Esther Tanquintic-Misa/International Business Times
4 May 2015
The Royal Canadian Navy, also known as RCN has commenced on a planned project meant to extend the lifespan of its existing four Victoria-class submarine fleet by 6-18 years.Defence News reports the total project cost could reach CA$1.5 billion to $3 billion (US$1.2 billion to $2.5 billion), depending on the capabilities selected and the length of the life-extension for the boats. At a closed-door meeting on April 7, RCN Capt. Wade Carter, director of naval requirements told industry representatives they want the boats to operate until 2033. Better if they go beyond that, he added. Some of the improvements the Navy identified that it wants done on the boats were upgrades to the existing electronic intelligence gathering systems.
The four Victoria-class submarines were purchase from Britain, but they were second-hand. Canada received the boats between 2000 and 2004. The boats had suffered a number of setbacks, including cracks found in some of the valves on the four subs as well as its high-pressure welds and steel piping had to be replaced. But the biggest setback was in 2004 when a fire damaged the Chicoutimi and killed one officer. In 2011, submarine Corner Brook struck bottom off the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The project to improve or upgrade the existing Victoria-class submarine is much better than for the RCN to lobby to purchase a new set of boats. Apart from that it is expensive, Martin Shadwick, a strategic studies professor at York University in Toronto, told Defence News the subs had faced skepticism in the past from the Canadians. "A modernization program would be the easiest to sell," he said. "That way the Navy could keep its submarine capability going while at the same time continuing to prove the value of the boats to the country's overall defence strategy."