Monday, April 9, 2012

Vimy Ridge 95 years on...

It is one of the most beautiful memorials to The Great War, The War To End All Wars. I say this clouded by being a descendant of those who fought in the trenches of WW1 France, has travelled to more modern warzones, and seen the way others commemorate the past.

Exactly 95 years ago, on Easter Monday, 1917 - April 9 - an assault began on German positions in northwestern France that had previously proven unassailable by Allied forces. This time it would be led by Canadian troops, under Canadian commanders (not British), and it would succeed beyond anyone's expectations.
We Canadians - and many others - often forget we can a tenacious bunch of SOBs, your best friends, and worst enemy. Canadians put on a good show of civility. But trust me, there's a hornest nest we'll unveil if needed. What came from the Boer War, WW1, Ortona, Normandy or Bihac were the product of a nation created by so many people who had to live with war. We know it. Don't like it. But sometimes have to deal with it. Pacem ad omnes...

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Perils Of Canadian Submariners

Oh, if only this was the problem.

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.