The Coffee Break. 7 May 2014
Hello folks and welcome back to the coffee break for the 7th of May 2014: today’s story centers on an article from CBC that talks about HMCS Iroquois being sidelined indefinitely due to the discovery of rust in her hull. According to the CBC the ship has been taken out of active service in order to assess whether or not the ship will be suited for repairs, and whether or not the ship is worth saving as it is slated to retire in the next few years. Defence analyst Martin Shadwick states that the loss of a destroyer in the Royal Canadian Navy is a major blow to the fleet as it is a vital long range air defence, and command and control vessel. Currently there are only 17 out of 33 warships in service as the other ships and submarines are no longer fit for active duty, or are unarmed training ships.
Well this is rather unfortunate; another warship down and no news of a replacement anytime soon. However to be fair, naval warfare has changed from the days of the battleships and cruisers. Indeed it is now an age of aircraft carriers escorted by frigates, destroyers, and if a nation can afford it, cruisers as well. Submarines, battleships, and even corvettes tend to fall under a “reserve” category as a diverse fleet can be costly for a national government to maintain. Naval forces are important nonetheless for the defence of a country which has access to large bodies of water, and indeed the navy deserves to see a few more ships active than simply 17. Yet one has to wonder: perhaps this ship being retired may not be such a bad idea after all. Built around the early 70s, these destroyers have since undergone retrofit in order to serve in long range missile defence roles, alongside command and control operations. Indeed with the idea of new patrol craft coming to the navy with capabilities to patrol the arctic waters and to enforce Canadian sovereignty far up north, this temporary loss of a ship could mean that the money spent repairing and refitting the ship despite retiring soon can be better spent on the patrol craft.
However when it comes to defensive operations, perhaps it is time to revive the corvettes and add them to the fleet. Frigates and destroyers can be our expeditionary arm, while the corvettes and patrol boats can be our defensive craft – fast, agile, and armed to the teeth to protect Canadian waters. Just an idea, but of course the key issue our navy faces now is what to do with the shrinking number of ships? They have about eight ships per coast with the extra ship going back and forth, and with the need to enforce arctic sovereignty, the navy will require a few more ships in order to carry out that mission. That said, massive fleets of warships is out of the question for the time being as even in peace time fleets can be expensive to operate – large ones in particular. Yet the flexibility it can offer our government when dealing with global hotspots can justify the costs of the fleet – it just depends what sort of ship they wish to purchase or build. Let us see what Parliament can come up with as a replacement for the fleet in the coming months; like it or not if the fleet shrinks further, we will have to re-think our objectives when it comes to naval operations. The full article is located below: thank you for reading and I shall see you next time.