Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Royal Canadian Rent-a-Navy

Protecteur Being Towed Home

Mr. Harper.  It's probably not a brilliant idea to get into Vlad Putin's face when you've left Canada with as navy so neglected that it can't defend one coast much less three.  Our essential supply ships beaten and battered, our air defence destroyers rotted out - it takes a Heart of Oak to sail on under the conditions you've created for Canada's navy.

Algonquin is gone, along with the Iroquois.  Our two supply ships, Protecteur and Provider, - same story.

Without those supply ships we can't send a fighting formation, a task force, to sea.  The best we can do at the moment is hope an ally's replenishment ship can help out.

The worst part is that, with the by now standard incompetence of the Harper government, the replacement ships are years away.

New joint support ships were initially proposed to the Chretien government in 1994, but it wasn't until Paul Martin became prime minister that the vessels were finally ordered.
The Conservatives, however, cancelled and then restarted the program in 2008 when the initial cost estimates exceeded the government's budget envelope. The program has struggled to get back on track ever since.
The parliamentary budget office put out a report last year that said, had the government stuck with the original plan, the navy would already have their ships and they would be cheaper and more capable than what is being proposed now.
So Harper has left Canada essentially defenceless - again.  It's a hell of a jam to be in now that we've plunged into Cold War II.  We know the Russian navy has plenty of ships and plenty of reach.  They showed that by sailing into waters north of Australia during last week's G20 summit.  If there's one thing Putin has shown the world it's that, when you push him, he pushes back.
Still, prime minister Thumb-up-his-Ass does have a few options.  The US Navy has a number of "like new" replenishment ships in mothballs.  They're just ten years old or, in other words, 30-years newer than HMCS Protecteur.  We could rent or, if necessary, even buy a couple of those.  Likewise we might be able to get the Americans to lend or sell us two or three of their substantial fleet of air defence destroyers - just to plug the holes in the RCN's bottom while we still can.


Tim said...

Mound, I remember reading that the US ships were rejected by the Navy because they required 3x the compliment. We don't have enough sailors for that it seems.

The Mound of Sound said...

Well then, we're screwed. Harper has succeeded in leaving Canada defenceless.

Owen Gray said...

Harper has utterly abandoned the navy.

The Mound of Sound said...

Well we can't have anything, not even the security of Canada, stand in the way of conjuring up a 'balanced' budget in time for the 2015 election.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

When are people going to realize that this guy is a rank amateur! When he's not implementing his authoritarian agenda, he's revealing his utter incompetence while administering to the business of the country like security and defence. Hiding in a closet is who he really is!

Toby said...

The Canadian military wants all the toys with the latest bells and whistles. For some reason I can't understand, the generals won't settle for off-the-shelf, dependable and reasonably priced.

One thing the Americans do right is that they maintain a large National Guard in each State and a Coast Guard that is equipped to defend the coast. The Canadian military can't understand that their first responsibility is to defend Canada. The generals are always chomping at the bit to traipse around the world doing their stuff but can't muster a fighter for most of our substantial coast. It's embarrassing.

One more thing. Harper and crew are always willing to throw money at their corporate cronies, like Irving, but seem pathologically unable to actually buy or build a boat.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Toby - actually our forces do pretty well on mid-grade hardware. They don't get the "latest bells and whistles" and they make do without.

You've made me realize that Harper truly will throw the armed forces under his Big Blue Bus if that's what he needs for the 2015 election.

@ Pam - They've shown themselves to be singularly incompetent when it comes to defence acquisitions. Still, a lot of people believe Harper is a true friend of the Canadian military. They lack the decency to acknowledge that Harper wrung every ounce of political capital he could extract from the mangled bodies of our dead and wounded soldiers. Then, in the next breath, he set out to screw them, even appointing his caucus asshole, Fantino, to deal with them.