Over on Army.ca (there’s an identical (in content) Navy.ca, too, if you prefer blue), there’s an interesting new discussion based on a recent article published by the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC).
It raises an important issue for Canadians.
Canada is a three ocean country …
… and Canada needs a three ocean Navy.
I have explained before that Canada needs more than just a Navy; Canada needs fleets of ships: a civil government fleet, a constabulary fleet and a military fleet. I continue to believe, just as one example, that the Harry DeWolf class Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships, currently being built and tested in Halifax, for the Royal Canadian Navy, should be transferred to a revitalized Marine Divison of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and should be a big part of the constabulary fleet.
The Royal Canadian Navy needs to develop a three ocean capability and a three ocean mentality to go with it.
The fleets for the two ‘blue water’ oceans, which are more familiar and more comfortable for most Canadians, including most Canadian military people, need to have both global and coastal flotillas.
I think each fleet should be built around a large, globally capable platform (ship) ~ I’m inclined to like the designs of Australia’s Canberra class (27,500 tonnes) (pictured at left), Japan’s Izumo class (19,500 tonnes) or America’s much larger Wasp class (40,500 tonnes) vessels. Each “blue water” fleet needs one of those in service (which means at least one in reserve, too) plus an escort force of large, powerful destroyers and frigates. Each fleet also needs coastal patrol forces, likely based upon a dozen or so corvettes and some (small) mine warfare ships.
Suffice it to say, Canada probably needs 20± major surface combatant warships (helicopter carriers, destroyers and frigates), 4 large fleet support shops (two on each coast), about a dozen corvettes, (a modern Dutch corvette is pictured at right) eight to twelve smaller mine warfare ships and some training vessels, too. That’s more than twice the size of a Navy that either Stephen Harper or Justin Trudeau ever envisioned. But I assert that anything less is too little for a G7 nation.
But, I have not yet mentioned the third ocean or submarines ~ and the two go together. The core of an Arctic fleet must be a force of under-ice capable submarines … there are many debates about how to achieve under-ice capabilities. My current understanding is that while there are conventional power plants that can allow good, short-term “under the edge of the icepack” operations, only a nuclear-powered boat, like the one pictured at left, can operate under the ice for extended periods. My guess is that Canada needs a fleet of eight to fifteen modern nuclear-powered submarines along with the attendant basing, maintenance and refuelling facilities.
Operating in and under the third ocean will require an investment in equipment ~ sensors (space-based, terrestrial and underwater), ships, and aircraft ~ and in Northern bases. I continue to believe that Canada needs three Arctic Ocean bases: “one at or near Tuktoyaktuk in the Western Arctic, one at or near Nanisivik in the Centre and one at or near Iqaluit in the East … each needs to be a bit bigger and better than just a refuelling station for ships. Each should have a modern, jet fighter and C-130 capable airfield and storage facilities and austere accommodation for about 1,000 soldiers to use while they prepare to deploy onto the land.“
Of course, a Three Ocean Navy is a joint force. That means that the Royal Canadian Air Force needs new, first-rate, modern jet fighters and equally modern long-range patrol aircraft to operate with them. The aircraft on the left is fairly new, P-8 Poseidon belonging to the Royal New Zealand Air Force ~ Canada needs them, too, to replace our veteran P-3 Aurora aircraft which we procured in the 1970s.
I do not think my ideas on a Three Ocean Navy are unreasonable. But, what I believe is necessary is much, Much, MUCH more than Stephen Harper foresaw in 2015 and it’s certainly more than Justin Trudeau is willing to consider. But I affirm that it’s needed and it’s never going to happen so long as Canada spends about 1% of GDP on defence. Our allies notice that ~ especially the loudmouth, hyper-nationalistic bully in Washington, but so do our enemies ~ especially the crafty, opportunistic-adventurer in Moscow. who casts a covetous eye on the Arctic. Canada needs to be able to assert its sovereignty, without US help, over all of the territories and territorial waters it claims as its own. The third ocean is HUGE part of that.
First, of course, Canada needs a new government, led. by someone who takes defence seriously.