Mark Collins – The Extravagant Lunacy of Building RCN and Canadian Coast Guard Vessels in Canada

Further to this post and “Comments”,

The Great Canadian Shipbuilding Never Never Land: Wild-Ass Guesses=FUBAR

 this from the sea horse’s mouth says it all–read it and howl:

Government may tap a non-Canadian for shipbuilding program

The federal government may turn to a non-Canadian expert to get its ambitious national shipbuilding program shipshape.

Speaking in an interview with iPolitics, Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote said the government needs help and getting someone who knows how to build warships is more important than ensuring the job goes to a Canadian.

“We would prefer (a Canadian) obviously but we also want to get the expertise. We want to be able to have, within the department, an individual who understands the building of combat ships.”

“We’re in the process of searching out and finding that individual. We will go wherever we have to go but obviously we’ll go where people are used to building warships so we get that expertise in the department.”

The problem, said Foote, is that Canada has had a boom and bust cycle of shipbuilding in recent years, which means that the government doesn’t have the expertise necessary to properly oversee the program launched by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government.

“We’re…going to hire within the department someone with expertise and experience in building warships,” Foote explained.
“That doesn’t exist here. Don’t forget — the shipbuilding industry…there really hasn’t been an industry in the last 20 years. There have been ships being built but no big builds from the government of Canada. So, not only would the department not have that experience or expertise but even the shipyards had to get up to scratch.”..

To repeat: the horror! the horror! the lunacy!

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


13 thoughts on “Mark Collins – The Extravagant Lunacy of Building RCN and Canadian Coast Guard Vessels in Canada”

  1. At least this part is slightly more assuring.

    “The government also plans to report regularly and publicly about how the shipbuilding program is doing, Foote said.

    “I want to have quarterly reports. Those reports will be posted on our departmental website and I expect on the DND website as well…so people can follow the progress.”

    Foote said there will also be an annual reporting to Parliament on how figures have changed.”

    The PBO did raise the alarm a few years ago but it never really got much traction with the main stream press. Maybe this will change that.

    Having said that the National Ship Building Program is like a suicide pact between the parties. If the Liberals try to get out of this they are going to be savaged by both the other national parties but also some of the provinces. But when it comes time to cut the cheque I fully expect the CPC and NDP to grandstand about the outrageous price.

    There is a harsh reality to be faced at all levels of government now. Trade deals have made it possible for companies to forum shop for the best place to put a business and a big part of that calculation is how much of the cost of my new company is the government going to pay for. This isn’t new but it is certainly accelerating. Pure capitalism if it ever existed is now dead.

    Look at any successful exporting country and the government is knee deep in building up and subsidising industries. That includes our neighbours to the south. If we are going to subsidize an industry to kick start is ship building the best one to pick? I don’t have an answer to that but if we are going down that road I would rather see us focus on civilian ships than war ships as the market is larger and I am just not convinced war ships are a growth industry.

  2. Yemen a country with neither a navy or an air force has managed to sink the 8th Saudi warship from shore with missiles. Yemen being one of the poorest countries in the world and Saudi Arabia being one of the richest. Now the Saudis certainly don’t have the most competent military ever but the Yemen military also doesn’t have the best weapons. These ships are also close into shore when they are getting hit.

    But it highlights once again the changing nature of naval warfare. A ship that has to stay in the center of the ocean to keep away from shore based missiles is of very limited value from a tactical/strategic stand point. One closer into shore is much more likely to be sunk from shore than any time since wooden sailing ships. Both China and Russia have great anti-ship missiles they would like to sell on the cheap. Lots more I am sure are working on them. Why isn’t Canada? When the CSCs start rolling out in 10 – 1000 years from now what will naval warfare look like?

    Now this is mitigated when patrolling friendly shores. Convoys will always need anti-submarine capabilities and we will need mine clearing craft. But there needs to be some REAL thought about the types of missions a navy can still perform before we blow $50B on a shipbuilding/jobs program.

  3. Further to this story (which concentrates on what the CF should do vs ISIS),

    “A year of tough choices ahead in defence for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals”

    a friend familiar with defence matters makes some swingeing suggestions, not completely tongue-in-cheek:

    “The tough choices will be about what capabilities to delete in order to meet the Government’s fiscal goals at the same time as the refugee program’s costs mount and the First Nations’ files are translated into money.

    At least a 10% cut in the defence budget. Suggestions:

    – no new fighter; soldier on with a smaller number of CF-18s
    – sell most of the CH-47F Chinook helos
    – cut one brigade group [see this from Gen. (ret’d) Hillier in 2013 ]
    – scrap the submarines
    – cut five of the anticipated 15 Canadian Surface Combatants
    – close a base or two
    – ignore the need to update the North Warning System [more here ]
    – mothball all the tanks and artillery
    – reduction in force size with most army units at cadre size
    – reduce training; bonus–fewer CO2 emissions

    Arriving at the essentially constabulary force envisaged back in the 90s.”

    Indeed. and Prof. Michael Byers would love it:

    “The Canadian Forces, or, The Byers Disarmament Plan”

    My friend adds “I’m not kidding.”


    Mark Collins’

  4. And a post at on the RCN’s future surface fleet by someone who worked on the CSC project:,120223.msg1409212.html#msg1409212

    See also:

    “Royal Canadian Navy: 15 Canadian Surface Combatants? Maybe Some Offshore Patrol Vessels Instead”

    Mark Collins

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