Destroyers Bombing Shore Batteries, 6 June 1944. Oil on canvas by Norman Wilkinson in collection of National Maritime Museum.
Destroyers Bombing Shore Batteries, 6 June 1944. Oil on canvas by Norman Wilkinson in collection of National Maritime Museum.
Minesweepers clearing approaches to the invasion beaches ahead of D-Day, 6th June 1944. Oil on canvas by Norman Wilkinson in collection of National Maritime Museum.
Fictionalized account of HMS Campbeltown and the St Nazaire Raid. The names, including the ship, have been changed as poetic licence.
A look at Canada’s capabilities. In essence, the same as every navy smaller than the USN… augmenting the American force with the key focus on interoperability.
The Royal Canadian Navy in the Pacific – a look at capabilities
By David McDonough
Canada could benefit from expanding its military presence in the Asia-Pacific. As I described in a previous Strategist post, the government faces certain budgetary constraints likely to limit the size of its future naval presence and capacity for maritime diplomacy. Yet such a challenge isn’t insurmountable. To ensure sufficient fleet funding, Canada has the option of placing greater priority on the capital portion of the defence budget—even if it comes at the expense of personnel and operations/maintenance spending.
Such a move would offer Ottawa some leverage to join the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus. More importantly, Canada would have a means to help augment America’s naval power in the region, which is expected to be under increasing strain as a result of defence cutbacks—at a time when China is expanding its own naval fleet and showing greater assertiveness in its maritime disputes with its neighbours.
Other like-minded countries have already begun to focus on their own maritime forces. For example, Japan has strengthened its naval fleet with advanced (e.g. air-independent propulsion) submarines, helicopter destroyers, and plans for helicopter carriers, with a keen eye for possible amphibious operations to protect its vulnerable south-western approaches. Australia has also been eager to deploy a more formidable naval presence with its planned acquisition of Aegis destroyers and replacements for its Collins-class submarines. Both platforms are expected to have the high-end command, control, communications, and weapon systems necessary to ensure operational interoperability with the US Pacific Fleet.
Like the Australian navy, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) also has a strong tradition of interoperability with its American counterparts, to the point where Canadian warships can also be seamlessly integrated into US naval task forces (PDF). It would serve the RCN well to ensure that its future naval platforms can continue to be integrated with the US and other regional navies. Much depends on the capabilities offered by these naval platforms, which should be designed to complement America’s efforts at maintaining operational access to the Western Pacific.
The RCN needs to maintain some of its high end maritime war fighting capabilities. Of particular relevance is area air defence (AAD), a capability that should be retained and upgraded on its destroyer replacements—much as Australia has done with upgrades to its Anzac frigates and the Aegis equipped destroyers. Indeed, the United States, Japan, and other allies have become increasingly wary of China’s advanced anti-access and area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities, from shore-based aircraft and missiles to an undersea and surface fleet heavily armed with anti-ship cruise missiles—a concern reportedly also shared by the RCN, at least according to drafts of its unreleased Horizon 2050 naval strategy.
For the RCN to maintain interoperability with its key regional partners, Canada should also ensure that some of its next-generation Canadian Surface Combatants incorporate the Aegis combat system—joining other regional powers including Japan, Australia, South Korea, and the US Navy. Importantly, Aegis can also be upgraded to provide a mid-course and terminal ballistic missile defence (BMD) capability. Both the United States and Japan have proven eager to expand their BMD fleet, due to China’s development of a much feared anti-ship ballistic missile. Other countries may soon follow suit.
An anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability would also be highly valued in a region where many countries are expanding their submarine inventories. Much of the concern is on China’s undersea fleet, as a possible ‘assassin’s mace‘ capable of challenging American and allied sea control in this maritime theatre. For this reason, the US Navy has already been increasing its ASW assets in the region, with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) operating a formidable fleet that specializes in undersea and surface ASW.
The RCN already has a long history of ASW operations. Indeed, with its fleet of Victoria-class submarines, the RCN would be better placed for these missions than in the past, when it largely relied on surface ASW and escort duties. It also provides the natural locus for cooperation with regional navies, like the JMSDF. Of course, ASW isn’t necessarily cheap. Canada would eventually need to replace its fleet of Aurora maritime patrol aircraft and Victoria submarines. But, given the growing demand for ASW, we shouldn’t underplay the benefits that could be accrued by returning to this specialisation.
With such capabilities, the RCN would be well placed to support American and allied efforts to ensure sea control in the Western Pacific. If required, Canada would also be able to join in defensive missions envisioned in the US Air-Sea Battle concept, while avoiding its more offensive plans to disrupt and destroy A2/AD systems at their source.
Yet it would all be for naught if Canada lacks the logistics for sustained operations in the Pacific, therefore raising the issue of operational sustainment. Sadly, little attention has been paid to the future of the RCN’s auxiliary oiler replenishment fleet. Indeed, it’ll now have to settle for the acquisition of only two Joint Supply Ships, thereby increasing the chances that Canadian warships will be unable to be deployed for sustained operations abroad—unless an ally provides at-sea replenishment, which can no longer be guaranteed given the growing demand for such logistics ships.
In such a situation, the RCN might find its emphasis on Pacific operations curtailed, even if it otherwise enjoys high-end capabilities well-suited to that region. But, more importantly, it could also find its historic role as a blue-water fleet possibly endangered. Such an outcome would be doubly unfortunate, and is an important reminder not to ignore the logistical tail.
David S. McDonough is a SSHRC post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Political Science, University of British Colombia and a research fellow in the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at Dalhousie University. Image courtesy of Flickr user U.S. Pacific Command.
70-years ago today…
U-616, a Type VIIC u-boat, Oblt. Siegfried Koitschka commanding, sunk the American destroyer USS Buck (DD 420) with a G7e acoustic torpedo off Salerno, Italy in position 39.57N, 14.28E. The destroyer lost 150 dead and there were 97 survivors. Koitschka was awarded the Deutsches Kreuz (in gold) on completion of his patrol.
U-645, a Tupe VIIC u-boat, torpedoed and sunk the US merchantman SS Yorkmar (5,612 GRT) during an attack on convoy SC-143 approx. 475 miles south of Iceland. The ship sank by the stern after 15-minutes. 13 crew members were lost and 54 survivors were picked up by HMCS Kamloops (K176) and HMS Duckworth (K351).
U-737, a Type VIIC u-boat, Kptlt. Paul Brasack commanding, came under fire from a shore battery at Barentsburg, Spitsbergen. The u-boat managed to dive before it sustained any damage. (The moral of this story is that littoral combat is bleedin’ dangerous, chum!)
The Battle of Atlantic was most decidedly not over. It continued apace. Indeed, on this day 70-yrs ago (9 October 1943), Großadmiral Dönitz had 95 U-boats at sea.
And yet the Allied naval forces continued to grow in strength…
USS Sand Lance (SS-381), a Balao-class submarine built at Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine, was commissioned into the United States Navy, Cdr. Malcolm Everett Garrison, USN. Garrison would win the Navy Cross twice while in command of Sand Lance and retire from the US Navy as a Rear Admiral.
HMS Stratagem (P234), an S-class submarine built at Cammell Laird, was commissioned into the Royal Navy, Lt. Reginald Lewis Willoughby, RNR commanding.
USS Kingfish (SS-234), a Gato-class submarine, Lt.Cdr. V.L. Lawrence, USN commanding, torpedoed & damaged the Japanese fleet oiler Hayatomo (14,050 GRT) in the Sibitu Channel, Borneo.
USS Puffer (SS-268), a Gato-class submarine, Lt.Cdr. M.J. Jensen, USN commanding, torpedoed & damaged the Japanese tanker Kumagawa Maru (7,508 GRT) in the Makassar Strait, Borneo. Japanese escorts damaged Puffer with depth charges and the submarine was forced to abandon its attack on the tanker.
USS Rasher (SS-269), a Gato-class submarine, Cdr. E.S. Hutchinson, USN commanding, torpedoed & sank the Japanese army cargo ship Kogane Maru (3,131 GRT) about 30 nautical miles west of Ambon, Maluku Islands.
HMCS Protecteur (AOR 509) is an auxiliary oiler commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy in 1969 (due to be replaced… eventually… under the Joint Support Ship Project). HMCS Algonquin (DDG 283) is an Iroquois-class destroyer commissioned in 1973 (due to be replaced… eventually… under the Single Class Surface Combatant Project).
Following collision, RCN oiler under way but destroyer repairs continue
- Repairs to destroyer HMCS Algonquin’s (DDG 283) hangar have commenced
- Oiler HMCS Protecteur (AOR 509) is currently under way conducting a task group exercise
A Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) destroyer that collided with an RCN auxiliary ship in the Pacific in late August 2013 is still receiving repairs, while the oiler has returned to the fleet, an official told IHS Jane’s on 2 October.
Iroquois-class destroyer HMCS Algonquin (DDG 283) remains at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt and is undergoing a “thorough and rigorous damage assessment with the goal of getting her back to sea as soon as possible”, Lieutenant Greg Menzies, a spokesman for the RCN’s Marine Forces Pacific, told IHS Jane’s . “Early stages of repair work have commenced to her port side hangar,” he added.
HMCS Protecteur (AOR 509) returned to fleet operations on 10 September 2013 and is currently at sea conducting a Task Group Exercise, Lt Menzies said.
Algonquin and Protecteur collided on 30 August 2013 while conducting manoeuvres en route to Hawaii. The two ships had departed Canada’s western coast on a four-month deployment to the Asia-Pacific region when the incident occurred at approximately 1100 hours local time during a towing exercise that required close-quarters manoeuvring.
No one was injured on board either ship, each carrying a crew of more than 300 personnel.
Both ships returned home to Esquimalt near Victoria, British Columbia, on 31 August 2013. Assessment teams surveyed the ships and determined that Algonquin had sustained significant damage to its hangar on the port side while Protecteur suffered only cosmetic damage to its bow.
The two ships had been expected to complete a routine deployment in Southeast Asia, to include participation in the Royal Australian Navy’s International Fleet Review in Sydney in October. Algonquin ‘s deployment was scrapped and an official inquiry was opened to investigate the collision’s cause.
“A board of inquiry [BOI] is currently ongoing to further investigate the incident and circumstances surrounding it. The BOI will make recommendations as to how to prevent a similar event from occurring in the future,” said Lt Menzies.
BZ! That’s 180kg of heroin that won’t be funding terrorist groups.
Canadian warship makes significant drug bust on the high seas
Canadian warship on patrol in the Arabian Sea made what the military is touting as an important drug seizure on Saturday.
HMCS Toronto intercepted and boarded a suspected smuggling vessel, seizing 154 bags of heroin weighing more than 180 kilograms, said a news release issued late Saturday.
The drugs were catalogued and then destroyed, the release said.
The seizure took place about 800 kilometres east of the Horn of Africa.
“I’m extremely proud of the work Toronto’s team, and all those on whom we rely for support, have done to achieve this success,” said Commander Matthew Bowen, Toronto’s skipper.
“A positive outcome like this, seizing and disposing of illegal narcotics whose sale would have funded extremist groups, is a big win for Canada’s counter-terrorism efforts.”
The frigate has made a number of drug seizures while on patrol in the past few months, including seizing 500 kilograms of heroin last March and about 5950 kilograms of hashish in another boarding incident in May.
The frigate is on patrol in the region as part of an international effort to curb terrorism and deter piracy on the high seas.
HMCS Haida, a Tribal Class destroyer built in England, was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy in 1943, serving in many theatres of operation through the Second World War. After a post-war refit, Haida continued in service through Korean War and Cold War situations, until she was decommissioned in 1963. The ship was acquired by the Province of Ontario and moved to Ontario Place (Toronto) in 1971. The ship was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1984 by the federal government, and ownership was transferred to Parks Canada in 2002. HMCS Haida arrived at Pier 9 in Hamilton Harbour on August 30, 2003, the 60th anniversary of her commissioning.