combat and close-quarter battle as well as tactical questioning and identification of improvised explosive devices.
Retired Canadian Navy Capt. Norm Jolin said the
forward-deployment proposal for the ships will save
the RCN money during a time of fiscal restraint.
Because of the long distances from Canada to areas
such as the Persian Gulf or regions in the Pacific Ocean,
it can take several weeks for a Canadian warship to get
on station, he noted. That costs both time and fuel.
With forward deployments and crew-swapping,
those issues are dealt with.
“It certainly does maximize the ship’s availability for
operations,” said Jolin, an analyst with the Navy
League of Canada, a nonprofit organization that promotes interest in maritime affairs throughout Canada.
“Ships tend to work better when they are being used.”
As an example of the value of having ships in the right
area at a time of crisis, RCN spokesman Lt. Kelly Boyden
pointed to the case of the Halifax-class frigate HMCS
Regina. In spring 2014, the ship was assigned to conduct
counterterrorism patrols in the Indian Ocean under
Operation Artemis, Canada’s contribution to the U.S.-led
Combined Task Force 150.
When tensions increased because of the situation in
Crimea and Ukraine, HMCS Regina was able to be
quickly redeployed to take part in NATO maritime
efforts directed at that crisis, Boyden said.
But the one major hurdle the RCN faces with
Norman’s international engagement strategy is its lack of
an at-sea supply capability. On Sept. 19, he announced
that the service would decommission its only two resupply vessels — HMCS Protecteur and HMCS Preserver —
both of which are more than 40 years old.
Protecteur had been severely damaged by a fire while
sailing off the coast of Hawaii in February 2014. An
extensive assessment of the ship concluded it was
damaged beyond economical repair.
Preserver was being taken out of service because of
levels of corrosion that degraded the structural integrity of the ship below acceptable limits, the RCN noted.
Both of the supply vessels carried fuel, food and ammunition for warships. They also provided medical services
and helicopter support and maintenance facilities.
The RCN acknowledges it will not have a replacement fleet — the new Joint Support Ships — fully
ready until 2021. That leaves a gap where it will not be
capable of resupplying its warships at sea.
“The retirement of current refuellers and the delay
in the construction of Joint Support Ships have led to
capacity issues, which have a ripple effect,” Norman
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / APRIL 2015
Canada’s Halifax-class frigates and Victoria-class submarines, such as HMCS Victoria shown here on Feb. 26 off the
country’s west coast, will play a role in the Royal Canadian Navy’s plan to maintain a global presence.