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Canada's Navy: Deep-Sixed Over the Decades

07/24/2013 05:11 EDT | Updated 09/23/2013 05:12 EDT

Canada's navy is comprised of hard working personnel, but has been gutted over the years. To counteract this, the navy should be merged with the Canadian Coast Guard, suggested military expert Honorary Colonel Fred P. Mannix of Calgary in a recent email.

He pointed out:

1. "At the end of World War II the Royal Canadian Navy had 332 ships and was the third largest navy in the world. Today Canada has 21 combatant ships."

2. "However, Canada has 121 ships in the Coast Guard and RCMP. The deterrence value of a 142 ship navy would put Canada back in the ranks as a naval power. Ideally, there would be a cost-saving by rolling all the headquarters into one -- the Royal Canadian Navy."

The Royal Navy has rejected a merger on the basis that the Coast Guard's fleet is poorly maintained and that they are not a seafaring police department, as is the Guard. Besides that, the Navy is manned with military personnel while the Coast Guard has a unionized, 9-to-5 workforce involved in interdiction, smuggling and rescue operations.

The real solution, of course, is to create a navy equivalent to the task of guarding Canada, which has more coastlines than any ten countries combined. But military or defence expenditures are very unpopular in Quebec and among some Canadians. Instead, Canada is woefully inadequate in terms of its naval support and relies on the Americans to protect the country's shores.

Even worse, the Coast Guard is falling into the same cost-cutting as has gutted the navy. "If the Coast Guard role were part of the Canada Navy role, the proposed ships should be designed for Navy/Coast Guard interdiction, fighting and deterrence roles. Canada should have a continuous program for ship building so the shipyards do not have a constant start up and retraining problem," wrote Mannix.

"A larger number of ships will contribute to Canada's international stature and add weight to our image abroad," he added.

And Canada sure has a long, long way to go: The Canadian Navy has 8,500 personnel. The American navy has 317,000. Of course, the United States patrols the world, while Canada's navy patrols its own jurisdiction. But even so, the gap is not only noticeable but embarrassing.