shown here. 

Settling time: 1 hour after being powered up.
Accuracy: +/- 0.1 degree

(Image courtesy Raytheon Marine Germany)

orca_gds101_s.jpg Echo Sounder - Raytheon Model GDS101. Ranges adjustable from 0 - 10 m to 0 - 1600 m  (Image courtesy Raytheon Marine, Germany)

[1] According to Canadian American Strategic Review, "for a training role, the Orcas will be fitted with the Raytheon Pathfinder NCS 18 X-band navigation radar (illustrated) and the MX420 DGPS which makes use of four Canadian Coast Guard DGPS stations on the west coast and a Anschütz Pelorus (dumb) compass". It is believed that the 1810 would be fitted if the Orca is assigned to patrol vessel duties. Can anyone confirm this?

[2] This is listed as a Cellular Telephone on other web sites. It is correctly shown here as a Fixed Wireless Terminal with the correct spelling of the company name.

[3] The Raytheon Model RM80 AS could not be located on the web. Raytheon's current product line (2006) illustrates model RM808AIS so it is believed there may be an error in the equipment manifest. Instead, the Model RM808 is shown.

[4] The company name has been corrected. IT should read as "Anschütz". This is a division of Raytheon.

[5] The full company name is Taiyo Musen but they market their products under the shortened "Taiyo" brand.

[6] No such model as 110-233 could be located on the web. The only Raytheon gyrocompass located was the Standard 22 product, so it is assumed that this is the one being referenced in the equipment manifest.

[7] Nothing was found on the web when searching for "Anschütz Pelorus" or in combination with the indicated model number. Is there any source for an image of the device?

Contributors and Credits:

1) Pam Lloyd, Staff Writer,  Lookout Newspaper
2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orca_class_training_vessel
3) Canadian American Strategic Review  http://www.sfu.ca/casr/bg-orca-project.htm
4) Michael Golden  <navalofficerca(at)yahoo.ca>
5) Jarrod David  <jdavid235(a)ns.sympatico.ca>
6) Orca technical specifications source: www. cadet-World.com  (Nov 15/06) Published by  LCdr Gerry Pash.
7) George Keats <gkeats(at)mergetel.com>
8) Darren Scannell <hawkone@hawk-graphics.com>
9) Rapid Response Marine http://www.rapidresponsemarine.net/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=40
10) Zora Technologies http://www.zora.ru
11) Wulfsberg Electronics http://www.wulfsberg.com/Flexcomm_Products.htm
12) Martec Group http://en.martec.fr/page/p-176/art_id-753/
13) Taiyomusen http://www.taiyomusen.co.jp/EHome/edf.html#TD-L1630
14) Busse Yachtshop   http://www.bordelektrik.de/dae_sailor-sp3300.html
15) Telular Corp    https://www.telular.com/v2/html/support/56017302.pdf
16) Raytheon Marine    http://www.raytheon-marine.de/highseas/products/commercial/radar/nsc_radar.html
17) MX Marine http://www.mx-marine.com/products/index.html
18) Klein Associates http://www.l-3klein.com/navigation/raytheon_rm808ais/rm808auto_id_sys.html
19) Raytheon Marine http://www.raytheon-marine.de/highseas/products/commercial/navigation/graphic_depth_sounder.html
20 ) Orca Equipment Manifest:   http://www.navy.forces.gc.ca/marpac/news/marpac_news_e.asp?section=9&category=38&id=696
21) Raytheon Marine http://www.raytheon-marine.de/highseas/products/commercial/navigation/gyro_compass_std22.html
22) Radio Holland USA  http://www.radiohollandusa.com/products/index.htm?&brochures.html
23) Neil S. Bell <rcnr(at)mountaincable.net>
24) http://www.l-3klein.com/navigation/repeater_compass/repeater_compass.html
25) Zenitel Group  http://www.zenitel.biz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=294&Itemid=223
25) Jim Brewer <snack.235(at)sympatico.ca>
26) A/SLt Nick Kucher
27) Dave Shirlaw <djshirlaw(at)shaw.ca>
28) Silvester.Lt(N).TD RCIS(Pac) <silvester.td(at)cadets.net>
29) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orca_class_patrol_vessel

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Feb 10/12