A different ship

I have discussed ships more than once, mostly regarding the affordability factor. Now another proposal has surfaced: one I have to say that, as presented, is ill considered. Over on the Canadian American Strategic Review website contributor Steve Daly suggests that the Royal Canadian Navy needs a hospital ship. Mr Daly suggests that Davie, in Quebec, the company that is building an interim support ship which it will lease to the Navy under Project Resolve

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… should use the same technique of “repurposing” a commercial ship to make it into a hospital ship …

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… he even gives it a name: Project Respite.

What’s wrong with that?

There’s nothing wrong with hospital ships. Larger navies, especially those that have large amphibious forces, have them (that’s the US Navy’s hospital ship Mercy pictured below) …

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… to handle the casualties that will, inevitably, result from an opposed assault landing. It makes good military sense. Canada does not have large amphibious forces.

There are both civilian …

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… and military hospital ships (that’s the Chinese Navy’s Peace Ark pictured below) …

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… out there, right now, doing good, welcome humanitarian work in the Pacific and on the coasts of Africa and I’m sure one more would be welcome, so there’s nothing wrong with hospital ships, per se … there wouldn’t even be anything wrong with a Canadian hospital ship.

What is wrong with Mr Daly’s proposal is that he says, “‘Project Respite‘ would create a new Hospital Ship/Disaster Relief Vessel … that would provide the RCN with a capability far more in keeping with a revived emphasis on peacekeeping for the Canadian Armed Forces as many anticipate for the near future … [and] … Respite‘ would be a natural home for the Disaster Relief Response Team – DART could be transported and provisioned anywhere that ‘Respite‘ could reach.” The Canadian Armed Forces doesn’t need a hospital ship and it cannot afford to lease one for very occasional deployments of the DART … which our C-17 transport jets move about very efficiently and effectively now.

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Had Mr Daly suggested that Davie should offer a hospital ship to Minister Dion’s Global Affairs Department as a foreign aid/humanitarian aid project then I would have applauded. It is the sort of soft power project that actually might do some good. I think that a Canadian civilian hospital ship, perhaps funded by Global Affairs, could be useful and beneficial; a Canadian military hospital ship is, to be charitable, a silly idea, but it is just the sort of silly idea that I fear might find favour with the Defence Review.

5 thoughts on “A different ship”

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