Monday, May 04, 2015
Canada's Vintage Submarine Fleet to Sail On Into Antiquity
Canada's aging Victoria-class subs are in for a facelift intended to keep them in business another 6 to 13-years. The refit is estimated to cost somewhere between 1.5 to 3-billion dollars which likely means 4-billion, maybe 5.
Think of it as doubling down on a very bad bet. The boats began their service life with Britain's Royal Navy in 1990 but it wasn't long before they were mothballed. The Chretien government, on the advice of the DND brain trust, decided they would do for the Royal Canadian Navy for the bargain price of $750-million. Badly built and badly maintained by the Brits, they've provided very little usable service to Canada and they've cost a fortune to try to repair, many hundreds of millions of dollars and it's still going on.
Now we're about to throw billions more into these vintage subs even though replacing them with far more capable, state of the art diesel subs might be cheaper. Subs like Canada's can stay underwater for a day or two but that's about it. Today's diesel subs come with AIP or "air independent propulsion" that introduce fuel cell technology to allow these boats to remain underwater for a couple of weeks at a stretch. Huge difference.
One of the most popular new boats is the German Type 212 u-boat. These boats, now sailing with navies around the world, are believed to cost about 370-million Euros per boat. We could well spend more than that just putting new tires on the old Datsun.
Of course ditching the Victoria-class boats with their poor performance and insanely costly repair bills would be tantamount to admitting that not only were we idiots to buy the damned things, we've been even bigger idiots to pour such massive amounts of money into repairing and re-repairing them ever since. 3-billion Canadian dollars equals roughly 2.2-billion Euros, more than enough to replace those vintage boats with German 212s (they're good, even Israel operates them).