Originally Published Feb 15, 2015
Updated: May 24, 2015
So with Canada's plan for a new fleet of Navy Vessels still on the drawing board, while more and more of its ships are forced into retirement, including the last of its supply vessels earlier this year, Canada will not have to lease the missing pieces it requires to operate the Royal Canadian Navy efficiently. The replacement fleet will not be ready until 2021 at the earliest.
The Government of Canada will look at domestic or international companies to lease commercial vessels that can act as resupply ships so the RCN can resupply warships at sea.
Originally the government intended to purchase surplus US Navy ships but that is likely no longer an option based on the cost and the low availability of the surplus ships.
There are specific requirements the commercial supply ships must meet - but the most important according to DND is that they must be able to refuel vessels at sea and moving.
The US Navy has kindly offered assistance, and the RCN is working to better coordinate the movement of its ships to be within US Supply range when needed - but that convenience also has a cost. Just think of the increased cost of goods when you visit a convenience store.
This solution is limited, because the RCN is not always operating within range of the US ships, and then must put the burden on other Allies in the region.
The Navy will not operate these leased vessels, they would be run by commercial crews, but with Navy personnel managing the communications equipment and the refuelling/restocking systems.
Canada has selected the German Navy's Berlin-class design for its new supply ships, which as more than 20,000 tons and 600 feet long. They will carry two helicopters and medical facilities, but they will not be complete until 2020 and not operational until 2021.
On Friday May 22, 2015, DND released hints that the Government of Canada will most likely announce this coming week that they are seeking commercial ships to fill the void left by HMCS Preserver and HMCS Protecteur. The commercial tanker ships will require modification to fit the needs of the Royal Canadian Navy - a process that will be expedited by removing equipment that is still usable (and parts are still available) from the two retired supply ships.
The lease or purchase of two commercial ships would allow for the Navy to at least be refuelled at sea - something that it currently is relying on its Allies in deployment regions for. Naval supply ships allows a Navy to operate for upwards of six months without heading into a port for supplies and fuel. It also helps ships when working out of a battle group, or in a region of the world where allied ports are unavailable.
The Conservative government is taking heat over its "Made in Canada" rebuild of the Navy. While the process will create jobs, it will also likely run over budget and be delayed. This is because there is no large ship building firms in Canada. No corporate memory for such projects. Critics point to the United Kingdom who are acquiring four commercial supply ships for the Royal Navy from South Korea - at a much cheaper cost than the Queenston-Class ships Canada is planning on building. (And they are getting four vessels not three as planned in Canada)
Norway is planning a similar purchase. The release states that several companies have already come forward with options for the Navy's supply vessel problem.
Original Source: Defence News