In Victoria on July 4, Canada’s Associate Defence Minister Kerri-Anne Findlay announced a new contract for $531 million to be spent in maintenance and upgrades of the four Victoria Class submarines over the next five years.
Your readers will be delighted to know that there’s also an option of a further 10-year extension after that for another $1billion. Findlay said: “This is another important investment in skilled employment in Canada’s marine sector.”
There is every likelihood that very similar sentiments were expressed by the then-federal Liberal government when these submarines were acquired from UK about 10 years ago, after they had spent a decade in mothballs. However, these vessels have become an open and bottomless money pit for Canadian taxpayers ever since. They have had problems on top of problems, with most of their time in Canada being spent in the repair yard, and hardly ever being able to put to sea.
The British Royal Navy had rightly decided they were duds and had them laid up only a couple years after their commissioning around 1990. Even British MP Mike Hancock was quoted as saying: “Buyer Beware should have been painted on the sides of these submarines.”
So when the Department of National Defence considers spending even more money on a proven disastrous maritime misadventure, what else can be said other than it’s throwing good money after bad.
Surely, as Kenny Rogers used to sing in The Gambler: “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em / Know when to walk away and know when to run.” The Victoria Class submarines were one huge gamble that definitely didn’t pay off for the Canadian Navy or its taxpayers. It’s time to pull the plug.