The Royal Canadian Navy is making a pitch for the purchase of up to 12 new submarines at a cost of $60 billion, say National Defence and industry sources. The Navy has a team examining the replacement of the current Victoria-class submarine fleet and there have been initial discussions with industry officials. The Royal Canadian Navy is pushing for the acquisition of the submarines to be included in the Liberal government’s Defence Policy Update. Last month at a defence conference in Ottawa, Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre acknowledged he was advocating on behalf of the navy for submarines. The navy has created the Canadian Patrol Submarine Project, or CPSP.
Canadian defence industry sources say the cost of the new subs would be around $60 billion but that price tag could climb to $100 billion as military equipment procurement programs are rarely on budget. Industry representatives pointed to the program to build 15 new surface combatants for the Canadian navy. The cost for those vessels has climbed from $25 billion to more than $80 billion.There are hurdles to the Royal Canadian Navy’s proposal to buy new subs. In the past, the navy has had trouble training enough submariners to crew its current fleet of four boats, let alone 12.
The Upholder/Victoria-class submarines, also known as the Type 2400 due to their displacement of 2,400 tonnes, are the class of the diesel-electric submarines built in the United Kingdom in the 1980s to supplement the nuclear submarines in the Submarine Service of the British Royal Navy. The Canadian government eventually purchased the submarines and a suite of trainers from the Royal Navy for Canadian Forces Maritime Command (renamed to Royal Canadian Navy in 2011) to replace their decommissioned Oberon-class submarines in 1998 and delivered between 2000 and 2004. In Canadian service, the submarines are classified as the Victoria class.
The Victoria class initially suffered from serious electrical problems and were beset by mechanical operational incidents that limited their active service and the scope of their deployments. These problems have largely been overcome and the subs have achieved full operational capability. HMCS Corner Brook has not been to sea over the last five years. From 2017 to April 2023, the Canadian Forces has spent $1.9 billion on submarine maintenance with three boats totaling 529 days at sea. The Canadian Armed Forces has suggested it could take 15 years for a new submarine to be eventually acquired. The government has committed to modernizing the subs so they can continue to operate until the mid-2030s.