Well, the bad guys of the world have reason to tremble today after Canada finally re-launched its fearsome submarine fleet.
After years of repairs, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Gerryrig sailed out of Fred’s Discount Garage in Halifax to begin an epic voyage of at least 300 yards as a bevy of tugboats jostled her dockside to join her three buddies, HMCS Lemon, Edsel and Cardboard.
The Gerryrig is expected to start imposing Canadian-style democracy all over the planet sometime next year, if we can find enough sailors to get her out past the marina breakwater to at least do a little fishing for the Halifax Yacht Club’s annual charity seafood festival.
Her re-launch marks almost a century of Canada’s proud submarine history that began when the premier of British Columbia illegally bought two boats from the U.S. at the outset of the First World War and sneaked them across the watery border, under cover of darkness, to protect B.C. from any German attack that would have required the evil Huns to steam at least 15,000 miles to interrupt tea at the Empress Hotel.
Those subs established the great Canadian submarine tradition—they were delivered to our naval dockyards and pretty well never moved again.
In the 100 years since, the Navy has managed to buy, borrow or steal fewer than a dozen subs that it has always insisted are critical to training the rest of the fleet in anti-submarine warfare.
Strangely, we didn’t have any at all for about 30 years from World War 1 to the end of WW2, but still managed to sink a pissload of Nazi U-boats in the 1940s conflict.
The Navy also captured a couple during that unpleasantness and used them after the war for training along with a U.S. surplus boat, the first and last flotilla that actually worked.
Since then, over 60 years, we have accumulated a grand total of seven, all castoffs from the Royal Navy who scoured the planet to find a country stupid enough to buy these white elephants produced by a nation that didn’t adopt central heating until the 1970s.
We picked up the latest four 15 years ago in a deal so outrageously bad that at least one British MP recently insisted we should get our money back and compensation beyond that. Just getting the four here caused our greatest submariner disaster when a crew member died after a fire broke out during the delivery sail.
The four subs haven’t moved since then to pick up even minimal Travel Points, spending time in refit that will eventually cost billions that could have been spent to wipe out the deficits in all four Maritime provinces.
And it gets even nuttier. As the Gerryrig was being shunted a few parking spaces over, the Navy announced it didn’t have a hope in hell of finding enough crew competent to sail her, never mind her three sister paperweights.
Not to mention that the recent federal budget cut military spending by 10%. Undeterred by all this, the government says the Gerryrig will set sail next year to project the Canadian Way over the horizon in a task force that will include other frontline warships—HMCS Whalewatcher, Digby Ferry and Niagara Falls Maid of the Mist.
With this in mind, I figured it is my patriotic duty to warn Canada’s enemies that they should surrender immediately when confronted with this military might. Our submariners will not be deterred by anything standing between them and their noble naval mission: “Reduce the federal budget deficit and pillage enough to keep this sucker afloat to get us home.”
So, here you go, bad guys. Break out the white flags as I do my own launch of:
Admiral Gordie’s guide to being attacked by a Canadian submarine
- After firing a shell across your bow, they insist you take up a collection to pay for it.
- Rather than running up the pirate crossbones, they have a pennant that reads, “Sponsored by Tim Hortons.”
- The torpedoes all have bungee cords on them so they can be retrieved after bouncing harmlessly off your hull.
- The boarding party will threaten you with M-16 hockey sticks and snarl, “Arrrggh, where d’ya keep yer duct tape?”
- They will kidnap your women, but only those with an engineering degree who might know how to make sense out of antique British diesel power plants.
- Rather than sink you, they just syphon your gas tank.
- The main defence against attack is to throw coins overboard and watch the sub’s crew dive to grab enough cash to buy a periscope that actually works.
- The subs have a 99% per cent stealth rating for being undetectable by other ships, mainly because they have spent 99% of their service life sitting in dry dock in Halifax.
- The admirals’ biggest fear is that North Korea might be developing a rust-seeking missile.
- Rather than escort you back to port as war booty, they force you to tow them to save on fuel.