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Monday, May 30, 2016

RCN PR campaign to shine on Victoria-class submarines during the defence review

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

The defence review is underway and inevitably there will be questions about the value of the Victoria-class submarines.
HMCS Windsor sized

As I wrote on an earlier Defence Watch post, at least once during the Conservative’s time in office, suggestions emerged that the government was looking at shutting down the fleet to save money. Will that same proposal surface this time around?

The Royal Canadian Navy had directed a healthy portion of its budget to deal with the submarines and the various issues those boats have faced over the years.

But the RCN is steadfast on the value of the subs…..and in protecting the fleet from cuts.

In a recent interview with Defence Watch, Royal Canadian Navy commander Vice Admiral Mark Norman said this: “The capability of the Victoria class is actually very robust. And we’ve had enormous success in both continental missions, and recently in the latter part of 2015, Windsor did some incredible things in support of NATO as we were dealing with some Russian activity in the North Atlantic.”

As part of its campaign to protect the subs during the defence review, the RCN recently invited journalists on board HMCS Windsor on the east coast.

The result was a blast of positive publicity….which had been accurately forecasted by navy public affairs. Not much was said about Windsor’s battery problems earlier this year or issues with welds on HMCS Chicoutimi and HMCS Victoria, which are now having to be dealt with.

Instead journalists highlighted the positive aspects of the boats and what they could do. For instance, the Toronto Star breathlessly reported: “A Canadian submarine was on the front lines as NATO allies scrambled last fall to track a “surge” of Russian subs that had deployed into the North Atlantic, the Star has learned.”

Navy public affairs officers are ecstatic at the results of their PR push.

But will this positive publicity be enough to push off the bean-counters eyeing savings from the sub fleet? The RCN hopes so.