Debating Defence and Naval Policy (VII)

David Perry: A couple of days later, on 4 February, the Winnipeg Free Press published an editorial by Peter Haydon of Dalhousie University, that echoed some of Eric Lerhe's unpublished concerns and took a more precise maritime security approach in addition to raising concerns over the apparent savings from the cuts:

“Giving up the fleet support ships before their replacements arrive probably spells the demise of the naval task group concept that has served this country so well for the last 15 years. On their own, the frigates don't have great endurance, perhaps some 11,000 kilometres, and this limits their operating range as well as making them dependent on refuelling stops in port or from one of the support vessels if they are to be at sea for more than about 10 days. For the navy to retain its traditional flexibility and mobility, it will have to buy or lease a commercial tanker and fit it out for the fleet support role. This is not difficult. The Australians have just done that with HMAS Sirius, and the British have considerable experience as a result of the Falklands War.”

“O'Connor also wants to phase out one of the three Iroquois-class destroyers, which serve as command ships.”

“The question we should be asking is whether 12 frigates is enough to do the work that the navy has been called upon to do over the last 15 or so years. For instance, will there be enough ships to maintain a frigate in NATO's standing naval force (as Canada has traditionally done for most of the last 40 years), and keep another frigate operating with U.S. and other Allied naval forces in the Middle East, as well as keep one frigate on patrol in both the Pacific and the Atlantic and also meet maintenance and overhaul requirements?”

David Perry: Haydon went on to criticise the plan to scrap the Auroras, "Getting rid of six Aurora maritime patrol aircraft makes absolutely no sense." There was still a need, he said, "to gather information on what is going on in all waters under our jurisdiction and an aircraft is an excellent way of doing it." He also expressed concern that unmanned aircraft (UAVs) probably did not have the capability or the flexibility to replace an Aurora.

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