Dud subs to be mothballed?

According to CBC News (Greg Weston “Canada may buy nuclear submarines,” CBC News, 27 October 2011), “high-ranking sources” within the Harper government say the government is “actively considering cutting its losses” on Canada’s problem-plagued Victoria-class subs “and mothballing some if not all of them.”

Mothballing — actually eliminating — the subs would be a sensible, and far too long delayed, step. We could have saved something like $3 billion (and counting) by not buying the subs in the first place and simply getting out of the submarine business, but that idea made too much sense to have any impact on Canadian defence policy back in 1998, when all “serious” defence policy commentators were four-square behind the purchase.

Even more senseless than buying the Victorias, however, would be to replace them with new, nuclear-powered submarines. But that is exactly what the CBC report suggests Defence Minister Peter Mackay was hinting at recently when he told reporters that “in an ideal world, I know nuclear subs are what’s needed under deep water, deep ice.”

Nuclear-powered submarines are definitely not part of Ceasefire’s vision of an ideal world, and neither for that matter is Peter MacKay as Minister of National Defence. But however that may be, in the real world there is not going to be any Canadian nuclear sub purchase. Indeed, the government is already apparently disavowing the notion.

Even a minimal, one-to-one replacement of the Victorias with French or British nuclear submarines similar to those proposed when Perrin Beatty was Defence Minister in 1987 would cost around $10 billion, not counting lifetime operations and maintenance costs. And buying something like an American nuclear sub would be vastly more expensive, assuming we could convince the U.S. to sell some. All in order to create a bare minimum force of marginal use (if indeed it had any use at all)?

Not even this government is that dumb.


(Any resemblence to the F-35 purchase is, we hope, purely coincidental.)

Photo by MATEUS_27:24&25

Tags: Defence policy, Nuclear-powered submarines, Peter MacKay, Victoria-class subs