British MP criticizes Canadian submarine purchase

Canada got bad deal on 1998 purchase of glitch-prone vessels, MP claims

March 16, 2012
by Purchasingb2b staff-Canadian Press

OTTAWA: Canada was “daft” to purchase four used submarines with “intrinsic problems” from Britain, said British Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock, who is also claiming Canada should ask for a refund on the 1998 deal. Hancock said that Canada got a raw deal on the four Victoria-class submarines and has tabled questions in the British Parliament about the deal. He said he’s appalled the UK put together such a deal with an ally.

The glitch-prone submarines will be with the Navy until at least 2030, but defence planners will begin drawing up a replacement program within the next four years. Ottawa has been awash in rumours about the future of the submarine program and that the Navy might be asked to give up one or more of the boats.

Since they were purchased, the four Victoria-class submarines have faced a series of costly and spectacular setbacks, and even defence minister Peter MacKay recently acknowledged their “spotty” history. The Navy is doing a submarine life-extension analysis to see what it would take to keep the current boats operating. The military has felt pressure since photos surfaced of a damaged HMCS Corner Brook, which smacked into the Pacific Ocean bottom last June. Yet, technical hurdles converting British systems, a fatal fire aboard one boat, and accidents have meant Canada has no combat-ready submarines, almost 15 years after they were purchased.

The Chretien government bought the submarines from Britain for $750 million, but since then National Defence has pumped over $1 billion into repairing and converting them to Canadian use.