Canada Is Still Using Shitty Hand-Me-Down British Submarines

Meanwhile, the Russians are still being all 'Hunt for Red October.'

In a time when Russia is investing heavily in new nuclear attack submarine technologies, Canadian fleets are still sadly counting defective former British subs among their vessels.

Not only that, the Canadians are still reinvesting in those same Victoria Class Submarines—a group of four diesel-electric powered subs built in the 80s and used by the Brits before selling them to their colonial cousins for a profit.

One of the subs. Image: Wikimedia Commons

This week the saga continued as the Department of National Defence issued multiple procurement tenders for various supplies the Victoria subs need. No costs were associated with the call for supplies, since it's in the bidding process, but all of the tenders were listed as "SPARES FOR VICTORIA CLASS SUBMARINE."

Among the spare parts required for the aging British subs were things classified as electronic measuring componentsvideo and photographic recording equipment, and assorted tubing and fixtures.

A DND spokesperson told me over the phone that the parts were to maintain equipment stocks while at sea.

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Though tubing and other fixtures might not seem like much, the subs already have a history of being plagued with leaky valves and cracked steel piping that docked the subs for a time, among other disastrous problems. In 2004, a crew member died in a fire on one of the subs, while in 2011 another Victoria Class Submarine had an accident off the coast of Vancouver Island, injuring two seamen. 

In spite of those problems, the Canadian feds not only call the subs a "strategic asset," but "stealthy, lethal and persistent, making them ideal for surveillance and intelligence gathering," even though only one of four subs is operational today.

The Liberal government of the 90s presiding over the procurement considered the Cold War subs a discount purchase, a naval fixer-upper worth the deal. Instead, the subs have made a laughingstock out of the Canadian Navy, as it attempts to upgrade and maintain the decrepit subs.

The tenders, shrouded on an obscure government website, is indicative of the continued care the subs receive—without much naval action to show for it.

They also come on the heels of reports in the National Post that the subs are draining the coffers of a Royal Canadian Navy, already on the budgetary ropes, with program costs ballooning to around $900 million.  

Back in 1993 the Brits decommissioned the four subs offering them to the Canadians for about $500 million. The subs saw service by 2000 and have been in and out of commission ever since.

But as the race for the Arctic ramps up with Russia, the fact is, DND is still pouring money into ancient subs, while the Russians upgrade from their Soviet era boats to modern war machines. In other words, dasvidaniya, Canada.