Canadian Patrol Submarine Discussion Ramps Up

By Alexander Sikora, 9 April 2023

Earlier this week, the Royal Canadian Navy issueed a release of information regarding their desire to procure up to 12 submarines at a cost of approximately $60 billion.[1] Given the slow pace of Canadian procurement, the RCN is rightfully attempting to bring attention to this matter given that there is no approved program of record, and due to the fact that the current Victoria-class submarines will be decommissioned at some point in the 2030s. Therefore, in order to prevent gaps in submarine capability, the program needs to begin as soon as possible. Given the deficits faced by the Government, a $60 billion submarine procurement project may seem untenable based on the spiralling costs of the Canadian Surface Combatant program. Not to mention, the RCN currently faces a personnel shortage which brings into question whether recruitment would be able to achieve the needed personnel numbers by the time these 12 theoretical submarines would be in service. That being said, as any good negotiator would tell you, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.” Ultimately, the number of submarines may likely drop, however given the strategic importance of a submarine capability, some is better than none.

There are many submarine procurement options out there, and the purpose of this post is not to discuss them or how the procurement should be structured in order to prevent cost overruns. It is however worth noting that in terms of conventional submarine capabilities the Royal Netherlands Navy’s Walrus-class replacement program shares similar would-be requirements with Naval Group’s diesel-electric variant Barracuda-class, ThyssenKrupp’s Type 212CD, and Saab’s A26 Oceanic (Extended Range) submarines in the running.[2] It is expected that the RNN will make a final decision in late 2023 or early 2024, with the first two (out of four) submarines being delivered in the 2034 to 2037 timeframe.[3] This is the same approximate timeframe in which the Victoria-class will be decommissioned. The time to begin this procurement is now, otherwise the RCN will face a submarine capability gap. Will the Canadian Government continue to drag its feet? Only time will tell. An increase in pressure from Canada’s allies to increase defence spending from the current 1.29% of GDP would certainly help move along such a big ticket item.[4]






Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

58 thoughts on “Canadian Patrol Submarine Discussion Ramps Up”