Wednesday, February 25, 2009

JSS delay fall-out--Note: see Update thought

The consequences of the government's putting the Joint Support Ship acquisition on hold:
Canada's navy may soon be left with one supply ship -- for East, West coasts

Defence planners are scrambling to figure out how the Canadian navy will be able to operate on the East and West coasts next year when it is left with only one ship capable of providing fuel and supplies for the service's frigates and destroyers.

Among the proposals being looked at is an arrangement with an allied nation to have one of their vessels resupply Canadian warships at sea. In addition, planners at Ottawa headquarters might decide to limit the types of operations the frigates and destroyers can conduct, making sure the vessels stay close to port.

The navy finds itself in the predicament because one of its two supply ships, HMCS Preserver on the East Coast, will be out of commission starting in March 2010. The 40-year-old ship will be upgraded so it can continue operating until at least 2015. Preserver will be out of commission until January 2011.

That only leaves HMCS Protecteur, the navy's other supply ship, based in B.C., to handle duties for the fleets on both the East and West Coasts.

The supply ships are especially critical to the navy's ability to take part in international missions or long-range patrols.

The supply ships are used to transfer fuel, food, ammunition and other stores to warships while at sea, allowing those vessels to operate for longer periods without returning to port for supplies and maintenance. The ships also provide medical and dental services to crews of other navy vessels.

The ships were to have been replaced in 2012 by new vessels to be acquired under the Joint Support Ship program. But that $2.9-billion project ran aground last year when shipbuilders told the federal government they couldn't meet the requirements set out for the new vessels.

The three joint support ships would not only do the job of Protecteur and Preserver, but they would also be given added roles of hauling army vehicles, a hospital, and a command centre that could be used to direct ground forces during an international mission.

Navy officers and defence analysts had been hoping that January's federal budget would have contained up to $500 million in extra funding for the Joint Support Ship program so the project could be completed.

In addition, Defence Minister Peter MacKay suggested in December that the budget stimulus package would deal with the navy's shipbuilding needs. There was no extra money for the Joint Support Ship project and the stimulus package did not address the navy's shipbuilding programs...
Update thought: Stupid me. No "consequences". The immediate Preserver/Protecteur situation has nothing to do with the JSS project delay since any new ships will be quite a few years down the road(s). Moreover the 2012 date for replacement mentioned in the story was from a June 2006 government announcement--"with delivery of the first ship targeted [emphasis added] for 2012" [i.e. not actual in-service replacement of the two "Ps"]. Not a realistic date when that announcement was made and certainly completely unrealistic by August 2008 when the project deferral was decided.


Blogger Minicapt said...

The major problem is that the Navy needs a new AOR, for which it has the necessary specs. Unfortunately,the JSS is a concept for which no one, Canadian or other, has determined a functional specification.

And I blame Treasury Board.


8:17 p.m., February 25, 2009  
Blogger Vinland said...

I don't know if i should cry or laugh...this project was certainly not the best ever, but the only replacement of the 40 years old ships.

Stephen Harper is a good speaker with superb title such "Canada's first defence strategy" ...but in reality he does nothing...we're in downturn this is the time to purchase old CF project such the amphibious ships (sound like aircraft carrier) and the JSS...not 2020.

5:24 p.m., February 26, 2009  
Blogger Huron_Serenity said...

This is what happens when procurement projects are continually put off for political reasons.

10:15 p.m., February 26, 2009  

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