The Navy began its long-awaited effort to replace Canada’s troubled submarine fleet

The Royal Canadian Navy is launching its long-awaited operation to replace Canada’s troubled submarine fleet, which sets the stage for a highly controversial debate that will almost certainly surround the need for such ships.

Defense officials revealed to Canadian media this month that as the sunset time for the military’s existing fleet is getting closer, a dedicated team is being formed to start studying Canada’s demand for new submarines.

Given the age of Canada’s existing submarines and the time required to design and build such ships, the defense and industry are becoming more and more urgent about the need to start such projects, and this move is in response.

“CAF is establishing a Canadian patrol submarine project to inform the government of the decision on potential alternative submarines in a timely manner and to avoid any gaps in submarine capabilities,” Navy spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel-Cmdr. Jordan Holder said.

“In order to be able to make a timely decision on replacing submarines at some point in the future and avoid the gap in submarine capabilities, CAF requires that a replacement project be initiated this year.

Little time at sea

However, in view of the high cost of building and operating such ships, and the many problems that plague its existing fleet, the decision to advance has also triggered a difficult conversation about the need for the new submarine.

Since Canada purchased four second-hand submarines from the United Kingdom in 1998, questions about the costs and benefits of submarines have been circulating. The government at the time argued that the purchase of the four Victorian-class submarines could be bargained for only US$750 million.

However, these ships spend more time at the docks for repairs and maintenance than at sea. Over the past 20 years, Ottawa has invested billions of dollars in the fleet to solve a series of problems and accidents, including fires and welding failures. .

The most recent incident occurred at HMCS Corner Brook Suffer damage that may be permanent Last year, after an erroneous test damaged the main ballast tank of the submarine.Jiaoxi Previously stranded in 2011, And a fire broke out on the ship in 2019.

The Ministry of Defence also set the maintenance and operating costs of Victoria-class submarines at approximately US$300 million per year.

High cost

A new submarine fleet may solve many of these problems, but Australia’s recent experience shows that building a new fleet will not be smooth sailing—or low cost.

The Australian government, which has worked hard for more than a decade to purchase 12 French-designed submarines, revealed last year that the cost of these diesel-electric ships will exceed US$80 billion, or more than US$6 billion each.

The new cost is almost double Canberra’s original estimate, and Canada plans to pay more than $60 billion for a new fleet of 15 state-of-the-art frigates over the next 20 years to replace its Halifax Class battleship fleet.

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