Regardless of whether we end up with one ship, or eight, these ships are wrong for Canada. They are being built so the Canadian Navy can patrol our Arctic waters. The Navy hasnâ€™t patrolled our Arctic waters for more than half a century, and with good reason: There is no military threat there. Sovereignty issues will be decided by international organizations and negotiations. Nobody is going to start a war in the Arctic.
The Canadian Coast Guard patrols our Arctic waters with icebreakers that are in dire need of replacing. The patrol vessels wonâ€™t be able to break anything more than summer ice. They will be useless in the Arctic in the winter, so they will be shipped to Canadaâ€™s East and West Coasts, where they wonâ€™t be able to do much more good, because they will be slower than most fishing vessels, will have guns that will be too small for full-scale combat and will have no mine-sweeping capacity.
Which brings us to the many ships the Canadian Navy actually needs: minesweepers, destroyers and frigates. The navy is staggering along with two antique destroyers, 12 frigates passing their mid-lives and, at last count, one fully operational submarine. Navy documents show that even this tiny fleet will be diminished over the next decade. Many frigates are unavailable during refit and the destroyers will become so old that maintenance costs will become prohibitive.
This probably won’t change many minds in Ottawa but it is nice that we have some senators like Colin Kenny holding the government to account on policy issues.