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Defending Canadian Arctic Sovereignty

Stoker

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MarkOttawa said:
Earlier on planned new USCG icebreakers (rebadged as "Polar Security Cutters" to sound defence-oriented in order to make it easier to get money from Congress)--note major role for US breakers has been in the Antarctic, not the Arctic:

And this from July 9:

Mark
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We should of swallowed our pride and bought there as well.
 

Cloud Cover

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Some specs on USCG ships, note delivery dates : https://vthm.com/polar-security-cutter/

“The U.S. Department of the Navy has awarded VT Halter Marine of Pascagoula, Mississippi, as the prime contractor of a $745,940,860 fixed-price incentive-firm contract for the detail design and construction of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) PSC (formerly the Heavy Polar Icebreaker). The PSC program is a multiple year Department of Homeland Security Level 1 investment and a USCG major system initiative to acquire up to three multi-mission PSCs to recapitalize the USCG’s fleet of heavy icebreakers. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $1,942,812,266. The first ship delivery is scheduled to occur in 2024, the second in 2025 and the last delivering in early 2027.

The Polar Security Cutter will fill a current, definitive need for the Coast Guard’s statutory mission and provide support for other mission needs in the higher latitudes vital to the economic vitality, scientific inquiry and national interests of the United States.

VT Halter Marine is teamed with Technology Associates, Inc. as the ship designer and, for over two years, has participated in the U.S. Coast Guard’s Heavy Polar Icebreaker Industry Study. The ship design is an evolution from the mature ”Polar Stern II” currently in design and construction; the team has worked rigorously to demonstrate its maturity and reliability. During the study, TAI incrementally adjusted the design and conducted a series of five ship model tank tests to optimize the design. The vessels are 460 feet in length with a beam of 88 feet overall, a full load displacement of approximately 22,900 long tons at delivery. The propulsion will be diesel electric at over 45,200 horse power and readily capable of breaking ice between six to eight feet thick. The vessel will accommodate 186 personnel comfortably for an extended endurance of 90 days.“
 

MarkOttawa

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From Cloud Cover above:
During the study, TAI incrementally adjusted the design and conducted a series of five ship model tank tests to optimize the design

Some of that USCG tank testing, June 2018 story:

U.S. Coast Guard turns to Canada for help with designing its new heavy icebreaker

With growing concerns over its apparent “icebreaker gap” with Russia and an urgent need to replace its only operational heavy icebreaker the United States Coast Guard has turned to Canada for help in designing the future generation of its polar-class heavy icebreakers.

The U.S. Coast Guard is collaborating with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to access its renowned ice tank facilities in St. John’s, Newfoundland, to model and evaluate the specifications needed to design the new heavy icebreakers...

2017-06-01-13-07-23.jpg

Researchers tested multiple scale models of heavy icebreakers with different hull designs and propulsion configurations at the National Research Council of Canada in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. (National Research Council of Canada)
https://www.rcinet.ca/eye-on-the-arctic/2018/06/22/u-s-coast-guard-canada-heavy-icebreaker-nrc-ice-tank/

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MarkOttawa

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Note Russkie icebreaker help--our A/OPS derived from Svalbard:

Norwegian Coast Guard vessel reaches North Pole
Both Canadian and US Coast Guard have sailed to the top of the world before, but «KV Svalbard» became the first Norwegian ship to reach the North Pole.

The ice-breaking capable «KV Svalbard» sails in the Arctic ice as part of CAATEX, an ocean climate change research project led by Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Centre.

On Wednesday, the ship made history by becoming the first Norwegian vessel to reach the North Pole, the Coast Guard writes in a tweet.

TV2 can tell that the Norwegian Coast Guard vessel partly sailed in a path in the ice made by a Russian icebreaker. Sailing with tourists to the North Pole, the nuclear-powered icebreaker «50 let Pobedy» has been to the top of the world five times this summer.

It was also a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker, the «Arktika» that on August 17th 1977 became the world’s first surface vessel to reach the North Pole. First attempt to drift over the Arctic Ocean was done by Fridtjof Nansen and his crew onboard the «Fram» in 1893-96.

Sailing under the ice, the U.S. nuclear-powered submarine «USS Nautilus» became the first to reach the North Pole on August 3rd, 1958.

The first non-nuclear-powered ship to reach the North Pole was the Swedish icebreaker «Oden» in September 1991. In 1994, the two Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers «CCGS Terry Fox» and «CCGC Louis S. St-Laurent» made it to the North Pole, while the Coast Guard vessel «Healy» became the first U.S. surface vessel at the North Pole in 2005.

skjermbilde_2019-08-21_kl._13.54.38.png

"KV Svalbard" came to 90 degrees North on August 21st, 2019. Photo: Norwegian Coast Guard
https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/arctic/2019/08/norwegian-coast-guard-vessel-reach-north-pole

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Czech_pivo

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After losing a frigate earlier I guess they needed a 'feel good' story for the people back home.
 

daftandbarmy

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MarkOttawa said:
Note Russkie icebreaker help--our A/OPS derived from Svalbard:

Mark
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<cough> Amundsen <cough> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roald_Amundsen

:)
 

Kirkhill

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Why is it considered better that we liberal Danes run Greenland rather than the Americans? Is liberalism more effective at countering Russian and Chinese expansionist ambitions?

Gullible Danes, who are now smugly laughing off Trump’s offer, find Chinese commercial investment innocent because it does not make territorial claims explicit. And our pacifist vision for the territory is to let well-intentioned scientists dig for ice-core samples to figure out how the climate looked in the Jurassic age and mine the vast frozen island for stories about melting ice to frighten the world.

Handing Greenland to the United States is Denmark’s only chance to counter Russian arctic domination and Chinese ambitions. With Global warming opening up major sea lanes in the north, that will considerably reduce time and costs for commercial shipping as well as unleash a bonanza of untapped oil and rare metals riches. The addition of Greenland to US territory will enhance Denmark’s security and guarantee that Greenland’s resources are tapped to our benefit and not to that of China, who has been showing an increasing and keen interest in Greenland’s geological riches.

Greenland is a territory of enormous strategic importance. Truman acknowledged this when he sought to acquire the territory in 1946 for £80m ($100m) and Trump has only made explicit what US foreign policy experts have been advocating for decades. When the West’s Middle East ambitions imploded after the disaster in Iraq, many think-tankers began to explore the Arctic question. It is clear from the many papers written on this that it is a generation-defining issue.

Russia has already claimed ownership in the Arctic and strengthened its military presence greatly. It demands that freighters ask permission to use the Northern sea route and demands that Russian pilots are allowed on board. This is exactly what the Danish king used to do at Elsinore where tolls would be wrested from merchant vessels by training cannons at traffic on the sound. This extorted money funded the Danish empire.

As for the Greenlanders, among its 50,000 inhabitants, there has been a strong and growing independence movement fed by resentment of Danish colonial policies. The Greenlander union boss, Jess G. Berthelsen, famously said that he would rather shit in a bucket than take the yearly £400m lump sum from the Danish government. There is no doubt that there would be a majority for a US acquisition, if the price was right.

Even though we have jesters for kings now, the basic security structure remains the same. Putin and Xi are wolves let loose among the liberal sheep of the Arctic (Norway, Canada, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland). I would much rather entrust the security of my family to the capable force of the American military than to a rag-tag bunch of smug Danish liberals.

Thomas Vann Altheimer is a filmmaker from Copenhagen

https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2019/08/why-denmark-should-sell-greenland-to-donald-trump/

It seems to fit with the discussion.
 

Spencer100

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Why is Byers the go-to guy?

https://apnews.com/20632f3e017741b89a15e0d0927a7ada

- mod edit to fix link -
 

Colin Parkinson

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To be fair to Byers he is quite good when it comes to the legal issues around the Arctic and laws regarding international marine boundaries. When he starts talking about military matters I stop listening. 
 

Underway

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:ditto:

Very good for arctic stuff I agree.  Perhaps if Greenland doesn't want to go with the US and is against working with the Danes still we could make an offer...

Pros and Cons of that? 
 

Colin Parkinson

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We already do a terrible job of looking after our North, they take one look at the effort we put into our Northern communities and say "No thanks". The US already pumps a lot of money into Greenland, so for now they can have their cake and eat it to.
 

Blackadder1916

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Colin P said:
We already do a terrible job of looking after our North, they take one look at the effort we put into our Northern communities and say "No thanks". The US already pumps a lot of money into Greenland, so for now they can have their cake and eat it to.

I doubt Greenlanders get much cake from a US presence in their country.  Their one big location in Greenland is Thule.  Don't try imagining it as a typical base that pumps money into the local (environs of the base) economy by purchasing goods and services for base operations or by providing a customer base who will live in the community and frequent local merchants.  There are no local merchants because there is no local community (. . . nearest village is located 75 miles away).  The locals who used to live where the base is now were relocated (against their will) somewhere around a hundred miles away.  There have been (maybe still ongoing?) lawsuits from some of the dispossessed to regain their traditional hunting grounds that they are still forbidden to use.

Where does the USAF get their supplies?  Just like the CAF at Alert, they are shipped in from down south (the United States).  As for providing employment for Greenlanders:

https://www.businessinsider.com/what-its-like-to-serve-at-thule-air-base-2016-4
Today, the base typically is used for allied surveillance of the northern polar region and has a stripped-down presence of  approximately 400 Danes, 50 Greenlanders, three Canadians, and 140 American military and support staff.

Surely the US government pays a hefty rent for their base and the environmental impact of military operations that has included nuclear radiation from the attempt to station nuclear missiles and the crash of an armed bomber (not including the bomb that is still missing).  According to the 1951 US/Denmark agreement:
https://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/den001.asp
Government of the United States of America, without compensation to the Government of the Kingdom of Denmark, may use such defense area in cooperation with the Government of the Kingdom of Denmark for the defense of Greenland and the rest of the North Atlantic Treaty area, and may construct such facilities and undertake such activities therein as will not impede the activities of the Government of the Kingdom of Denmark in such area.

There was some updating of agreements in 2004 to take into account the changes in the autonomy of Greenland, but in terms of payment to Greenland it was something in the neighbourhood of $20 million.

Some info about Thule.
https://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/128262/life-at-thule/
 

Spencer100

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From the Seapower. 

https://seapowermagazine.org/high-latitudes-higher-tension-ice-diminished-arctic-does-not-extend-a-warm-welcome/?fbclid=IwAR0Yj2Fg5mw7zyhLAt01zRHXpleqY-DB_tw6FcFWpYEC1M-z_Sh_KBWCJPc

Lots to say about Canada
 

MarkOttawa

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Sensible US piece here, lots on Canada, note CCG commissioner (no reporting in our media)--excerpts from Seapower, official publication of the Navy League of the United States, headline a bit of a stretch:

High Latitudes, Higher Tension: Ice-Diminished Arctic Does Not Extend a Warm Welcome
...
Speaking at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space exposition in May, Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Karl Schultz announced that the service had just contracted for its new Polar Security Cutter (PSC), calling it the “first recapitalization of the heavy icebreaker capability in the nation in more than 40 years.” Simultaneously, and what Schultz said was no coincidence, the Coast Guard issued its new “Arctic Strategic Outlook.”

The U.S. Navy released “Strategic Outlook for the Arctic” in January, which outlines the objectives of defending U.S. sovereignty and the homeland from attack, ensuring that the Arctic remains a stable and conflict-free region, preserving freedom of the seas, and promoting partnerships within the U.S. Government and with allies and partners to achieve these objectives.

According to the Danish “Defence Agreement 2018-2023,” “Climate change brings not only better accessibility, but also an increased attention to the extraction of natural resources as well as intensified commercial and scientific activity. There is also increased military activity in the area.”..

All of these documents and action underscore concerns about presence, sovereignty, safety and security, environmental, economic, and world power competition in the Arctic. Russia has been open about its massive military buildup in the Arctic, but Russia has a vested interest in extracting resources and building access to markets. In fact, Russia gets 20 percent of its gross domestic product from the north — not the situation in North America [emphasis added]. In 2018, China announced in its official Arctic strategy a $1 trillion program to develop polar regions economically, declaring itself a “Near-Arctic State.” Russia’s military expansion and China’s attempts to invest in a ports on Baffin Island and airports in Greenland have alarmed the West. However, all the nations have a goal to maintain the Arctic as a low-tension area, stressing cooperation and collaboration...

The Royal Canadian Navy has commissioned [not yet] the first of six Harry DeWolf Arctic and offshore patrol vessels, and two more are planned for the Canadian Coast Guard. The CCG is also modifying three icebreakers procured from Sweden for use in Canadian waters...

There has been an increase in traffic in Canada’s Northwest Passage, including transits by the Crystal Serenity cruise ship in 2016 and 2017. But the ice is unpredictable and prevented ships from getting through last year. The 27 rural communities in Canada’s Nunavut territory are not connect by roads, but must be resupplied once a year by ship or barge, and are dependent on the capability to operate in the Arctic in the summer. Both the Royal Canadian Navy and Coast Guard hope their new ships will allow them to work farther north, and upgrading a former mining pier at Nanasivik to be used as a refueling port will let them stay longer.

Cooperation

Also speaking at Sea-Air-Space, U.S. Coast Guard Deputy Commandant for Operations Vice Adm. Daniel B. Abel talked about profound partnerships and native knowledge. He served previously in command of the 17th Coast Guard District in Juneau, Alaska, where he learned to “Listen to those who live there, who are impacted by the Arctic.”

The Alaskan coastline is more than 6,600 miles long, Abel said — more than the entire coastline for the lower 48 states. So cooperation is an absolute necessity.

We work closely with our partners in the Arctic, including our neighbors in Canada, who are the best partners we could ever have [emphasis added],” Abel said.

But that includes all the players in the Arctic. “The distance across the Bering Strait is 44 miles, the same distance as Washington is to Baltimore. That’s how close the United States is to Russia,” Abel said. “Clearly, we have to cooperate.”

Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard Jeffery Hutchinson, speaking at the Sea-Air-Space, said the Arctic is “not as frozen as it once was, but from where we sit, there’s still lots of ice [emphasis added].”

The U.S. and Canada work closely with the other Arctic nations, as members of the Arctic Coast Guard Forum. “We all understand the vastness in the Arctic, in the ice, on the seas and on the land. It requires everyone to pull together,” Hutchinson said. “There isn’t an Arctic nation that hasn’t had to rely on another Arctic nation, at some point — and I say that with pride and humility.

One important way nations cooperate in through scientific research and environmental data collection. This fall the German research icebreaker Polarstern will get stuck in the Arctic ice on purpose, and drift for a year as teams of 600 scientists and researchers from 17 countries rotate on and off the ship to collect data that would otherwise be impractical or impossible. The Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) will study the Arctic climate system and how it relates to global climate models. The U.S., Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden are participating in the International Cooperative Engagement Program for Polar Research (ICE-PPR), which shares in the development and use of polar sensors and remote sensing techniques, data collection, environmental modeling and prediction, and associated human factors involved in operating in the extreme latitudes. The Canadian Armed Forces are leading the multinational Joint Arctic Experiment...
https://seapowermagazine.org/high-latitudes-higher-tension-ice-diminished-arctic-does-not-extend-a-warm-welcome/

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daftandbarmy

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If you want to have a lower cost, regularly achievable option of staking a claim to Arctic Sovereignty, why not make it a primary task of the reserves?

They could train all year to deploy to the high arctic in the summer, then conduct live firing/ other training on the rocky shores of Cornwallis and Baffin Islands, near all weather air and sea ports. Make it part of OP SNOWGOOSE or something.

I mean, if Army Cadets (like me and Ian Hope) can do it... #summerarcticindoctrinationcourse https://www.armycadethistory.com/Arctic_Indoc_main.htm

:)
 

MarkOttawa

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daftandbarmy:

If you want to have a lower cost, regularly achievable option of staking a claim to Arctic Sovereignty, why not make it a primary task of the reserves?

They could train all year to deploy to the high arctic in the summer, then conduct live firing/ other training on the rocky shores of Cornwallis and Baffin Islands, near all weather air and sea ports. Make it part of OP SNOWGOOSE or something...

No need for any of the CAF to go "staking a claim" to sovereignty over any of the territory you mention. No country disputes Canada's sovereignty over any of our land in the Arctic, Hans Island and the Danes aside.

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LoboCanada

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Interesting idea. I wonder what the logistics challenges of doing that are, maybe make all of the Reserves an expanded "Arctic Response Force" or whatever.

Having units use the rail to Churchill and disbursing from there?
 

MarkOttawa

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US Navy officer with RCN frigate in Arctic this summer, to get lay of the sea:

The US Navy sent this officer to sail the Arctic with the Canadians — here's what he learned about this unforgiving environment

    *The Arctic is fast becoming an increasingly competitive space, and the US Navy is working to strengthen muscles that have atrophied.
    *Lt. Samuel Brinson, a Surface Warfare Officer assigned to the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Tortuga, sailed with the Canadians aboard the frigate HMCS Ville de Quebec through the Arctic this past summer on a fact-finding mission.
    *The lieutenant was approached by the newly-established 2nd Fleet to learn from the Canadians how the US Navy can better operate in the Arctic.
    *"We need to get up there. We need to practice operating. We need to practice operating with our allies," Brinson told Insider during a recent interview, adding that "we need to start getting the level of knowledge back."
   
The US Navy's Arctic muscles have atrophied over the years, so the service is working to relearn how to operate in this increasingly competitive space.

One way the Navy is doing that is by working with US allies and partners with the necessary knowledge and skills, picking their brains on how best to operate in this unforgiving environment.

Lt. Samuel Brinson, a US Navy surface warfare officer who took part in an exchange program aboard the Canadian frigate HMCS Ville de Quebec as it conducted Arctic operations, recently talked to Insider about his experiences.

Although he declined to say exactly where he went, Brinson said that he "didn't know anyone who had been as far north" as he traveled on his Arctic mission.

The US Navy's 2nd Fleet was reactivated last summer to defend US interests in the North Atlantic and Arctic waterways, as great power rivals like Russia and even China are becoming increasingly active in these spaces.

But there's a learning curve.

"2nd Fleet is a newly-established fleet, and we just haven't been operating in the Arctic as a navy much recently," Brinson told Insider.

"We need to get up there. We need to practice operating. We need to practice operating with our allies. We need to get up there and experience it for ourselves as much as possible."

That's exactly what he did. He went on a one-month fact-finding mission in the Arctic.

Brinson, who had previously deployed to the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations (Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf), was approached by 2nd Fleet for this opportunity, which involved reporting on how the Canadian navy carries out its activities in the Arctic effectively.

"The most striking difference [between the Arctic and other deployment locations] is how remote it is," he explained to Insider. "There are just not many towns. You go forever without seeing other ships. You go forever without seeing other establishments. The distance is a lot further between the places we were operating than it looks on a map."

From an operations perspective, that makes logistics a bit more difficult. "The biggest challenge for going into the Arctic is logistics," Brinson said.

"You have to have a plan where you are going and really think about where you are going to get fuel, where you are going to get food, and if you need to send people or get people from the ship, how and where you are going to do that. Everything is pretty far apart."

"You don't have a lot of refueling points, resupply stations," he added. "When you get up into the Arctic, there is not really anything there, and if someone had to come get you, like if they had to send tugs to come get us, it was going to take days, like lots of days."

The emptiness of the Arctic isn't just a problem from a resupply standpoint. It also creates navigational problems.

"Because it's less developed up there, it's also been less charted," Brinson told Insider. "We spent a lot of time switching between electronic charts, paper charts, you know, Canadian charts, Norwegian charts, etc. to navigate around where we were going. You have to use whichever chart was most complete and most up to date."

"There's a lot of headway that could be made on that in the future," he added. "The more we operate up there, the more we know that, but before we send ships in to some of these places, we probably need to just survey it first."..
https://www.businessinsider.com/us-navy-is-learning-about-arctic-operations-from-the-canadians-2019-11

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MarkOttawa

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No need for hoo-hah over "icebreaker gap" when considering US Arctic sovereignty and defence--start of the piece (lots of further links at original):

The Icebreaker Gap Doesn’t Mean America is Losing in the Arctic

A warming Arctic is potentially creating a colder regional security environment. Exchanges of whiskey and schnapps — as the Canadians and Danes have done over the disputed Hans Island — may not suffice as new issues emerge. There are growing worries that a region long characterized by cooperation will no longer enjoy that exceptional status. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in May that “the region has become an arena for power and for competition.” And a number of recent U.S. government documents and speeches have highlighted similar concerns about competition in the Arctic.

For many, the United States is woefully behind, with serious implications for national defense. One of the most common and consistent metrics to make this case is a comparison of the numbers of U.S., Russian, and Chinese icebreakers. As Lindsay Rodman highlights, when comparing Russian military advantages relative to the United States in the Arctic, “the most often cited example is icebreakers.” By this standard, Washington is losing to Moscow — and it’s not even close. While Russia has at least 40 icebreakers in its fleet, China and the United States have two icebreakers apiece.

However, using relative icebreaker fleet sizes as a key metric for the state of strategic competition in the Arctic is flawed. While they are an important platform, icebreakers do little to create or address the most commonly identified defense challenges in the region. Instead, analysts should focus on the nature of the military risks in the Arctic, the role of allies and partners, and economic interests in a broader geopolitical context rather than comparing specific capabilities. Doing so is important to avoid mischaracterizing the scope of the danger or emphasizing the wrong types of solutions...
https://warontherocks.com/2019/11/the-icebreaker-gap-doesnt-mean-america-is-losing-in-the-arctic/

Mark
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Colin Parkinson

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The authors seems very vague on the Icebreakers current missions and only mentions Antarctic once in brackets. They are correct in saying they are not the "teeth" of defense, but also assumes that the threat will be military and not a asymmetrical approach. He is also silent on the fact that Canada and the US have a dispute about Canada's arctic claims, while implying they can rely upon our fleet and other NATO countries. I think he will find that ice breaking assets are already heavily utilized and future booked, leaving little room for flexibility. In fact one thing the AOP's bring to the table is a fleet of available ice capable  assets that will increase the flexibility of the government to respond to unplanned events in Northern waters.

Canada could offer up two of the AOP's on lease to help the US fill it's ice breaker gap till more ships come on line. I doubt very much they would buy ships from us, but may buy the design.
 
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