Archive for the ‘Arctic security’ Category

CANADA’S NEW ARCTIC MILITARY BASE DELAYED; DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN DEFENCE NEWS

January 26, 2010

BUILDING OF CANADIAN FORCES ARCTIC NAVAL FACILITY FACES DELAYS

David Pugliese’s Defence Watch

BY DAVID PUGLIESE

Ottawa Citizen

A design contract for the Canadian Forces Nanisivik Naval Facility in Nunavut has now been awarded to a civilian firm but the date that actual construction work on the facility is to begin has already fallen behind from the planned schedule and there could be further delays, Defence Watch has been told.

On Thursday the Defence Department announced that the initial design phase contract has been awarded to a British Columbia firm. Construction work at the naval facility could “possibly begin in 2011” and the installation is forecasted to be operational by 2014, according to a DND statement.

But sources tell Defence Watch that the program could slip further behind schedule, mainly because of construction and environmental issues associated with building projects in the Arctic.

The sources noted that construction at the Nanisivik site was originally scheduled to commence in the summer of 2010. It is estimated the project will cost around $100 million.

In May, Defence Department officials told a Senate committee that the facility was going to be operational as early as 2012.

“The Nanisivik berthing and refuelling facility has had initial site studies done,” explained William Pentney, Associate Deputy Minister of National Defence. “Construction work will begin in 2011.  We expect it to be operational initially in 2012 and fully operational by 2015, appreciating that Arctic seasons are short and there is a fair bit of work to be done to ensure we are meeting the environmental and planning standards as well as developing something that will be effective.”

Pentney noted that the U.S. and other allies could also use the facility. “Canada cooperates with the United States to a great degree in search and rescue and Coast Guard activities in the North and I am sure we would be happy to welcome the American military, and perhaps other militaries, to our base in our internal waters to refuel and undertake training,” he added.

Located more than 1,000 nautical miles by sea north of Iqaluit, the facility will serve as a staging area for naval vessels on station in the high Arctic, enabling them to re-supply, refuel, embark equipment and supplies, and transfer personnel. This will extend the range of Canadian ships in the Arctic during the navigable season (approximately June to October), according to the Canadian government.

Military and government officials have noted that the site is strategically located inside the eastern entrance to the North West Passage. As a deep-water berthing facility already exists at this site, start-up costs will be significantly reduced, they say. With its sheltered harbour, nearby jet-capable airstrip, and proximity to the North West Passage, Nanisivik offers an ideal location for the docking and refuelling facility, according to background information provided by the Defence Department.

The initial design contact announced Thursday was awarded to WorleyParsons Westmar Ltd., from North Vancouver, B.C.

In a statement Thursday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the contract award “demonstrates” the Conservative government’s commitment to ensuring Canada’s security and exercising sovereignty in the North.

This contract, worth just under $900,000, is for the first of four design phases of the project, according to Defence Department officials.

This initial design phase will establish the various requirements for construction, as well as preliminary design work that will lay the foundation for the remaining design phases. The other three design phases will involve conceiving detailed plans and designs, developing drawings, and preparing construction estimates for the facility, DND noted.

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN DEFENCE WATCH: NAVY’S ARCTIC PORT WON’T BE READY UNTIL 2014

November 27, 2009

 

BY DAVID PUGLIESE

Ottawa Citizen

 

A design contract for the Nanisivik Naval Facility in Nunavut has been awarded to a civilian firm from British Columbia but the date when construction work on the facility is to begin could fall behind schedule, Defence Watch has been told.

 

On Thursday the Defence Department announced that the initial design phase contract has now been awarded to a British Columbia firm. Construction work at the naval facility could “possibly begin in 2011” and is forecasted to be operational by 2014, according to the department.

 

Sources tell Defence Watch that it is fully expected that the program could slip slightly behind schedule, mainly because construction and environmental issues expected with building projects in the North.

 

The sources noted that construction at the Nanisivik site was originally expected to commence in the summer of 2010. It is estimated the project will cost around $100 million.

 

In May, Defence Department officials told a Senate committee that the facility was going to be operational as early as 2012.

“The Nanisivik berthing and refuelling facility has had initial site studies done,” explained William Pentney, Associate Deputy Minister of National Defence. “Construction work will begin in 2011.  We expect it to be operational initially in 2012 and fully operational by 2015, appreciating that Arctic seasons are short and there is a fair bit of work to be done to ensure we are meeting the environmental and planning standards as well as developing something that will be effective.”

 

Pentney noted that the U.S. could also use the facility. “Canada cooperates with the United States to a great degree in search and rescue and Coast Guard activities in the North and I am sure we would be happy to welcome the American military, and perhaps other militaries, to our base in our internal waters to refuel and undertake training,” he added.

 

Located more than 1,000 nautical miles by sea north of Iqaluit, the facility will serve as a staging area for naval vessels on station in the high Arctic, enabling them to re-supply, refuel, embark equipment and supplies, and transfer personnel. This will extend the range of Canadian ships in the Arctic during the navigable season (approximately June to October), according to the Canadian government.

 

Military and government officials have noted that the site is strategically located inside the eastern entrance to the North West Passage, at Nanisivik in Nunavut. As a deep-water berthing facility already exists at this site, start-up costs will be significantly reduced. With its sheltered harbour, nearby jet-capable airstrip, and proximity to the North West Passage, Nanisivik offers an ideal location for the docking and refuelling facility, according to background information provided by the Defence Department.

 

The initial design contact announced Thursday was awarded to WorleyParsons Westmar Ltd., from North Vancouver, B.C.

 

In a statement Thursday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the contract award “demonstrates” the Conservative government’s commitment to ensuring Canada’s security and exercising sovereignty in the North.

 

This contract, worth just under $900,000, is for the first of four design phases of the project, according to Defence Department officials.

 

This initial design phase will establish the various requirements for construction, as well as preliminary design work that will lay the foundation for the remaining design phases. The other three design phases will involve conceiving detailed plans and designs, developing drawings, and preparing construction estimates for the facility.

 

The NNF will function as a logistics hub to support the Canadian Navy, and other Canadian government vessels in the Arctic during the navigable season.

 

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

 

http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

 

U.S. AND RUSSIAN SUBMARINES IN ARCTIC SEND A MESSAGE BY DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN REPORTER

November 15, 2009

Security specialist says nuclear sub’s northern exposure sends a message that Canada should heed: Take Arctic claims seriously

 

By David Pugliese

 

The Ottawa Citizen

 

November 15, 2009

 

 

 

The recent surfacing of a U.S. submarine near the North Pole and an increase in military activity in the Arctic this year should send a warning to the Canadian government that other nations are serious about boosting their presence in the resource-rich region, says a specialist on Canada’s northern security.

 

The U.S. Navy recently confirmed that the USS Texas and its 134-member crew completed an Arctic mission, with some U.S. media outlets noting the nuclear-powered submarine broke through the ice near the North Pole and stayed on the surface for 24 hours.

 

Rob Huebert, an Arctic specialist with the University of Calgary, said the Texas is the third U.S. submarine to visit the region so far this year. Earlier this year, five Russian submarines were operating around the North Pole during test firings of missiles, he added.

 

“It takes a lot of effort to get up there,” Huebert said. “The message being sent with the Texas is that the U.S. takes the Arctic seriously, as do other countries. I don’t get the impression that Canada is taking all this in.”

 

It is unclear exactly what route the USS Texas took during its voyage, whether it transited through Canadian waters or whether Canada was told in advance about the visit.

 

Before being elected prime minister, Stephen Harper complained about U.S. submarines operating in Canadian waters without permission. He vowed that his government would require all foreign vessels to seek permission from Canada before entering the country’s Arctic waters. Other nations, however, do not recognize Canada’s claim to some areas in the region, including the Northwest Passage.

 

Officials with Defence Minister Peter MacKay declined comment and referred requests for information to Foreign Affairs. The Foreign Affairs department declined to say whether the U.S. submarine operated in Canadian waters and, if it had, whether permission for that was granted by Canada.

 

Foreign Affairs spokesman Alain Cacchione stated that information about submarine operations is considered secret. He noted in an e-mail that Canada permits shipping through its Arctic waters, provided vessels respect Canadian controls “related to safety, security, the environment and Inuit interests.”

 

There are safety protocols in place under NATO that provide for the exchange of information on allied submarine movements, Cacchione added.

 

In the past, U.S. Arctic submarine exercises have included firing unarmed torpedoes to test their performance in frigid waters. The U.S. Navy did not release details on what, if any, weapon tests were performed by the Texas.

 

The Arctic is increasingly being seen as a potential flashpoint as receding polar ice allows easier access to the region.

 

In September, the Danish Defence Intelligence Agency released a report warning that increases in shipping and the exploitation of oil and gas reserves in the Arctic could spark military and diplomatic conflicts.

 

Both MacKay and Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon have taken a hard line in regard to excursions by the Russians into the Arctic.

 

Earlier this year, MacKay accused the Russians of sending military aircraft too close to Canadian northern airspace. He vowed that Canadian Forces CF-18 fighter aircraft would intercept every Russian aircraft each and every time they came near the country.

 

In March, Cannon said Canada “will not be bullied” by a Russian plan to create a new security force for the Arctic. Canada has its own plans for a new military response force for the Far North.

 

Huebert noted that Russia is rebuilding its submarine fleet and that the Danish and Norwegian navies are also increasing their Arctic capabilities. The U.S. Coast Guard has pushed for an increase in its presence in the region.

 

Huebert said the Canadian government has made a number of positive announcements on improving military and federal capabilities in the North and annual exercises have been conducted in the Arctic during the summer.

 

“But so far, on the Canadian side, there’s been a lot of talk,” Huebert added. “They’re moving pretty slowly while others are already expanding their operations in the North.”

 

The Harper government has announced over the last several years the creation of a military training centre in the Arctic, economic aid to the region, as well as the construction of a new port, an icebreaker and a fleet of Arctic patrol ships. Work is under way on the various projects but in many cases it will take years before they are ready.

 

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

 

http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

 

 

DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN JOURNALIST: QUESTIONS LINGER ABOUT USS TEXAS SUBMARINE IN ARCTIC

November 14, 2009

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

The Canadian government won’t say whether the U.S. informed it in advance about a nuclear-powered submarine which recently surfaced near the North Pole.

The U.S. Navy has noted that the submarine, USS Texas, recently completed its Arctic mission. The 7,800-ton submarine, with a crew of 134, completed what some U.S. media outlets are calling a historic month-long exercise near the North Pole since it became the first of the new Virginia-class submarines not only to operate in the region, but also to surface through the ice.

 

It is unclear exactly what route the submarine took and whether the U.S. requested permission from Canada to operate in any waters claimed by Canada. Before being elected prime minister, Stephen Harper complained about U.S. submarines operating in Canadian waters without permission.

Defence Watch asked Defence Minister Peter MacKay for comment but that request was passed on to Foreign Affairs.

In an email late Friday night Foreign Affairs spokesman Alain Cacchione stated that information about submarine operations is considered secret. He noted that Canada permits shipping through Canadian Arctic waters provided vessels respect Canadian controls “related to safety, security, the environment and Inuit interests.”

There are safety protocols in place under NATO that provide for the exchange of information on allied submarine movements, Cacchione added.

Defence sources, however, note that the Pentagon does not ask Canada for permission if its submarines need to operate in Arctic area that Canada claims sovereignty over but the U.S. considers as international waters. That includes the Northwest Passage.

Both MacKay and Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon have taken a hard-line in regard to excursions by the Russians into the Arctic. Earlier this year, MacKay accused the Russians of sending military aircraft too close to Canadian northern airspace. He vowed that Canadian Forces CF-18 fighter aircraft would intercept every Russian aircraft each and every time they come near the country.

Cannon told reporters in March that Canada “will not be bullied” by a Russian plan to create a new security force for the Arctic. Canada has its own plans for a new response force for the Arctic.

In the past, U.S. Arctic submarine exercises have included firing unarmed torpedoes to test their performance in frigid waters. The U.S. Navy did not release details on what, if any, weapons tests were performed by the Texas.

The sub remained on the surface for 24 hours.

“Words cannot describe how impressed I am with my crew’s performance and professionalism,” Cmdr. Robert Roncska, the Texas’ commanding officer, said of the Arctic mission. “The ship performed extremely well in the cold under-ice environment, and I am honored to carry on the tradition of Arctic operations by our awesome submarine force,” Roncska added in a recent release by the U.S. Pacific Fleet submarine force.

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/


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