My friend The Regimental Rogue posted this …
… it goes along with si vis pacem, para bellum (Publius Flavius Vegetius) and other assorted sayings that all try to warn political leaders that tending, carefully and responsibly, to the nation’s defences is the best way to keep the peace ~ high mountains are not the only reason Switzerland has been at peace for more than 150 years. That quote led me to consider the state of Canada’s defences, and, today, specifically the lack of supply/support/refuelling ships for the Royal Canadian Navy …
I see, in a report from The Quebec Telegram internet newspaper,* that “Despite pressures from the business community, mayors and the Quebec government, Ottawa does not intend to order a second supply ship in the shipyard Davie, where hundreds of layoffs are still expected … [and] … “The government does not plan to buy another supply ship,” said the Minister of National Defence, Harjit Singh Sajjan, through its press attaché, Byrne, Furlong … [because] … The Royal Canadian Navy just doesn’t need a second supply vessel as the Asterix,” even though, in another (June 2017) article, in the Ottawa Citizen, David Pugliese reported that “there were reports that the Joint Support Ships being built at Seaspan in Vancouver had fallen yet again behind schedule … [and] … The first Joint Support Ship was supposed to enter the water in 2020.” I’ve read, just a day or two ago,’ that the schedule is now a state secret of some sort … could that be because it has slipped again?
Would it embarrass Procurement Minister Qualtrough if the whole country knew that she cannot manage to “ensure the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Canadian Coast Guard get the equipment they need on time and on budget, as outlined in the Government’s new Defence Policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged and under the National Shipbuilding Strategy,” as Prime Minister Trudeau directed her to do just six weeks ago? We can see that, as they enter the second half of their four year mandate the Trudeau Liberals are all about message management and attempting to make campaign silk purses out of the sow’s ears of broken promises.
Way back when, before 2004, (I’m working from memory here and I’m just too lazy to go and dig out the references) the Royal Canadian Navy posited a military operational requirement for four fleet support/supply ships; then, in about 2004, the (Liberal) government of the day (Paul Martin) cut that back to three and, ten, again, in 2012, the Conservative (Stephen Harper) government approved just two large support ships as part of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. The design selected was based on the German Berlin class and the contract was awarded to SeaSpan in British Columbia. Now, anyone who has even a passing familiarity with the concept of RAM (Reliability, Availability, Maintainability) in material engineering will understand that a navy with two blue water fleets (Pacific and Atlantic) needs more than two supply ships (or tankers as most sailors call them) ~ three was the bare minimum to sustain operations, four was a much better number for a navy that wanted to be serious about meeting its assigned responsibilities.
Project Resolve, the Chantier Davie proposal to build (convert, actually) one and then, possibly, a second “tanker” and then lease it to the RCN was innovative and exciting but, in late 2015, apparently under pressure from Atlantic Canadian political backers, the new Liberal government tried to scuttle the project. In the end Project Resolve went ahead, albeit at the price of one admiral’s reputation and career, but now, it seems, that common sense solution to the Navy’s stated military operational requirements is just too much for the Trudeau Liberals to swallow. Perhaps that’s because the Davie yard is in the Bellechass— Les Etchemins — Lévis riding held by Conservative MP Steven Blaney, and perhaps good middle class jobs only go to loyal Liberal voters. One would hope that is not what drove this ill-considered decision, but it would not surprise me. Defence Minister Sajjan should prevail upon his cabinet colleagues to reverse this decision … for the sake of the military, in which he served, honourably, for sake of the workers in Quebec and for the sake of his country. It is a shame to see a good, cost effective, operationally important project shut down just because of corporate greed, regional pandering and partisan politics.
* I have made a few minor, purely typographical edits, to make the article look “better” to English speaking eyes