Hancock: Sub purchase "daft"

A British MP who raised concerns about the sale of dud British subs to Canada back in 1998 has a simple suggestion — see if you can return them to Britain (“Used subs a ‘daft’ deal for Canada, U.K. MP says,” CBC News, 15 March 2012):

Mike Hancock, the Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South, said it’s time the British and Canadian governments explained how the deal went wrong.

“Why were the Canadians daft enough to buy them?” he asked.

“My God, it’s a sad tale, isn’t it? ‘Buyer beware’ should have been painted on the sides of these submarines.”

Hancock, a member of Britain’s coalition government, has tabled questions in the Westminster Parliament about the deal. He told CBC News he is asking “why we sold them to you knowing there were intrinsic problems in the submarines.”

“It’s either incompetence on behalf of the Canadians, or sheer, smooth-talking salesmen from the MOD [Ministry of Defence] here in Britain,” he added.

Canada paid $750 million for four used Victoria-class Royal Navy submarines in 1998. They had been decommissioned in 1993 when the U.K. decided to focus solely on nuclear subs.

The subs had been based in Hancock’s Portsmouth riding. Canada renamed them:

  • HMCS Chicoutimi.
  • HMCS Corner Brook.
  • HMCS Windsor.
  • HMCS Victoria.

Since then, the navy has spent billions of dollars trying to get them in fighting shape.

“I’m not sure just when these things started to fall apart, but I think it would be interesting to know when the problems developed,” Hancock said. …

“I’m appalled we’ve done a dumb deal with an ally like this,” Hancock said. “If this was the Americans, we’d say good luck and serves you right. But as it’s Canada, I think there are a lot of questions to be answered.”

Hancock said Canada should have been more cautious about buying them and should consider asking Britain for its money back.

Photo credit: Department of National Defence

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