Maintenance of Canada’s four submarines is expected to cost about $3 billion from 2022 to 2025—double the maintenance costs for 2018 to 2021. Only one of the four submarines was deployed this year, for just 43 days.
The figures were outlined in an Inquiry Of Ministry tabled in the Commons and obtained by Blacklock’s Reporter.
Cabinet said in the document that the maintenance contracts up through 2025 will cost $3,004,519,213. In 2020, then-Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan reported to Parliament an expense of $1.31 billion for the period of 2018 to 2021.
No total cost of the submarine program has been disclosed to date. In 1995, Parliament approved the fleet purchase at a cost of about $780 million. A Defence Investment Plan said maintenance could cost another $5 billion “into the mid-2030s.”
Cabinet said in the inquiry document that the maintenance of the fleet is important for the future of Canada’s military operations.
“Canada’s four Victoria-class submarines form the core of the Royal Canadian Navy’s underwater surveillance capabilities,” it said.
“Covert, well-armed and capable of patrolling vast distances, these submarines provide support to maritime law enforcement in investigating narcotics trafficking, smuggling and polluting cases as well as conducting domestic and international operations.”
The submarines have been inactive this year due to personnel shortages. It takes about 500 personnel to run a submarine. From 2019 to 2022, 70 new submariners have successfully completed their basic qualifications.
Since 2008, the contractor hired for ongoing repairs and refitting has been Babcock International Group PLC, a British supplier. Dock work on one of the submarines, the HMCS Chicoutimi, has brought millions to the Esquimalt Graving Dock on Vancouver Island, B.C., reports the Times Colonist.
However, the Chicoutimi may be moved to another facility. “If the submarine work is moved from Esquimalt, it would be a major economic blow to those employed to work on Canada’s Victoria-class submarines and a hit to the local economy,” said the Times’ report.
The cabinet noted in the inquiry document that the submarine maintenance and modernization project will support jobs and “improve submarine living and deployment conditions and will ensure survivability against future threats.”