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Forces may ice ships

JasonH

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OTTAWA -- The Canadian Forces is reviewing its shopping list to find extra funds to pay for expensive Tory priorities.

A top officer involved in the large-scale review of equipment said Prime Minister Stephen Harper's military spending priorities, especially icebreakers, are proving to be significantly more costly than the Conservatives expected.

The officer said that engineers are conducting a feasibility study and it's thought that the cost will be so high they'll have to recommend against them.

During the election campaign, Harper promised Canadian shipyards would build military icebreakers.

But the senior officer said not only do Canadian shipyards not have the experience needet would not discuss the nature os of polar ice will require mammoth ships with a huge pricetag.

http://torontosun.com/News/Canada/2006/04/20/1542044-sun.html
 

Kirkhill

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The officer said that engineers are conducting a feasibility study and it's thought that the cost will be so high they'll have to recommend against them.

There is always that solution.  Make the price tag so high that it is impossible to do.  I guess it is always better to do nothing than do something less than the ideal.  Especially if you don't want to do it in the first place. I wonder how the BHS is coming along.
 

Teddy Ruxpin

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Well, IMHO, this is a waste of time anyway.  Large icebreakers for the Navy could well be a boondoggle of epic proportions.  The Navy (again IMHO) needs to be able to operate globally and ships built for a single purpose and a single geographic area dramatically reduce flexibility.

This potential task really belongs to the Coast Guard - not the Navy.  There's no potential enemy in the Arctic (unless you're counting Denmark...heh) and we already have an organization that performs icebreaking tasks quite well - along with showing the flag.

If we're going to assert Arctic sovereignty, why not build - at much lower cost - a permanent Arctic Warfare training centre and invite our Allies to come and use it?
 

Haggis

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Teddy Ruxpin said:
If we're going to assert Arctic sovereignty, why not build - at much lower cost - a permanent Arctic Warfare training centre and invite our Allies to come and use it?

Stop making sense!  It contradicts your profile "faceless bureaucrat". ;)
 

Kirkhill

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The Navy (again IMHO) needs to be able to operate globally and ships built for a single purpose and a single geographic area dramatically reduce flexibility.

Agreed that the Navy needs to operate globally - so why are their ships built so that they can't operate in our own waters as well as ice free waters?

The JSS is/was at least a nod to the Arctic in that it is/was ice-strengthened.  That would make it that much more capable of asserting a military presence than anything else in the fleet.

Only trouble is now you have a support vessel that can travel farther than any vessels it is likely to support.

The Svalbard that Blackshirt and I mentioned is not a Class 8 polar breaker such as Mulroney proposed for the Coast Guard.  It couldn't punch through Barrow Strait in the dead of winter but so what?

It is a stand-alone platform that can move farther North than anything the Navy currently has and with a DNV ice class of *1A1 it would be able to move farther and stay on station longer that either the Danish Thetis class frigates that are limited to 80 cm ice or the ice-strengthened trawlers currently fishing up Baffin Bay.  The Kiwis MRV is also ice-strengthened and would be an interesting alternative.  Either vessel could move farther up Baffin Bay than the CPFs which, as I understand it, can only safely make it as far north as Iqaluit.

At 80 MUSD apiece, (built in Norwegian yards admittedly) it seems like a much cheaper bet than MGSs that the Armoured Corps doesn't want or Tanks that the Government won't deploy.

In addition such vessels could be used outside of ice-infested waters on international deployments.  If the MCDVs can then these surely could.  Both the Kiwis and the Norwegians intend to use them that way.

Actually I don't particularly mind who the devil operates vessels for Canada.  I just want somebody willing to operate a vessel that can keep up with foreign fishermen in our backyard and not back off when a rifle appears on deck and that can see off the vessels of other "visiting" foreign nations that may be inclined to support them.  If the Navy doesn't want the job then fine.  Unfortunately it seems that the Coasties don't want the job either.  Maybe they should be given too the Mounties.

As to the Arctic Training Base, well, I agree with that too.  In fact I would go so far as to suggest that a permanent facility at Resolute with helicopters would be an interesting adjunct/alternative to the ice-strengthened vessels and could supply a reaction capability that would ease the design requirements on the vessels - assuming the weather co-operated.

Frankly this is a bigger problem - and it is not just a military problem nor is it just a Canadian problem.  While in general principle I agree with civil authority deciding "what" and the professionals in the military deciding "how" I have seen too often, not in Canadian military circles but in other environments, "professionals" preparing cases to prove that what is asked of them is impossible.

It is all too easy to design a system that can do all, be everything, create zero-pollution and employ nobody/everybody (according to the whim of the day) and be risk-free.  The issue then becomes that nobody can afford it.  The project gets scratched and nothing changes.

In the meantime incremental improvements and changes with manageable risks are ignored.  The Best truly is the enemy of Better.

Companies go broke because of this.  The environment doesn't improve because of this.  And, apparently, militaries stand pat because of this.

Cheers.
 

Sapper41

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First off Staff officers are not suppose to say can't, they are there to provide courses of action. 

That being said, it would have been a lot cheaper in retrospect to have nuclear subs than can patrol the north 24 and 7.  The current MND seems to be kinda old school, trying to solve cold war issues almost twenty years after the fact (just wait for your posting to CFB Goosebay).  I just hope that our new and eager federal government doesn't derail the CDS's priorities.
 

Kirkhill

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First off Staff officers are not suppose to say can't, they are there to provide courses of action.

Agreed Sapper41,  but as someone guilty of the crime myself, I can tell you that you can frame the solutions in such a fashion as to lead to a preferred conclusion.  :) :-[

I don't know if breakers are the right answer. I don't know if the Conservatives thought they could buy Class 8 capability at row boat prices. 

I do THINK that there is a need for some sort of vessel to maintain a presence during the navigation season at least and that is prepared to be at least as forceful in dealing with interlopers as the Mounties, DFO and the Navy have been elsewhere in the past.

My sense, my belief if you will, is that the Coast Guard, like their brethren in Customs/Border Security, are conflicted because previous governments have stuck civil servants (customs and navigation types) together with "law enforcement officers" (DFO and ... sorry analogy falls apart, I don't think we ever had a border law enforcement presence beyond, perhaps, the Mounties).

'pologies to all for strong tone of earlier post.

Cheers.
 

Teddy Ruxpin

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First off Staff officers are not suppose to say can't, they are there to provide courses of action.

Oh?  Spent a lot of time on the Staff, have you?  Staff officers don't say "no" to subordinate commanders - they possess no authority - however, when something contradicts issued direction (or common sense) "can't" can be a reasonable answer.

Kirkhill:  nothing you have said - and you raise some good and detailed points - has convinced me of a requirement for a permanent naval (the distinction is important) presence in the North.  Again, aside from esoteric "sovereignty" issues, what's the threat?  American submarines?  Lay a remote operated SOSUS system.  Encroachments from the Danes?  Seriously?  If we have an identifyable threat and a rational plan for dealing with it, fine.  But as it is, I just can't support something that appears to me to be a politically-driven attempt to assert a nebulous "sovereignty" in the face of the electorate's skepticism of Conservative loyalties.
 

Kirkhill

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Teddy:

I am willing to stipulate that the force in the north does not have to be naval, nor does it have to be permanent (as opposed to seasonal and not occasional).  However I think we fundamentally disagree on the "esoteric" nature of the challenge to Canadian sovereignty. 

I agree that there is not a noteworthy military "threat". If it is improbable that Canada would fire on a US submarine if it found one it is equally improbable that a US submarine would fire on Canada.

However the threat is not military it is commercial.  And if you do not enforce your commercial law, or your criminal law for that matter, then you diminish your claim to ownership.

Canada has issues with respect to fishing in contested waters (Flemish Cap and the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks) and has demonstrated a willingness in the past to do what other countries have.
They have used armed force to press the rights of their fishermen. 

Fishermen from Europe are fishing up Davis Strait and Baffin Bay.  Greenlanders are apparently hunting on our northern islands.  Danes are actively looking for resources in their north.  In each and every case, if we don't challenge then we condone.  If we do challenge and the prize is worth the effort then it is not unknown for foreign governments to support their citizens over "trivial" matters.
The actual flash point in the Falklands case was actually some scrap metal dealers removing material without permission and being arrested by a government whose authority they didn't recognize.

Maybe it isn't the Navy's job, although the navies of Britain, Denmark and Norway, amongst others, all seem to feel that EEZ patrols are their responsibility.  Maybe it should be the role of the Coast Guard as it is in the US but our Coast Guard isn't founded on the same principles.  It is not a military or para-military force.  Much of it doesn't even see itself as a police force.

Such issues may seem trivial or "esoteric" and "nebulous"  to you but they don't to the Canadian fishermen, or even Inuit hunters, that rely on their government to hold foreigners to the same laws that they themselves are required to obey.  And if the problem doesn't seem imminent to you remember that the Danes and Norwegians have been working those waters for the best part of 1000 years.  Their time sense might be a bit different than our own.

So if not the Navy and not the Coast Guard then who?

Yours aye.

PS perhaps you could clarify this:

But as it is, I just can't support something that appears to me to be a politically-driven attempt to assert a nebulous "sovereignty" in the face of the electorate's skepticism of Conservative loyalties.

I am afraid I don't follow.  Are the Conservatives' loyalties suspect?

And Sherwood, I will see your 5 and raise you a minute. But it will take 3 days for me to tell you about it.  ;D

Edited for spelling.



 

Teddy Ruxpin

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PS perhaps you could clarify this:

But as it is, I just can't support something that appears to me to be a politically-driven attempt to assert a nebulous "sovereignty" in the face of the electorate's skepticism of Conservative loyalties.

I am afraid I don't follow.  Are the Conservatives' loyalties suspect?

Sure, no problem.  IMHO, the late addition of icebreakers and a port facility in Nunavut to the Conservative defence platform were designed to reassure a skeptical Canadian public that the party took the "threat" of US encroachment seriously and that it was not tied too closely to the Bush administration.  In a similar vein, Harper delivered a stinging rebuke to the US ambassador over Northern maritime sovereignty about two days after taking charge, again to show "independence".

I wasn't accusing anyone of actually having misplaced loyalties...

Cheers,

TR
 

Colin Parkinson

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Protect it or lose it, if the North becomes valuable to someone, they will challenge our claim and we have worked hard over the years to weaken it, because everyone said it will cost to much, well the birds are coming home to roost and the piper wants to be paid.

The navy can lease a light icebreaker (like the CCG did with the Terry fox), put a Bofers and some 12.7mm MG’s on it. Paint it grey and man with a mixed crew of Regular and reservists with a small group of CCG Officer used to Arctic operations. This will get us into the game quickly and build up the expertise needed.

The Navy can’t ignore the North any longer, The CCG would need to be totally revamped to take on the same roles as the navy and has neither the ships, men, mandate or will to do it. The Navy had an Icebreaker, so it is not a unique situation. It also won’t need to be a Polar 8 (big, big bucks) but at best a Polar 4 (similar to the CCG Radison and Henery Larson).
 

Kirkhill

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Thanks for the clarification TR.

As to the "late addition" of the icebreakers I could have sworn that the icebreakers were announced in Winnipeg, before Christmas, just shortly after the Trenton announcement about the Airborne Regiment and as part of a general package of measures focused on the arctic, including an arctic training centre.  December 23 strikes a chord.

Must be my memory slipping.

Cheers.
 

Teddy Ruxpin

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As to the "late addition" of the icebreakers I could have sworn that the icebreakers were announced in Winnipeg, before Christmas, just shortly after the Trenton announcement about the Airborne Regiment and as part of a general package of measures focused on the arctic, including an arctic training centre.  December 23 strikes a chord.

Meh, you're probably right.  I stopped paying a huge amount of attention as soon as I heard "rapid reaction battalion" and "Goose Bay" in the same sentence... ;)  I still voted Conservative, though!
 

MarkOttawa

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Kirkhill: 22 December 2005.
http://www.conservative.ca/EN/1091/36512

Coast Guard icebreakers (they now operate them for Canada) will be perfectly adequate for any sovereignty assertion purposes.  And the CCG needs new icebreakers.

Mark
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Kirkhill

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MarkOttawa: Thanks

As I stated earlier I'm not really bothered who operates the Breakers/Patrol Vessels, just so long as they are willing to challenge foreigners breaking our laws.  I also think that the Navy should at least have some sort of ability to move an armed vessel into Northern Waters in support of such vessels.  If that could be done by double-hulling and strengthening a CPF then "fill yer boots".

Otherwise building an "ice-breaker" manned by the Navy seems to solve the problem as well.

And TR,  WRT the Conservatives, if we're wrong then we will both get the opportunity to repent in the future.  ;D
 

MarkOttawa

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Give the Canadian Coast Guard the icebreakers for the Arctic and the Canadian Space Agency some satellites:

Arctic sovereignty's trapped in a policy ice jam (full text not online)
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/Page/document/v4/sub/MarketingPage?user_URL=http://www.theglobeandmail.com%2Fservlet%2Fstory%2FRTGAM.20060817.wxconorth17%2FBNStory%2FspecialComment%2Fhome&ord=1155832617128&brand=theglobeandmail&force_login=true


Canada claims to be a northern nation, but its attention is clearly on the south. That means northern issues -- protecting our sovereignty there is only one of many -- get pushed to the back. And the price tag for the resources to protect our sovereignty is often too great for one department or agency to handle: A single icebreaker, depending on size, equipment and capabilities, can easily range from $300-million to $700-million. That means many key departments, although they support protecting Arctic sovereignty, cannot afford the capital-intensive program it will take...

The problem with waiting for the challenges to Arctic sovereignty to become clear and immediate is that the equipment needed to defend Canadian sovereignty cannot be acquired quickly. Given the Canadian track record, it will take 10 to 20 years to get many of the tools -- such as new icebreakers, more satellites -- that we will need...

Neglect of the North by successive administrations means the cupboard is bare. The assets Canada does have are few and old. Further complicating the task is that the government bodies that should be playing a critical role -- the Canadian Coast Guard and Space Agency -- tend to be smaller and without the clout of their larger brethren.

The Coast Guard has expertise in manning and operating icebreakers,
http://www.ccg-gcc.gc.ca/ice-gla/main_e.htm

which have proved to be the best presence in the North. The Space Agency designs and operates the satellites that provide the best surveillance of the North. Both agencies seldom receive the funding they need. The Coast Guard will soon need to replace its icebreaking fleet: Canada's most powerful icebreaker was built in 1969, and its three medium icebreakers were built between 1978 and 1982.

The Canadian Space Agency has plans to deploy a number of satellites to improve northern surveillance. Ideally, it needs five satellites, but only has funding for three.

Complicating the picture is the government's decision to make National Defence the main department to develop the capital program necessary to protect Arctic sovereignty. It is the DND that is to build three new icebreakers. While its operation of the HMCS Labrador in the mid-1950s showed it can do this, the navy is reluctant to embrace this proposed new task. It knows that by acquiring this new capability, it must surrender some other existing one. It also knows it will need to spend considerable resources to train its personal in skills the Coast Guard already has.

While the Coast Guard will keep its aging fleet operational,
http://toyoufromfailinghands.blogspot.com/2006/07/canadian-coast-guard-crumbling.html

and the Space Agency will make do with three new satellites rather than five, and the DND will operate the icebreakers if ordered, the reality is that if the government is serious about protecting Arctic sovereignty, it must rethink how it develops its capital program for the North. It is obvious the old patchwork style of doing business will hinder rather than help northern sovereignty...

Rob Huebert is associate director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

Mark
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Colin Parkinson

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The rust out of the CCG ships has been an issue and there are rumbling about a new build program in the works.

The navy can lease a light ice-breaker mount a gun, comms and better radar on it and paint it gray. This will improve accessibility to the North for them and build the necessary skill sets while they determine what sort of platform they need.

As I said elsewhere build 3 small 100’ patrol boats that can be stationed in the North, the boats will be manned by Northerners and hauled out and stored there for the winters. One in the West and one in the East, with one being a spare. Arm it with a small automatic cannon and MG’s, crew would be about 10-20, it will provide local security, SAR, Sovereignty patrol, Northern warfare training support, police support, employment, recruitment for the military and self-esteem for the locals involved. The storing of vessels up North was a typical scenario for ATL during the 70’s and still done by the CCG for it’s fleet of small riverboats. Some of the infrastructure is still in place.

We also need to improve some of the existing airfields up there, both by improving surface, load bearing, length and by increasing infrastructure, comms and automatic systems, so we can move people quickly, efficiently and safely.
 

Bearpaw

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I agree with the spirit of Colin P's suggestion about the small patrol boats for the Arctic.  My suggestion would be to consider 3 to 6 hovercraft based on the LCAC-----perhaps with enlarged fuel capacity for much greater range and armed with the MLG 27 light naval gun system.  The crew would be small(10- to 12).  The ability to move over pan-ice and onto low-gradient land will be useful for SAR and patrol work.

 

Colin Parkinson

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I have worked on CCG Hovercraft at Sea Island for many years, as much as I love them and promote them, I will have to disagree at this point, they would require to much support and there is a shortage of qualified operaters already, our CCG hovercraft pilots have to instruct the TC ships safety types how to test them! The time may come when the navy can run some of these up there, but they don't have the ability to do so. but they do have the ability and know how to run small vessels and the locals can add the ice knowledge. It is fairly simple, relatively cheap and will have short lead time from implementation to vessels on patrol.
 

MarkOttawa

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Letter of mine in Toronto Star today:

Give icebreakers to Coast Guard
http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1156197009431&call_pageid=968332189003&col=968350116895

Arctic defence

Aug. 19.

Much is made in Graham Fraser's article of Canada's need for Arctic-capable icebreakers. There may well be such a need, but there is no reason for such vessels to be armed and operated by the Navy as the Conservatives said in an election campaign pledge. The Canadian Navy has not operated an icebreaker since the 1950s. Since then the Canadian Coast Guard has had Canada's icebreaking fleet. Current icebreakers are getting very long in the tooth and will need replacement soon.

The sensible thing to do would be to acquire truly Arctic-capable vessels for the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard, even though not armed, would be perfectly adequate by its presence to assert Canadian legal claims in Arctic waters.

Moreover, assigning the icebreakers to the Coast Guard would avoid the inevitable delays, complications and extra costs involved in the Navy's re-learning very specialized operational skills.

Besides which the Coast Guard can use such vessels for the varied other missions its icebreakers already perform. If Arctic-capable icebreakers are not also used for the full spectrum of Canadian icebreaking operations, then the ships would be severely underutilized and a great deal of money wasted.

Fraser's column:
http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1155937810335&call_pageid=970599109774&col=Columnist969907621570

Mark
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