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Replacing the Subs

YZT580

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I sadly agree that Canada getting SSN's is not really plausible due to a lack of political will. I'd argue that it would be possible IF there was the political will to do so.

Others have already commented on this point and I'll just add my "ditto".

Nothing that could not be overcome with the political will to do so, but as noted above I agree with you that that will simply does not currently exist.

I agree that this is the likely course of action due to both political and financial constraints. However, this is where I hope some serious questions are asked before we proceed. Even with the best case scenario of eight subs (doubling our current fleet) that still leaves us with just four subs per coast.

Is that enough subs to be worth the cost in comparison to other capabilities? How many of those four subs per coast can we realistically expect to be able to maintain on station during a conflict considering the vast distances we need to cover? What is their detection range of enemy subs using passive sonar? Obviously the actual distance is highly variable depending on a whole range of conditions (and of course classified), but from what I've been able to find online it's likely less than 10km against a modern submarine at patrolling speed (please correct me if I'm out to lunch on this as this is obviously totally outside my lane). Relative to the size of our maritime domain that is basically nothing. Of course we would have other assets (both Canadian and allied) narrowing down where we should be searching with our subs but conventional subs are limited on how far and fast they can go while remaining undetected themselves.

Clearly there are things that subs can do that no other platform can do and there are things that subs can do better than other platforms, but I'm just suggesting that smart people need to look at whether at a certain point the limited number of subs we're able (willing) to afford makes their comparative advantage over other options not worth their cost. How many P-8s, Corvettes or USV/UUV's equipped with towed array sonars (or various combinations of these platforms) could we have for the same cost as those 6-8 conventional subs? Which combination best meets our military needs? Maybe the correct answer IS 6-8 conventional subs but sometimes I get the impression that we're just wanting replacement subs (and hopefully more than we currently have) because obviously subs are good and we want to have them - not because a critical analysis of our military requirements has determined that X number of conventional AIP subs best fulfills those requirements.
And in the meantime, a high priority should be to add, perhaps double the number of ASW aircraft that we have patrolling. We originally had 33 Argus built. Granted they were slow but they had the ability to remain on station for a very long time and could cover one entire coast of Canada on a single patrol. In addition they were augmented by carrier based aircraft such as the tracker. Now we have only what ten, fifteen aircraft to cover both coasts and a fleet of ASW helicopters that depend upon our naval assets to be affective. There is no way that we can ensure that there are no subs within striking distance given these assets. To be affective deterrents our subs need to work in conjunction with a/c and, imho there should be at least one aircraft on each coast airborne and armed at all times whenever geo-politics get tense (like now). Aircraft can be purchased and put into service in a reasonably short time when compared with the lead-in time for a sub purchase. We need new subs, yes, and we need them soon but we need the a\c now; then argue about the best sub for the job. (To clarify my position, I do not have a military background so I could be totally out to lunch but, then again, what if I am right?)
 

KevinB

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IMHO, and admitting I am not a Naval type person.
Given the GoC is unlikely (see snowball's chance in hell) to procure Nuclear Submarines, I would argue that Canada is best divesting its manned Submarines without replacement.

@GR66 points out above that the cost of the 6-8 SSK can be put towards a lot of things, and most importantly to me, the SSK cannot do what the RCN really needs in a Sub - the arctic under ice patrolling in a year round, season irrelevant nature.
 

NavyShooter

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Canadians...actually...most folks in the world...don't know the difference between nuclear powered and nuclear armed. To them, a nuc sub is bad.

If/When Canada buys new subs, we will honestly be lucky to keep our number at 4. That was enough O-Boats (including the training hull) and we've 'maintained' capability with the Upholders, so why do we need more?

Realistically, 6-8 SSK's should be our minimum to enable maintenance rotations and some level of both operational and training activity.

In fact...we'll probably only buy 3 new ones, and reduce the sub fleet to operating on one coast.

That's the cynical sailor side of me speaking.
 

Spencer100

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And in the meantime, a high priority should be to add, perhaps double the number of ASW aircraft that we have patrolling. We originally had 33 Argus built. Granted they were slow but they had the ability to remain on station for a very long time and could cover one entire coast of Canada on a single patrol. In addition they were augmented by carrier based aircraft such as the tracker. Now we have only what ten, fifteen aircraft to cover both coasts and a fleet of ASW helicopters that depend upon our naval assets to be affective. There is no way that we can ensure that there are no subs within striking distance given these assets. To be affective deterrents our subs need to work in conjunction with a/c and, imho there should be at least one aircraft on each coast airborne and armed at all times whenever geo-politics get tense (like now). Aircraft can be purchased and put into service in a reasonably short time when compared with the lead-in time for a sub purchase. We need new subs, yes, and we need them soon but we need the a\c now; then argue about the best sub for the job. (To clarify my position, I do not have a military background so I could be totally out to lunch but, then again, what if I am right?)
its the same thing in all these threads. I think the DND should just change the cabinet briefs for approval to this is the very bare minimum we can just about get away with and defend against "help" Which in end after all is said and done the real reason of the CAF. that is my super cynical take.
 

GK .Dundas

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I can remember reading that Canadian defence policy was at it's most basic level . Consisted of spending a sufficient sum that reassured the Americans and never spending too much as to make them nervous.
This policy dates back to the 70's ....the 1870's not the 1970's.
 

OldSolduer

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I can remember reading that Canadian defence policy was at it's most basic level . Consisted of spending a sufficient sum that reassured the Americans and never spending too much as to make them nervous.
This policy dates back to the 70's ....the 1870's not the 1970's.
I don't think the US was nervous about Canada's defence spending in the 1970's.
 

Dana381

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My opinion means absolutely nothing but I actually think Canada might just buy SSN's this time. The narrative on nuclear power has been changing lately with the environment so much on peoples minds. Even the Left is starting to realize that we can't mandate electric cars with the current grid system, it just can't handle it. Europe's natural gas woes during the Ukraine war have brought this to light. Add to this that every major power is trying to carve out their claim to the arctic and I think the GOC will be told by the Navy that SSN's are the only option. (for their under ice capability)

I expect public education programs on the safety of modern nuclear energy will start up soon as it is the viable only option. Maybe AECL will come out with a modern CANDU and we can be a world leader in something again. The last ones I remember we sold to China and loaned them the money to buy them as they could not afford them.
 

Eye In The Sky

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And in the meantime, a high priority should be to add, perhaps double the number of ASW aircraft that we have patrolling. We originally had 33 Argus built. Granted they were slow but they had the ability to remain on station for a very long time and could cover one entire coast of Canada on a single patrol. In addition they were augmented by carrier based aircraft such as the tracker. Now we have only what ten, fifteen aircraft to cover both coasts and a fleet of ASW helicopters that depend upon our naval assets to be affective. There is no way that we can ensure that there are no subs within striking distance given these assets. To be affective deterrents our subs need to work in conjunction with a/c and, imho there should be at least one aircraft on each coast airborne and armed at all times whenever geo-politics get tense (like now). Aircraft can be purchased and put into service in a reasonably short time when compared with the lead-in time for a sub purchase. We need new subs, yes, and we need them soon but we need the a\c now; then argue about the best sub for the job. (To clarify my position, I do not have a military background so I could be totally out to lunch but, then again, what if I am right?)

14 MPAs total including those out for upgrades, TLIR, etc. That is for 2 x operational Sqns, 1 trg Sqn and 1 force development Sqn. That math doesn’t work out well, without factoring in age and serviceability issues.

33 Argus’s were a notable fleet size; they could reach and patrol areas the P-3s, etc could make a “flyover” presence at best (there was an area the Soviet diesel boats would use that only Argus could effectively patrol).

You will never see one aircraft airborne 24/7 on each coast. Ever. The sheer amount of aircraft and crews are not something the CAF is budgeted and capable of.

We will never see a fleet the size or as effective as the 107 was again in Canada. I’ll be my pension on it.
 

Eye In The Sky

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My opinion means absolutely nothing but I actually think Canada might just buy SSN's this time. The narrative on nuclear power has been changing lately with the environment so much on peoples minds. Even the Left is starting to realize that we can't mandate electric cars with the current grid system, it just can't handle it. Europe's natural gas woes during the Ukraine war have brought this to light. Add to this that every major power is trying to carve out their claim to the arctic and I think the GOC will be told by the Navy that SSN's are the only option. (for their under ice capability)

I expect public education programs on the safety of modern nuclear energy will start up soon as it is the viable only option. Maybe AECL will come out with a modern CANDU and we can be a world leader in something again. The last ones I remember we sold to China and loaned them the money to buy them as they could not afford them.

The cost and “idea” of SSNs would be the kill factor in the voting population. People care about free wifi on public transit not defence capability.

We are peacekeepers after all and peacekeepers don’t need subs. We need smiles and handshakes for feel-good photo ops.
 

YZT580

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14 MPAs total including those out for upgrades, TLIR, etc. That is for 2 x operational Sqns, 1 trg Sqn and 1 force development Sqn. That math doesn’t work out well, without factoring in age and serviceability issues.

33 Argus’s were a notable fleet size; they could reach and patrol areas the P-3s, etc could make a “flyover” presence at best (there was an area the Soviet diesel boats would use that only Argus could effectively patrol).

You will never see one aircraft airborne 24/7 on each coast. Ever. The sheer amount of aircraft and crews are not something the CAF is budgeted and capable of.

We will never see a fleet the size or as effective as the 107 was again in Canada. I’ll be my pension on it.
didn't say we will I said we should. Sadly, I agree with your comments. It fits with the OW mentality. Patrol 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, weekends on the ground and never on a stat. holiday
 

Eye In The Sky

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didn't say we will I said we should. Sadly, I agree with your comments. It fits with the OW mentality. Patrol 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, weekends on the ground and never on a stat. holiday

Well it’s not exactly like the last part. My operational tour (6 years) had me away from home over 3.5 years of that time, not counting domestic ops (there are several that are routine ones for us).

CJOC didn’t worry too much about our weekends and holidays; I spent 2 New Years Eves in a row inside a DMSC outside Canada briefing for an op mission.

When not chopped to them, we still hold high ready crews 365 days a year.

The small force we have is pretty busy.

Adding MPAs would mean a split fleet. Not ideal. Doubling; sure right after we build our next carrier. 😬
 

Navy_Pete

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Political will aside, going nuclear would require a massive amount of investment in infrastructure, training and likely a new base somewhere for better security.

The nuke boat crews have a lot more training than what we do now, and (fitting in with the theme for the RCN) have a hard time putting together enough crews. Aside from the nuclear portion, we don't even have experience anymore with high pressure steam systems.

Until we seriously invest in recruiting, retention and training, I don't think it makes any sense to really talk about new capabilities. I think the navy needs to retire some of it's existing fleet to safely crew the existing fleet, let alone the remainder of the AOPs coming in.
 

Colin Parkinson

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I will give the Navy some credit, on this coast at least they seem to be doing a lot of PR and public interaction, which is getting a lot of positive comments from the public.
 

dimsum

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Political will aside, going nuclear would require a massive amount of investment in infrastructure, training and likely a new base somewhere for better security.

The nuke boat crews have a lot more training than what we do now, and (fitting in with the theme for the RCN) have a hard time putting together enough crews. Aside from the nuclear portion, we don't even have experience anymore with high pressure steam systems.

Until we seriously invest in recruiting, retention and training, I don't think it makes any sense to really talk about new capabilities. I think the navy needs to retire some of it's existing fleet to safely crew the existing fleet, let alone the remainder of the AOPs coming in.
Slight tangent:

That's why I'm really surprised that the Aussies went that route. From contacts there, the RAN (and ADF in general) isn't exactly having great retention either - especially their sub fleet.
 

rmc_wannabe

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Slight tangent:

That's why I'm really surprised that the Aussies went that route. From contacts there, the RAN (and ADF in general) isn't exactly having great retention either - especially their sub fleet.
Chicken and Egg scenario I think.

Like we see in our own forces, we burn people out using and maintaining equipment that is well past its sell by date. That causes people to leave, form very public opinions of how "this organization is shit... with crappy equipment....blah, blah, blah..." , and it drives away the recruiting pool.

As much as people like to think it's pay and policies that keep people walking through the doors, capabilites and equipment are just as much of a draw if not more.

If I were to apply for an IT job at a major company and they still using mainframes and Banyon Vines; doesn't matter what the corporate culture or compensation looks like, I know that technology is archaic and it will take me more effort maintaining it that it's personally worth.

Where I think the RAN/ADF/GoA has it right is factoring the "if you build it, they will come" aspect of recruiting. The RCN/CAF/GoC will use it as a reason not to explore new tech or capabilities (I.e. "We don't have enough sailors to crew new subs. Very sad...") and act surprised when the recruits aren't pouring in to crew 45 year old vessels with zeal.
 

dimsum

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Where I think the RAN/ADF/GoA has it right is factoring the "if you build it, they will come" aspect of recruiting. The RCN/CAF/GoC will use it as a reason not to explore new tech or capabilities (I.e. "We don't have enough sailors to crew new subs. Very sad...") and act surprised when the recruits aren't pouring in to crew 45 year old vessels with zeal.
I've mentioned it before, but I think it's less of the recruiting aspect than "we have bad neighbours and help is far away" aspect.

No matter how much the GoA might not want to pay for it (if it feels that way), location forces it to keep up a decent defence force. They also effectively protect NZ as well.
 
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