Skip to comments.Canadian Navy tries to improve image of sub fleet with Artic trip
Posted on 08/27/2007 8:55:18 AM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
Successful trip to Arctic seen as key step in boosting image of Cda's subs
Published: Sunday, August 26, 2007 | 6:26 PM ET Canadian Press: TARA BRAUTIGAM
HMCS CORNER BROOK (CP) - The crew aboard HMCS Corner Brook, hoping to leave behind a fatal disaster aboard its sister submarine three years ago, have returned home in a bid to instill public confidence in Canada's much-maligned submarine program.
The 59 men and women on board Canada's only operational submarine want to move on from the shadow of the HMCS Chicoutimi fire that has haunted them since it claimed one of their own in October 2004.
The Canadian Press accepted a rare invitation last week from the navy to step aboard HMCS Corner Brook for a first-hand look at training drills and mock scenarios as it travelled from St. John's, N.L. to Halifax.
As captain of the first Victoria-class submarine to traverse the ice-laden waters of the Arctic, Lt.-Cmdr. Christopher Robinson faces the challenge of improving the image of the country's fleet.
Some of the public criticism of the Victoria-class submarines, stoked by tales of floods, leaky valves and missing acoustic tiles after Canada spent $891 million to acquire four of them from the British in 1998, was unfair, Robinson said.
"Submarines are one of these things that fascinate the public, so we get a lot of scrutiny," said the 14-year submariner, who became captain two months ago.
"Like any program of this magnitude, things go wrong. I personally didn't think most of it was (warranted). I thought it was obsessed on more than was required."
The trip to the North as part of Operation Nanook was intended to assert Canadian sovereignty. But it's also seen by some as a critical step toward changing the submarine program's image.
"There's this so-called positive public relations or public affairs aspect of this in terms of sending out a 'good news message"' said Bob Vokac, a senior research fellow with the Toronto-based Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies.
"Certainly the navy is working hard to overcome Chicoutimi, because when the average Canadian citizen perhaps thinks of submarines, the first thing that comes to mind is Chicoutimi. And that of course is not a picture that our navy or the Canadian Forces really wants to have first and foremost in the minds of the Canadian public."
Eric Lerhe, a fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and retired commodore, said the Arctic trip is testament to the navy's change in attitude since the Chicoutimi fire off the coast of Ireland, which killed Lt. Chris Saunders of Halifax.
"Here is the navy, who had this problem, has over the last couple of years done an immense amount of training and effort to put it behind them and now this is what it's doing," Lerhe said from Calgary.
"In the most challenging operational area in the world - the North - it executed a successful patrol without safety concerns."
Senior Defence officials highlighted the need to boost the reputation of Canada's subs in a briefing note last year to the prime minister, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.
"The recommended key message to the Canadian public should be the Victoria-class submarine continues to provide good value to Canada in support of our defence requirements," wrote Commodore R.W. Greenwood in the April 20, 2006 note.
That came one week before Ottawa announced it wouldn't repair HMCS Chicoutimi until 2010. It's been sitting in dry dock in Halifax since the fire.
Operation Nanook may also have been key to boosting the morale of Canada's sailors.
The other two Victoria-class subs - HMCS Windsor and HMCS Victoria - are both currently out of commission, and all submariners were subjected to "an operational pause" following the Chicoutimi fire, said Robinson.
"No one was going to sea, nothing was happening, which is hard," he said.
Many aboard HMCS Corner Brook agreed participating in the exercise lifted their spirits.
"If you can go to sea on your boat and get it out of its maintenance periods, you're doing the business, that's what we get paid to do," said Executive Officer Alex Kooiman.
"There's an old navy term: sailors belong on ships and ships belong out at sea."
The operation also helped ease the bottleneck of the next generation of submariners who have been waiting to earn their credentials.
"The submarine world is sort of in a strange position right now being that there's only one boat running, so the submarine community can only accept so many trainees," said navy Lt. Matt Taccogna, a trainee himself who hopes to return to the Arctic next summer.
Robinson said the surplus of eager submariners is proof Canada's submarine program has already improved its standing.
© The Canadian Press, 2007
Aren’t there three submarines in West Edmonton Mall?
The Russians have hollowed out mountains to hide their subs, Canada has the Mall.
Must... not... make... no nook... pun...
LOL!! Too... Easy...
I guess if Canada sent our Navy to help the US, it would also be handy if there were actually any bodies of water in or near Afghanistan. Just saying like.....
“In the Navy, you can help your fellow man” at least that’s the way the Village People saw it.
Do the women spoil the all male “brotherhood” or do they find new opportunities for adventure “under the pole?”
A certain friend of mine has a problem with this.
I thought this was an example of a Canadian "submarine."
And how would you feel about it?
Arabian Sea 2002-01-14
Top to bottom:
HMCS Charlottetown (FFH 339) Halifax class frigate
HMCS Iroquois (DDH 280) Iroquois class destroyer
USSS Bataan (LHD) Wasp Class amphibious assault ship
USS Decatur (DDG 73 Arleigh Burke class destroyer
HMCS Halifax (FFH 330) Halifax class frigate
Bataan is LHD 5
U.S. Navy to Royal Canadian Navy :
I would not approve on several levels.
That is precisely the problem with the Royal Canadian Navy ...... It's Lilliputian definition of "near".
"Real" navies, like the U.S. Navy, have the capability of projecting naval power into Afghanistan.
U.S. naval aircraft have continued and intensified the sustained campaign against Taliban targets inside Afghanistan as the air war against the al-Qaeda terror network and its Taliban allies entered its second month. ... Navy F-14 and F/A-18 strike fighters and Marine Corps F/A-1 8s, protected by EA-613 electronic attack aircraft, flew sorties daily from aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea and employed an array of precision strike weapons against fixed targets in nearly every major Afghan city.
The Royal Canadian Navy has the capability of projecting limited naval power into the north half of the Straight of Juan de Fuca in case the Black Ball Ferry ever tries to attack Victoria. That's about it.
In the age of stand-off weaponry launched by long-range naval air power, the Royal Canadian Navy's definition of "near" means that a "real" navy can target and sink Royal Canadian Navy ships before the Canadian ship can even fire back with any hope of getting it's warheads within hundreds of miles of the attacker.
If Canada is going to show up at gunfights armed with spit-balls, it is better to not show up to the fight at all. It just gets Canadians killed for no reason.
Including deployments to the Arabian Gulf.
We had frigates and destroyers in the Gulf within four months of 9/11. See the picture in reply At one point a Canadian officer aboard a Canadian ship was in command of the interdiction forces in the gulf.
See Reply 14.
Participating in U.S. Task Forces is the only way the Royal Canadian Navy can survive in the modern era of naval warfare.
That is of no concern to the U.S. but it should be a concern to Canada.
The Royal Canadian Navy cannot project sea power outside of the safety of a U.S. Task Force and the Royal Navy was barely able to project sea power in the Falklands War against a Third World country.
Without real carriers, the British were limited to Harriers which are simply not acceptable in modern naval warfare. Without E-2 Hawkeyes guiding air superiority fighters to engage enemy aircraft 100 miles from the fleet, the British fleet was virtually a sitting duck to air attack. Without such air superiority fighters and their forward "eyes", even antiquated Skyhawks were able to fly over the British fleet and drop dumb bombs on the British fleet. ........ 29 posted on 11/21/2002 6:58:30 PM PST by Polybius
Those Royal Navy ships were sunk or damaged mostly by antiquated 1950's era A-4 Skyhawks dropping "dumb bombs" a dozen or so meters above the decks of the Royal Navy ships after the Skyhawks penetrated the Royal Navy air defenses. The main problem the Argentinians had was that their A-4 Skyhawks were dropping their "dumb bombs" so near to the decks of the Royal Navy ships that their fuses did not have time to arm before the "dumb bombs" ripped through the decks.
The Brits, however, learned their lesson and the Royal Navy will, in the future, be able to once again project sea power in a manner more appropriate to their First World status.
That Canadians, on the other hand, now depend almost exclusively on the country they love to hate to provide their defense for them.
The days of Vimmy Ridge and Juno Beach are long since passed.
Those were the times of Canada's Finest Hours, especially from September 1939 to 6 December 1941 when Canada and Britain were manning the Walls of the Fortress of Western Civilization while the U.S. had its collective head up its isolationist arse.
Today, out of strategic necessity, the U.S. must protect the Canadian region and it would be forced to do so even if it were the Canadian Sea. A new generation of Canadians knows this and is taking full advantage of it.
It is easy for a country like Canada or New Zealand to brag about how peaceful they are and how much they spend on social programs when they are living as defense parasites next to their neighbors, the U.S. or Australia, who they then criticize as warmongers.
The help we get from the Royal Canadian Navy comes at a political price. I would rather that the U.S. Navy do without Royal Canadian Navy help if that spares us 70% of Canada complaining about "U.S. warmongering".
Sorry if you are part of that other 30% but that 70% really gets under your collar after a while.
That sad part is that the men of the Canadian military come from that 30% but they are asked to do an impossible job with the tools given them by the other 70%.
What Canada is going to do with one antiquated submarine other than to pump up Canadian pride at the very real risk of losing more Canadian lives is beyond me.