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Canadian Flag Aboard HMCS Navy Ship

Crew members on board Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Algonquin (DDG 283) raise a giant Canadian flag during a formation exercise during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, in the Pacific Ocean, photo by : Marc-Andre Gaudreault, Canadian Forces Combat

Top Admiral Says Royal Canadian Navy Is In Trouble

Reuters
Total Views: 5776
November 28, 2023

By David Ljunggren (Reuters) Canada’s understaffed and resource-stretched navy is in “a critical state” and might not be able to carry out its basic duties next year, the top admiral said in a YouTube video released this week.

The comments by Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee are an unusually blunt expression of unhappiness from the military over the state of the armed forces. Canada only spends about 1.3% of its annual gross domestic product on defense, much less than the North Atlantic Treaty Organization target of 2%.

In the video, which runs just under six minutes, Topshee said the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) had not hit its recruitment targets for more than a decade.

Also Read: Canadian Royal Navy Spending Is Disappointing by James Stavridis 

“Colleagues and shipmates – the RCN faces some very serious challenges right now that could mean we fail to meet our force posture and readiness commitments in 2024 and beyond,” he said.

“The situation is serious but our problems are not unique and I know that the air force and army are facing similar challenges,” he continued.

The West Coast fleet is “beset with a shortage of qualified techs” which means ships cannot meet operation and maintenance targets, he said.

The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to cut C$1 billion from the defense budget as part of a fiscal restraint package.

Chief of the Defence Staff General Wayne Eyre, Canada’s top soldier, told legislators in late September that this had prompted a “very difficult session” with commanders of the various services.

Also Read: Party’s Over: Canadian Navy Bans Drinking at Sea

The navy relies on its 12 Halifax class frigates, which are approaching the end of their 30-year operational life but must stay in service for another 15 years because their replacements are behind schedule and over budget.

“This is a very considerable challenge … I wish it was not so but I am afraid there is simply no other choice,” said Topshee, who took over as Canada’s top sailor in May 2022.

The video was released on Monday without any publicity.

The offices of Topshee and Defence Minister Bill Blair did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Also Read: Canadian Royal Navy Spending Is Disappointing by James Stavridis 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by David Gregorio, Reuters)

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