Monday, April 9, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is today reporting that one of our submarines had an unfortunate encounter with the seabed last summer. HMCS Corner Brook apparently ran into the ground while on manoeuvres in the Pacific last June, just off British Columbia. As the photos obtained by the CBC show, the damage was severe. Or, as Canadian Senator Colin Kennedy put it, "horrific".
Corner Brook is one of four Victoria-class subs the now Royal Canadian Navy purchased from Great Britain back in 1998. All were used (or previously-owned, if you'd prefer), and the deal was sen by many observers - including myself - as bad. Think about getting an old AMC Gremlin or Hyundai Pony: cheap to buy, hell to maintain.
To date, none of the RCNs subs have been deemed combat-ready for deep water patrols, the only thing that makes them an effective part of Canada's maritime defence apparatus. HMCS Chicoutimi caught fire while transiting to Canada from the UK, killing an officer, and remains in dry dock in Halifax. The Victoria has a dented hull, with her sailing operations restricted. And HMCS Windsor entered dry dock in Halifax in 2007, where she still remains. As the CBC report states, "Not one submarine is capable of firing a torpedo."
You really do get what you pay for with these marine versions of the Iltis jeep that once plagued the Canadian Army. And the fact that the Department of National Defence and the RCN have been so quiet about the problems with these vessels makes one think they are taking the term 'silent service' to a new level.
Cut and run, suits and stripes. And do it right now, because this current situation does a great disservice to the lengthy experience Canadian submariners have acquired over at least the last half century.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
I've added a link at right (under Horn Of Africa Piracy) to Bahadur's blog, The Pirates Of Puntland, where he has more information about the book, and himself.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
A perceptive analysis of what could - should? - be done in the wake the al-Qaeda leader's death comes from Chrystia Freeland of Reuters. His death last week brings to a close a decade-long, US-led international effort at stemming bin Laden's efforts to wage conflict with those who did not ascribe to his extremist view. And to those who feel otherwise, can you please just accept that he is dead. If the Taliban believes he's gone, there's no reason anyone else should.)
Read what Freeland wrote yesterday, as there is an economic aspect worth considering.
But a colleague of mine who works as a marine safety inspector recently reminded that the warmer weather also signals the start of what he blithely calls "the idiot season". That is, the period when an inordinate number of people take to the water, many of whom put themselves - and others - at risk by their actions.
As he put it, "There is a certain kind of Mad Men mentality that affects boaters. Small craft operators, I mean. It's like, 'We don't need any rules'. But driving a car without wearing your seat belt? No way, not any more. Flying an airplane without knowing the rules, or drinking and driving? Absolutely not. But folks still think they can just climb in a boat, fire up the engine, grab a beer and head off."
His frustration was evident as we spoke. After years working on merchant vessels in the Great Lakes and on the oceans, he's seen his share of accidents, near misses and "stupidity" on the water, with much of his ire focused on recreational boaters, especially small craft users.
I bring this up because a surprising number of people in Canada still don't realize that operators of recreational craft fitted with any type of motor must carry what Transport Canada deems proof of competency while on board. It's the law from coast to coast to coast, whether you're in a PWC, a sailboat with an outboard or a canoe with a trolling motor. Motor + watercraft = need to get a competency card.
Now lest anyone fret that this is another form of government intrusion into our daily lives, it should be noted that there's an easy way to deal with things: Get a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. Essentially it proves you've done a basic boating safety course and know port from starboard, so to speak. There's a manual you can purchase in many nautical outfitters or book stores that you study, then comes a written exam. If you pass, the card is yours, for life. It's not a license that has to be renewed.
To make things easier, Transport Canada has accredited a variety of organizations across the country that offer classroom or online courses. A list of accredited groups can be found on the Transport Canada website (see the Marine Safety sidebar), but I'll point out one good online site that can help anyone through the process.
It's called BoaterExam.com, and allows you to do tutorials at your own pace and write the final exam when you're ready. And the exam is an open book one, so that should make things easier.
Getting a Pleasure Craft Operator Card is a no-brainer, whether you're a teenager or retired. About seven to nine million Canadians take to the water every year, but over 200 die while out boating, and something like 6000 other accidents occur annually. Doesn't have to be that way.
Get the card.
Algoma District, Northern Ontario