Add to favourites
News Local and Global in your language
14th of November 2018

Travel



SMOL: Naval ships all sight, no fight

BY ROBERT SMOL

Canada finally launched the first of its Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels (AOPV) earlier this month.

HMCS Harry DeWolf was formally named by Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, who stated in her speech that she looked forward to hearing about the crew’s “triumphs as they embark on this new chapter in our navy’s proud history.”

But whatever triumphs the AOPVs  might rack up in the years to come will not be in the area of naval combat.

These new ships represent our navy’s first and, to date, only effort to provide a dedicated Canadian military presence in Arctic waters.  Whether we like it or not, this new ship and its capabilities represent this nation’s intentions when it comes to control of the Arctic and the enormous coastal waters that we rightfully claim.

This is why we must fully understand what our new Arctic ships are capable of doing.

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau attends the naming ceremony for Canada’s lead Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship, the HMCS Harry DeWolf, at Halifax Shipyard in Halifax on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

And it seems they will be doing quite a bit in terms of surveillance, situational awareness, and support to other governmental agencies.  But only as long as there is no actual combat fighting involved.

As these ships enter service, the Canadian public needs to take ownership of the fact that our new Arctic ships are not designed to go to war.  They are all sight and no fight, and do not have the capability to defend themselves against most air, surface or subsurface threats.

This was made crystal clear in November 2014 when Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, then commander of Canada’s navy, stated before the House of Commons Defence Committee that these new ships are “not being built to deal with the Russians” and they are only meant to provide a “naval presence.”

By way of armament, the Harry DeWolf patrol boats will be equipped with a single 25-mm machine gun which is designed to provide protection against small speed boats. So, it should not come as a surprise that the navy has designated these ships as filling a “constabulary role.”

No doubt the navy’s leadership have covered their “sterns” when it comes to making it clear what these ships can, and cannot do.

Can such pacifist “constabulary” naval patrol ships be the norm among our NATO allies currently patrolling their coasts in and around their respective Arctic territories?  Absolutely not!

And when making realistic comparisons, we would do best if we stay within our league of capability and look at how our ships stand up to, or sink, when compared to other small NATO navies operating in the region.

Denmark, like Canada, faces the challenge of patrolling and protecting a combined land mass (Greenland and the Faroe Islands) far out of proportion to its southern metropolis.  In recent years, Denmark has faced this challenge with the completion of three Knud Rasmussen class of Ocean Patrol Ships.

Though slightly smaller than Canada’s Arctic patrol ships, the Royal Danish Navy’s vessels are armed with an Otobreda 76-mm main gun as well as two 12.7-mm Browning machine guns.  The Danish patrol ships are also fitted to fire Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM) and have torpedoes.  These Danish ships are equipped to protect themselves if necessary.

And while Canada’s Arctic ships are still a long way to being fully operational, two of Denmark’s three Arctic patrol ships have been active  off the of Greenland  over the last two months.  These three Danish patrol ships are only a small part of the country’s recently completed fleet modernization.

Elsewhere tiny, social democratic Norway’s answer to its coastal defence challenges is represented, in part, by its fleet of six  ultra-fast  Skjold Stealth Missile Corvettes each one wielding a 76-mm cannon, eight Kongsberg surface to surface missiles, plus additional Mistral Surface to Air Missile system.  The ship also has the Kongsberg M151 Protector Remote Weapon Station, and two 12.7mm machine guns.  Certainly not the Canadian way of coastal defence, eh!

Hopefully, as our new naval ships bravely set sail each with their single machine gun, equipped to do battle with small speed boats, Canada can hopefully continue to draw on the goodwill and sacrifice of our well-armed Danish and Norwegian NATO allies to join the United States in providing armed cover to our shiny new constabulary ships.

Happy sailing!

— Robert Smol holds a graduate degree  from the Royal Military College of Canada and served in the Canadian Armed Forces for over 20 years.  He is currently a teacher and writer in Toronto. 

Read More




Leave A Comment

More News

Top Travel stories

Canada Travel - The

Nouvelles

Breaking Travel News

Vancouver Sun - Travel

FOXNews.com

TORONTO STAR | LIFE | TRAVEL

Disclaimer and Notice:WorldProNews.com is not the owner of these news or any information published on this site.