Moving RCN Eggs to More Than One Basket

By Dr. Ann Griffiths, 20 January 2023

It’s always interesting to read about Australia and its navy. (And indeed, for this reason, CNR will publish a joint issue with Australian Naval Review in spring 2023!) Australia shares many similarities with Canada – eg., historic ties to the UK and big countries with relatively small populations. But the comparison does not work well when we look at the Royal Australian Navy. For example, Australia is well into a project to convert decommissioned patrol vessels into uncrewed, autonomous patrol boats, the first of which will be trialled in October. Both Canada and Australia selected the Type 26 frigates to replace aging frigates, but Australia’s frigates – the future Hunter-class – are scheduled to be built this decade. Canada’s version – the Canadian Surface Combatants (CSCs) – will appear at some date in the distant mists of the 2040s. Until then, the 12 aging frigates, plus 4 aging submarines will have to hold the fort should conflict break out. And, with no firm plan as yet to replace the submarines, Canada appears to be placing all its future warfighting eggs in the CSC basket. Is Australia? An interesting article, “General purpose frigates as a means of beefing up Australia’s maritime capabilities,” by Stephen Kuper asks if Australia needs to consider some warships in addition to the large Hunter-class frigates. Kuper asks “can a fleet of ocean-going corvettes ease the operational burden on high-end warfighting platforms and expand the range and power of the Navy?” And he wonders if it might be useful to “field a less-specialised, general purpose vessel that is capable of independent long-range deployments, while also bringing a degree of high-end warfighting capability to broader task groups.” The Type 31 is mentioned as a possibility. Should the Royal Canadian Navy also perhaps consider getting a second basket in which to put its eggs? See https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/maritime-antisub/11244-general-purpose-frigates-as-a-means-of-beefing-out-australia-s-maritime-capabilities

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