Submarines and their types | Page 4 | World Defense

Submarines and their types

GRANNY001

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An opinion article from the writer only and not to be published anywhere but this forum.

IN DIRE NEED OF A CLEAR CANADIAN SSN SUBMARINE REPLACEMENT STRATEGY

Recent events in the Asia-Pacific region have important implications for Canada’s foreign, defence and security policies. For a country that constantly likes to tell itself (and everyone else who will listen) that “the world needs more Canada”, the news that three of the Five Eyes AUSCANZUKUS partners had created a new alliance in the Pacific without Canada or New Zealand, at first brush, certainly seemed to come as a surprise. This nuclear technology agreement has taken the wind out of Canada’s sails. It immediately raised questions about Canada’s position in the world. There was also a political storm created when President Biden declared that “the United States had no greater ally than Australia”. AUKUS is a continuation of a trend that has been in place for some time now, that is, an intense level of cooperation between countries that have more robust intelligence, defence and foreign policy programs than does Canada. Canada has not participated in a military alliance in the Asia-Pacific since the Korean War. It does not have a strong diplomatic presence in the region and continuously looks “West” to Europe, not “East” to Asia, when it comes to security matters. Any decision to reverse long-standing Canadian policies and acquire nuclear-powered submarines would raise immediate issues and would, become a political football in domestic Canadian politics. Canada must better understand the implications of these and other recent developments in the Asia-Pacific for our foreign, defence and security policies, and they are considerable.

Other implications are not in the Pacific, but in Canada’s north, particularly
North American Aerospace Defence (NORAD) modernization. As concerns about both Russian and Chinese actions and capabilities in the Arctic grow, the United States wants to see Canada make key investments in its surveillance, deterrence, and command and control systems, especially as many current NORAD systems are expected to come to their end of life by 2024. NORAD modernization will also require the Canadian government to reluctantly revisit the old debate over Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD); a politically toxic issue that successive Liberal governments have tried to shelve.

A much tougher sticking point will be the cost of such modernization; something Canadians coming out of a world pandemic may not want the government to spend their tax dollars on. Nevertheless, with AUKUS, there will be renewed pressure from the Biden administration for Canada to demonstrate its commitment to defence in its own backyard in the same way that the Australians are seen as having stepped up in their sphere of military preparedness. Another implication of AUKUS for Canada is that it exposes the giant hole where a foreign policy or strategic concept for the Asia-Pacific region should be. With AUKUS, both the United States and the United Kingdom are signaling that this “pivot” to Asia-Pacific policies is happening now. The European Union has recently released an
Indo-Pacific cooperation strategy that signals its priorities for the region. Canada, on the other hand, has been silent as to what it would like to achieve with an Asia-Pacific policy, and how it intends to achieve it. A clear foreign policy and a strategy to achieve it would help coordinate government policies. But crucially, the creation of a strategy and specifically a modern submarine replacement strategy would signal to our allies what Canada’s priorities are. This would help them identify issues of mutual interests and opportunities for collaboration. In the absence of such a strategy, cooperation takes on a more myopic rather than a strategic manner.

A final implication for Canada of AUKUS is that it is a part of a larger trend whereby Washington is increasingly looking to its more active strategic partners when it comes to formulating its plans and partnerships. To be clear, Canada has not been forgotten by the United States, nor is it likely to be; sharing the world’s longest undefended border with a robust trading relationship ensures this. Canada remains an important part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing relationship and is a member of key Western security alliances, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). At the same time, other American allies, namely the United Kingdom and Australia, are seen as more actively contributing intelligence and military capabilities and ideas to meet key security challenges of Washington. Canada may have a seat at the table, but contributes little and often remains silent during these discussions. To be clear, Canada needs to acquire SSN submarines to be relevant in the Asia-Pacific as well as our Arctic sovereignty. Ottawa needs to contribute ideas and embark on a sustained effort to engage our allies, on a defined set of national priorities that reflect Canadian interests. The last major foreign policy statement came from then-foreign minister Chrystia Freeland in June of 2017. Much has occurred since then. Indeed, here is what truly defines Canada apart from AUKUS: While the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom may have imperfect foreign and defence policies, they clearly understand the importance of setting goals and developing strategies, something that requires hard choices in an era of uncertainties. Canadians need to start asking these hard questions as to why we are not doing the same.

The new AUKUS defence and security partnership, is intended to present a unified front toward an increasingly aggressive China and Russia, and demonstrate to others that the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia intend to remain engaged in the Asia-Pacific region for decades to come. Not only was Canada not included in the agreement, but the federal government seemed to be completely blind-sided by the announcement; a reflection of our diminished stature on the world stage. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau immediately downplayed the importance of the agreement, saying “it was merely a way for the U.S. to sell nuclear submarine technology to Canberra”. But Trudeau’s comments suggest that he does not have the ability to appreciate the significance, or the long-term implications, of this new alliance. There have been however, “unsubstantiated and unreported” whisperings that Canada early on, during the secret negotiations between Australia, the United States and United Kingdom was indeed offered a seat at the nuclear technology table (to be called AUCANUKUS), but Prime Minister Trudeau had in fact rejected the offer outright. True or not, AUKUS is a major development that has serious ramifications for Canada, even if the Liberal government would prefer not to think about them.

In many ways, this new pact represents an American repudiation of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance. The first issue to consider, then, is what the new alliance says about the relationship between the U.S. and Canada. Unfortunately, the answer is clear: it represents an unmistakable sign that Washington has largely given up on Ottawa as a serious defence partner, having concluded that Canada has absolutely no intention of living up to its NATO commitments to spend a minimum of two per cent of gross domestic product on defence which Prime Minister Trudeau acknowledged a few years back. The lack of spending severely limits what this country can do militarily, and no amount of defence or political spin will change that. Secondly, it reveals that Canada’s passive approach to China has further led the U.S. to conclude that Ottawa simply cannot be counted on to stand up to Beijing. On issue after issue, Ottawa has demurred to China in recent years, a bewildering development given that the approach has clearly failed to modify Chinese behaviour despite the positive developments regarding the recent “two Michaels” release.

Australia has taken the opposite approach, becoming increasingly vocal regarding the threat that China poses to the region and the need for a concerted effort against it. Canberra continues to modernize and expand its military. The AUKUS technology agreement and cancellation of the French DCNS Barracuda Block 1A diesel-electric submarine program being merely the latest development. In contrast to Canada, Australia has shown no willingness to allow itself to be bullied by Beijing or others. But this pact was not wholly unexpected. For years, successive U.S. administrations have pressed Canada to increase its defence spending and live up to its NATO commitments, all to no avail. Former presidents since Dwight Eisenhower made alliance defence spending one of their central foreign policy goals. Even Trump’s repeated calls were met with a series of shrugs from Prime Minister Trudeau, and defence spending has been largely flat in the six years the Liberals have been in office. This record stands in sharp contrast to many of our allies, several of which have seen their defence expenditures rise substantially in recent years. Similarly, U.S. officials have been pressing allies to get tough with China economically, and have specifically warned about the security risks of allowing the Chinese telecom company Huawei to take part in building 5G networks. While the U.S., U.K. and Australia have all banned the Chinese firm, Ottawa continues to dither in making a decision, and there is still no timetable on when one will be announced.


A Canadian Nuclear-powered (SSN) policy:

Characteristics of modern 21st century submarines are: endurance, stealth, freedom of movement and versatility. The best sensor weapon that gives others pause is, without question, another submarine. If Canada does not invest in a modern submarine capability, its navy will be unable to patrol its three oceans. The larger question to answer is: Why are replacement submarines not included in Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy? Only systems that can reach under the ice can tell us who else might be operating there. This requires blunt discussions with all Canadians about propulsion systems for a modern submarine that must operate in the world’s most hostile and unforgiving maritime environments. The Victoria-class does not possess an extensive under-ice capability, making them ineffective in Canada’s Arctic. The conversation about this looming capability loss needs to start now. Canada’s recent defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE) reiterated the need for Canada’s Navy to be comprised of a balanced fleet of platforms which includes submarines. Clearly, in this policy, the government has acknowledged the unique qualities and options a submarine capability brings to our national defence, and the pressing need to maintain this capability. A modern submarine designed to meet Canadian requirements must have the ability to operate in all three of our oceans without restriction and have a vigorous under-ice capability, with long endurance (including crew habitability considerations).

Currently there is only one type of air-independent propulsion that can regenerate the atmosphere necessary for prolonged submerged operations – that is nuclear propulsion. The nuclear infrastructure surrounding this option however, is not attainable at this time due to Canadian fiscal constraints. That assessment has most assuredly not changed over the last three decades and will not change unless Canada decides to increase defence spending to at least two percent of GDP in the near future. It boils down to one question: Can a current conventionally powered modern diesel-electric (SSK) submarine with air-independent propulsion (AIP) technologies, substitute for an SSN powered submarine to defend Canada’s future maritime security? The answer is definitely not for the foreseeable future. The logic that a Canadian SSN fleet would be a force-multiplier, meet Canadian maritime military requirements and be an ideal solution to assert our sovereignty, has definite merit and should be seriously considered as replacements for our Victoria-class SSKs.

The Canadian public is more intelligent than most ‘nay-sayers’ would give them credit for. They realize that there is nothing to fear from acquiring an SSN capability. The Arctic’s under-ice environment has limited opportunities for any conventional AIP-powered submarine, which lack endurance, speed, versatility and the ability to safely surface in extreme conditions. Only SSNs have the power to repeatedly surface, even through several feet of ice. Conventional submarines are restricted to near ice-edge operations. To replenish air, SSKs must surface, or almost surface, raising their snorkel mast at regular intervals; impossible to do under all but the thinnest layers of ice. A look at the four non-nuclear AIP systems currently in service or under development show these clear limitations. The modern AIP record for a submerged transit is 18 days at most. An AIP propulsion system that can provide power endurance comparable to a nuclear power plant, has yet to develop. This is not to say it cannot be done, just that it has not yet materialized. It will take decades more research and developmental technology by Canada, with commensurate investments in infrastructure and training, before these AIP SSKs can favorably compare to the prolonged under-ice operations of any SSN. This is time that Canada just does not have.

Declaring the operation of Canadian SSNs within Canadian waters along Northwest Passage choke points, indicates that Canada has the capability to control and provide a respectable presence in all three of our oceans. Our Water Space Management (WSM) system, would clearly demonstrate to others that Canada has the will and the capacity to assert its own sovereignty and security in all of our WSM regions. This sovereignty, will become more important as global warming allows increased exploration of the Arctic seabed, and its rich resources. The WSM system is an important tool in this endeavour, but only if Canada maintains a viable submarine fleet which, by necessity, demands the timely replacement of our ‘ice-edge limited’" Victoria-class, with a fleet of 8 to 10 modern under-ice capable SSNs. Existing AIP technologies from Germany, France or Japan, do not meet Canadian geographical demands now or in the foreseeable future for extended safe under-ice operations. An SSN can travel the Northwest Passage, under ice-caps, from the Atlantic to Pacific in just 14 days vice over a month via the Panama Canal. Without SSNs, Canada cannot exercise authority in its waters within the confines of our own sovereign territory. This is a central requirement to any definition of national sovereignty. The issue is not simply a matter of security, but whether Canada has the tools to provide that security. To allow the US Navy to continue providing high Arctic security on our behalf, invariably will weaken Canada’s claims to its northern waters and would be incompatible with the responsibilities that Canada has as an independent state. Past Defence Minister, Warren Beatty said: "We can be judged sovereign, to the degree to which in the context of alliance and collective defence, we can contribute to our own national security. A nation that ‘contracts out’ the security and defence of its own territory is not sovereign, but a protectorate." An annual Defence budget increase of two percent of GDP, will allow Canada to easily fund an SSN acquisition program and finally contribute meaningfully to the NATO alliance. A Canadian SSN will do more than just support Canada’s claims to its Arctic territories. It will provide Canada with a degree of credibility that well over three decades of neglect have eroded. Canadian SSNs, will give Canada a truly balanced fleet we have been sorely missing, and pull the RCN back from the abyss within NATO.

Canadian SSN Options:

Nuclear propulsion is ideal for long distances and extended under-ice missions that are unique to Canada. It is a foregone conclusion that there are submarines beneath Canada’s polar ice cap, and….. they are not Canadian. This will become more important as global warming allows increased exploration of the Arctic seabed, and its rich resources. Only systems that can reach under the ice can tell us who else is operating there. Canada’s future submarine force needs to retain significant interoperability with our US Navy counterparts. Yet we should also consider some new capabilities, including under-ice operations, and a land strike capability. There are four distinct options that Canada should consider when choosing an SSN submarine capability:

Option 1 – Domestic Build: The National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) is committed to the continuous, multi-decade domestic construction of federal vessels. For an SSN submarine fleet, one or more NSS yards could build a “made in Canada” SSN or a Canadianized SSN foreign design. This however would be the least cost-effective option.

Option 2 – Canadianized Military-off-the-shelf (MOTS): The United States, United Kingdom and France are established nuclear submarine producers with whom Ottawa could work in acquiring a Canadianized MOTS SSN submarine fleet. This is the most common and cost-conscious approach used by our allies.

Option 3 – Collaborative Build: Canada can work with an establish nuclear submarine builder to split production between two countries or enter a joint financing arrangement. This would entail a complex arrangement involving intellectual property negotiations and costs over a Canadianized design. To avoid a capability gap and possibly lose its submarine force altogether, political and senior bureaucratic decision-makers in Ottawa will have to make a difficult call in the next two years about the kind of SSN submarine capability the RCN needs for the next half-century.

Option 4 – A “lease to own” option for two or three US Virginia class or UK Astute class SSN submarines or perhaps even the Los Angeles class SSN. This may be a viable option given the training and infrastructure that will be required first before owning a future Canadian SSN fleet. The common thread in all of these options is that Canada must first be a full participant in the AUKUS nuclear technology transfer program. A requirement that may not happen anytime soon with the current government.

Conclusion:

The AUKUS alliance sends an unmistakable message to Ottawa regarding our waning importance. For this to change, Washington will need to see a demonstrable commitment to defence by Canada, not at some unspecified date in the future, but now. If not, our bilateral defence relationship with the U.S. will continue to weaken. Canada’s international influence has been declining for years, and the establishment of a new U.S. led security alliance that intentionally excludes us is just the latest consequence of this. Indeed, the AUKUS announcement was made in the midst of an unwanted election campaign, one in which Canada’s defence policies, and larger defence spending record, was most notably absent, as was virtually any discussion of foreign policy. It thus adds to the growing perception that Ottawa has effectively disappeared as an international player, a development that few Canadians seem to be aware of (or care about). Other countries have noticed, though, and are adjusting their policies accordingly. As a result, it is doubtful observers in Washington, London or Canberra will shed a tear for Canada’s ever-diminishing international influence.

There is no doubt that Canada’s beleaguered submarine capability is in great peril, and could soon die a thousand deaths. The current fleet of submarines is near the end of its safe and useful life. There is also no denying current fiscal constraints on defence spending. A credible SSN submarine capability brings with it enhanced flexibility to conduct military operations and the ability to collaborate with other states. The most cursory of glances at a globe illustrates the vastness of Canada’s ocean areas and a future Canadian submarine capability must be able to operate fully in these areas. It must provide future Canadian governments with options from which to respond to international crises. Having a strategic SSN submarine fleet, will be essential to Canada’s future defence requirements. Canada doesn’t need a large navy, but it does need the navy to be adequate to defend Canadian maritime approaches and to deter challenges to security and sovereignty. There is no denying current Defence Department fiscal constraints, but also no denying that permanently mothballing our submarine capability would be a major catastrophe and a critical mistake no matter which future government is in power. Canada’s allies have all agreed that a credible submarine capability brings with it enhanced flexibility to conduct military operations and the ability to collaborate with other allied states. The Canadian government may have sorely misled Canadians into believing that ‘being back,’ as our Prime Minister has said, within the NATO umbrella, means Canada will be participating in UN peacekeeping and peace support operations in a much more meaningful way. If this is correct, then acquiring a strategic SSN submarine fleet, will be essential to this policy. The Canadian government must step up to the plate and commence the procurement process soon in order to judiciously acquire a modern SSN submarine fleet for the RCN to carry out future government missions that all Canadians expect of it.

An annual defence budget increase of at least two percent of GDP, as proposed by the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence, will give the government the resources needed to acquire these submarines sooner rather than later, and allow Canada to easily fund an SSN acquisition program, finally giving Canada the ability to contribute our ‘fair share’ within NATO. A modern 8 to 10 SSN submarine fleet replacement of the Victoria-class, with a commensurate increase in submariner strength and infrastructure would then not only be possible, but any of these designs either under construction or operational, could be easily acquired and would be a transformative change for our country. There would be no negative effects on Canada’s defence needs in the future, or on Canada’s strong social economy. The ability to deploy its submarine forces at home or world-wide from bases in Halifax or Esquimalt, has considerable appeal to a country that wishes to renew its NATO presence. Canada must seriously re-examine the concept of a Canadian SSN submarine program. The time for such a re-examination is now.

So long as the government of the day and military leadership remain willing to accept that Canada’s future strategic, political and military options will not be unnecessarily reduced by the absence of a credible submarine capability, Canada will never live up to its full potential as an influential global middle power. It is time for our Prime Minister to clearly state the government’s intentions with respect to the policies and future of Canada’s submarine fleet and begin the process of replacing the Victoria-class with a modern, credible, SSN capability. To accomplish this under current fiscal constraints, would be difficult at best. The Victoria-class fleet must be utilized for several years longer, well past 2036 and well beyond their shelf-life, before modern SSN submarines can be secured, unless an increase in defence spending is realized soon.
 
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space cadet

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great post @GRANNY001 , but I don't think Canadians are in your same boat, I had conversations with many Canadian's about these same things on the ferry back from AK, they don't have the stomach for it, they looked down on me for not having free health care.
 

GRANNY001

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great post @GRANNY001 , but I don't think Canadians are in your same boat, I had conversations with many Canadian's about these same things on the ferry back from AK, they don't have the stomach for it, they looked down on me for not having free health care.
Hello Space Cadet. Great to hear from you! Yes, you could be right. At least as far as the present Liberal government is concerned. However we have yet to hear from the Loyal Opposition (PC's) on this issue. The AUKUS agreement has definitely put a "Thorn Up The Rear" of this present government, and will for some time. The Canadian public though may have a different view than they had 34 years ago. One can only hope that policies and strategies in the government will change.......and soon!:|}{
 

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great post @GRANNY001 , but I don't think Canadians are in your same boat, I had conversations with many Canadian's about these same things on the ferry back from AK, they don't have the stomach for it, they looked down on me for not having free health care.
In my opinion free health care is a fundamental human right., but to look down on someone, is plain wrong.
 

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Hello Space Cadet. Great to hear from you! Yes, you could be right. At least as far as the present Liberal government is concerned. However we have yet to hear from the Loyal Opposition (PC's) on this issue. The AUKUS agreement has definitely put a "Thorn Up The Rear" of this present government, and will for some time. The Canadian public though may have a different view than they had 34 years ago. One can only hope that policies and strategies in the government will change.......and soon!:|}{
Covid is stressing out economies all over the planet, defence spending is not a priority, until economies recover, which might take 2 to 3 years. .
 

GRANNY001

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In my opinion free health care is a fundamental human right., but to look down on someone, is plain wrong.
Absolutely Khafee. Could not agree more. On that point, Canada is so lucky to have the kind of health care that we have! No one in this country should be looked down upon. Unfortunately some so called "Citizens" have been doing that for centuries when it comes to our Aboriginal peoples! After all, they are the "first" Canadian citizens!
 

space cadet

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In my opinion free health care is a fundamental human right., but to look down on someone, is plain wrong.
you have to pay the doctors, just like anything else, you want someone to clean your yard, you have to pay them, health care is no different. Anyone can walk into a US hospital and get treatment, here at the border they actually bring people in from Mexico, they pick them up with an ambulance. Do they pay? No
 

Khafee

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you have to pay the doctors, just like anything else, you want someone to clean your yard, you have to pay them, health care is no different. Anyone can walk into a US hospital and get treatment, here at the border they actually bring people in from Mexico, they pick them up with an ambulance. Do they pay? No
We are going off topic, but health care fraud and basic health care provided to all, irrespective of their social standing, is a thread all on its own.
 

GRANNY001

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you have to pay the doctors, just like anything else, you want someone to clean your yard, you have to pay them, health care is no different. Anyone can walk into a US hospital and get treatment, here at the border they actually bring people in from Mexico, they pick them up with an ambulance. Do they pay? No
What are you talking about Space Cadet? This has nothing to do with my Article on Canadian SSN subs? Are you OK?
 

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An opinion article from the writer only and not to be published anywhere but this forum.

A WAKEUP CALL FOR CANADA-RETHINKING OUR ARCTIC SSN POLICIES

The Canadian Arctic has become a contested and militarized arena where states within the region and beyond are attempting to secure access to lucrative shipping routes and resources. Such an eventuality poses particular challenges to Canada, raising the spectre that Canadian sovereignty in the north has become irrevocably compromised. Canada’s legal title to its Arctic territories is well established, however given the increased interest and anticipated activity in the Arctic, Canada will need to vastly increase its presence in the region to be aware of what transpires on, below and above its Arctic territories.

Events of recent years dictate that Canada and Canadians must rethink our Arctic SSN policies for our future RCN submarine fleet. There is only one type of air-independent propulsion (AIP) that regenerates the atmosphere necessary for prolonged submerged operations: nuclear propulsion. A conventionally powered SSK submarine with AIP technologies, cannot substitute for any SSN powered submarine to defend Canada’s maritime security. The logic that a Canadian SSN will be a force-multiplier, meet Canadian maritime requirements and be an ideal solution to assert our sovereignty, has definite merit and must be seriously considered by all Canadians. The Arctic’s environment has no opportunities for any conventional AIP-powered submarine. Only SSN’s have the power to repeatedly surface, through several feet of ice.

Declaring the operation of Canadian SSN’s within Canadian Arctic waters and along Northwest Passage choke points, indicates to others that Canada has the capability to control and provide a substantial presence in all three of our oceans. With SSN’s, Canada can exercise authority in its waters within the confines of our own sovereignty. This is a central requirement to any definition of national sovereignty. The issue is not simply a matter of security, but whether Canada will have the tools to provide that security. Canada can be judged sovereign, to the degree, in the context of collective defence, we can contribute to our own national security. A nation that contracts out the defence of its territories is not sovereign, but a protectorate. A Canadian SSN will do more than just support Canada’s claims to its Arctic. It will provide Canada with a degree of credibility that years of neglect have eroded. Canadian SSN’s, will give Canada a truly balanced fleet we have been sorely missing, and pull the RCN back from the abyss.

Since 1987, the Defence White Paper portrayed a Canadian SSN fleet as the ideal weapon system with a majority of the Canadian public at the time, accepting that need. However just two years later, after the White paper was officially declare “dead”, 71% of Canadians were then opposed to the purchase[DD1] . It has been over thirty years since that decision, so if Canada is to acquire this capability, the Canadian government must do a better job of informing all Canadians that there is nothing to fear from acquiring an SSN submarine capability. The NATO alliance has growing concerns about the security of the Arctic region by aggressive Russian submarine fleet excursions and the security of both the Arctic and Atlantic regions. President Putins recent unprovoked invasion of Ukraine with obvious designs to push further out seems to bear this out. The capability to defend Canada’s sovereignty must be at the heart of the government’s efforts to rebuild a Canadian submarine fleet, reinvest in our national security and send a clear message to the world. In order to enhance our sovereignty and security, Canada must produce a more cohesive Arctic Defence Policy with a more powerful deterrence.

The larger question to answer is: Why are replacement submarines not included in Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS)? There are countries that possess submarines about which Canada must be concerned within this modern submarine paradigm. Canada can no longer ignore what happens above or below the surface of its three oceans so vital to our national interests any longer. Canada’s allies agree that a credible submarine capability brings with it enhanced flexibility to conduct military operations and the ability to collaborate with other allied states. Acquiring an SSN submarine fleet, will be essential to Canada’s Strong, Secure and Engaged Defence policy. Canada must seriously re-examine the capability that an SSN submarine brings. The time for that re-examination is now. We must commence the process to acquire an 8-10 SSN fleet for the RCN to accomplish government goals and missions that all Canadians expect. The ability to rapidly deploy its submarine forces at home or abroad from bases in Halifax or Esquimalt for prolonged periods over great distances, has considerable appeal to a country that wishes to renew its NATO presence.

With the rapid rise of China’s Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), the resurgence of Russia’s navy in the Arctic and North Atlantic, our NATO partners south of the border are increasingly at risk of being overstretched across the globe. China is clearly on the offensive expanding its influence in the Western Pacific, having already annexed Hong Kong with its eyes set on Taiwan. In response to this aggression, the US navy, has recently conducted massive exercises, surging a third of its nuclear attack submarines into the Western Pacific. Having also carried out the largest naval exercise ever undertaken in the Pacific since the end of the Cold War involving multiple carrier strike groups, amphibious assault ships, with live-fire exercises. The US navy has also stepped up its tempo of freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. Nonetheless, America’s Pacific allies feel uneasy about China’s intentions and growing power. Many are concerned that America is no longer capable of unilaterally ensuring the complete security and stability of the region on her own; chief among them Japan, and in particular, Australia. Falling victim to predatory Chinese trade practices, large-scale cyberattacks and political influence, the Canberra government is concerned that the next escalation by China will be its naval prowess. To counter this, Canberra has stepped up its military drills with the US, Japan, and India and held naval exercises with the UK Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group. The Australian government realizes that the US navy is overstretched across the world and cannot ensure peace and stability in the region by itself. Acknowledging this new reality, Australia has made it clear that it is ready to take full responsibility for its own national defence and help America with regional security. To demonstrate its commitment to this new foreign policy, it will acquire 8-10 more capable ‘blue-water’ Virginia or Astute-class nuclear attack submarines. Canberra knows that in order for its undersea fleet to quickly respond to crises throughout the Indo-Pacific region from its base in Perth, it must have submarines that can travel vast distances with speed, endurance, stealth and have enough weapons space to deliver an increased amount of firepower. The only type of submarine that meets all their expectations is an SSN nuclear-powered submarine with unlimited range and anti-acoustic sound matting. Australia ultimately chose to make a nuclear submarine technology transfer deal with the US and UK called AUKUS.

A Wake-up Call For Canada:
This recent example of Australia stepping up its undersea capabilities to ensure its national sovereignty and give others pause should not only serve as a clear “wake-up-call” for Canada, but also as a model. With a sizeable amount of the Earth’s yet undiscovered oil, gas and mineral resources with a valuable shipping route, the Arctic Ocean has become a hotbed for sea-power competition. While Canada has already made its territorial claims, Russia has also outlined its stake and claimed more than half of the Arctic Ocean as Moscow believes the Eastern Lomonosov Ridge and Mendeleyev Ridge are extensions of the Siberian continental shelf. This declaration blatantly disregards Canada’s claims, potentially depriving us of the ability to explore all of its future resources. To enforce its new self-declared “sovereign territory”, as has already happened in Ukraine, Russia has begun the rapid construction and deployment of new Yasen-class nuclear attack SSNs and Admiral Gorshkov-class frigates and has repeatedly sailed its undersea assets within Canada's northern territorial waters. With this recent Russian invasion of Ukraine by Putin, Canada’s geopolitical position in our northern waters has become even more tenuous. China has also seen the advantages of the geo-political situation in Canada’s Arctic regions to flex its own muscles with their SSN capabilities. To counter this sovereignty threat, Canada has no choice but to deploy our own strategic submarines to its far northern territories to detect, track, monitor and deter any aggression. This will require an undersea submarine deterrent, able to travel vast distances and conduct patrols for long periods of time, with unlimited endurance in the some of the harshest waters in the world. It boils down to one simple question: Can Canada’s current Victoria-class submarines or any other modern conventionally powered AIP submarine effectively patrol the Arctic? The answer, is…..not now, not ever. A look at the non-nuclear AIP systems currently in service, or under development, show these clear limitations. An AIP propulsion system that can provide power endurance comparable to a nuclear power plant, is just not there. It will take decades more research and developmental technology by Canada, with commensurate investments in infrastructure and training, before any AIP SSK can favorably compare to the prolonged under-ice operations of any SSN. This is time that Canada just does not have. SSNs can remain under ice for long periods of time, tell us who else might be operating there, and covertly monitor foreign vessels. They can also serve as a powerful deterrent as they have the ability to surface through the Arctic ice to show their presence. Comparatively, conventional diesel-electric AIP submarines are confined to near ice-edge operations as they must surface frequently to recharge their batteries, impossible to do with thick ice layers of the far north.

Canadians must seriously re-examine its anti-nuclear stance and come to terms with the rapidly changing security environment around the world. Twice before Canada was interested in acquiring an SSN capability but both times were either shunned from that technology transfer or reconsidered because of costs. The geo-political situation however has changed dramatically over the past few years. When pressed on whether Canada was specifically asked to join the AUKUS pact, Prime Minister Trudeau declined to answer but reiterated that Canada (think Liberal government) was not interested in acquiring nuclear submarines now or in the foreseeable future. The United States however may well be more receptive to us joining the AUKUS pact given recent world events. The citizens of Australia have come to terms with this new reality as shown by their surprising nuclear submarine technology deal with the US and UK and…..it’s now Canada’s turn. By fulfilling NATO’s defence budget GDP requirements, Canada will be able to build/purchase 8-10 modern under-ice capable SSNs and construct and sustain the nuclear infrastructure required for that fleet. A Canadian SSN fleet would give Canada the ability to station at least three operational boats at any given time on either coast, available for rapid deployments in the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic regions with the remainder of the fleet in either deep maintenance, ramp up/ramp down or training modes. The question then remains: why does this discussion keep being swept aside? It wasn’t until 1960 when the Canadian submarine service was approved, that Canada began to search for a suitable boat for the fledgling service. Initial exploration looked at acquiring six USN Thresher class nuclear submarines that could be built in Canada, but the price tag was too rich at the time. Another compelling case study leads us back to the 1987 proposal to purchase 10-12 nuclear-propelled Trafalgar class SSNs from the United Kingdom. Another example of the perennial Canadian approach to defence: always a day late and a dollar short. The submarine that replaces the Victoria class SSKs must be able to fully operate in all of Canada’s areas of responsibility. This means a need for an open ocean capability for the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic-archipelago to deny access to potential adversaries. The time for blunt discussions with Canadians about propulsion systems for a class of submarine that must operate in the world’s most hostile and unforgiving maritime environments is now over. It is a foregone conclusion that there are SSNs operating beneath Canada’s polar ice cap…..and they are not ours. Anti-nuclear advocates have encouraged Canada to look at AIP systems that do not require access to the surface atmosphere to generate power. However, these systems are simply not at the levels of maturity or safety for effective operations required by Canada for prolonged under-ice operations now or in the decades to follow. The greatest advantage that nuclear-powered SSNs have over its diesel-electric cousin is their limitless endurance and ability to remain on station within the life span of their nuclear core. Its reactor can constantly manufacture the air for vessel operation and life support. Its only limitation would be imposed by the habitability of the crew.

A Canadian SSN can covertly trail other submarines and surface ships. As a “force multiplier”, its sensors allow monitoring of surface and sub-surface assets, fisheries patrols, criminal piracy activities and provide early and covert detection of potential threats. As a “force enabler”, it gives pinpoint directions for over-the-horizon capabilities to friendly forces. As an intelligence vehicle, it can pre-position to conduct ISR activities, map the geospatial features in particular, our Arctic operational areas, observe the patterns, doctrine, tactics and capabilities of a potential adversary, and remain totally covert through it all. There are enhanced technologies being integrated and retrofitted into SSNs that give them a variety of futuristic characteristics and capabilities. For instance, some modern allied SSNs are designed with telescoping masts that do not penetrate the pressure hull. Canada must accept the need for these specialized vessels with their suites of technology, sophisticated weapons, information and detection systems. While a nuclear-powered SSN is cost-effective to operate, the shore-based facilities, training and supply chain to service these unique vessels can be “eye-wateringly expensive”. Serious discussions with NATO submarine building states could induce them to allow Canada to piggy-back on existing submarine infrastructure. Another way of addressing maintenance and repair facilities would be to negotiate with allied nations who operate SSNs, and agree to jointly fund these services on Canadian shore-based SSN infrastructure as “common-use” facilities. All participating nations would pay their share of the facilities for their own use.

Canadian SSN Options:
The best sensor weapon is, without question, another submarine. If Canada does not invest in a modern SSN submarine capability, its navy will simply be unable to patrol its three oceans. Nuclear propulsion is ideal for long distances and extended under-ice missions that are unique to Canada. There are four distinct options that Canada must consider when choosing an SSN submarine capability:

Option 1 – Domestic Build: The NSS is committed to the continuous, multi-decade domestic construction of federal vessels. For an SSN submarine fleet, one or more NSS yards could build a “made in Canada” SSN or a Canadianized SSN foreign design. This however would be the least cost-effective option.
Option 2 – Canadianized Military-off-the-shelf (MOTS): There are several established foreign nuclear submarine producers with whom Ottawa could work with to acquire a Canadianized MOTS SSN submarine fleet. This is the most common and cost-conscious approach used by our allies.
Option 3 – Collaborative Build: Canada can work with established nuclear submarine builders to split production between the two countries or enter into a joint financing arrangement. This would entail a complex arrangement involving intellectual property negotiations and costs over a Canadianized design. To avoid a capability gap and possibly lose its submarine force altogether, political and senior bureaucratic decision-makers in Ottawa will have to make a difficult call in the next few years about the kind of SSN submarine capability the RCN needs for the next half-century.
Option 4 – “lease to own”: established allied SSN submarines. This may be a viable option given the training and infrastructure that will be required first before acquiring a future Canadian SSN fleet.

The common thread in all of these options is that the Canadian government must first be a full participant in established nuclear technology transfer programs. A requirement that must happen sooner rather than later.

Conclusion:
The time has come for Canada to “re-think” its Arctic nuclear SSN policies, quickly begin discussions with NATO allies on nuclear technology transfers and undertake investments required within the next decade to acquire a fleet of 8-10 Canadian SSNs. Canada will then be able to ensure undersea security for its exploration of the Arctic seabed and its rich resources. Whether or not Canada decides to tap these rich resources in its Arctic Archipelago in the future, it is important that it not be decided unilaterally by foreign states. A Canadian SSN submarine capability will help ensure this does not happen and give others pause. More importantly, an SSN fleet will finally allow Canada to aid the United States and NATO alliance in a much more meaningful way, restore its credibility among allies and have the balanced fleet it needs to protect its interests nationally and around the world. The idea that a Canadian SSN fleet will be a force-multiplier for the RCN and an effective force for safeguarding our sovereignty against foreign undersea aggression is a compelling one and must be taken seriously by the RCN and Canadian government in its search for replacements for our Victoria-class SSKs. This is definitely a “wake-up call” for Canada to silence its critics and become a world partner with all of our allies.

The AUKUS alliance sends an unmistakable message to Ottawa regarding our waning importance. For this to change, Washington needs to see a demonstrable commitment to NORAD and maritime defence by Canada, not at some unspecified date in the future, but now. If not, our bilateral defence relationship with the U.S. will continue to weaken. Canada’s international influence has been declining for years, and the establishment of a new U.S. led security alliance that intentionally excludes us is just the latest consequence of this. Other NATO allies have noticed and are adjusting their policies accordingly. As a result, it is doubtful observers in Washington, London or Canberra will shed a tear for Canada’s ever-diminishing international influence.

A credible SSN submarine capability brings with it enhanced flexibility to conduct military operations and collaborate with other states. The most cursory of glances at a globe illustrates the vastness of Canada’s three ocean areas and a Canadian submarine capability must be able to operate fully in all of them. It must provide successive Canadian governments with options from which to respond to international crises. Canada needs a navy to be adequate enough to defend Canadian maritime approaches and to deter challenges to security and sovereignty. Having a strategic SSN submarine fleet, will be an essential part of Canada’s Arctic, domestic and foreign policies and RCN fleet mix.

The Canadian government may have sorely misled Canadians into believing that “being back,” as PM Trudeau has said, within the NATO umbrella, means Canada will be participating in UN peacekeeping and peace support missions in a much more meaningful way. Acquiring a strategic SSN submarine fleet, will be essential to this policy. An annual defence budget increase of at least 2% of GDP, will give the government the resources needed to acquire these submarines sooner rather than later and allow Canada to easily fund an SSN acquisition program. In exchange for that investment, Canada, for the first time in over sixty years, can legitimately assert that our Northern domain is sovereign Canadian waters with Canadian SSNs operating in our Arctic WSM regions. It will send a clear message to others that we have the capability to control and provide a respectable presence in all three of our bordering oceans.

An 8 to 10 SSN submarine fleet replacement of the Victoria-class, with a commensurate increase in submariner strength and infrastructure will then not only be possible, but any of these designs either under construction or operational, could easily be acquired and will be a transformative game changer for our country. There will be no negative effects on Canada’s defence needs in the future, or on Canada’s strong social economy. The ability to deploy its submarine forces at home or world-wide from bases in Halifax or Esquimalt, has considerable appeal to a country that wishes to renew its NATO presence. Canada must seriously re-examine the need for a Canadian SSN submarine fleet. The time for such a re-examination…..is now. It is time for our government to clearly state their intentions with respect to the policies and future of Canada’s submarine fleet and begin the process of replacing the Victoria-class with a modern, credible, SSN capability. So long as the government of the day remains willing to accept that our nation’s strategic, political and military options will not be unnecessarily reduced by the absence of a credible SSN submarine capability, Canada will never live up to its full potential as an influential global middle power.

 

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Gripen9

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Excellent write up.

I think Canada needs to pursue a 2 prong approach in light of recent developments and the looming cold war v2.0 with Russia.
Look at existing lease of maybe 2-5 x Los Angeles class SSNs for immediate acquisition and look at joining the AUKUS SSN program (make is CAUKUS :p ). In light of Russian aggression, US will be (or should be) receptive of Canadian defense requests.
Wake up Trudeau!
 

GRANNY001

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Excellent write up.

I think Canada needs to pursue a 2 prong approach in light of recent developments and the looming cold war v2.0 with Russia.
Look at existing lease of maybe 2-5 x Los Angeles class SSNs for immediate acquisition and look at joining the AUKUS SSN program (make is CAUKUS :p ). In light of Russian aggression, US will be (or should be) receptive of Canadian defense requests.
Wake up Trudeau!
Agree Gripen9. However I believe Canada should first attempt to join the AUKUS technology group and then look at acquiring whatever SSN they could acquire. Let's not forget the French as well. Cheers!
 

GRANNY001

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HDW Class 216

View attachment 544

HDW Class 216 Submarine is a long-range multi-mission two-deck fuel cell submarine with exceptional endurance.
It features two pressure-tight compartments, high crew comfort levels and an extremely flexible payload for weapons and mission-orientated exchangeable equipment enhanced by the innovative Vertical Multi-Purpose Lock (VMPL).

  • PERMASYN® propulsion technology
  • Lithium-ion battery technology
  • Composite propeller
  • High, proven automation level
  • Compact sail
  • HABETaS® rescue system
The modular weapon and sensor mix, in combination with the submarine's air-independent features, makes the HDW Class 216 predestined for

  • Anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare
  • ISTAR - Intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance
  • Land attack capability
  • Special Forces operations
  • Deployment of unmanned vehicles
  • Mine operations and mine reconnaissance.
Technical Data
LOA ~ 90 m
Pressure hull ø
~ 8.1 m


Surface displ.
~ 4,000 t


Weapon tubes
6


Crew
33​
View attachment 542

View attachment 543
I do believe that Canada will, when all is said and done, invest in 10-12 Type 216 AIP Submarines as it is the only class that best fits Canada's requirements both for the RCN and the government . Any observations from Forum members?
 
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