Debating Defence and Naval Policy (XXI)

David Perry: Ken Hansen, the Defence Fellow at Dalhousie, joined the debate:

 “One thing I think is being overlooked here is that ice-capable patrol ships can have valid tasks in joint warfare and in service-specific naval tasks. The best example is the USCG Lake- and Tampa-class cutters of Second World War. These ships were 'ice-capable' for their day, and because the USN's General Board had given it some thought, made sure they had some 'latent capability' for warfare. Most importantly, because they were intended for ice operations, they had an excellent fuel capacity that gave them very long endurance. But, they also were sturdily built, with extra accommodations, and had sites identified in their plan for the addition of 'bolt-on' weaponry. All these ships went on to have useful wartime careers doing things that they were not intended for, but for which they provided good utility. I wrote in my article on "Expeditionary Warfare" in CNR (citing Milan Vego) that, "far from emphasizing the extreme case of amphibious assault against defended beachheads, traditional naval support roles in expeditionary warfare most commonly involve cover, administrative support, and supply operations." An ice-capable patrol ship can easily be pressed into any number of support roles in expeditionary warfare, constabulary cooperative operations abroad, and humanitarian relief missions. Seeing ice-capable patrol 'cutters' (or sloops) as warships of little combat value is a mistake that has been made all too frequently by senior leaders that don't understand either history or theory.”

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