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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

RCN to Lease Two Spanish AORs during 2016

By: Esteban Villarejo, Defense News 

MADRID — The Spanish Navy will deploy two auxiliary oiler and replenishment (AOR) vessels in 2016 to "cover the Canadian Navy's temporary need for logistic support vessels in the North Atlantic," military sources told Defense News.

Both replenishment ships — Patiño and Cantabria — will support training for the Royal Canadian Navy's Atlantic fleet in two different time periods: Patiño will operate between February and March, and Cantabria between mid-September and November.

"This support is based on NATO’s principle of solidarity among its allies, by which a country provides a capability that the other does not have," a Spanish military source said. "The deployment will not have additional costs and will not have an impact in our capabilities."

The main mission of a combat-replenishment ship and hospital is to supply fuel, fresh water, ammunition, provisions, spare parts, military equipment, uniforms, medicines and medical assistance to other combat units at sea.

The Cantabria deployed with the Royal Australian Navy in 2013. The government of Australia paid the expenses of that deployment during the year.

This year Canada chose the German Navy’s Berlin-class design to replace its two Protecteur-class supply ships, which have been removed from service.

On Wednesday,, December 8, 2915 the RCN confirmed the Defense News report.

LCdr Alain Blondin, the RCN’s Deputy-Head of Public Affairs, told  the Ottawa Citizen's Defence Watch:

“We can confirm that the RCN is continuing the process of developing a Mutual Logistic Support Arrangement (MLSA) with the Spanish Navy where we will receive services from two separate Spanish vessels in 2016 to fulfill replenishment responsibilities and facilitate training in support of Maritime Forces Atlantic training and exercise activities. The current plan is for the first vessel, the Spanish Navy Ship Patino, to arrive in late January to March, and the second is planned for the fall of 2016. The exact dates are yet to be negotiated. Full details are still to come as negotiations are still ongoing and the MLSA is not yet finalized.”

Villarejo wrote that the Cantabria will be on Canada’s east coast between mid-September and November.

Some RCN sailors are already familiar with the Patiño. In 2014 HMCS Toronto conducted five replenishment-at-sea “evolutions” with both French supply ship Marne and the Patiño, the RCN website noted.

As readers know, Canada is facing a supply ship gap as the new Joint Support Ships are not expected in the water until 2020/2021. Davie is working on converting a container ship into an interim refueller (iAOR) for the RCN. That is expected to be ready in late 2017.

Last summer Canada made arrangements with Chile’s navy to have a supply ship available on the west coast.