Wendell Sandford – Naval Association of Canada

Posted By Omar Carcelen

Tuesday was International Women’s Day. All careers are now open to women. There has been a female Captain of one of the frigates and both the CO and ExO of the Naval Reserve at HMCS Bytown are women. The RCN is responsible for controlling home waters,  national security supporting friends and oppressed peoples or those facing natural disasters around the world, maintain high-value jobs across Canada, amongst other functions. The global shipping network is immense and includes major Canadian ports of Vancouver, Halifax and the St Lawrence Seaway. Canada has the longest coastline in the world, has 324 ports and $170 billion in trade. Only two Canadian provinces don’t have ports – Saskatchewan and Alberta.

He gave a brief overview of international law of the sea including the waters that are territorial Canadian waters. There will be problems in the Arctic with overlaps with Canada, Norway, Russia and Denmark but there is a system to work it out. We have boundary disputes with the US north of Haida Gwaii and with Denmark near Hans Island.

Forty countries in the world have submarines; Canada has four. Australia has six. Subs are really useful in the Arctic but the ones we bought can not go into the Arctic and punch up through the ice. Maritime vessels can go anywhere in the world. As an example, during 9/11 Canada sent three ships immediately to the Horn of Africa. HMCS Fredericton is currently on standby as part of a NATO force in the Eastern Mediterranean. The RCN alternates between the east and west coast navies. There is always one ship; ready to go, one out and one at port. There is little slack as we have only 12 ships. This year Canada undertook a sovereignty exercise with two ships from each coast in the Arctic for the first time. Canadian ships will be gong to Haiti to help out. The will help with medical needs, water and building structures.

The heart of the RCN is the people. The RCN is the only navy in the world that the US Navy will permit as an escort to a US aircraft carrier because of the capability of our sailors and interoperability of our ships.

Existing defence strategies include the Canada First Defence Strategy, the Northern Strategy and the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. He also spoke about the new shipbuilding program (to be spread over 20 years) and helicopters as well as the need for the CF-18 replacement and the Aurora Maritime surveillance planes, which are undergoing upgrades. Other equipment we need includes drones. Twenty-three industries in Ontario are involved in the shipbuilding program including Lockheed Martin in Kanata.

We still need Arctic Offshore Patrol ships with the ability to be self-sustaining in the Arctic and be able to get through one meter of ice. Only Denmark and Norway have ships that can sail in ice. A Joint Support ship is also to be built to replace HMCS Preserver and Protecteur, which provided logistic support at sea. This need is currently being provided by other countries. Finally, we need a Surface Combatant to replace the Tribal Class destroyers.

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