Friday, January 19, 2018

GoC Awards Disposal Contract for HMCS Athabaskan

DND Press Release

Public Services and Procurement Canada has awarded a contract valued at $5,737,350 to Marine Recycling Corporation from Port Colborne, Ontario, for the disposal of the Royal Canadian Navy’s former Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Athabaskan.

Image result for hmcs athabaskan
Feb 2006 HMCS Athabaskan Photoex: Aerial Imagery of Standing NATO Maritime Group 1. Photographer: MCpl Charles Barber, Staff Photographer SNMG1 (NATO)
The contract includes towing to the contractor’s facility located in Sydney, Nova Scotia, demilitarization of equipment, remediation of hazardous waste and recycling of any remaining materials.

“The former HMCS Athabaskan served Canadians and protected our waters with distinction for more than 44 years. I am grateful to all Royal Canadian Navy members and veterans who have served with honour and dignity aboard this ship throughout its long and storied history,” said The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence.

“This announcement is good news for Marine Recycling Corporation and the Canadian marine industry as a whole. This contract also benefits our local economy, as we are expecting to sustain approximately 30 jobs in the region,” said The Honourable Mark Eyking, MP, Sydney-Victoria (Nova Scotia).

“Marine Recycling Corporation has an excellent well-earned reputation, providing retirement for ships which have served Canadians throughout the years. The MRC team can take pride in being a positive influence through the continued support of community organizations in Port Colborne and across the Niagara region,” said The Honourable Vance Badawey, MP, Niagara Centre.

HMCS Athabaskan is currently docked at Canadian Forces Base Halifax, and is the last of the four Iroquois-class destroyers. These ships were a made-in-Canada solution to the defence and security challenges of the Cold War and post-Cold War era of the late 20th century.

The retirement of HMCS Athabaskan had been anticipated for some time. As part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, the process of renewing and modernizing fleets for the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard over the next 30 years has begun, with construction of vessels on Canada’s east and west coasts underway.

The Iroquois-class destroyers will be replaced by up to 15 Canadian Surface Combatants. The delivery of the first vessel is expected in the mid-2020s.

The modernized Halifax-class frigates, along with Kingston-class Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels and Victoria-class submarines, will allow the Royal Canadian Navy to continue to deliver on its core mission until the arrival of the new ships.

The dismantling of HMCS Athabaskan is expected to be completed by July 2019.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Canadian Army Keeps Options open to Purchase More TAPVs

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch

Several days ago I had an update on the Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle (TAPV) project. Deliveries are continuing to Canadian Army units and a number of TAPVs will be set aside for reserve force training.

The TAPV project, announced in July 2009, will procure 500 vehicles to fulfill a variety of roles on the battlefield. An option for up to an additional 100 vehicles is included in the contract.

There were some suggestions that option was completely off the table because of tight funding. But not so, says the Canadian Army.

“The Department of National Defence has not yet made a decision to exercise that option, but the option can be exercised at any time until three years following the delivery of the last vehicle, which is anticipated for summer 2018,” Maja Graham, Senior Communications Advisor, Directorate Army Public Affairs, told Defence Watch.

Navy Supply Ships Delayed...Again

By: David Pugliese, The National Post 

Construction of the navy’s supply ships won’t start until 2019, the federal government says, yet another delay in outfitting the maritime service with a critical capability.

Work on the first Joint Support Ship at Seaspan shipyards in Vancouver was supposed to begin this year, but federal officials recently refused to outline to parliamentarians the building and delivery schedule for those vessels.

However, in the newly released update on the progress on the government’s shipbuilding strategy, the Liberals report that construction will begin in 2019.

The update, which covers progress made throughout 2016, is a mix of old and new information and includes an introduction by Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough. Design work is continuing on a number of vessels, including the supply ships, writes Qualtrough, who took over the portfolio from Judy Foote in August.

Yet another delay for the Joint Support Ships cements the need for the leased supply ship, MV Asterix, which was acquired as a stop-gap measure so Canadian warships could be refuelled and resupplied at sea, navy officers privately say.

The Asterix, a commercial ship converted by Davie shipyards to perform a military supply role, is at the heart of the federal government’s case against Vice Admiral Mark Norman.

Norman has been accused by the RCMP of warning Davie that Liberal cabinet ministers wanted to derail the Asterix project.
Man overboard: Inside the fall of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman
Supply ship project delay means DND postpones $20-million payment
Two years after Liberals were accused of trying to scuttle it, new supply ship arrives in Halifax for navy training

That development leaked out to the news media and the resulting embarrassment forced the Liberal government to back down on its plans and Asterix proceeded. Royal Canadian Navy sailors are currently training on the ship on the East Coast and Asterix will be available in the coming months to resupply the navy’s vessels.

Norman, who was suspended from his job by Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance more than a year ago, has denied any wrongdoing. No charges have been laid against Norman and the claims made against him by the RCMP are so far unproven.

Norman had at times warned parliamentarians about the need to deal with the gap in supply ships because of his concerns that construction of the Joint Support Ships had fallen behind schedule.

The navy had hoped to get the first ship in 2021 and the second in 2022. The update issued by Qualtrough and posted to her department’s website on Dec. 17 still uses those dates. Industry officials, however, have said that those delivery dates are highly unlikely.

Last week Postmedia reported the Department of National Defence was holding off on spending $20 million on the Joint Support Ships because of ongoing delays but the department did not issue details about the timeframe. In an email, the DND noted the money would not be spent this year “due to delays in project approvals and contract awards, delay in construction of ships.”

Taxpayers will eventually spend $2.3 billion on the ships once the project is fully underway.

In late November, the federal government told MPs it can’t provide them with a schedule for the delivery of the new ships or the coast guard’s Polar-class icebreaker because it deems such information secret.

The refusal to provide such basic details to MPs on shipbuilding programs that are costing billions of dollars was a warning construction of the vessels had fallen further behind schedule, said industry representatives and Conservative MP Todd Doherty.

Qualtrough’s press secretary, Ashley Michnowski, noted the Liberal government has made a commitment to be transparent in communicating the progress on the national shipbuilding program. “Pulling together data and information for this first annual report was complex as it involved input from multiple departments and companies,” she noted. “We are now in a better position to provide more timely reporting moving forward.”

The update contains details of maintenance contracts for the Victoria-class submarines.

It also highlighted the work to convert Asterix, noting that 700 people are employed at Davie by the program.

But neither the submarines nor Asterix is part of the national shipbuilding program. In addition, Davie has laid off many of those workers since the Liberal government has refused to proceed with the conversion of a second supply ship and has rejected other ship proposals from the company.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Canadian JTAC Training Jordanian Military

By: Rupert Pengelley - Jane's International Defence Review
A Canadian-led team has trained the first cohort of Jordanian joint terminal attack controllers
The Jordan Armed Forces is setting up its own training capabilities

The air-land integration capabilities of the Jordan Armed Forces (JAF) have received a boost from a Canadian-led multinational mobile training team (MTT). Follow-on plans are being developed for a Jordanian national joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) instructional capability.
A Canadian JTAC instructor in discussion with JAF JTAC trainees undergoing training at an air-ground weapons range in the Jordanian desert in early 2017. (Canadian Armed Forces)
Assembly of the MTT began in late 2016 under the auspices of the Canadian JTAC school at Gagetown. The latter was responding to a Jordanian request initially lodged with the US-led Joint Fire Support Executive Steering Committee for the in-country provision of a US JTAC memorandum of agreement (MOA)-accredited course for JTACs.

Speaking at the 2017 Omega Close Air Support conference in Bristol, in the United Kingdom, Warrant Officer Ken Power, a Gagetown-based JTAC Standards and Evaluation (STANEVAL) examiner, said the task had filtered down to his organisation only two months before the MTT was required to be on the ground.

The team core was provided by three Canadian JTAC instructors (JTAC-Is), supplemented by others from Australia, France, Poland, and the United States.

As lead country, Canada was responsible for undertaking an initial reconnaissance of the in-country facilities and ranges, plus assuring availability of airspace, air support, maps, and safety support. All basic course material was supplied by Canada, along with a mobile simulator.

Power noted that the latter was supplanted only a few days into the course by a VBS2-based Deployable Virtual Training Environment (DVTE) simulator loaned by the US Marine Corps (USMC). The MTT was able to derive considerable additional support in theatre from the USMC, which had an Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) detachment deployed in Jordan at the time.

The standard Canadian Forces JTAC course is spread over 10 weeks and, according to Power, is “heavy on homework”.

iAOR Asterix Loses Power before Massive Storm

By: Tom Ayers, The Chronicle Herald 

A new naval supply ship lost power in Halifax Harbour last week just ahead of a winter storm that packed nearly 80 kilometre-per-hour winds at the dockyard and gusts that exceeded 100 km/h elsewhere in the province.

The MV Asterix, a large former commercial container ship that has been converted into an interim auxiliary naval replenishment vessel, arrived in Halifax late last month and will be leased to the Royal Canadian Navy once it passes sea trials.

With the storm coming and the Asterix tied up at the pier next to the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, the harbour authority asked the ship’s owners to move its berth up the harbour, said Spencer Fraser, CEO of Federal Fleet Services, the company that refurbished the vessel.

The ship was accompanied by tugboats, as usual, he said, and after the power went out, an extra tug was called in just as a precaution.

“The reason we moved berths was I guess it was too exposed and they don’t want to suffer damage to the jetty with the ship knocking in, so the ship was in fact moved before the storm approached,” Fraser told The Herald.

“There was a power blackout ... a sensor on the lube-oil system failed on the power generation, but the emergency power generation kicked in as required, and the extra tug was kept there just because of the pending storm and sorting out the sensor problem, which has been solved.

“We did that and we’ve subsequently done more harbour moves in the harbour. We’re now tied up at the navy dockyard at jetty November Bravo.

“So all systems worked. There was a failure of a sensor and then the backup systems worked as engineered. There was no damage to the ship, no storm damage, no cost to us other than standard repair.”

Fraser declined to discuss financial issues, but said there was no extra cost because the large ship always requires tugboats to manoeuvre around the harbour.

“It’s a new ship and it’s new to the Halifax Port Authority so everyone’s being extra cautious and professionalism came through,” he said.

Ken Hansen, a retired navy commander and defence consultant, said finding a faulty sensor is a common aspect of sea trials before a ship goes into service.

And lubricating oil is a critical component of a ship’s mechanical operations, so running drills related to the lube-oil would be expected, he said.

“Lube-oil failures are a very common thing to practise and the engineering staff have to take action so that they can determine whether or not it’s a faulty sensor or quickly shut down,” Hansen said.

“Lubricating oil is vital. It’s one of those real, honest-to-God emergencies that happen in a ship, because if the engine or the transmission runs dry, you can very quickly end up with a catastrophic failure.”

However, he said, the incident with the Asterix sounds like it was fixed right away and was not serious.

“It’s like cars,” Hansen said. “Cars are the same. In fact, I’ve got a faulty engine light in my car right now, and I know it’s a sensor, because all the other indications — running temperature, fuel efficiency, power response, all that stuff — is normal, so we don’t pay any attention.”

As an auxiliary naval replenishment vessel, the Asterix will provide the navy with fuel, cargo, ammunition, a floating hospital, a platform for two helicopters and quarters for humanitarian and rescue operations.

It will be leased to the federal government for five years at a cost of about $700 million, with an option to renew for an additional five years, while another firm builds new replacement ships for the navy.

The Asterix is currently crewed with a mix of 36 civilian and 114 Canadian Forces personnel and is set to run through sea trials this month.

Fraser said he expects the navy will put the ship into service in February.