Author Topic: MacKay: All subs will be working by 2014  (Read 1474 times)

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MacKay: All subs will be working by 2014
« on: April 11, 2012, 09:53:30 AM »
MacKay: All subs will be working by 2014

April 11, 2012 - 4:20am By The Canadian Press and DAVID JACKSON Staff Reporter

Federal Defence Minister Peter MacKay prepares to speak to make an announcement about increased funding for the care of ill and injured Canadian veterans in Halifax on Tuesday. Earlier in Stellarton, he also said the military is hopeful that all four of Canada's submarines will be operating by 2014. (CHRISTIAN LAFORCE / Staff)

Stoffer skeptical

Defence Minister Peter MacKay is hopeful that all four of Canada’s troubled submarines will be operating in 2014.

"We hope to have, eventually, within two years, two fully operational subs on each coast," MacKay said after an ACOA announcement in Stellarton on Tuesday.

One of the subs, HMCS Windsor, is to be lowered into Halifax Harbour today, its first time in water in five years.

The Windsor is the second submarine to begin sea trials this year after an extensive refit program, MacKay said later at a Halifax news conference.

Its refit was to be completed by 2009 but has taken almost five years. The submarine has been at sea for 332 days since arriving in Nova Scotia in October 2001.

HMCS Victoria, based on the West Coast, was the first submarine to complete the refit and successfully test-fired torpedoes last month.

MacKay said the Royal Canadian Navy is also expanding its number of submariners to 330 from 278 in the coming months.

New training courses and personnel are meant to synchronize with the availability of the submarines, MacKay said, with three of the boats to be in the water by 2013.

"There are courses in place to match the arrival of fully operational submarines," he said. "With three in the water in 2013, we should be able to meet our operational requirements."

The Windsor is one of four British submarines Canada bought in 1998 for $750 million. The fleet has seen little time in active service since then.

Canada declined the option to buy British torpedoes along with the submarines. As a result, all four subs are undergoing extensive weapons system changes to use and launch American-made Mark 48 torpedoes already in the navy’s possession.

In addition to the planned refit, the submarines have been involved in accidents that have further delayed their operational use.

During its voyage to Canada in 2004, HMCS Chicoutimi caught fire after seawater damaged the electrical system, killing one sailor and leaving the submarine inoperable.

HMCS Victoria recently completed a three-year refit, including repairs to dents in the hull that prevented the ship from doing deepsea dives.

HMCS Corner Brook struck the ocean floor off Vancouver Island during a training exercise last June, causing extensive damage to its fibreglass nose cone, and is undergoing repairs.

New Democrat MP Peter Stoffer said he’s skeptical of MacKay’s timetable for the submarines becoming fully operational, based on past experience with the vessels.

"All four?" Stoffer said. "That I find hard to believe."

The Sackville-Eastern Shore MP said MacKay shouldn’t talk about deadlines when he can’t be sure what will happen.


With Aaron Beswick, Truro Bureau