April 11, 2012

HMCS Windsor scheduled to return to the water today

Filed under: Cancon, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:07

One of the Royal Canadian Navy’s four submarines, HMCS Windsor, is supposed to be getting wet again later today:

Good news, of a sort: One of Canada’s four Victoria-class submarines is set to achieve a major milestone Wednesday. It’s going to be in the water. Huzzah!

After years of extensive refit work, HMCS Windsor is set to be lowered — lowered “extremely slowly,” but lowered — into the Atlantic Ocean. Assuming it does not instantly sink, explode or simply dissolve like a giant, oddly shaped sugar cube, the Windsor will then begin a long series of tests at sea. It is hoped that the sub will be fully operational by early 2013. Fingers crossed. Canada should have submarines. They are a useful part of a modern navy’s arsenal, and Canada has an enormous coastline. Although the subs have had an uneven history, to say the very least, they finally seem to be getting to a state where they’ll be useful to us. There had been speculation before last month’s federal budget that they’d be scrapped, but at this late point, that would be wasteful. It’s cost a lot to get these incredibly complicated machines as operational as they are (again, fingers crossed).

[. . .]

Purchased second-hand from the British for the rock-bottom price of $750-million in 1998, they’ve fallen well short of expectations. They only entered Canadian service in 2003, and have proven glitchy and outright dangerous — HMCS Chicoutimi caught fire during its maiden voyage in 2004. Lt. Chris Saunders was killed fighting the blaze, and the sub has been out of service undergoing repairs ever since. It, too, is hoped to be back in service next year. All told, the subs have been at sea, collectively, only 900 days since 2003, and have cost billions of dollars to bring up to spec — money the cash-strapped navy didn’t really have. Costly, under-performing, sucking up needed resources … sound familiar?


  1. If we had a mainstream media that was not fueled by morons we would have bought nuclear powered subs a long time ago. Of course, put nuclear in front of anything and our left leaning screaming media heads, lead by the NDP, PETA, and David Suzuki, would have had us bombing Japan with weapons of mass destruction!

    But, Jean Chretien, known for his love of the military, had to buy some fire sale (sail?) (literally) subs that the Brits had already laid up. Should have sounded some alarm bells there. I guess the navy thought that since they were newer than 1960s era Oberon’s they couldn’t be all that bad. Again, guess they were wrong.

    Comment by Dwayne — April 12, 2012 @ 00:36

  2. At the time, I fully supported the decision, as the only other alternative was to give up the submarine completely. It looked like a good deal for both parties, as the Royal Navy had gone to an all-nuclear-powered fleet of subs, and the subs we were buying were “still in warranty”.

    It was too good a deal for our naval engineering types to do a proper due diligence — either they signed off in a hurry so as not to jeopardize the transaction, or were directed to only give a quick once-over and sign off. Either way, we ended up with the naval equivalent of “hangar queens”.

    In hindsight, even with all the problems, we may still have been better off buying the subs: the alternative would be an even smaller RCN today with no submarines and no retained submariner skills.

    Comment by Nicholas — April 12, 2012 @ 07:43

  3. You are right in that if we didn’t pick them up we would be without now. And once the Canadian Forces loses a capability, it is usually gone forever. There are exceptions, the C-17 purchase and the upcoming CH-147s were bought in a flurry of army support activities during a wartime type situation. But without the impetus of Afghanistan we would never have purchased strat lift capability, nor “big honking helicopters”(tm).

    Just too bad that most Canadians are made averse to spending money on proper defence equipment due to a media that is focused on being the official opposition to the CPC. Every move is examined and criticized, no matter how well it works out. Every possible stumble is a scandal, until it isn’t. Robocalls is a great example of petered out outrage. The last article I saw said there were 800 complaints across 200 ridings… wow, that could really affect the outcome, 4 calls per riding. But now that it has been seen that the public isn’t outraged, or they can’t seem to be whipped into outrage, it is time for the Globe and Mail, Star, CBC, and their ilk, to move on to the next best thing, F-35. And so on, until maybe something sticks.

    Comment by Dwayne — April 13, 2012 @ 22:30

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