• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

Status on Victoria-class Submarines?

Oldgateboatdriver

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
405
Points
880
Not really, DH.

One boat was in long overhaul, to bring the fire control/torpedo suite to Canadian standard, two more boats were operational. Then, Chicoutimi was just being taken over from the Brits and being driven home (that lasted a whole three days) so it could go straight into long refit to bring her up to the same standard as the other boats (as the first Upholder, she had, ironically enough, an electrical system that was not weather protected  to the same standard as the other three boats of the class and was to be brought up to that standard, which would have averted the very electrical event that caused the fire).

So while we had three days with three boats "at sea", Chicoutimi was not an operational boat. I believe the "milestone" being mentioned here is for three boats operational at the same time.

We have to be careful here, contrary to milEME's apparent chagrin over the long time elapsed. With four diesel electric boats, what can be expected operationally is two boats operational at a time, with a third in surge from time to time. The main reason we can have three operational now - for a little time - is simply the fact that we just got a reasonably long pause in sub operations that makes this surge possible for a short bit of time (don't get used to it, it won't last more than, at most, one year).
 

daftandbarmy

Army.ca Relic
Reaction score
11,303
Points
1,160
Oldgateboatdriver said:
Not really, DH.

One boat was in long overhaul, to bring the fire control/torpedo suite to Canadian standard, two more boats were operational. Then, Chicoutimi was just being taken over from the Brits and being driven home (that lasted a whole three days) so it could go straight into long refit to bring her up to the same standard as the other boats (as the first Upholder, she had, ironically enough, an electrical system that was not weather protected  to the same standard as the other three boats of the class and was to be brought up to that standard, which would have averted the very electrical event that caused the fire).

So while we had three days with three boats "at sea", Chicoutimi was not an operational boat. I believe the "milestone" being mentioned here is for three boats operational at the same time.

We have to be careful here, contrary to milEME's apparent chagrin over the long time elapsed. With four diesel electric boats, what can be expected operationally is two boats operational at a time, with a third in surge from time to time. The main reason we can have three operational now - for a little time - is simply the fact that we just got a reasonably long pause in sub operations that makes this surge possible for a short bit of time (don't get used to it, it won't last more than, at most, one year).

And, I assume, if there is a sudden and pressing operational requirement we might see the flood gates of cash open wide to get them all up to tip top shape pretty fast.

Just because a sub, or any other warship, is out of the water doesn't mean it's not a threat.
 

Underway

Army.ca Veteran
Donor
Reaction score
3,057
Points
1,040
daftandbarmy said:
And, I assume, if there is a sudden and pressing operational requirement we might see the flood gates of cash open wide to get them all up to tip top shape pretty fast.

Just because a sub, or any other warship, is out of the water doesn't mean it's not a threat.

It's all about the SUBSAFE program.  Those boats are regularly gone over with a fine-tooth comb to find any defects. Testing and examining the equipment and hull take time, and then any repairs take time which of course then have to undergo the same testing/inspection again.  If the subs were newer then the whole process would probably be faster (less stress fractures in the structures etc...).  It's like an old aircraft.  The older it gets the more hours of maintenance are required per hour in the water.

Of course you can accept the risk and put the boat in the water.  But we are not at war, and have no submarine related strategic emergencies.
 

OceanBonfire

Sr. Member
Reaction score
268
Points
880
It's the mileage, not the years: Military says it plans to keep subs afloat past retirement dates

Conservative critic says maintenance plan ignores fact that not everything on a submarine can be replaced


The Canadian navy has found a very creative way to keep its second-hand submarines afloat until the late 2030s and early 2040s — a plan that emphasizes maintenance over age in predicting how long the vessels can remain seaworthy.

The plan — according to a newly-released briefing note prepared in the run-up to the release of the Liberal government's marquee defence policy — would not see HMCS Victoria decommissioned until the end of 2042, giving the warship over 45 years service in Canada.

That estimate does not include the time the boat served with Britain's Royal Navy, which would add at least a decade to its working life.

The retirements of the other submarines — HMCS Chicoutimi, HMCS Windsor and HMCS Corner Brook — would be staggered throughout the 2030s, with Windsor being the first to go in 2033.

"The [Victoria Class Submarines] are a well-designed and solidly constructed class of modern conventional submarines that have had an unusual life since entering service with the [Royal Navy] in the early 1990s," said the August 2016 briefing analysis, recently obtained by Conservative Party researchers. "'While chronologically 20 years older, they have not been operated extensively during that time."

Mac5RvX.png


The boats were first constructed for the Royal Navy in the 1980s, but Britain decided to sell them when the government of the day made the policy decision to operate only nuclear-powered submarines.

One aspect of the Liberal defence policy, released in June 2017, that has puzzled military experts and opposition critics alike was its assumption that the submarines — which have had a tortured technical history that includes one fatal fire — will remain in service until at least the 2040s.

The briefing note spells out in detail — and for the first time publicly — how the navy intends to squeeze more life out of boats it was supposed to start retiring in four years.

It was originally envisioned, the briefing said, that the Victoria-Class submarines would retire one at a time, beginning in 2024.

The report argues it is possible to operate the submarines beyond their expected working lives if the military assesses the "material state" of each boat rather than following "a simplistic calendar driven" evaluation of their operational condition.

In others words, the report argues that what matters most is not how old the submarines are, but rather how hard have they been driven and how well have they been maintained.

The submarines operate on what's called a "6-2 schedule" — six years of service at sea followed by two years of deep maintenance before returning to duty.

The briefing note proposes that the boats do nine years of service and then go into a longer refurbishment of up to three years. The submarines would need a full life-extension overhaul in addition to the extended maintenance plan.

As evidence to support the plan, the briefing note to senior defence officials pointed to a 2013 study of the Victoria-Class submarines — which said that "although there are numerous technical and supportability challenges, there was no single obstacle precluding a life extension of up to 12 years."


'Lower expectations'

The briefing offers one note of caution, however: "It is reasonable to assume that operational availability will decrease as the submarine ages."

The briefing note predicted higher maintenance and sustainment costs as the boats get older. To save money, it said, the navy might have to lower expectations of what the boats can do.

The existing plan "assumed that there would be no relaxation of operational performance requirements, although in fact some discretion by the Operational Requirements Authority in this regard may be feasible as a cost saving measure," said the note.

Conservative defence critic James Bezan said he was astounded by the plan to stretch out the operational life of the subs. He said he doesn't blame the naval planners who drew up the document — but he does hold the Liberal government accountable, arguing it must have ordered the Department of National Defence to give it some justification for putting off the purchase of new submarines.

"It is ridiculous," Bezan said. "There was potential for some political direction on how this was written."

In an interview with CBC News at the end of last year, the commander of the navy, Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, defended the plan to extend the life of the boats, saying he had full confidence in the "pretty resourceful and capable" submarine engineering community.

The defence policy, he said, "directed us to operate and modernize" the submarine fleet and he's confident it can be done safely.

"We know there is still excellent life in the Victoria-class submarine," McDonald told CBC News. "I've seen that personally as an outsider who has come into the program and taken a look at it."

The focus of the subs' modernization project — which was in the early stages of being developed when the pandemic hit back in late winter — will be on survivability and making the submarines more livable for crew members.

"We're going to be able to operate those boats into the 2030s, but to do that we have to continue with the routine investments we've made and modernize, as was directed" by the defence policy, McDonald said.


Not everything can be replaced

A series of assessments was conducted between 2008 and 2014. The defence department's naval board, which is charged with planning the future shape of the fleet, met in November 2014 to study the life expectancy of the second-hand boats.

"While it is considered unrealistic to predict the material state of 40-year-old platforms, 20 years into the future, certain items such as the pressure hull and main motor will require additional monitoring and maintenance above the current regime, since unpredicted degradation in such areas may not be cost effective to repair and mitigate," said the 2016 briefing note.

And that's the problem with the life-extension plan, said Bezan: some key parts of a submarine — such as the pressure hull and the engines — can't be upgraded. He also pointed to how the submarine fleet had "zero days at sea" in 2019 because all of the vessels were tied up for maintenance.

The analysis, Bezan said, shows that the Liberal government should immediately begin looking for a replacement for the submarines — something the previous Conservative government was in the process of doing when it was defeated in 2015.

The options that were discussed before the election, he said, included partnering with the Australians — who were in the process of acquiring their own submarine replacements — or buying an off-the-shelf design for inclusion in the federal shipbuilding strategy. None of those ideas got very far before the election, he added.


https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadian-forces-navy-submarine-1.5665020
 

Dale Denton

Full Member
Reaction score
128
Points
580
I'm sorry if im overly critical of serving members, but why has nobody in the Navy spoken out about this terrible error in abiding by a political judgment that lacks common sense? Having continuously deteriorating ships at sea for long cannot be safe. What if we were to use these in a war in the 2030s, would these even be effective? Isn't the cost of keeping and sourcing parts for an old sub more expensive than a new one?

If i'm selling a 55 Chevy that's been sitting in a field for 20 years, I don't get to call it a 75 Chevy... Laying up saves some extra years in its life i'm sure, but not that many. Just tell Dad to stop being such a cheapskate and buy a new car, he can afford it...

 

Eye In The Sky

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
1,975
Points
1,060
LoboCanada said:
I'm sorry if im overly critical of serving members, but why has nobody in the Navy spoken out about this terrible error in abiding by a political judgment that lacks common sense?

Maybe they are, but it's behind closed doors and 'being taken into account' by the gov't...
 

CBH99

Army.ca Veteran
Donor
Reaction score
1,192
Points
1,090
Not trying to sound rude or aggressive, just asking for a very blunt 'No BS' assessment from someone in the know.  (Obviously without violating anything OPSEC related)

Some sources indicate that with the extensive maintenance and upgrades the boats have received, they are an extremely good boat for their type, etc.

Other sources, some of which were on this forum, indicate that they were among some of the easiest boats they've ever found/tracked.


^^ I realize there are a variety of factors that can go into the above such as crew training, timing, sheer luck, etc etc.



Question is - are these boats as quiet & capable as the Navy says?  Or, would they find themselves lacking if we end up in a shooting war?
 

Oldgateboatdriver

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
405
Points
880
I won't try to answer CBH99's question. All I can say is that in the 1980's under British management, they were as hard to find as any diesel boat out there.

What I do note, however is that the briefing paper talks about retiring the first boat in 2033. That's 12/13 years away only. To do so means that we MUST start project office and replacement program NOW! That's how much lead time you need to go through all the hoops and have time to build and evaluate the first replacement vessel.
 

Sub_Guy

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
0
Points
460
CBH99 said:
Other sources, some of which were on this forum, indicate that they were among some of the easiest boats they've ever found/tracked.


^^ I realize there are a variety of factors that can go into the above such as crew training, timing, sheer luck, etc etc.



Question is - are these boats as quiet & capable as the Navy says?  Or, would they find themselves lacking if we end up in a shooting war?

I’ll just throw my experience out there in regards to searching/tracking the Vic class.

On the Block 2 Aurora it was a challenge, but then again it was a challenge to track any submarine passively. 

However that all changed with the Block 3.  I’ve tracked plenty of submarines, and out of all the diesels I’ve tracked, the Victoria was the loudest/least challenging (ranges that would make your jaw drop).  That being said there are so many variables to consider, the water profile, bottom topography, sonobuoy depths, ambient noise in the water, crew training, RCN vessels running over your search pattern, etc..  Maybe the Swiss cheese holes lined up in my favour every time I flew on a Vic? 🤷🏼‍♂️

The Aurora (and Cyclone) have, what I consider, one of the most advanced ASW suites out there, so our job is pretty easy. Do our adversaries possess similar tech? Who knows? I suspect they do. It’d be hard to say how the Vic would perform in a shooting war, but I think they would probably fair pretty good, they are capable and our most important/valuable naval asset. I could be biased, but I don’t think our potential adversaries are as well trained as we are.

I’ll also throw this tidbit in. The CP-140 ASO performs one job, hunting boats, that’s it, that’s all they do. They are highly skilled in the fine art of hunting subs, probably more so than the surface sonar types in the RCN.

The quietest boat I’ve encountered? Ula.. 


 

Lumber

Army.ca Veteran
Donor
Reaction score
177
Points
680
Dolphin_Hunter said:
That being said there are so many variables to consider, the water profile, bottom topography, sonobuoy depths, ambient noise in the water, crew training, RCN vessels running over your search pattern, etc..  Maybe the Swiss cheese holes lined up in my favour every time I flew on a Vic? 🤷🏼‍♂️

Well how the bloody else are we suppose to practice close-in ASW, hmm?
 

SeaKingTacco

Army.ca Fixture
Donor
Reaction score
4,558
Points
1,010
CBH99 said:
Not trying to sound rude or aggressive, just asking for a very blunt 'No BS' assessment from someone in the know.  (Obviously without violating anything OPSEC related)

Some sources indicate that with the extensive maintenance and upgrades the boats have received, they are an extremely good boat for their type, etc.

Other sources, some of which were on this forum, indicate that they were among some of the easiest boats they've ever found/tracked.


^^ I realize there are a variety of factors that can go into the above such as crew training, timing, sheer luck, etc etc.



Question is - are these boats as quiet & capable as the Navy says?  Or, would they find themselves lacking if we end up in a shooting war?

I have worked against Victoria’s twice, in a Sea King. In both cases, they easily evaded me. For comparison, I have worked 688Is where they threw everything at me but the kitchen sink and I maintained contact. In other words- in ASW, sometimes it is your day and sometimes it is not.
 

Ping Monkey

Member
Reaction score
71
Points
460
CBH99 said:
Not trying to sound rude or aggressive, just asking for a very blunt 'No BS' assessment from someone in the know.  (Obviously without violating anything OPSEC related)

Some sources indicate that with the extensive maintenance and upgrades the boats have received, they are an extremely good boat for their type, etc.

Other sources, some of which were on this forum, indicate that they were among some of the easiest boats they've ever found/tracked.


^^ I realize there are a variety of factors that can go into the above such as crew training, timing, sheer luck, etc etc.


Question is - are these boats as quiet & capable as the Navy says?  Or, would they find themselves lacking if we end up in a shooting war?
I'll echo DH's comments.

The answer largely depends on who the adversary is.  Platform/Systems/Tactics/Acoustic Intel/Crew readiness, will all be factors in the recognition differential of the operator's ability to detect any submarine.

My opinion:  Yes Victoria class boats are still very capable, modern submarines that remain a powerful asset in the RCN fleet.  A small Diesel-Electric submarine operating on battery power is still one of the most difficult targets to detect/track in the ocean.  If it doesn't want to be found, it probably won't. 

Often working together with DH, I've also exercised with Victoria class boats using both legacy CP140 (1980s-era) and modern CP140M (2000s-era) systems.  Using our legacy system, and even with the benefit of having thorough acoustic intel, I had difficulty detecting it.  Even if it was detected, it would be a challenge to track for an extended period.

For a variety of reasons, things got a lot easier with the vastly more modern CP140M acoustic system.  The demonstrated RCAF ASW capabilities are getting a tremendous amount of (well deserved) global attention for their performance and acoustic data collects.  Knowing that, I don't think that RCAF experiences are common... yet.

I strongly believe that the Victoria class remains a good 'above average' SSK, and its most recent updates will ensure it remains relevant for the near future.  Altogether, if I was onboard an allied HVU, I'd be happy knowing a VIC was helping protect the area.  And if I was on an adversarial vessel, I'd have reservations about traversing through a region where a known Victoria class is on patrol.
 

MilEME09

Army.ca Fixture
Reaction score
3,707
Points
1,090
While capable by what you are all saying, is it really a good idea long term, to extend the life to the late 2030s/early 2040s without discussing replacement? Given how long we take to procure equipment, subs will have to be off shore. Should we not be discussing replacement now so boats are in the water by the time the vics reach end of life?
 

CBH99

Army.ca Veteran
Donor
Reaction score
1,192
Points
1,090
By planning ahead, and keeping it as simple as possible, we could in theory replace the submarine fleet with new boats when they retire, for a pretty reasonable price.

It doesn't have to be a hugely complicated or expensive process.  We don't need to start/stop/start/stop/start/stop/start/stop (I'm not exaggerating, i.e., fighter replacement) a competition, and we can narrow it down to a few classes that would suit our new needs.

Plug into an existing production line (or one that will be existing when the time comes) - and have the boats built with any Canadian modifications required, while being built.  Not sailed here and retrofitted after the fact.  (Weapon systems, computer systems.)

*Make it clear to anybody who raises the question - no, submarines can't be built domestically.  And it makes zero sense to build up the domestic submarine manufacturing capability for a mere 4 boats, possibly 6 if our currency is strong.  Domestic build is a non-starter, and not a conversation even worth having.  The Canadian public will forget all about the issue in a few days, when the media tell them to think about something else.*



We'd have new boats, for a reasonable cost, ready to go.  Keep it simple.  :2c:
 

Eye In The Sky

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
1,975
Points
1,060
SeaKingTacco said:
in ASW, sometimes it is your day and sometimes it is not.

My last CASEX with a Vic, we caught them in the SNORT at night (RISER), banked into the homing, gained EOIR contact 2 seconds later, and held contact with them at leisure til FINEX.

What would that have looked like if they'd been secured from that evolution and on battery?  Who knows...

When discussing survivability in a shooting war, etc...that might come down to a discussion of (1) tactics (2) tasks and (3) command decisions.  1 is easy to discuss, 2 and 3 feed into the 'variables' that are quite hard to predict IMO. 

Dolphin_Hunter said:
The CP-140 ASO performs one job, hunting boats, that’s it, that’s all they do. They are highly skilled in the fine art of hunting subs, probably more so than the surface sonar types in the RCN.

100%. 

I've wondered more than once what would the results look like if our collective RCAF and RCN assets worked together more often and more closely...
 

Weinie

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
2,554
Points
1,110
Dolphin_Hunter said:
I’ll also throw this tidbit in. The CP-140 ASO performs one job, hunting boats, that’s it, that’s all they do. They are highly skilled in the fine art of hunting subs, probably more so than the surface sonar types in the RCN.

What about their role in Iraq?
 

Eye In The Sky

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
1,975
Points
1,060
In Iraq and Syria, they did all of the "AES Op" jobs except RADAR/IFF and ESM and maybe Crew Lead.  I had ASOs on all of the crews (3) I deployed to HappyLand with. 
 

Stoker

Army.ca Veteran
Subscriber
Reaction score
294
Points
880
Eye In The Sky said:
In Iraq and Syria, they did all of the "AES Op" jobs except RADAR/IFF and ESM.  I had ASOs on all of the crews (3) I deployed to HappyLand with.

Wish they would outfit them for a anti shipping role say for the Arctic.
 

dimsum

Army.ca Legend
Mentor
Reaction score
4,061
Points
1,260
Chief Engineer said:
Wish they would outfit them for a anti shipping role say for the Arctic.

Or, like the way the USN, RAAF, RNZAF, ROKN, JMSDF... used them. 

We're one of the few militaries with P-3 variants that don't have armament on the wings.
 
Top