OTTAWA --- The Department of National Defence is pushing ahead with plans to extend the lives of Canada’s submarine fleet, with the head of the navy hoping some work will start in the coming months.
The movement comes as countries around the world have stepped up investments in their submarine and anti-submarine fleets to protect their waters — and operate in waters not under their control.
Canada’s four Victoria-class submarines have a troubled history since they were bought second-hand from Britain in 1998, with successive governments investing hundreds of millions of dollars in constant repairs and upgrades.
But in an interview with The Canadian Press, Royal Canadian Navy commander Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd said the diesel-powered submarines — HMCS Chicoutimi, Victoria, Corner Brook and Windsor — have finally turned a corner.
Lloyd specifically pointed to HMCS Chicoutimi’s having recently spent 197 days in the Pacific and Asia even as HMCS Windsor was patrolling the Mediterranean with NATO as proof the submarines are living up to their potential.
“The fact we had two boats concurrently deployed, if that doesn’t speak to the success of the program, I don’t know what does,” said Lloyd, who will retire from the military later this year after three years as navy commander.
The clock has been ticking on the four vessels: without upgrades, the first of the submarines will reach the end of its life in 2022, according to documents obtained through access to information, while the last will retire in 2027. (end of excerpt)
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