Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bad Sub Math

The stories about the Canadian submarine force have mostly been a tale of dry dock and not of operations.  We now have a counter-narrative by Tim Dunne, who notes here that the recent sub accident was not as bad as portrayed as it did not damage the pressure hull. 

That would be okay if Canada had a bunch of other deployable subs, but it does not.  Even worse, the article seems to suggest that the sub force is fine with 900 days of deployment since 2003.  The math here is pretty easy: 900 days at sea for four subs for nine years.  That is an average of 100 days at sea per year for the entire sub force.  Which means that 265-266 days a year or more, there are no subs at sea.  Worse still, this means that each sub averages 25 days at sea a year.  This does allow a sub to occasionally participate in some exercise.  But not anything more than that.  It is not just that the average Canadian sub is broken but most (meaning nearly all)* subs are broken most (meaning nearly all) of the time.
*  I got into an argument recently about the meaning of "most" and I asserted it is more than just 51%.

So, this one piece of sub cheer-leading does not change my mind--four subs, even if operational, are not enough to be more than a token effort to defend Canada's coasts.  Four broken subs fall short of even that minimal goal of token effort.  Given the realities of Canadian defence spending, the tradeoffs must be addressed, meaning the likely end of the Canadian sub force (and I am a big fan of subs and see why navies need them).

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