Federal government considers buying nuclear submarines

Plan would see Ottawa scrap dysfunctional current fleet to buy new subs

The federal government is considering scrapping its aging fleet of British-made submarines—which have been languishing in repair shops for years—and replacing them with new ones, CBC News reported on Friday. Speaking outside the House of Commons this week, Defence Minister Peter MacKay hinted that Canada may purchase nuclear subs, which he said “are what’s needed under deep water, deep ice.” The Chrétien Liberals purchased the country’s existing fleet of subs from Britain in 1998. The price was $750 million for four second-hand subs, which was billed at the time as a bargain. But the subs have been plagued with breakdowns ever since, ratcheting up more than $1 billion in repair bills. One of the subs, the HMCS Chicoutimi, caught fire on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic to Canada, killing one sailor. Although the Department of National Defence is hoping to have the subs back in open waters over the next few years, their lifespan is estimated to be only about a decade. If the government was to cut its losses and buy nuclear subs, each new vessel would cost at least $3 billion, the CBC reports.


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