Kanada Denizaltılarının Makus Talihi

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Kanada'nın İngiltere'den aldığı denizaltılar deyim yerindeyse başına bela olmuş durumda.. İngiliz yapımı Upholder tipi (Kanada donanması tarafından Victoria sınıfı olarak tanımlandı) bu denizaltılardan Chicoutimi, 2004 yılında İngiltere'de resmi kabul töreni yapıldıktan sonra Kanada'ya dönerken botta yangın çıkmış, olayda bir denizci hayatını kaybetmişti. Chicoutimi yaklaşık 2 yıldır kuru havuzda, onarımda.  
Victoria sınıfının diğer iki denizaltısı Victoria ve Corner Brook halihazırda kapsamlı modernizasyondan geçmekte. Bu sınıfın tek aktif denizaltısı Windsor ise 2007'de modernizasyona girecek. 

Kanada denizaltılarının durumu bir süredir Kanada basınında çok sert eleştirilere ve tartışmalara sahne olmaktaydı. "Ottowa Sun" gazetesinde Greg Weston imzası ile çıkan makalenin sertlik ve kinaye dozajı epey yüksek (vurgular tarafımdan eklenmiştir)

Submarines sinking in a sea of red ink
The four submarines Canada bought from Britain in 1998 have turned from a bargain into a fleet of white elephants, reports Greg Weston

By Greg Weston

This weekend's tour of the federal funny farm takes us to the Department of National Defence, home to one of the world's only submarine fleets stationed predominantly on dry land.
According to the latest naval intelligence, or lack thereof, three of Canada's four illustrious subs are now high and dry and diving into a sea of red ink in various coastal shipyards. 

One of the subs has been in the repair shop in Halifax for three years, another won't be wet again until at least 2008, and the third one will be lucky to see the ocean floor before 2013.
The only member of this unique landlubbing fleet still in service, the Windsor, is also being hauled out of the water in 2007 for an estimated three years of repair and refit. 

As if Canadian taxpayers could ever forget, these are the four used rust buckets that Jean Chretien's government cleverly bought from the British navy for $811 million in 1998. 

In the exact words of then Liberal defence minister Art Eggleton: "These submarines are a great purchase for Canada." 

Unfortunately, Canadian defence officials apparently never questioned why the Brits were so eager to unload their barely-used vessels at such bargain-basement prices.
As usual, we got what we paid for. 

After more than a decade of being dockside decorations in a British shipyard, the subs had rusted on the outside, rotted from the inside, and required hundreds of millions of dollars of repair just to make them marginally seaworthy. 

The last one to set sail for Canada from the eternal repair shop in Scotland was the Chicoutimi. It got a whole two days out to sea in 2004 before being crippled by an onboard fire that killed a Canadian seaman and injured eight others. 

At that point, the admirals and the Liberal politicians could have bitten the ballast, admitted they had made a terrible mistake, and consigned the whole sub fleet to the scrapyard, at least saving taxpayers a fortune in good money after bad. 

Alas, bureaucratic butt-covering triumphed in the defence department once again -- supported, we should add, by the collective genius of Paul Martin's administration -- and the decision was made that there is nothing other people's money couldn't fix, including a bunch of lemon submarines. 

While defence officials publicly estimated repairs to the Chicoutimi wouldn't cost more than about $50 million, internal government documents obtained by Sun Media suggest a sub salvage sailing towards an ocean of bills several times that amount. Last August, for instance, the government issued the second of two contracts totalling more than $15 million, not to actually repair the Chicoutimi -- just to draft the plan to fix it. 

And a significant stack of contract documents and memos details plans to provide the naval brass and about 30 staff with new dockside offices, complete with all-new furniture and a gym, for the indefinite period of the Chicoutimi repair. 

No one seems quite sure how many millions got spent on repair plans and new desks before the light finally flickered on at defence headquarters, aided perhaps by a new Conservative government wondering what the heck was going on. 

Without fanfare, National Defence recently issued an innocuous-looking press release saying the repairs to the Chicoutimi "will be deferred until 2010." 

An unfortunate naval spokesman told us that since the Chicoutimi is due to be drydocked for its five-year routine maintenance in 2010, it didn't make sense to do three years of needed repairs now, put it back in the water for a year or so, and take it out again. It should now be in service by 2013. 

By then, Canada will have owned the sub for 15 years, sunk at least $400 million of taxpayers' money into it, and had it in active military service for exactly two days.
Meanwhile, the other two subs in drydock are each sucking up at least $60 million just for their routine tune-up.
With any luck, long before 2013, Chicoutimi will be joined by the rest of the rust-bucket brigade somewhere they can finally serve the interests of all Canadians. In a museum.


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