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Decline of Naval Thought in the RCN

FSTO

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Infanteer said:
There is some irony here, as you guys are talking about ship procurement, service life, and mid-life refits....

To be blunt sir, if we cannot get our collective stuff together on the nuts and bolts of having a Navy (ships, personnel, dockyards) then the idea of critical strategic planning is a bit of a waste of time isn't it? Or we could have a RCN Directorate of Creative Dreaming established for retired or about to be retired Admirals to muse about what could be created in the future.

About as useful as posting a Canadian Air Force General to the US Space Force Command. (sarcasm)
 

daftandbarmy

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FSTO said:
To be blunt sir, if we cannot get our collective stuff together on the nuts and bolts of having a Navy (ships, personnel, dockyards) then the idea of critical strategic planning is a bit of a waste of time isn't it? Or we could have a RCN Directorate of Creative Dreaming established for retired or about to be retired Admirals to muse about what could be created in the future.

About as useful as posting a Canadian Air Force General to the US Space Force Command. (sarcasm)

Well, we're not alone. If the Argies had invaded the Falklands a few months later they'd be speaking Spanish there right now. The British were about to decommission the Hermes, which subsequently became the flagship for OP CORPORATE.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Hermes_(R12)
 

Infanteer

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FSTO said:
To be blunt sir, if we cannot get our collective stuff together on the nuts and bolts of having a Navy (ships, personnel, dockyards) then the idea of critical strategic planning is a bit of a waste of time isn't it? Or we could have a RCN Directorate of Creative Dreaming established for retired or about to be retired Admirals to muse about what could be created in the future.

About as useful as posting a Canadian Air Force General to the US Space Force Command. (sarcasm)

There is a balance.  We will never have the perfect <insert Force here>, and we may very well be told tomorrow to go to war with the Navy we got.  I'm sure there was someone in the German Army in the 1920s saying it was a waste of time to consider their doctrine and approach to mobile warfare when all they had to train with was a manpower-capped Army, no planes, and cars mocked up as tanks.

Even if the government decided to equip the RCN with the Bluenose and a few old tug boats, we are still beholden as stewards of the profession to maintain critical thought, analysis, and wargaming of the next conflict.

...and in light of the declining costs of access to space, posting folks to the US Space Force is probably a smart move.
 

Good2Golf

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dapaterson said:
*Cough* the demise of 450 in 1998 *cough*.

‘91, but yes, they forsook a force multiplier indeed,  so the Army can ‘out-paroch’ the Navy as well, which is why Naval thought, as others have noted, is not only the Navy’s challenge, but the CAF’s and the GoC’s for strategic relevance (Weinie’s post above specifically) as well.

While little says ‘in the game’ like: a) for great nations, plunking a CV(N) into a region for presence (and operations); or b) for lesser, but engaged nations, contributing a warship to an alliance task force, etc., national projection of power can come from other means as well; fighter/strike package to a coalition, land TF in support of regional stability (not just contributing to UN forces, but force packages to coalitions of force and influence).

Perhaps there is an opportunity for the RCN (and by association the CAF) to develop a compelling place for the Navy to achieve a place of assumed support of the Nation’s Values (Interests...shhhh ;) ), leveraged off the more economically-oriented NSPS?

:2c:

Regards
G2G
 

Navy_Pete

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Infanteer said:
There is some irony here, as you guys are talking about ship procurement, service life, and mid-life refits....

I'd argue that things like ship procurement, service life etc are all key parts of the actual strategic environment the RCN is operating in.  Making sure our current fleet remains capable and relevant and the new fleet shows up with the right strategic capabilities are just as important as actual strategic deployments and directly related.

For example, the RCN riding the frigates like rentals while ignoring the material state of the ships and the impact on it's service life would be a really bad strategic decision. Also ignoring operational requirements while going about the technical bits is also stupid. The choices made during acquisition directly affect future tactical options, so don't really see why they are treated as separate camps, and not two sides of the same coin.

Personally though find that a lot of MARS types grind on the engineers to consider the operational impacts, but are really blase about considering the technical impact when it doesn't immediately affect what you can do, and are happy to run it until it breaks in some cases. Also, the FELEX program was great at the sexy combat bits, or wifi but what really needs attention is boring stuff like the hotel services (hot water, sewage collection treatment etc), hull integrity and piping systems. Those have been the bane of the Engineers for years, and is the first thing that gets you piped to the skippers cabin or chirped in the Weirdroom. No one cares about tactics or strategy when the toilets are blocked and overflowing again or there is no water coming out of the taps, but that's just my  :2c:

Also jaded enough to think this sounds like someone planting the seeds for a possible future job leading this kind of transformation of the CFC,
 

Good2Golf

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Navy_Pete said:
...Personally though find that a lot of MARS types grind on the engineers to consider the operational impacts, but are really blase about considering the technical impact when it doesn't immediately affect what you can do, and are happy to run it until it breaks in some cases. Also, the FELEX program was great at the sexy combat bits, or wifi but what really needs attention is boring stuff like the hotel services (hot water, sewage collection treatment etc), hull integrity and piping systems. Those have been the bane of the Engineers for years, and is the first thing that gets you piped to the skippers cabin or chirped in the Weirdroom. No one cares about tactics or strategy when the toilets are blocked and overflowing again or there is no water coming out of the taps, but that's just my  :2c:

Weren't some CPFs sailing operationally with 2 of 4 DGs, etc.?  I heard stories of ad hoc DG's being set up (welded?) to the superstructure of frigates to provide additional cap, while the other integral DGs were n/s. ???
 

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Eaglelord17 said:
What they need to do if they want to keep a truly effective Navy is pick a ship builder and have them produce 1-2 warships a year (I would prefer 2 myself but that would be greatly expanding our Navy size). Once one reaches the 12 year mark, it gets mothballed and placed as a Reserve for event of war. That way when war starts you have 24-48 real warships ready because the reality is with modern conflict you basically come to the table with what you have, good luck getting more quickly.

This also has the added benefits of allowing us to keep the ship builders in constant work, avoiding the expensive start up costs every time we want a new ship, and allowing us to continually upgrade the ships as they are being produced. Flaws corrected, newer technology added, etc. In the event of war its easier to expand a production line than start from scratch, especially if we already have the facilities, etc.

Use the other ship builder to build things like the AOPS or coast guard ships, or other government ship requirements, again building one or two at a time so its a constant flow keeping everything nice and stable. Long term it would also help keep costs down, but no one in government is really interested beyond the 4-8 year span.


Hey now... don't come in here with these "good ideas" and "common sense" suggestions.  This is government.  We don't talk like that 'round here, y'all hear??  :eek:

Next thing, you're going to suggest possibly selling some of those 'decently new' yet mothballed ships to smaller countries, to help offset the cost of us procuring new ships or stabilizing the budget??


What if someone in Ottawa started thinking like that, and it's all your fault?  What next?  Suggesting WE could have been the ones selling our F-18's to an American PMC, and using the money to plug some budget holes in various projects?

:facepalm:  How dare you sir... 
 

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Infanteer said:
There is some irony here, as you guys are talking about ship procurement, service life, and mid-life refits....

It's certainly not lost on me as this was the complaint of the original article.  Project management vs strategic thought.  But that might be the weakness of the original argument.  If we don't look at long term maintenance we lose strategic depth/numbers of the units we can actually deploy over the long term.  The effects one can deliver in the battlespace are limited by our equipment.  The navy "mans equipment" while the army "equips men" from the old saying.  Our individual combat unit is a project to be managed.  Not enough units limit space and as all good sailors know space equals time.

I would argue that the most recent and perhaps most significant strategic initiative that's come out of the RCN in recent years is convincing the government that we need a continuous build program, which has led to the NSS now NSPS.


FSTO said:
Another way that Naval Thought has declined is that the RCN seems to have decided what ever seagoing platform they can get their hands on will just have to do. No matter how useful it really is.

Eg. Why are we even considering extending the lives of the Victoria Class? Wouldn't it be much better to get a whole new sub, maybe in conjunction with our relatives the Aussies?

If we don't extend the life of the subs we won't make it to when the Aussies are building theirs.  This is a matter of government direction.  For example as soon as Strong Secure Engaged came out and said that the government wants submarines the engineering side went to work with the life extension and there are people looking into new submarine purchases. But we had to wait until the Liberals gave us direction.  The CAF pushed hard just to keep the capability and convince the new Minister and thus the Cabinet that this was important.

FSTO said:
AOPS, do we really need 8 did we even need 4. Would some of that money be better spent on a true mine hunting/sweeping craft or a true OSPV.

The RCN put up a fight against "armed icebreakers" and talked the government down to AOPS which were deemed much more useful in more places.  And this is the issue.  Strategic decisions on how the RCN is deployed and used come from the government.  Canada's interests geopolitically are what drive the RCN strategically.  IMHO there are a few failures: the RCN in not identifying the Arctic as a key geopolitical interest for Canada and already having a plan to deal with it ahead of time, the Government and public not being aware of our core interests as a nation (or at least not articulating them well).

I'm not going to get into the whole AOPS being really being about jobs jobs jobs...

FSTO said:
After that kick in the gonades the RCN is now down to trying to save the silverware and seems to no longer have the fortitude, ability or maybe even the desire to go to the CDS/MND and tell them that in the absence of direction from Parliament, here is the Navy you'll need if you want to cause these and these effects.   

The RCN has done exactly that, since the painful last 10 years or so of being caught out with the AOR's, 280's etc...  If you only saw the work that went into the CSC requirements.  The project spent quite a bit of money examining future threats, future missions, and future strategic problems.  They used that to build the requirements. Trying to get ahead of the ship so to speak. As the project moves forward I'm sure it will cost to much for some of the stuff, and some requirements will magically disappear.  But that's a problem with the procurement system, not with the original requirements generally.
 

FSTO

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Underway said:
I would argue that the most recent and perhaps most significant strategic initiative that's come out of the RCN in recent years is convincing the government that we need a continuous build program, which has led to the NSS now NSPS.
I got into a wee bit of trouble back in 08 when I mentioned to a reporter during an open house at my NRD that our Government should consider a continuous build instead of the boom and bust we have been doing. Now I'm not saying that someone in the government was listening but.......... ;D

Underway said:
If we don't extend the life of the subs we won't make it to when the Aussies are building theirs.  This is a matter of government direction.  For example as soon as Strong Secure Engaged came out and said that the government wants submarines the engineering side went to work with the life extension and there are people looking into new submarine purchases. But we had to wait until the Liberals gave us direction.  The CAF pushed hard just to keep the capability and convince the new Minister and thus the Cabinet that this was important.
Maybe the life extension should be limited to 2 subs? Just to keep core capability? I just feel that the sticker shock of 4 refits will kill the whole capability.

Underway said:
The RCN has done exactly that, since the painful last 10 years or so of being caught out with the AOR's, 280's etc...  If you only saw the work that went into the CSC requirements.  The project spent quite a bit of money examining future threats, future missions, and future strategic problems.  They used that to build the requirements. Trying to get ahead of the ship so to speak. As the project moves forward I'm sure it will cost to much for some of the stuff, and some requirements will magically disappear.  But that's a problem with the procurement system, not with the original requirements generally.
Good to hear. I was very glad when the decision was made to return to a larger calibre main gun, like the old saying "Better to have a big gun and not need it vice wishing you had a bigger gun" or something similar.
 

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FSTO said:
I got into a wee bit of trouble back in 08 when I mentioned to a reporter during an open house at my NRD that our Government should consider a continuous build instead of the boom and bust we have been doing. Now I'm not saying that someone in the government was listening but.......... ;D

I remember reading the Single Class Surface Combatant report in 2008.  Part of that report was given over to a continuous build and the advantages that would come from that.  There was quite a bit of "project management" in that argument. Ironically the Aussies were the one who originally articulated the idea which we mercilessly stole (with proper referencing of course  ;D)

FSTO said:
Maybe the life extension should be limited to 2 subs? Just to keep core capability? I just feel that the sticker shock of 4 refits will kill the whole capability.
Good to hear. I was very glad when the decision was made to return to a larger calibre main gun, like the old saying "Better to have a big gun and not need it vice wishing you had a bigger gun" or something similar.

It might.  We are in the process of recapitalizing an entire surface navy and fighter force and that is extremely expensive.

As for the bigger gun comment, there is a reason strike length VLS is a core requirement for the CSC.  It allows for bigger guns for different missions, from Tomahawks, to LRSM to SM3's.  There are some serious strategic capabilities and options for your navy in that kind of hardware that we don't currently have.  Those are pan-element effectors.  Project management not important indeed!
 

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Underway said:
I remember reading the Single Class Surface Combatant report in 2008.  Part of that report was given over to a continuous build and the advantages that would come from that.  There was quite a bit of "project management" in that argument. Ironically the Aussies were the one who originally articulated the idea which we mercilessly stole (with proper referencing of course  ;D)

It might.  We are in the process of recapitalizing an entire surface navy and fighter force and that is extremely expensive.

As for the bigger gun comment, there is a reason strike length VLS is a core requirement for the CSC.  It allows for bigger guns for different missions, from Tomahawks, to LRSM to SM3's.  There are some serious strategic capabilities and options for your navy in that kind of hardware that we don't currently have.  Those are pan-element effectors.  Project management not important indeed!

Which is one way that the Navy (could) deliver strategic effect.
 

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Underway said:
As the project moves forward I'm sure it will cost to much for some of the stuff, and some requirements will magically disappear.  But that's a problem with the procurement system, not with the original requirements generally.

But that is , IMO, part of the problem. When it comes to planning, you can both under-plan, AND over-plan. I think we over plan procurement. We spend way way too much time dotting the i's and crossing the t's in order to come up with the perfect list of exactly what Canada needs going further. That takes a lot of time and effort, and as a result, adds  years to our procurement process. The reality is, we will NEVER be able to afford enough platforms with enough capability to perfectly address any potential future requirements, and like you said, budget constraints will force the removal of whatever capability addresses the "least important" requirement. Further, future requirements will change as the world changes, our government changes, priorities change, etc.

I honestly believe that there is very little substantial difference between one modern warship and another. Everyone these days is using a warship between 4000 and 8000 tons. Every warship out there  has either a PESA or AESA radar, or both, a hull mounted sonar, a tower array, an ESM suite, a main gun, a VLS with both short and medium range anti-air missiles, quad-packed medium/long range anti-ship missiles, and a CIWS. The biggest difference between them is whether you want a platform focused on anti-air, anti-submarine, or general purpose. The point is, I bet you I could simply pick a class of ship from among a half-dozen or so ship classes that our NATO allies use, and THAT ship class would be capable of fulfilling 90% of the missions we would ever send it on without any modifications. Why go through the mountains of effort, money and time when I could simply say "just give us 15 FREMM class, 12 of the French type, and 3 of the Italian type"?
 

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Lumber said:
But that is , IMO, part of the problem. When it comes to planning, you can both under-plan, AND over-plan. I think we over plan procurement. We spend way way too much time dotting the i's and crossing the t's in order to come up with the perfect list of exactly what Canada needs going further. That takes a lot of time and effort, and as a result, adds  years to our procurement process.

A lot of that is because we also need to convince PSPC, TB, and ISED of the capabilities required.  We can't just handwave it and say "we know what's best" because we don't control the money or the process.
 

daftandbarmy

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So, like, when are you Navy guys going to start talking about strategy and not the 'toys of the trade'? :)
 

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Good2Golf said:
Weren't some CPFs sailing operationally with 2 of 4 DGs, etc.?  I heard stories of ad hoc DG's being set up (welded?) to the superstructure of frigates to provide additional cap, while the other integral DGs were n/s. ???

I have more sea days than many NWOs and have never (as in not once) been to sea in a CPF with 4/4 DGs serviceable.

I was told by a few MSEOs that the particular DG selected by the project was done more for political  reasons than for technical reasons. It was the exact wrong size for the load demanded of it (ie no combination of DGs could run at an efficient RPM to meet the load, so they constantly coked up and then failed).
 

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We are running with the new CATs on FRE and the Stokers (MARTECHs I know, but I am too old to change) love them. 
 

Good2Golf

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Halifax Tar said:
We are running with the new CATs on FRE and the Stokers (MARTECHs I know, but I am too old to change) love them.
.

Hard to go wrong either with 3412s or KTA-38s
 

FSTO

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Halifax Tar said:
We are running with the new CATs on FRE and the Stokers (MARTECHs I know, but I am too old to change) love them.
Don’t worry, like RMS clerks the powers that be I’ll realize the errors of their thinking and return to sanity.
 

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daftandbarmy said:
So, like, when are you Navy guys going to start talking about strategy and not the 'toys of the trade'? :)
Triggered... lol

The entire point of my argument is that you can't remove toys from naval strategic thought. 

Military strategy deals with the planning and conduct of campaigns, the movement, and disposition of forces, and the deception of the enemy.  But it also deals with the employment of military capabilities through high level and long term planning, development and procurement.

As for force disposition, there are plenty of pages on threads about fleet mix and the disposition of those fleets to each coast given the geopolitical realities of Canada.  Ie: The east coast fleet is larger because of the St. Laurence Seaway and approaches essentially make Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, Thunderbay, etc... oceanic ports for trade, not to mention Halifax proper.

As OGBD mentioned sea control is the largest overriding concern of the RCN.  Keeping the lanes open for trade and use sea control to project power where we want to influence events.  This requires a mix of some sea denial capability to guard the flanks so to speak (submarines), mobility enhancers (mine countermeasures/JSS/logistics hubs) to ensure our own mobility.  Then you have the power projection aspects with the Frigates/CSC etc...  There's my argument.  Here are the toys that do the jobs we need, to achieve the strategic effects we want.
 

Colin Parkinson

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I think with the number of ships we have currently we are fantasizing about "Strategic effects". Now if you said "Contributing to Strategic effects as coalition" then it's more believable. I suspect we would struggle to keep one port on both coasts open against a determined enemy using subs and mines, much less escort a convoy beyond our territorial waters.
 
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