Strapping guns on coast guard ships quick solution, admiral says
By CHRIS LAMBIE Staff Reporter Halifax Herald
The fastest way for Canada to get armed icebreakers would be to put .50-calibre machine-guns and some navy sailors on coast guard ships that are already up to the task of navigating the Arctic, says the region’s top sailor.
The new Conservative minority government has promised to buy three armed, heavy icebreakers as part of its bid to assert sovereignty in the Far North. But the commander of Joint Task Force Atlantic made an alternative suggestion Wednesday during a lunch with reporters at his residence.
"If the Canadian government wants icebreakers, I’m sure we could work something out," Rear Admiral Dan McNeil said.
"If you wanted to do it right now, really quickly, you’d put trained naval people together who know how to operate a .50-cal. And you strap one (of the machine-guns) on an icebreaker and you’d automatically have an armed icebreaker."
That would be his preference in the short term.
"The long term deserves a deeper analysis than me just simply talking off the cuff," Rear Admiral McNeil said.
Canada has been locked in a dispute with Denmark over the claim to Hans Island, which lies between Ellesmere Island and Greenland.
In November, the USS Charlotte’s voyage through the Arctic sparked a political firestorm in Ottawa. Opposition parties, including the Tories, slagged the government for allowing the nuclear-powered U.S. navy attack submarine to make a two-week trip under the polar ice that included a surfacing at the North Pole.
This year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper clashed with U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins after an American challenge to Canadian sovereignty over the Northwest Passage, the routes through the Arctic archipelago.
The Canadian Coast Guard is not a "military service," Rear Admiral McNeil said.
But putting a gun on a coast guard icebreaker would be "the easiest" way to safely add some muscle to the coast guard, he said.
"You would have an armed vessel that is able to at least fire warning shots to say, ‘Stop doing what you’re doing,’ " said Capt. Larry Hickey, commander of the navy’s Fifth Maritime Operations Group.
Don’t expect the navy to send any of its four used British submarines into the Arctic to assert Canadian sovereignty.
It would be "almost impossible" for diesel-electric subs to operate in the Arctic archipelago, Rear Admiral McNeil said, noting depth charts of the area are more than a century old and currents in the narrowest passages move along at up to 17 kilometres an hour.
Holy crap, the dogs of war are rearing their heads!!
What ever happened to a Canadian PEACEFUL solution? Fire on the Dane's?
Or maybe a Nuclear sub?
Haven't they noticed that when you fire at someone, they tend to fire back and some of those 'breakers have aluminum superstructures.
Shake your heads Boys and take some anti-tetestorone drugs.
DFO tried this route and there are no 50 calibers left on those ships 15 years later.