Author Topic: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?  (Read 141518 times)

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Offline milnews.ca

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"High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« on: October 28, 2011, 11:48:45 »
This from CBC.ca:
Quote
CBC News has learned the Harper government is considering buying nuclear submarines to replace its problem-plagued fleet of diesel-powered subs, all of which are currently awash in red ink and out of service for major repairs .... High-ranking sources tell CBC News the government is actively considering cutting its losses on the dud subs, and mothballing some if not all of them.  Defence Minister Peter MacKay is hinting they might be replaced with nuclear submarines that could patrol under the Arctic ice, something the existing diesel-electric subs cannot do.  Outside the Commons this week, MacKay told CBC News the government is anxious to have its submarine fleet fully operational as soon as possible, providing a “very important capability for the Canadian Forces.”  But asked whether the government might look at other subs, MacKay said: “Well there was a position taken some time ago to go with diesel-electric.  “But you know, in an ideal world, I know nuclear subs are what's needed under deep water, deep ice.” ....

A (possibly?) cheaper option, according to one just-noticed-the-CBC-story defence blog post?  Lease LA Class subs from the U.S.!
Quote
.... Something tells me Rep. Joe Courtney (Conn) could come up with a few ideas here - just saying. What would it cost to refuel and refit a Los Angeles class submarine for a second time to add 15 or so more years to the submarine? In 2005 the cost was slightly over $200 million, so even if we estimate the total refit per submarine to be around $350 million (serious modernization), Canada would only be spending $1.4 billion for four SSNs with a service life of 15 years vs $2 billion for four SSKs with a service life of 10 years. Another big advantage for Canada would be they could use the rest of the money to put their sailors through existing US Navy submarine training schools and use existing US contractor services for upkeep, both of which would allow Canada to save a bunch of money.

The cost difference for the hardware would be $25 million per sub per year for SSNs vs $75 million per sub per year for SSKs. While it is true the operational, maintenance, and personnel costs will be higher for SSNs than it would be for SSKs, there are likely enough cost savings to be gained through existing US infrastructure that it's hard to believe the SSNs would be so much more expensive as to make it a bad deal.

I'm just floating this idea, but really trying to highlight that leasing Los Angeles class SSNs would likely be cost neutral (or perhaps even cost saving) for the Harper government given the big problems Canada is facing with the Victoria class.

I don't know if the US Navy even has four 688s that they would be willing to sell to Canada (although in a time of short term budget cuts impacting the Navy, now is the time to talk about this type of thing). I also don't know if the US and Canada can work out a realistic agreement that would give Canada the ability to utilize US Navy infrastructure for training and other services related to 688s. I do know that going down the road of supporting foreign SSNs would be good for either/both Electric Boat and Newport News, because when one looks at the trends they are having in Australia with their submarine industry - a deal with SSNs with Canada now would go a long way towards getting process and framework for this type of high end military deals in place so when our next very close ally comes along - we have a system and experience in place to support such agreements.
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Offline BulletMagnet

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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2011, 12:00:00 »
If this is true, the Nuke boats would be a huge boon to the CF as a whole. There is a projection of power with nuke subs "we are out there and we are watching...". It adds a huge bonus to being able to put a flotilla to sea for international missions. If Canada goes with the new Frigates and a couple of the "BHS" we could in theory put our forces anywhere we wanted with a C&C capability and the ability to protect our ships while we go there and the ability to sub service deploy our SOF pers ( I think I just got all excited  ;)...). Not to mention the added benefit of being able to patrol our own ice pack....


This really would be a win win, but will the Canadian people and opposition parties let it fly? I fear that the avg Canadian will hear Nuclear Submarine and the spectre of the nuclear bogey man will rear its ugly head not to mention the hippies will start thinking WAR MACHINE....

Sadly maybe its a pipe dream but I like this dream and I don't really want to wake up from it.
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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2011, 12:48:12 »
While it would be nice to have Nuke subs, there would be too much public outcry just like the last time we toyed with the idea. I personally would like to see the resources and more importantly the personnel go back to the fleet where we're currently hurting. I know we would lose an important capability however we could always go back to subs again when we rebuild the navy with the ship building program.
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Offline Haletown

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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2011, 12:51:09 »
This from CBC.ca:
A (possibly?) cheaper option, according to one just-noticed-the-CBC-story defence blog post?  Lease LA Class subs from the U.S.!

Of course this assumes the USN wants the RCN to have nuclear boats capable of patrolling areas that the USA considers international waters and Canada maintains are part of our sovereign territory.

Just saying.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2011, 12:58:50 by Haletown »

Offline GnyHwy

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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2011, 12:54:47 »
Of course we're considering it.  We would be stupid otherwise.  I'm considering buying a Bentley right now......... Ok, I'm done; no Bentley for me.

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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2011, 12:56:01 »
I think that in order to help inform the public, these news pieces mentioning 'Nuclear Subs' should explain the difference between Ballistic Missile Subs and Nuclear Propulsion Subs.  To be quite honest, I didn't understand the difference between Attack subs and Missile Subs until I had seen several submarine movies and read The Hunt For Red October.  This was some time ago, but it only happened because I had a personal interest in the Navy.

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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2011, 12:59:48 »
I think that in order to help inform the public, these news pieces mentioning 'Nuclear Subs' should explain the difference between Ballistic Missile Subs and Nuclear Propulsion Subs.  To be quite honest, I didn't understand the difference between Attack subs and Missile Subs until I had seen several submarine movies and read The Hunt For Red October.  This was some time ago, but it only happened because I had a personal interest in the Navy.

It doesn't matter. The average Canadian doesn't care, all they see is nuclear. Especially with all the bad press Atomic energy has gotten from the disaster in Japan.
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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2011, 13:06:39 »
But there is this denial, from the CBC News website, which is reporduced under the Fair Dealing provision of the Copyright Act.



Nuclear sub buy not planned, Conservative MP says
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2011/10/28/pol-nuclear-submarines.html

CBC News

Posted: Oct 28, 2011 12:19 PM ET

Last Updated: Oct 28, 2011 12:12 PM ET

The government isn't looking to buy nuclear submarines, despite a hint by the defence minister, House leader Peter Van Loan said Friday.
 
In response to a question from an NDP MP, Van Loan said there is "no plan to replace the diesel-electric fleet purchased by the Liberals."
 
"I think the honourable member has to be wary of relying unduly on misleading reports from the CBC. What is true is that our government is investing in the right mix and the right balance of our forces to have a naval capacity necessary to defend and protect Canada's sovereignty on all our ocean frontiers," Van Loan said.
 
Defence Minister Peter MacKay hinted earlier this week that Canada's current sub fleet might be replaced with nuclear submarines that could patrol under the Arctic ice, something the existing diesel-electric subs cannot do.
 
Outside the Commons, MacKay told CBC News the government is anxious to have its submarine fleet fully operational as soon as possible, providing a “very important capability for the Canadian Forces.”
 
But asked whether the government might look at other subs, MacKay said: “Well, there was a position taken some time ago to go with diesel-electric.
 
“But you know, in an ideal world, I know nuclear subs are what's needed under deep water, deep ice.”

Nuclear submarines $3B each

Nuclear submarines are hugely expensive — they start around $3 billion apiece — and it is unclear where the Harper government would find that kind of money, much less how it could justify such an enormous expenditure during a period of supposed austerity.
 
The last time a Canadian government seriously considered nuclear subs was in the late 1980s before then prime minister Brian Mulroney sank the whole program amid a public uproar.
 
A decade later, Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government bought four used diesel subs from the British navy in large part because it was seen as such a huge bargain.
 
The four second-hand subs the Chrétien government bought from the British navy in 1998 for $750 million were portrayed at the time as the military bargain of the century.
 
Instead, they have spent almost all of their time in naval repair yards, submerging Canadian taxpayers in an ocean of bills now totalling more than $1 billion and counting.
 
One of the subs, HMCS Chicoutimi, has been in active service of the Royal Canadian Navy exactly two days in the 13 years since it was purchased from the Brits.
 
The Chicoutimi caught fire on its maiden voyage from the U.K. to Canada, killing one sailor and injuring a number of others.

- mod edit to add link -
« Last Edit: October 28, 2011, 13:44:51 by milnews.ca »

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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2011, 13:42:37 »
Of course this assumes the USN wants the RCN to have nuclear boats capable of patrolling areas that the USA considers international waters and Canada maintains are part of our sovereign territory.

Just saying.
I see I wasn't the ONLY one thinking this  ;D
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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2011, 14:20:19 »
ven if the USN was interested, we would have to make some likely unpopular agreements regarding rights of passage and would have to agree to a level of interoperability that might hamper our sovereignty. Then of course there is the question of Canadian of various origins having access to highly classified USN material and technology.

From a strategic point of view, if the USN had to surplus the subs due to funding pressures  and could hand us the operational vessels and keep the capacity they offer with a close ally, it would make perfect sense.   

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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2011, 14:41:13 »
Don't know anything about subs but this one looks great.

Type 214 submarine, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_214_submarine

What say ye in the know?

Shows a price of $330 million?

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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2011, 18:24:24 »
I'm curious how we would go about manning such a vessel given that we've never had nuclear powered vessels before.

Could we borrow advisors from the Brits or the Yanks ? Would we want to ?
Would it not take a very long time to get senior officers and engine room staff to the point they could effectively operate these boats ? 

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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2011, 19:08:29 »
Just saw a poll on CBC's "Power & Politics" asking "Does the Canadian Forces need nuclear subs"

While it wasn't 50+% yes, there was a higher "yes" than I expected. The results were:

Yes: 42%
No: 54%
Not sure: 4%

Maybe the public could support it?
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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2011, 19:30:23 »
I'm curious how we would go about manning such a vessel given that we've never had nuclear powered vessels before.

Could we borrow advisors from the Brits or the Yanks ? Would we want to ?
Would it not take a very long time to get senior officers and engine room staff to the point they could effectively operate these boats ?

We actually went through all of that the last time.  We actually started building the capability and teaching folks about nuclear propulsion.  RMC started a program on it.

We also tried to educate the public about nuclear propulsion vs nuclear weapons.  Didn't do us one bit of good.  The public didn't understand and chose day care instead.
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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2011, 21:59:17 »
We actually went through all of that the last time.  We actually started building the capability and teaching folks about nuclear propulsion.  RMC started a program on it.

We also tried to educate the public about nuclear propulsion vs nuclear weapons.  Didn't do us one bit of good.  The public didn't understand and chose day care instead.

I would also think that if they did go nuke, that some form of exchange program would be developed to give the oppourtunity to train crews while the boats are being built so that by the time the first boat is ready to go, we'd have enough qualified to run it, and train new crews coming up.
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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #15 on: October 28, 2011, 22:01:11 »
We actually started building the capability and teaching folks about nuclear propulsion.  RMC started a program on it.

We still have the small reactor there, correct?

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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #16 on: October 28, 2011, 22:14:50 »
Lorne Gunter: Mothball ‘dud subs,’ buy nukes
From the Full Comment section of the National Post 28 October 2011
http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/10/28/lorne-gunter-mothball-dud-subs-buy-nukes/

Quote
Boy did the Brits ever see us coming in 1998 when the Chretien Liberals pulled up to Honest Nigel’s Used Submarine Shop looking to buy four underwater patrol boats.  The quartet they sold us for the unbelievably low price of just $750 million have been up on blocks in our front yard almost ever since, with weeds growing out the portholes. I expect Canadian Pickers to come along anytime now and offer us $2,000 for the set, take it or leave it.

None of the four is currently in service. HMCS Chicoutimi — the one that caught fire on its voyage from Britain’s previously owned boat lot to Halifax in Oct. 2004 — has, according to the CBC, “been in active service of the Royal Canadian Navy exactly two days in the 13 years since it was purchased.” It is not expected back in service for another two years, at which time about $400 million will have been spent on repairs and upgrades.

No sub purchased by the Liberals will be floating underwater around our coasts until at least next year. And by the time all four are operational in 2016 — five years from now and 18 years after they were purchased! — making them seaworthy will have cost Canadian taxpayers $3 billion.

Let’s face it, the Limeys sold us lemons. If the Liberals had just agreed from the start to buy new nuclear subs, Canada would have spent about the same money ($3 billion), but we would have had subs we could have been using for the past 10 years already, with another 30 years to go. Now by the time we get our British diesel subs fixed, they will be 30 years old and have only about 10 years of serviceable life remaining. Moreover, they still won’t be able to sail under the North Pole and patrol the Arctic because they need air to feed their engines and no aspirated sub can stay underwater for the 14-21 days it takes to sail under the Polar icepack.

This is not unlike the Liberals decision in the same era to cancel the EH-101 helicopter contract. Breaking the deal signed by the Mulroney Tories in the early 1990s cost taxpayers $500 million, on top of which we had to buy new helicopters anyway. Pretty much the same helicopter at pretty much the same price.

Asked about the “dud sub” purchase on Thursday, Senator Art Eggleton, who had been Defence minister at the time, insisted the Liberals got a good deal because “we got them at a quarter of the cost it would have cost to build new ones.”

No, you didn’t, Sir. Since the purchase, taxpayers have had to spend more than four times the original price just to bring the boats up to code and in the meantime our navy has been without subs. In no way is that a bargain. You and your colleagues got hosed, pure and simple, while trying to take the cheap way out.

So what should we do? Buy nuclear submarines or get out of the sub business altogether.

Remember a nuclear submarine is one powered by a nuclear reactor. When the Mulroney Tories tried to buy nuke subs in the late 1980s, the move got nixed, in part, because the Liberals were able to convince people the Tories were trying to buy subs with nuclear missiles onboard. That wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now.

If we want to preserve our Arctic sovereignty, we need submarines capable of staying submerged for weeks. Only subs with nuclear powerplants can do that reliably. So if we want to patrol our northern ocean effectively we need nukes. Either that or we should just get out of the sub-owning business altogether.

But one way or the other, we should just tow out to sea the diesel subs the Brits stuck us with, sink them and turn them into barrier reefs that tourists and divers can visit. Maybe that way we can recoup a little tax revenue.
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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #17 on: October 28, 2011, 22:56:44 »
Don't know anything about subs but this one looks great.

Type 214 submarine, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_214_submarine

What say ye in the know?

Shows a price of $330 million?

Maybe we can get the Greek ones at a bargain.  ;D
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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2011, 23:49:18 »
Maybe we can get the Greek ones at a bargain.  ;D

But then they would only work 33 hours a week and retire early with generous pensions...

I would love to see my RCN brethren in subs that are operational but I don't think we are going nuc any time soon.
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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2011, 01:56:32 »
If the we get the Greek ones we will still have to "Canadianize" them with Rum and the Lash.

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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #20 on: October 29, 2011, 03:08:11 »
Just saw a poll on CBC's "Power & Politics" asking "Does the Canadian Forces need nuclear subs"

While it wasn't 50+% yes, there was a higher "yes" than I expected. The results were:

Yes: 42%
No: 54%
Not sure: 4%

Maybe the public could support it?
Even more interesting as of this post - more than two-to-one support for nukes over no subs at all.  See attached for more.  Click here if you want to vote.

If the we get the Greek ones we will still have to "Canadianize" them with Rum Screech and the Lash.
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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #21 on: October 29, 2011, 07:27:21 »
So I took the time to read the article again, in detail. I notice that the Minister did not expressly say we were interested in nuclear boats.

My interpretations:

This: MacKay said: “Well there was a position taken some time ago to go with diesel-electric. “But you know, in an ideal world, I know nuclear subs are what's needed under deep water, deep ice.”

Has been construed as: ...Harper government is considering buying nuclear submarines...

I don't think the two mean the same thing at all. I read that the Minister was in effect saying "This is what we're doing, accepting that this other thing is the best choice."
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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #22 on: October 29, 2011, 10:17:21 »
Interview this morning on The House (CBC1), the minister gave one direct answer, and that was we are not going to get nuclear subs.
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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #23 on: October 29, 2011, 11:59:00 »
If the we get the Greek ones we will still have to "Canadianize" them with Rum and the Lash.
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Re: "High-ranking sources": Canada considering nuclear subs?
« Reply #24 on: October 29, 2011, 12:15:24 »
Sadly, Canadian public opinion has been poisioned against nuclear power (even nuclear power reactors that provide something like 44% of the baseline load for Ontario), so discussing this topic in a rational manner outside professional forums is probably pointless.

This is actually frightening, since nucler submarines will be the capital ships of any 21rst century Navy, replacing aircraft carriers as surely as carriers replaced the battleship. Subs can move relatively undetected anywhere on Earth and carry weapoins and equipment capable of supporting operations on land, sea and air. The Russians showed the way with large nuclear cruise missile subs like the Charlie and Oscar class, and the USN has repurposed Ohio class SSBN's to cruise missile carriers, along with most attack subs being able to carry cruise missiles as well. Landing teams of SEALs is another capability most subs can carry out, and in the future, launching and operating UAVs and UCAVs will be possible as well.

If Canada wants to be able to patrol the Arctic, or participate in operations like the one concluded in Lybia, then a robust nuclear submarine with the internal volume (or exterior carriage) for cruise missiles and like weapons along with more conventional weapons like torpedoes is a must have, otherwise we will have a very vulnerable and second rate fleet.
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