Maritime Support Ship
The 2017 defense white paper “Strong, Secure, Engaged" presents a new vision and approach to defence by the Government of Canada. This policy is deliberately ambitious and focuses, first and foremost, on the heart of the Canadian Armed Forces. "The Royal Canadian Navy’s flexibility, global reach, and staying power, allow it to succeed across a broad mission set: combat operations, rapid provision of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to those in need, defence diplomacy, and collaborating with other government departments and agencies on a daily basis in support of domestic defence and security ... humanitarian assistance and disaster relief abroad remain a priority for the Government of Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces is ready to assist as required, supporting other government departments, international aid organizations, and local governments during international emergency response. The Canadian Armed Forces Disaster Assistance Response Team will be critical to this effort".
Davie Shipbuilding in Quebec proposed converting a commercial vessel into a Global Maritime Arctic Support ship. Davie issued a news release May 26, 2016 commending Irving Shipbuilding on “taking a positive and innovative approach to solving some of the major capability gaps facing the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard with regards to the current federal shipbuilding programs.... Realizing this, East coast shipyards in Canada’s key shipbuilding hubs in Nova Scotia and Quebec have pro-actively provided alternative, cost-efficient and innovative ways to convert existing commercial vessels to fill gaps in Canada’s non-combat fleet”.
In May 2016 Irving Shipbuilding proposed to the Liberal government a plan to construct a ship specifically designed to aid in a humanitarian crisis. The Halifax shipyard would take a commercial roll-on/roll off vessel and convert it to carry a hospital, medical supplies and emergency equipment to respond to a variety of missions, ranging from earthquake relief to providing aid to refugees. Irbving proposed the conversion of a recently built European twin-screw, twin-engine Ro-Ro vessel of 21,000 tonnes displacement, 193 meters length, 26 meters beam and 7 meters draft.The vessel would be offered on a five-year lease. The cost, under $300 million, would include the leasing of the ship, conversion for its humanitarian role, a 30-member civilian crew and maintenance for the lease period. The Irving ship would be able to refuel warships at sea; its design would also allow it to carry landing craft and vehicles.
Russia's Vostochnaya Verf shipyard in Vladivostok laid down the first of two new arctic multi-purpose support vessels for the Russian Navy on 27 October 2015. The Project 03182 vessels were designed to act as small tankers, replenishment and support vessels for Russian warships working in the arctic region. They are also intended to be able to take on patrol functions, tow other vessels, conduct search and rescue (SAR) operations, fisheries monitoring and to support civilian shipping and oil and gas operations.
Discussing Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief [HA/DR], Kevin McCoy and Tom Tulloch argued that "Canada’s response has been limited by a lack of capacity. A specialized naval vessel dedicated to HA/DR would offer an adaptable solution to address catastrophes worldwide. It would represent a visible symbol of Canada’s commitment to bringing stability to fragile states and helping societies recover in the aftermath of crisis."
Serge Bertrand argued that "Recent operations by the RCN as well as allied navies have underscored a pressing need for the CAF to acquire a dedicated peace support ship, specifically to meet the unique demands of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) operations. Such operations typically unfold in chaotic conditions, often in the absence of, or hampered by extensively damaged, transportation networks and infrastructure. The characteristics that would permit such a ship to act as a seabase include: a substantial sealift capacity to embark personnel, vehicles, force logistics and humanitarian materiel for transport into theatre; equipment to embark/disembark cargo as well as transfer cargo at sea; deck space to accommodate or operate medium or heavy lift aircraft and landing craft to act as the ship/shore connectors to project, sustain and support a force ashore, as well as to recover it; and the internal space that can be dedicated to a joint headquarters, civil-military coordination centre, and medical and dental facilities and accommodations for evacuees. Such a vessel would likely be among the most heavily utilized assets in the future CAF inventory."
Canada sends the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to help when natural disasters and emergencies happen in other countries. Canada sends the DART on request, when local responders are overwhelmed and people have nowhere else to turn. The DART can leave on very short notice to anywhere in the world, and it can operate for up to 60 days.
Canada sends the DART to regions where it has government support and where it will not face organized resistance. The DART is made up of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and civilian experts from across Canada who are trained and ready to go out on short notice. Its equipment is also maintained for an immediate response.
The DART works primarily to:
- stabilize the main impacts of the disaster, working with national and regional governments and other agencies;
- prevent secondary impacts of the disaster; and
- gain time until national and international aid groups arrive to provide long-term aid to the region.
The DART is not designed to provide first response services. It does not conduct search and rescue or emergency trauma care. Instead, it can help when local governments and groups that provide primary health care and drinking water are overstretched. A typical DART operation will provide:
- water purification (up to 50,000 litres of safe drinking water per day);
- primary medical care (serving up to 250 to 300 outpatients and 10 inpatients per day depending on needs); and
- engineering help (field engineers, construction engineers and heavy equipment).
When a country is facing a crisis, it can request help from Canada. This request may come straight from a country that is in need. It may also come from an international organization such as the United Nations (UN).
The Canadian government decides whether to help based on recommendations from its departments. Global Affairs Canada (GAC) is the lead department when the government of Canada responds to a humanitarian crisis abroad. The CAF supports GAC when help is requested. The CAF is equipped to assist when disasters strike and people in other countries are in crisis. The Canadian Disaster Assessment Team (CDAT) is a group of experts from GAC and the CAF. When a request for help comes in, the CDAT goes to the disaster zone and assesses the needs on the ground. It then recommends whether to send CAF assets and the DART to respond to the crisis. The Canadian government makes the final decision.
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