Monday, February 23, 2015

One Submarine Fleet's Surprising Recovery


Canada's fleet of 4 Victoria class subs, British-made vessels bought in 1988 for as a package for $750-million, had been plagued with hefty maintenance issues.  

From November 2007:
 Canada's four Victoria-class, diesel boats are capable of only limited operations in arctic waters and options include extensively upgrading them or buying new ones capable of prolonged, under-ice ops. 'Nobody knows precisely where it's going, but it looks to be focused on the Arctic.' said Eric Lerhe, a former commodore and Pacific fleet commander. The Prime Minister's Office is considering whether to "scrap them altogether, upgrade the existing boats or buy new," said a political source. -THE CANADIAN PRESS

From November 2013
(the caption - see photo accompanying photo in linked article - says, "By the time Canada's submarines are ready for duty, they'll be due for retirement.")
Defence Minister Peter MacKay blames the Liberals for Canada’s troubled fleet of second-hand Victoria-class submarines. It was the Liberals who purchased the four . Yet it was none other than MacKay himself who, 10 years later, persuaded his Conservative colleagues not to scrap them. It was MacKay who signed taxpayers up for another $1.5-billion worth of refits and repairs, thereby throwing good money after bad. It was apparent long before 2008 that the submarines were deeply flawed. The diesel engines were designed for railroad locomotives and not the rapid stops and starts required of submarines. [red and underlined emphasis is mine]- National

UPDATE  February 2015


The fleet of Victoria-class subs is now fit, with three of four submarines available for operations, according to the Royal Canadian Navy's Feb 2015 state of the fleet announcement

HMCS Windsor, Victoria and Chicoutimi operated a cumulative total of about 260 at-sea days during 2014.  HMCS Corner Brook is currently docked at Victoria Shipyards for extended dry dock availability until 2017
[under ice?].

Canadian submarines generally work an operational cycle in which each s available to the fleet for six years, the so-called "operational period", followed by two years of major maintenance work during a period prolonged dry dock, says the Royal Canadian Navy in its state of the fleet.

Small size and extremely quiet, diesel-electric propulsion equip the Victoria class for stealth and increased maneuverability [under ice?]

They have advantages in certain conditions with respect to nuclear submarines, especially on the coasts and in strategic choke points, which makes them a valuable asset for Canada and our international partners in the coming years. 

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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At 23 February, 2015 23:51, Blogger Pete said...

Hi Vigilis

I think its time for Canada to buy new. To go under the Arctic (all the way to Barents-Greenland Sea) I think an SSN may be required. Even a lithium-ion battery SSK sub with AIP might be caught short due to its short underwater/ice range at very slow speed.

If Canada is not thinking long-range under-ice then a:

- Japanese Soryu SSK



may be the best buy.

Both Canada and Australia should be looking at Virginia SSNs more seriously.



At 24 February, 2015 12:04, Blogger Vigilis said...

HI Pete

By puiblic admissions of some highly placed Canadian officials, Arctic involvement has been a stated justification for Canada to maintain a capable submarine fleet.

One must ponder not only what you aptly highlighted above, but how Canada's arctic role may be split with her adjacent neighbor --the U.S.

I have suspected for some years that Canada and the U.S. may split arctic sub duties in a manner advantaging both. For example, upgraded Victorias might be arctic "gatekeepers" with limited ISR monitoring.

More highly stretched (SSN op-tempo) Virginia or Seawolfs (SSN-21-23) would appear on scene when alerted or when otherwise indicated.

The very fact of Canada's conventional subs provides answer to one question from M.E.'s current Submarine Q.O.T.W. posted




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