The Navy is NOT in Crisis

Retired RCN, 06 December 2020.

A reply to the post "Canada’s Navy in Deep Crisis - 2021"

I think the RCN is NOT in crisis. The RCN certainly has a lot of challenges throughout its history stemming back from its inception in 1910 and the challenges it’s facing now and in the future is no different from what it’s faced in the past. ALL navies face challenges. It’s how you face these challenges which is important.

The RCN is in the middle of its biggest fleet recapitalizations in many years. Two purpose built JSS that will allow these ships to transit threat areas among other capabilities and get back in the fleet support and fueling game, the Harry DeWolf Class Arctic and Offshore Patrol ships that will allow a significant RCN presence in the Arctic for up to 5 months of the year along with the Arctic Fueling Depot, the rest of the time elsewhere representing Canada’s interests and 15 CSC frigates potentially one of the most heavily armed warships Canada has ever had if not in the world of that class and future proofed for years of upgrades and expansion.

Until then the twelve Halifax Class has been life extended and have a robust maintenance program in place and ships are sailing and deploying according to the fleet schedule and meeting our commitments. Asterix as an interim measure is looking after the needs of the fleet and more than likely will do so for the foreseeable future until the two JSS are operational. Past deployments have shown that two JSS will be enough to look after our needs to the future and it's been over twenty years since we had three operational AORs and that's with operating more ships. These JSS will have a significant HADR capability with ship to shore connectors and with addition of HADR capability of the Harry DeWolf Class will satisfy that LEADMARK 2050 requirement and if Canada makes the decision to retain Asterix at the end of its lease could possibly increase our own significant capability and provide a surge capability to support operations. Although I personally think a new civilian built ship built offshore based on the TIDE Class would be cheaper and less maintenance requirement of an older, less capable ship like Asterix.

RCN ops

The Kingston Class which was recently mentioned by the RCN to be retained and life extended continues to punch above its weight and in great shape and certainly of one of the success stories for the RCN and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future representing Canada domestically and abroad.

The four Victoria Class Submarines are an asset with several coming out of maintenance cycles and soon will be able to get back to sea on operations and the life extension program will keep them operational for many years to come. I agree that the submarines will have to be eventually replaced however talk of AIP equipped submarines to operate under the ice pack is fanciable at best. AIP hasn’t matured to the point where this is even possible, and the boats simply do not the endurance or power to operate under the ice. I believe the maximum a AIP submarine has been submerged is 16 days. The only choice for ice operations is nuclear and in this type of political and fiscal climate is simply not going to happen. The best we can hope for is a replacement in the future when and if the post-Covid fiscal reality of Canada will improve, that also goes for any talk to increasing our GDP to 2% unless we have a government change or military spending is used as an economic stimulus.

I agree that a peace support ship is desirable, however not an amphibious ship with HADR capabilities. Canada has never had that type of capability we briefly looked at that when we used the Mistral with Canadian participation in an amphibious exercise and never revisited it. While it would be interesting for the RCN, we simply don’t have the resources and it's not mentioned specifically in LEADMARK 2050 in regards to an offensive capability. It would be much better in my opinion to pay Davie to come up with a cheap civilian design with ship shore connectors (they are good at that) to satisfy that requirement and have another government department operate it with limited RCN participation.

Canada’s Navy is on a steady course of a balanced, multipurpose, combat effective fleet renewal and with new arctic capabilities in the North, regaining lost capabilities to continue protecting our sea lanes and project global power, forward postured, survivable, adaptable and agile all points for a Blue Water navy. So there you have it, we have challenges but hardly a crisis.

Featured image credit: Royal Canadian Navy representing Canada at RIMPAC 2020. News: https://navy-marine.forces.gc.ca/en/news-operations/news-view.page?doc=royal-canadian-navy-representing-canada-at-rimpac-2020/kdhojej0


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