Arctic Patrol Vessel Announcement

I like just about every aspect of the Arctic Patrol Vessel that appears to have just made it through Cabinet:

  • It uses the successful Norwegian SVALBARD design suggesting that we can get this vessel in a timely manner if we can restrain ourselves from Canadianizing it. All we need are our own unique military communications and display systems.
  • It is one meter ice capable suggesting it will have an adequate independent operating range in the Arctic without competing with the capability of our heavy Coast Guard icebreakers.
  • The gun is common to what we already have and likely other systems are NATO standard.
  • It has a 45 person crew reducing our long term accrual costs
  • It carries environmental remediation equipment
  • Based on the accompanying post from Norway, it may offer a window into how another very competent Navy manages its offshore patrolling responsibilities and legal challenges.
  • It's fully air capable
  • At 6000 tons it has room for future growth
  • This purchase, in conjunction with the JSS and potentially the Single Class Surface Combatant, is starting to offer the possibility of an orderly national shipbuilding strategy that builds one or two ships a year instead of our wasteful 'boom or bust' approach.
  • If successful, these could replace our MCDV and that suggests we start using Reserves in these APV vessels soon.

Next, we need a plan that gets an air-independent-propulsion (AIP) fitted submarine into the Arctic, a re-capitalized Coast Guard icebreaking fleet in accordance with Rob Huebert's call, and a surveillance plan that introduces sensors, satellite communications, and aircraft into the mix. These capabilities actually protect our sovereignty and are needed much more urgently than Arctic bases.

As a side note, the US naval writer Joseph Buffs recently examined the new Arctic warming problems and opined "New problems will emerge for the U.S. Navy and its submarine force, as any country with air-independent-propulsion (AIP) diesel subs will be able to operate far in under the ice cover." At the same time China, in addition to operating SSNs, has mastered submarine Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) via thin-film polymer fuel cells, a technology we first developed using Canadian naval research funds. Based on their very aggressive Arctic research programme, the Chinese will be operating submarines under the Arctic ice long before we do.