By Mark Romanow


an adia n def e nc e po l icy requires the Navy to maintain a m od er n, mu lti- p urp o se, combat-c apable f orce “able to fight alongside the best, against the best” with a balanced fleet able to deploy on both coasts. The 1998 Auditor General’s Report found that although the Navy is “well served by its surface fleet o f m odern w ar ships, c oncer ns remain about its helicopter and replenishment ships, which provide support, and its submarines”.

The Canadian Navy currently maintains two PROTECTEUR class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment ships (AOR’s) of 24,700 ton loaded displacement, with a maximum speed of 21 knots (kts), maximum range of 7,500 nautical miles (kms) at 11.5 kts, carry a crew of 247, including air detachment, and can carry up to three Seaking helicopters each with one helicopter operations position. They can carry limited numbers of light military vehicles and bulk equipment for sealift purposes – but their prime purpose is Replenishment At Sea (RAS) where they are fitted with four dedicated RAS Stations and two 15-ton cranes for bulk store lift-on/lift-off capability. One is bas ed on each co ast to support the Pacific and Atlantic fleets.

The solitary 35 year old PROVIDER class AOR, which has been used in a reserve fill-in role to cover refits, is being retired early to help fund the Upholder submarine acquisition program. The PROTECTEUR class AOR’s are equipped with modern naval communications and radars. For defence they are equipped with guns and decoy systems to defeat incoming cruise missiles. In terms of operational ship effectiveness, the AOR’s will need replacement within the next decade, as both ships are almost 30 years old. If either should unexpectedly requir e major maintenance it would leave one of the fleets without an ‘At Sea’ Replenishment and Maintenance capability. Operationally, the AOR’s are tasked with furnishing RAS support to a deployed Task Group at Sea, providing: fuel; ammunition; lubricants; provisions; stores; water; helicopter maintenance facilities and spares support. They also provide medical and dental care for the Task Group as most ships us ually deploy without a do ctor. Recently they have provided a limited headquarters and support facility for forces deployed ashore in Somalia and have undertaken hurricane relief operations in Florida in 1994. They have also undertaken limited sealift of military vehicles in support of the Bosnian and Somalian deployments.

During the Gulf war in 1991 the deployed Canadian Task Group based around the AOR PROTECTEUR, whose air group provided area surveillance operations, was in charge of the multinational naval resupply forces in the Persian Gulf.

Canada maintains several maritime commitments in support of national policy. Contingency forces of up to a maritime task group, comprised of up to four warships and a support ship with appropriate air support, are prepared to deploy on national, NATO, multilateral or UN contingency operations if required. One ship is also permanently on duty with the multinational Standing Naval Force Atlantic, provided on an alternating basis from each coast, with periodic responsibility for “command of the squadron in rotation with the other members, and the occasional assignment of” a replenishment ship. We must maintain the capability to contribute effectively to collective defence and to helping victims of aggression elsewhere or stand to lose a significant degree of respect and influence in the international community. According to The Naval Vision, “Warships have a symbolic value in that they are legal extensions of their parent state. The presence of a warship is a



Vol.4, No. 3

decoy launchers for both chaff and infrared decoy flares. Multinational military co-operation is the norm as Canada has conducted most military operations. about a situation.clear signal of the interest or concern of a state in the cause of a multinational force. They would have four dedicated RAS Stations (two combined liquid/ heavy solids and two heavy solids) equally spaced on both sides. One concept design is reflected by MIL Systems of Ottawa proposed Strategic Multi-role Aid and Replenishment Tr ansport ( SMART ship). of allowing the deployed forces to triple the time spent at sea for extended operations. The proposed vessels would have a deep displacement of approximately 28. o f dedicated Ro-Ro Sealift capability plus a support platform for land forces operating ashore. from which 30 per cent of her GNP is derived. Unfortunately. VANGUARD 6 Vol. These ships would combine the role of at sea replenishment with that The AOR has a major f o rc e multiplying effect. Figure 1 TOP View of Proposed ALSC Figure 2 Side View of Proposed ALSC In 1995. The importance of an industrialized nation such as Canada maintaining combat capable maritime forces cannot be understated. notes LCdr A G Hunt in a DND r esearch study. Some 55 per cent of Canada’s international trade. The defensive fit would be similar to the existing AOR’s with the addition of a towed acoustic torpedo decoy system. for Canada to participate in such a force we currently have to depend on chartered foreign flagged vessels to transport military vehicles as there are no suitable Canadian flagged Roll-on /Roll-off (Ro-Ro) or container ships and the current AOR’s have a limited sealift capability. Even the United Nations has recognized the importance of the world’s oceans by declaring 1998 as the International Year of the Ocean. The aft flight deck would allow for the simultaneous operation of two large maritime helicopters to maximize flight scheduling and allow rapid vertical off-loading of embarked stores. within the framework of alliances. max. such as Korea and the Gulf War as well as enforcing United Nations sanctions against Iraq or enforcing the arms embargo against the former Yugoslavia. The ships would be equipped with a communications fit similar to the PROT E C T E U R class AOR’s plus a medium range air surveillance radar to support helicopter operations. is generated by sea borne commerce. and compr ehen sive and defensive electronic warfare suites. as shown by Canada’s 30 years of continuous participation in NATO’s oldest multinational naval squadron. DND intends to start detailed planning in 2000 to replace the current AOR’s between 2005 and 2015. The hull would be ice strengthened to Lloyd’s lAS or equivalent. DND is studying the concept of multi-role vessel as an AOR replacements under the Afloat Logistics and Sealift Capability (ALSC) project. 4. The AOR has a major force multiplying effect. carry a maximum crew (including air detachment) of 111 with bunks for 40-80 additional personnel for contingency operations. range of 10. “Canada’s ability to make s ignificant contributions within an increasingly multinational world secur ity environment is enhanced by a strong. a maximum speed of 20 kts. 3 . Canada presented a report entitled ‘Towards a Rapid Reaction Capability for the United Nations’ to the 50th General Assembly of the UN whereby it recommended that the UN have at its disposal a multi-functional force that is quickly deployable to world trouble spots. Standing Naval Force Atlantic.” The co mmitment of Canada to remain an active participant in multilateral efforts promoting collective security is a reflection of Canadian values and interests. and hanger space for two to four large maritime helicopters. No. continuing tradition of Alliance co-operatio n”.800 nm at 15 kts. Warships also provide an easily deployable secure base and “ sour ce of comfor t and r elief in a disaster”. REPLACEMENT SHIPS Plans for the eventual replacement of the existing ships are being considered and according to its ‘Defence Planning Guidance 1997’ strategic planning document. notes former Vice Admiral Peter Cairns in a recent article.000 tons. notes the Hunt study.

Replenishment ships operated by the smaller navies usually have no sea lift capacity while those operated by the medium to large navies are similar in capacity to Canada’s existing AOR’s. while a 25 ton crane would be a standard fit for bulk store lift-on/lift-off purposes. sovereignty enforcement patrols. disaster relief and peace-support operations ashore. By 2004 the older AOR will have been in service for 35 years. Dock access “would be via ramps at the stern quarter and ship’s side forward. new-build. Even the UK has realized that it has a serious strategic sealift deficiency and has charter ed two commercial. national strategic sealift. This would comprise a main Ro-Ro deck capable of handling tanks and other heavy vehicles and a lower Ro-Ro deck. b Mark Romanow is an independent defence/geopolitical analyst. such as hospital facilities or portable command-and-control posts. No. such as that proposed using interchangeable containers. VANGUARD 7 Vol. and programmed funds. such as New Zealand. Ro-Ro ships to partially address this shortfall. Approximately 200 standard 20-foot containers could be carried on the decks in place of vehicles. instead of heavy container loads thus leading to questions of stability. Even Canada’s Auditor General recognizes that Canadian “Naval task groups need better support”. The traditional purveyors of large amphibious ships. A three ship program. Netherlands. in Vessels procured under the ALSC project would provide the fleet with platforms capable of the following: at sea replenishment of a small naval task force. Finally. onshore peacekeeping or joint forces ashore support. would allow two ships to be based on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Large multipurpose amphibious ships are ideally suited to such a task. The ability to undertake Sealift over long distances. a stern loading ramp. INTERNATIONAL SCENE “In an era where low-intensity operations predominate. provision of core at sea maintenance and medical facilities. control and communications. within the last decade by nations s uch as Italy. but they can only be afforded by a small number of navies. 4. could be utilized for the Task Group Support role. communications cabling. extra helicopter support for a combined task force or Search and Rescue as well as providing a capability for Emergency Environmental response to incidents such as oil spills. Internal ramps would provide access to both the upper deck and the lower Ro-Ro deck. and a capability for offloading at sea. eliminating the need for large storerooms. navies have been quick to point out their utility for humanitarian aid. OUR CHOICE Ships would provide Canada with flexible vessels capable of rapid deployment world-wide in support of foreign policy. but relatively light cargoes. to enhance flexibility they could utilize modu lar payloads o r accommodation facilities tailored to particular missions. in conjunction with the flight deck. as envisaged by DND. is a cost effective way to provide many options within a limited budget. In relation to the less than 15 per cent of the defence budget allocated to capital programs the ALSC project will deliver good value for the money allocated as long as political interference in the details.are lauded as key attributes. humanitarian and disaster relief. The ships would provide Canada with flexible vessels capable of rapid deployment world-wide in support of foreign policy. Russia and France. Certain systems. driven by factors such as a need for large internal volume.000 lane metres of Ro-Ro capacity. and provide logistic support to forces ashore . capable of carrying other tracked and wheeled military vehicles. helicopter operating and preferably support facilities. Spain and Japan. To reduce costs they would be built to IACS commercial standards in most areas and would endeavor to utilize commercial off-the-shelf(COTS) equipment. should be pre-outfitted. based in Edmonton. By 2001 Singapore will also have this capability. is kept to a minimum Through the use of COTS equipment’s and streamlined project management the acquisition and maintenance costs could be lowered while improved fuel efficiency and a smaller crew size would lead to reduced operating costs. such as the US. 3 . An innovative design. pre-stored ashore. military requirements usually mean they are more likely to embark bulky. such as electrical power.” argues Richard Scott in a recent article. In summar y. as the lead time required from initiation to completion of construction of the 1st ship can be S or more years. Unfortunately. Smaller navies with far flung commitments. workshop space.all independent of shore infrastructure . Modular payloads. have resorted to the purchase or lease of former civilian owned Ro-Ro ships at a fraction of the cost of a new build military Sealift ship. Dedicated affordable multipurpose support ships built to satisfy military needs at a cost significantly below that of a traditional warships are required. offer afloat facilities for command. the curren t AOR’s urgently require a replacement program to be initiated. have been joined.For sealift purposes they would have approximately 2. UK. the LPD categor y.

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