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?