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Canada Spared Fleet Cuts, For Now

May 15, 2010

Updated.

The People have spoken. In the midst of celebrating the Canadian Navy’s 100th Anniversary, the head of that Navy in an apparent desperate move for funds, planned to mothball half the fleet. After news leaked to the press, the order was rescinded by a flustered Canadian Government. Here’s more details from David Akin at The Gazette:

Last month, Vice-Admiral Dean McFadden, the head of Canada’s navy, ordered half of the country’s maritime coastal defence vessels to be docked indefinitely and also shelved upgrades and maintenance on many other ships, including frigates.
McFadden’s order, first reported by the Ottawa Citizen earlier this week, said he was forced to take such drastic action because he simply didn’t have enough funding…

But after two days of tough questions, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk reversed McFadden’s decision, saying the Canadian Forces will re-allocate some financial resources so that McFadden and the navy won’t have to tie up a substantial portion of the fleet.

A bold move by Vice Admiral McFadden, whose job may now be cut before any ships! Still, it is not a long term solution, and brings up more questions about what type of fleet the Navy can afford. The planned cuts would have hit the small fleet of patrol vessels worse, but is saving the most expensive, though not necessarily the worse needed, platforms in your fleet any way to produce savings? As we have learned from the British and America navies who also deploy expensive Cold War vessels, that replacing quantity with capability has led to historical decline in fleet numbers. In other words, replacing numbers with capability has actually produced less-capable fleets.

The Canadian Government currently is spending a lot of money in order to restore and rearm the Navy’s frigates, plus more funds on the technically troubled Victoria class submarines. Concerning the subs, the Navy purchased these off the shelf warships early in the century, which had been in storage for much of the 1990s in Britain. Seemingly a bargain at the time, there were numerous glitches found during the transfer, one even caught fire on the trip over, and currently only 1 of the 4 is operational. Don Martin at the National Post had this recent observation:

I was standing in St. John’s harbour when HMCS Corner Brook pulled in last Friday. It was one of those used subs we bought from Britain in 2003, most of them having spent far more time in repairs than under water.
The Corner Brook has deep pockets of rust from bow to stern. Dozens of external panels appear to have fallen off. A foreign-looking steel plate has been screwed into the hull. I asked one of the seamen if he felt safe submerging in this relic. He shrugged. “I just follow orders.”

The government will spend $3 billion dollars upgrading the Halifax frigates, a good ship, fairly large and expensive. I don’t think it a stretch to call them Cold War relics, since this is the type of combat they were geared to fight, against a large conventional Soviet Navy, supporting allied navies and fighting deep-diving nuclear subs. This hardly seem the right kind of ships needed to chase pirates, smugglers, or support disaster relief, the principle missions called on the Navy in the new century.

HMCS Brandon of the Kingston class

Any cuts would have involved dismantling the patrol fleet, the Kingston class of 12, which would have been halved. Goes to show where the admiral’s priorities are, since these vessels are tailor-made for patrolling the vast Canadian coastline, as the poles continue to melt, and incursions by foreign vessels increase. The main criticism for these vessels is lack of capability, which again comes from the Cold War mantra that nothing be spared on high tech services and weaponry. Yet in a era of sparse funds, economy is a plus, and it certainly beats having exquisite warships tied up in port or minimally operational. Journalist David Axe puts it in perspective:

The proposed cuts would have resulted in an unbalanced Canadian fleet. Canada is blessed and cursed with one of the world’s longest coastlines. As a consequence, the Canadian navy is essentially a three-coast navy, with vessels divided between Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic squadrons. The cuts would have hit the Pacific squadron hardest, with British Columbia losing two frigates and six patrol boats. This at a time when the world’s strategic center of gravity has clearly shifted eastward toward Asia. The “new” Canadian navy would have surrendered its already-limited ability to maintain a wide presence.

Quantity then, becomes more important than quality in such a situation. The Canadian Navy needs to increase, not decrease her numbers, and you won’t get there by investing in high tech warships geared to fight another era of warfare. The moneys spent on obsolete frigates or archaic submarines could maintain and even purchase a great number of patrol vessels. As Phil Ewing of Scoop Deck puts it “it makes you wonder how much money the fleet can really save by not powering up some radars or servicing the CIWS.”

Really a drop in the bucket, but think of the manpower and operating costs saved by retiring unneeded frigates, and building a Navy geared for the future! Buying ships you can’t maintain, crew, or arm adequately, no longer makes sense.

37 Comments leave one →
  1. Chuck Hill permalink
    May 20, 2010 12:41 am

    Where is the flare on the bow? I see this a lot on Damen designs now. They seem to think this is new, but you saw it a lot on designs around WWI. Problem is, there is nothing to dampen the pitch motion. It probably can go faster in heavy seas, but it also may turn into a submarine.

  2. Scott B. permalink
    May 19, 2010 5:00 pm

    Chuck Hill said : “Looks good, but none built yet I presume.”

    None built yet indeed.

  3. Chuck Hill permalink
    May 19, 2010 4:30 pm

    Scott B wrote, “I really like the look of the new OPV 2200 proposed by Damen”

    Looks good, but none built yet I presume.

  4. Scott B. permalink
    May 19, 2010 3:59 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Given that you may need a long haul type ship, what about an OPV which usually has good range, a helo, without the high tech weaponry of either the corvette or frigate?”

    Not that this answers your query, but I really like the look of the new OPV 2200 proposed by Damen :

    Specs here :

    Length o.a.
    98.00 m

    Breadth o.a.
    15.00 m

    Depth at sides
    7.00 m

    Draft max
    4.00 m

    Displacement
    2,200 t

    Speed range
    22.0 – 24.0 knots

  5. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 19, 2010 2:30 pm

    I see what you mean Jed. Here is a second question. Given that you may need a long haul type ship, what about an OPV which usually has good range, a helo, without the high tech weaponry of either the corvette or frigate? What comes to mind is the British HMS Clyde but there are others, and they price less than $100 million each.

  6. Jed permalink
    May 19, 2010 2:06 pm

    Mike ref your: “Your second sentence here is at odds with their first, since coastlines usually required coastal type vessels to defend it, and since it is so “massive” would seem to entail large numbers of ships. This would seem to fit the requirement for corvettes nicely.”

    No, not at all unfortunately. A long coast line does not mean ‘coastal’ operations. It means as usual that bigger is better – for bunkerage (and therefore range) and for sea keeping, for time at sea and flexibility of operations. There are not enough military (or civilian) ports with adequate infrastructure for “day running” or even week long sorties. Also we need more maritime patrol aircraft, but Naval (i.e. with ASW capabilities) and Coast Guard (i.e. just survaillance) – some UAV’s would not go amiss either. We could not afford BAMS so I would settle for the maritime version of the Predator. AW101’s with in-flight refueling would have been preferable to the crappy S92 based thing we are buying.

    But no, I still don’t see how lots of small corvette’s would help :-(

  7. Chuck Hill permalink
    May 19, 2010 11:59 am

    Mike wrote, “The heavy weather and extreme environment doesn’t sound too helo friendly.”

    No it’s not, but you still need one, not so much as a search vehicle as a rapid response vehicle,

    –to do medivacs.
    –to film the vessel attempting to dump the evidence of their illegal activity before we can get a boat alongside.
    –to do urgent logistics
    –to quickly classify all the vessels in a large group to identify the one(s) you may be interested in.
    –to bring force to bear to stop a fleeing vessel that may be faster than the boarding vessel.

    One helo really does not improve the search capability of a ship against a moving target by very much, since it is probably up only up about 6 hours. It depends on a lot of factors, but I seem to remember that it only added about 30% to the length of the barrier we could maintain with the ship alone, useful but not as good as having a second ship. UAVs look to be much more useful for that, but there are a lot of things that make helos useful beside simply searching.

  8. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 19, 2010 11:32 am

    Chuck wrote “A helo deck also seems a basic requirement.’

    The heavy weather and extreme environment doesn’t sound too helo friendly.

  9. May 19, 2010 11:19 am

    > heavy weather the Canadians experience
    Normal. That’s part of the problem. People don’t want isolation in the North or at sea or under the sea. Waves and wind are bad. Guess where the bad things are gonna happen. They always happen in a swamp in the rain where two mapsheets join, fighting uphill against what turns out to be an ally.

    Of course I might be way off base. “Heavy weather” could be an alias for things like Prime Minister Chretien twice zapping efforts to get the EH101 for the navy. Or for about 50 years the coaling station for the navy in British Columbia was in South America (really a Brit purchasing matter and still apt). An old problem and it resulted in the capital of the Province being moved three times for better protection.

  10. Chuck Hill permalink
    May 19, 2010 10:21 am

    Perhaps for exercising sovereignty, what the Canadians need is to make their CG more like the USCG.

    The heavy weather the Canadians experience a good percentage of the time, argues for relatively larger ships than PCs, but perhaps with more the flavor of an OPV rather than a small high speed hull. A helo deck also seems a basic requirement.

  11. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 19, 2010 6:07 am

    Jed, thanks for getting us back on track. I’m afraid I disagree that the Canadian population as a whole is suffering from sea-blindness. As over here and the UK, the politicians certainly are and the admirals are their own worse enemies, who try to sustain weapon’s system they no longer can afford, and really, no longer need. They are increasingly behind advances in technology such as computers, satellites, precision weaponry and instant communication (except in attempting to fit this new wine in the old bottles of the Cold War), that have empowered smaller but still lethal platforms around the world. The Army, having been face to face with the enemy for the past decade “gets it” which explains why they are also getting the bulk of funding, and admirals must use tricks to get theirs.

    You also wrote “Mike, I don’t see how your “shallow water” corvette would be of any use to the Canadian navy at all. We have a truly massive coast line…”

    Your second sentence here is at odds with their first, since coastlines usually required coastal type vessels to defend it, and since it is so “massive” would seem to entail large numbers of ships. This would seem to fit the requirement for corvettes nicely.

    Canada is one of the premier corvette users of the last century, as its fleet was primarily dominated by them in the second world war with over 100 examples, and these were used for Blue Water operations, not admittedly an ideal environment for them, but it worked. The corvette today is not so much like the Flowers of the war years, as the frigates of that era, since they average 1500 tons more or less.

    Actually, for coastal operations, Canada could do with ships smaller than this, like the American PC’s, but the corvette seems to fit the history of the nation.

  12. Jed permalink
    May 18, 2010 9:57 pm

    Gentlemen, may I direct the conversation of shallow water, littoral, and corvette versus blue water destroyer back to the needs and the state of the Canadian navy ?

    Mike, I don’t see how your “shallow water” corvette would be of any use to the Canadian navy at all. We have a truly massive coast line, on 3 oceans, archipelago’s of islands, large and small and the following:

    4 x Athabaska class. Old destroyers rebuilt from ASW escorts to AAW / Fleet command units – now reduced to 3 as one has been laid up.

    12 x Halifax class frigates. Very squarely designed as fleet ASW escorts for the north atlantic, not that well equipped for a general purpose fleet unit.

    12 x Kingston class patrol boats – 6 each pacific and atlantic coasts – to be reduced to 6 (!)

    Submarines that were a procurement cock up, oilers which are ancient and falling apart, and SeaKing’s which are almost as old as Neptune himself, with their replacement S92 based aircraft just going into test (late, of course).

    As an update to the article, our esteemed defence minster says no decision has actually been made on mothballing units etc – he is scrabbling for a political face saving move, because some of these measures have already been put into place (main armament removed from Kingston class boats etc) = this is ALL about having no money in the operational budget. ALL the cash is going to the army in Afghanistan. The government waxes lyrical about the billions allocated for shipbuilding over the next 20 years BUT not a single one of these programs has even progressed to the design stage. The deep water arctic base on Baffin Island has not started construction yet. The summer ice capable “northern patrol” ships to operate from the base are not designed yet. The armed ice breakers for the coast guard are not in build yet……. etc etc etc

    Canada is as “sea blind” as the US or the UK. The majority of the population lives within 300 miles of the US border, and a very large percentage is fairly recent immigrants from all over the world, they don’t care about the Canadian arctic. As mentioned by someone in the comments below, to be honest the Canadian military does not want to work in the arctic either, and the Coast Guard are not really a para-military force like the USCG. So, as I saw on another blog, we can look at it this way: “who are we going to fight in the north / arctic ? Not the Danes, both nations are too polite! Not the US, as they would just roll over us. Not the Russians, because although it might be harder for them, the would eventually just role over us too …..”

    So, defence of our nation is a pantomime, the navy and air force scrabble for the armies scraps, meanwhile we continue to loose young men in southern Afghanistan, but even when we withraw, this will just see major defence cuts, not a ‘re-adjustment’ or re-set of capabilities :-(

  13. Scott B. permalink
    May 17, 2010 4:34 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “It is wrong to place Blue Water requirements on a small ship expected to traverse rocks, shoals, and sandbars.”

    You’re going to need a VERY shallow draft corvette to be able to traverse this kind of sandbars.

    As for traversing rocks, the deepest oceanic trenches (i.e. deeper than 8,000 meters) are all non-accretionary, meaning that there are composed of igneous or metamorphic rocks.

    Which, at the risk of repeating myself again, again and again brings us back to a couple of questions you have NOT been able (or willing ?) to answer so far, i.e. :

    1) What sort of shallow waters are you talking about, i.e. how deep in feet / meters ?

    2) What would be the corresponding maximum navigational draft of the vessel you envision ?

    Qualititative buzzwords are all fine and dandy, but, at the end of the day, they are no substitute for a proper quantification of what’s being discussed !!!

  14. May 17, 2010 2:12 pm

    The helicopter is the modern corvette. The operational synergy of ship and helicopter is perhaps the defining innovation of the latter half of the 20th century. More so than nuclear submarines.

  15. May 17, 2010 12:55 pm

    > To be able to cover all of this area at any one point in time, you’d therefore need a minimum of 6 helo-capable platforms.
    Or a few of these new mailbox sized satellites watching in orbit overhead. The Chinese seem to be able to sat monitor and respond in real time. It seems they watch the area over a nuke sub for interference, and have responded to US actions off Korea. A computer watcher could monitor shipping, watch the patterns, and let the choppers and boat come over the horizon at key times. Which is probably what Chinese patrol ships do at least part of the time now.

  16. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 17, 2010 11:21 am

    ScottB said “So, IOW, the mythical corvette is not just going to lack such critical attributes as endurance, seakeeping, versatility, adaptability, survivability, crew comfort, free spaces, but is also going to have NO embarked helicopter ?!?!”

    It is wrong to place Blue Water requirements on a small ship expected to traverse rocks, shoals, and sandbars. The inflated specifications for the perfect vessel means you have more luxury combat ships today than real warships. Corvettes provide adequate amounts of endurance and capability for their operating environment. They are about the size of frigates and destroyers in World War 2. For their size, the most heavily armed warships available.

    Also, just because the helo isn’t embarked doesn’t mean the small warships works without airpower, but in conjunction with other aviation ships and land based air. Thats how you build a fleet, instead of shrinking force of “do everything nothing well” battleships. Thats how you stop shrinking, reduce costs, and limit complications in the design.

    Remember when we experimented placing Harrier’s on small destroyers back in the 1980s? Interesting idea that wasn’t practical or affordable. Helicopters today are so advanced and capable, they are losing their practicality, but we still need them. It’s the same with manned fighters.

    So you deploy fewer helos, but deploy them more wisely. Anyway, a large mothership or small carrier is still better able to operate and support the large and complicated helos than a 3000-5000 ton frigate, which must also make room for crew, weapon stocks, fuel, etc. That sounds like you are still expecting too much on a too small hull.

    It’s a back to basics, not a step back.

  17. Scott B. permalink
    May 17, 2010 8:59 am

    Mike Burleson said : “Also, you wouldn’t have to put high end ships at risk in littorals waters”

    1) At the risk of repeating myself again, pirates off Somalia DON’T hunt their prey in shallow or even littoral waters. Claiming otherwise is a GROSS misconception.

    2) Like I said yesterday, I have yet to be explained why a mythical corvette with a max. draft of 26 feet is *more suited to shallow water warfare* than a Station Wagon Frigate with a max. draft of 20.5 feet.

  18. Scott B. permalink
    May 17, 2010 8:49 am

    Mike Burleson said : “A small carrier or a helicopter destroyer, should be sufficient, allowing you to purchase many low end corvettes which can operate with the aviation capable platforms.”

    You have to realize that a chopper like the MH-60S has an approximate range of 453 km (i.e. 245 NM), meaning that a helo-capable platform (no matter whether a small carrier, a frigate or an OPV) can *only* cover an area of about 650,000 km^2 at any one point in time.

    As you pointed out yourself not so long ago, the area to be covered by the anti-piracy force off Somalia is 10 times larger than Germany, i.e. about 3,570,000 km^2.

    To be able to cover all of this area at any one point in time, you’d therefore need a minimum of 6 helo-capable platforms.

    Having 6 *GIANT* helo-capable platforms rather than 20 helo-capable frigates would also increasing response time by a factor of about 3. In order to compensate for this degraded response time, you’d need quite a lot of EXQUISITE helo-INcapable corvette, which, no matter how fast you can make them go, would always be MUCH SLOWER than a chopper.

    Then, to support this EXQUISITE corvettes and their lack of endurance, crew comfort, etc…, you’d need to add quite a few *motherships* (to refuel, repair, rearm,…).

    At the end of the day, you’d end up concentrating some critical capabilities into a small number of *motherships* (for aviation, fuel, repair, etc…), which would dramatically increase the vulnerability of your task force.

    Quite frankly, why even bother, when you can have Station Wagon Frigates like ABSALON which DON’T cost much more than some of the EXQUISITE corvettes you seem to favor, and might even cost less ?

  19. Stewie permalink
    May 17, 2010 8:36 am

    “And I am supposed to believe that the Russian Steregushchiy is *more suited to shallow water warfare* than the Danish ABSALON ?

    Mmmhhhhhh…..”

    Oh God! Scott B’s finally having a seizure!
    His mind can’t cope with how awesome the ABSALON is! Breathe, Scott! breathe!

  20. Scott B. permalink
    May 17, 2010 8:21 am

    Mike Burleson said : “I question whether we should be deploying high tech aircraft on low tech escorts, since the landing and storage requirements means you no longer have low end ships.”

    So, IOW, the mythical corvette is not just going to lack such critical attributes as endurance, seakeeping, versatility, adaptability, survivability, crew comfort, free spaces, but is also going to have NO embarked helicopter ?!?!

    That’s a GIANT step backwards…

  21. Joe permalink
    May 16, 2010 10:37 pm

    Actually, on the Halifax-class frigates, Mike can be both right and wrong. Their original designs trace back to the 1980’s but all twelve were commissioned between June 1992 and June 1996. The updates will remake them into thoroughly modern ships with a service life extending to at least 2030. So a little bit old, a little bit new, a little…you get the pic.

    I guess they’re a Cold War Relic because they’re comparable to battleships, or something in the reading told me that… ;)

  22. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 16, 2010 8:15 pm

    Scott wrote “Helicopter is a MUST” (In the Breaking News section)

    I agree, an amazing capability that we cannot do without, on land or sea. I question whether we should be deploying high tech aircraft on low tech escorts, since the landing and storage requirements means you no longer have low end ships. A small carrier or a helicopter destroyer, should be sufficient, allowing you to purchase many low end corvettes which can operate with the aviation capable platforms. these mini-carrier task squadrons would be more cost-effective than a handful of exquisite frigates, and would allow greater flexibility to the flotilla leader. Also, you wouldn’t have to put high end ships at risk in littorals waters, but you could still utilize the frigates’ capabilities. The best of both worlds.

  23. Scott B. permalink
    May 16, 2010 6:47 pm

    Chuck Hill said : “The LCS has handily solved the problem of the protruding sonar dome.”

    Being sonarless (wise move for a [war]ship supposed to conduct MCM and ASW ops !!!) doesn’t change anything to the fact that, as Bill pointed out back in July 2009 :

    waterjet propulsion still requires a considerable amount of draft below the keel (more correctly, the jet intakes) or big trouble ensues. This is particularly true if you need to maintain the ability to back down or conduct low-speed maneuvers; in that case the reverse bucket flow looks and acts exactly like one of Mel Fisher’s salvage boats… everything/anything on the bottom… as much as 3-4m BELOW the keel… gets nicely ‘recovered and filtered’ through the intake for future removal by a diving crew (with that propulsion line tagged out, of course). “

  24. May 16, 2010 6:21 pm

    > the Canadians are already building a naval base in their far north territories
    The ‘new’ base – port is reworking an old mining port and township.

    I think they should be looking at airships. See the JHL-40 Jess Heavy Lifter. That thing
    can be tinkered to fly further and can land with no port or airstrip.

    > upgrading the tiles on their boats is the least of the Aussies worries
    Sure, could well be. But they might have useful tech for Canada, and they have a hot new tile release. It could well be that US and Brit nuclear sub tile tech isn’t available to Canada.

    I recollect that the Aussies came up with a search analysis scheme that makes sub sonar much more effective. So it’s now in upgraded U.S. subs. It seems that they are like South Africa was for years, feeling pressure from over the horizon and coming up with good stuff beyond what one might otherwise expect.

  25. Chuck Hill permalink
    May 16, 2010 6:01 pm

    “And I am supposed to believe that the Russian Steregushchiy is *more suited to shallow water warfare* than the Danish ABSALON ?”

    Perhaps they should say that the corvette is only suited to shallow water.

    I find quibbling over a few feet of draft unrealistic anyway since most areas are not so well documented that you can say “It’s perfectly safe for a 16 feet draft, but not for 20 feet.

    The LCS has handily solved the problem of the protruding sonar dome.

  26. Scott B. permalink
    May 16, 2010 3:48 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Neither have large ships ever safely operated in shallow waters very long without escort from small warships.”

    One critic often thrown at the so-called *battleships* (i.e. anything larger than the mythical corvette in Naval Newspeak) is that they supposedly cannot fight in *shallow waters* (whatever this other Naval Newspeak term might mean).

    Conversely, it is often proclaimed that *modern corvettes* are *more suited to shallow water warfare*, the Russian Steregushchiy being recently presented as the epitome of the type.

    Shallow waters ? Let’s see. Take a look at this fairly decent line drawing of the Steregushchiy.

    Considering the draft amidships @ full load displacement is about 12 feet (i.e. 3.7 meters), how much water does the much touted littoral corvette draw under the huge sonar dome forward ? At least twice as much, the Russian wikipedia stating 26 feet (i.e. 7.95 meters).

    Now, let’s take a look at the numbers for some randomly chosen *battleship*, e.g. the Danish ABSALON and her near-sister IVAR HUITFELDT : at full load, the draft amidships is 17.5 feet (i.e. 5.3 meters), and the draft under the sonar dome forward being 20.5 feet (i.e. 6.3 meters).

    Say what ?!? 26 feet under the sonar dome for the Russian littoral corvette vs 20.5 feet under the sonar dome for the Danish giant blue water battleship ?

    And I am supposed to believe that the Russian Steregushchiy is *more suited to shallow water warfare* than the Danish ABSALON ?

    Mmmhhhhhh…..

  27. Anonymous permalink
    May 16, 2010 3:36 pm

    Vic Williams,
    I would think that upgrading the tiles on their boats is the least of the Aussies worries,it’s very little use having upgraded tiles if the rest of the boat doesn’t work.
    At the moment I understand they only have one fully operational boat out of a total of six, now that is not good by anyones standards.
    In fact for all the blurbs about how good the Collins class are,they have been in reality quite mediocre.
    In fact what with the Collins class boats, the Wedgetail aircraft and the navy’s absolute fiasco with it’s helicopters the Aussie procurement system actualy makes the UK’s look good.
    Now they are falling into the same trap of ordering future systems they cannot afford and have no chance of ever seeing.

  28. Chuck Hill permalink
    May 16, 2010 2:43 pm

    Can’t get too excited over the Kingston class, too slow for even a patrol vessel at 15 knots and no helo capability at all.

    From what I gather, they are manned almost exclusively by reservists. Is there only one reserve crew per ship, which would severely limit its days away from home port, or are there multiple crews allowing them to be underway about as much as a conventionally crewed ship?

  29. May 16, 2010 2:01 pm

    > tiles as part of their stealth technology and anyone seeing one of these boats come in from a patrol will notice that there are always tiles missing

    This is also related to hull shape and the age of the glue. With most of the boats being Americanized in the shop the leftover is carrying on with yesteryear’s tiling. Separately, I noticed that the Aussies have upgraded their tiles. It makes me wonder where Canada gets theirs.

    The Canadian Navy does not want to be in the arctic. (Same for the rest of the armed forces. Worst for the air force (no golf courses)) Too isolated. It’s a problem because they deliberately don’t do stuff to help ships cope with ice. The current scheme is to upgrade Coast Guard capability and added armed forces people for gun handling.

  30. Anonymous permalink
    May 16, 2010 12:20 pm

    Mike,
    As far as I can see the Canadians seem to have inherited the British attitude towards their armed forces, that is to underfund them as long as you can get away with it and rely on the loyalty of members to get the job done without the wherewithall to do it.
    I would suggest that the Canadians have a unique problem in that the geography of their country presents problems for all three services.
    What with the current problems of continental shelves and the mineral/oil rights argument that are ongoing,Canadian resources are going to be even more stretched in the future protecting their northern coastline.
    This is one time that I would completely agree with you in that small stealthy vessels would be an invaluable assett to them.
    Perhaps if the looked at some of the Scandinavian designs like the Visby’s they would find a vessel that might suit their needs.
    I have read somewhere that the Canadians are already building a naval base in their far north territories so that would be ideal for these types to conduct ops from, and in the future they really do need that presence.
    Just to go off topic for the moment, your inclusion of Don Martins remark strikes me as a typical journo’s.
    I know nothing of his knowledge or experience of navy matters so perhaps I do him a diservice BUT.
    I assume that the Victoria class being built in the UK are coated in Anachoic (sorry for the spelling if it’s wrong) tiles as part of their stealth technology and anyone seeing one of these boats come in from a patrol will notice that there are always tiles missing.
    It’s no big deal except for the fact that should be able to afford better glue.
    Just as a matter of interest I never see this on US boats so I assume they use a completely different coating.

  31. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 16, 2010 5:23 am

    Matthew, the frigates are currently being upgraded, as I noted in the link, making them an extremely powerful class of frigates, upgrading their command and control suite, radars, communications, adding Harpoon Block II and Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles, placing them up to European standards. To fight pirates, smugglers or for disaster relief?

    But I can understand why they would want to keep some such highly capable vessels in service, yet question the need for all 12. These high end exquisite vessels, along with submarines are capital vessels for a medium sized navy, and as you know you can’t maintain sea control, or numbers with battleships alone.

  32. Matthew S. permalink
    May 16, 2010 2:19 am

    While the Halifax class was designed in the 1980s they are hardly cold war relics. Actually, they do not pack much of a punch and seem perfectly suited to anti-piracy and sovereignty operations. Having 12 of them seems like a small number. If there is an argument that you have I think it is with the 3 old destroyers still being in service. At what expense are those in service?

  33. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 15, 2010 5:10 pm

    Jed wrote “My god, a 1980’s designed frigate is NOT a cold war relic ”

    1980’s? Yep, that was the Cold War, so I stand by the comment. It was a time when funds were plentiful and economies fairly stable.

    A good trick by the Canadian admiral to get the funds he wanted, but it isn’t enough to build a future fleet.

    The idea of the Navy currently being underfunded, well the fleet isn’t in major combat as the Army is, and rightly the ground forces receive the bulk of the funds. This has been ongoing for much of a decade now, in all Western countries, and the admirals are still dreaming of the last war, of stable budgets, and high tech sailing? The strategies aren’t matching the funds, and this is causing them to be unprepared when crisis’s does threaten, as we recall the Canadian fleet hamstrung during the Haiti earthquake, with ships laid up and unavailable. These were their own words which New Wars reported on. Only trying to encourage to toward better preparedness.

    I agree it would be better to have the Halifax’s than the Kingston, if they could be afforded, and in adequate numbers. But they cannot. When even the superpower USA can’t afford enough ships, start to worry.

    The politicians have no answer, they must lead of course. They are saying now be prepared for shrinking budgets. Is it enough to complain we won’t have any funds or will we get a fleet to sea in adequate numbers, taking advantage of new technology to disperse capability in many platforms, instead of giant, expensive tactics of another decade? The answer out of our conundrums is there, as smart weapons do not need smart platforms.

    The Western politicians are providing funds, and they aren’t bad compared to most of the world countries. Hulls in the water is what we need. It’s the admiral job to figure how we do this, not the politicians.

  34. May 15, 2010 4:34 pm

    Makes me wonder sometimes what would be happening now if we were still in the Cold War.

    As for the SSKs. Well that is a typical UK procurement disaster. We should have kept them……..

  35. Marcase permalink
    May 15, 2010 3:37 pm

    The only gripe I have concerning the City class frigates is that they lack decent coolant kit. Their engines are using colder nordic seawater, so when deployed closer to the Equator, the warmer water heats up their engines and that seriously impacts performance.
    Other than that though, they are decent frigates.

    Canada needs these Citys more than Kingstons; typical deployments are long and far away, which means a larger more comfortable ship – in terms of crew and system support – is a prerequisite.

    I sincerely hope that Canada can find the money to fund at least one JSS. I’m not a fan of the overall concept (go LPD and seperate tanker instead imho) but a (limited) amphibious expeditionary capability would be in the interest of all of Canada’s armed forces.

  36. May 15, 2010 11:04 am

    It’s not the money, it’s the prestige. They have more money flowing in than ever before, but this guy isn’t getting so much passing through his control. So for the rest of his term in command he would be mostly watching already emplaced programs – he could wiggle and squawk or he could silently watch. He squawked for attention and his share of the action.

  37. Jed permalink
    May 15, 2010 10:23 am

    Mike, your at it again ! : “the Halifax frigates, a good ship, fairly large and expensive. I don’t think it a stretch to call them Cold War relics, since this is the type of combat they were geared to fight, against a large conventional Soviet Navy, supporting allied navies and fighting deep-diving nuclear subs. This hardly seem the right kind of ships needed to chase pirates, smugglers, or support disaster relief, the principle missions called on the Navy in the new century.”

    My god, a 1980’s designed frigate is NOT a cold war relic – it is a very handy multi-role warship. It might not be “perfect” for anti-piracy – but what ‘warship’ is ? Anti-piracy should be a job for Coast Guards. Believe it or not there are still deep diving nuclear subs in the world, and many of them trespass in our arctic territorial waters ! Including those of your own nation and other “allies”.

    As for our own subs – that is a typical Canadian procurement disaster. Having spent millions of dollars on upgraded U.S. sonars, fire control and torpedo’s for our old (also British designed) subs, the DND then decided that as the hulls were getting old, and the Brit’s were offering modern hulls at a low price, we would snap them up BUT we would transfer all the shiny new U.S. kit to the British hulls. If we had just bought the Upholders from the UK and left them fitted out exactly as they were, they would have been in constant use since we got them.

    Ref your comment: “A bold move by Vice Admiral McFadden, whose job may now be cut before any ships! Still, it is not a long term solution, and brings up more questions about what type of fleet the Navy can afford.” – no not really, what it brings up is the question of how the nation with the longest coastline in the world, on Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic oceans can underfund its Navy, and what will be the energy security and environmental as well as political impact in the medium to long term. Just like the UK, Canada remains one of the richest countries in the world, but it does not fund defence appropriately. We don’t need U.S. level forces, and once we withdraw from Afghanistan we could concentrate somewhat more on homeland defence, but once again, the real crux of the matter is politicians and public spending.

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