Kingstons still getting it done

I’ve made no bones about my love for the unsung HMCS Kingston-class Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (MCDV) of the Royal Canadian Navy.

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Kingston, while deployed on Operation CARIBBE on November 8, 2016. Photo By: 12 Wing Imaging Services XC03-2016-1002-571

For the cost of $750 million (in 1995 Canadian dollars), the Canucks bought a full dozen of these simple all-diesel 181-foot reserve minehunter/patrol craft that are minimally armed but do great in coastal (littoral) operations as well as budget overseas deployments to low-risk areas for counter-piracy and nation-building tasks.

With 12 ships, six are maintained on each coast in squadrons, with one or two “alert” ships fully manned and/or deployed at a time and one or two in extended maintenance/overhaul. In a time of escalated tensions, once mobilized, at least 8-10 of the dozen could be ready for service within 45 days with mostly reservist crews and a cadre of active duty members. 

Still, the Canadians continue doing interesting things with these “shoestring LCSs,” including a three-week deployment by HMCS Brandon (MM710) to Alaska last month for Arctic Edge 2022 under USNORTHCOM control where they supported coastal minehunting operations.

Royal Canadian Navy divers, with the assistance of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Brandon, conduct an underwater survey near Juneau, Alaska, during ARCTICEDGE22. (Credit Master Sailor Dan Bard Canadian Forces Combat Camera.)

The team aboard the Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel is exercising Arctic warfare interoperability coordinated by the United States Navy Mine Countermeasures Group Three, which simulates cold weather mine-countermeasure activities. The embarked navy Seabed Intervention Systems team launched a Remote Environment Measuring Unit (REMUS) 100 to scan the area for mock underwater mines laid by Mine Countermeasures Group Three.

Clearance Divers from Fleet Diving Unit-Pacific and port inspection divers from the Royal Canadian Navy conduct mine countermeasure missions near Juneau, Alaska, during Exercise ARCTIC EDGE 2022, March 8, 2022. AE22 is the largest joint exercise in Alaska, with approximately 1,000 U.S. military personnel training alongside members of the Canadian Armed Forces to demonstrate capabilities in austere cold weather conditions. (Master Sailor Dan Bard, Canadian Forces Combat Camera, Canadian Armed Forces)

(Same as above)

(Same as above)

(Same as above)

And in much warmer deployments…

At the same time, on the other side of the world, two East Coast-based KingstonsHMCS Moncton (708) and HMCS Goose Bay (707)— just completed Op Projection, spending 85 days visiting seven countries on deployment from Halifax to West Africa.

HMCS Moncton at Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands on OP Projection 2022

HMCS Goose Bay, Same class, less camo

During which they interacted with allied forces, helped train and “win hearts and minds” with African forces, and got lots of small boat, UAV, and weapons training while underway. These are the kinds of hands-on evolutions that breed a balanced and professional NCO and officer corps.

Too bad the U.S. Navy doesn’t have a couple dozen cheaply produced/manned littoral combat ships that could do the same sort of taskings, freeing up billion-dollar destroyers for actual fleet work, while still having budget assets available to show up and wave the flag in more shallow waters. 

Too bad, indeed.

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