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Deeply Canadian
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ISBN-10: 0-00000-000-0
Genre: Non-Fiction
eBook Length: 247 Pages
Published: December 2001

From inside the flap

A book for everyone who is interested in naval history, Deeply Canadian: New Submarines for a New Millennium tells the story of how Canada nearly lost her submarine service in the 1990s after decades of dedicated duty.

" Written in a clear and concise style, Deeply Canadian is informative and does not resort to technical jargon to make its point -- highly recommended." Cdr. Michael Young, CD, (Ret), contributing editor, Maritime Affairs.

Canada has a tradition of undervaluing her armed services and her navy has been no exception. However Canada’s small submarine service has had the toughest fight to stay alive of any branch in her military. Over the last fifteen years it has been an on-again, off-again proposition but, in 1998, the government gave the Silent Service its reprieve when Cabinet approved the acquisition of four new submarines to replace the aging Oberon class boats.

Beginning where the successful Through a Canadian Periscope (Dundurn 1995) left off, Deeply Canadian explains why Canada is acquiring new submarines at the turn of a millennium that, for the moment at least, does not look like suffering another world war. An enjoyable, jargon-free read, it recounts the latest, bedeviled submarine acquisition against the backdrop of Canada’s submarine heritage and naval/ political history. Deeply Canadian also explores why conventionally-powered submarines are a realistic choice for Canada and what the new four Victoria class boats will add to the country’s security and NATO in the 21st century.

Reviews and Awards

December 2000 "...the author has done her research well. Her arguments are balanced and documented. This is an important contribution to the naval historical record and I highly recommend it."

Cdr. E.J. Michael Young, CD (Ret), Contributing Editor, Maritime Affairs, Winter 2000/2001.

February 4, 2002 "Deeply Canadian should be required reading for every student of Canadian military history. Not only does it provide a very useful historical review of the Canadian Submarine Service, it provides a thorough and compelling argument for its continuation and expansion. Ms. Ferguson's splendid book has done a great service to the unjustly misunderstood Canadian navy, and I highly recommend it!"

Roger Thompson, Fellow of Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society and author of Brown Shoes, Black Shoes and Felt Slippers, 1995.

Deeply Canadian (Excerpt)


Foreword by Captain (N) Keith Nesbit, CD, (Ret).




Chapter One Canada’s Submarine Heritage ???????..???..?...4

Chapter Two Canada’s defence policy???..????????..??.....13

Chapter Three The state of the world ????????????????.22

Chapter Four Canada is unique????????????????....?.28

Chapter Five Canada’s preparedness???????????.????.37

Chapter Six Canada needs a navy??????????..???...??42

Chapter Seven What kind of navy?????????????????....53

Chapter Eight Submarines are special??????????????.?.63

Chapter Nine Canada needs submarines ?..?????????.??.....78

Chapter Ten The Great Canadian Submarine Debate ?.???????91

Chapter ElevenCanada’s record in submarine acquisition .??.??.?.?.98

Chapter Twelve The struggle for support?????..???.?????...107

Chapter Thirteen Submarines for the 21st century???????????..116

Chapter Fourteen Victorias ahoy!???????????????...??..123

Chapter Fifteen Into the new millennium? ??????????...??.136

Appendix 1 World wide inventory of diesel/electric submarines 1998..141

Appendix 2 Submarine lineup: West, East, and non-aligned ?.??...145

Bibliography ...?????????????????.?.????.?152


1. Arctic Circle from above the North Pole?????????????.???.29

2. North West Passage and submarine routes through the Arctic???...?.???30

3. Canadian maritime areas of responsibility???????????????...32

4. Dixon Entrance, BC...................................................................................?..........45


1. Comparison of government expenditures and debt in billions of dollars??....?19

2. Comparison of coverage, endurance, and cost of Canadian naval surveillance platforms???????????????????????????......57

3. Comparison between the Victoria and Oberon submarines??????.....?.132




We military people tend to be mesmerized by our machines. Thus, Canadian submariners have fretted for decades over the need to replace their three precious Oberon class undersea machines at the end of their useful lives. As Julie Ferguson so clearly shows in Deeply Canadian, machines have been only part of the story: at stake was the future of the Canadian Submarine Service itself. And during the years preceding the federal government’s decision to acquire the new British-built Victoria Class, it often looked as if a major Canadian asset was "going down the tubes".

This situation was not new to the Canadian Navy. In 1970, the decision to scrap, without replacement, our invaluable and recently refitted aircraft carrier, Bonaventure, constituted the loss of much more than a machine. We bade farewell to our highly regarded Fleet Air Arm and, really, to naval aviation itself. This was an inestimable loss of a hard-won profession. Similarly, although of lesser consequence, the navy had previously given up its very credible minesweeping capability in deference to the higher priority being placed on destroyer-oriented anti-submarine warfare. Decades later, we found out how challenging it is to try and regain such a lost skill.

Ms. Ferguson’s treatment of "The Great Canadian Submarine Debate" is classic. She has indeed done her homework and even those who were directly involved in the debate can learn from her analysis. Perhaps to many Canadians the "Great Debate" was over nuclear propulsion. And, while the ill-fated (and, to many, ill-conceived) objective of the 1987 defence White Paper to acquire nuclear attack submarines (SSNs) generated some much-needed public discussion about maritime responsibilities, the real question to be resolved was (or should have been) whether Canadian maritime defence capabilities should continue to include a sub-surface component in the post-Cold War era. Fortunately, thanks to astute and innovative naval leadership and some gutsy, strong support from some important fellow Canadians in places such as the Privy Council, common sense won. To the extent that public probing of high-level Government dealings would allow, Ms. Ferguson tells a great story.

That debate of the 1980’s and 1990’s has been of national benefit. There has been considerable maturing within the Canadian Forces, and it is likely that the navy’s leadership has never been better. Today’s admirals demonstrate a solid appreciation of how a multi-platform, multi-disciplinary team can be used to protect and further sovereign interests, which is the key to successful management of maritime affairs by a financially constrained "medium" nation having long coastlines. Moreover, those senior leaders have proven themselves highly adroit in matters of equipment acquisition. How the Victoria Class was funded makes for fascinating reading.

For the general reader, Deeply Canadian provides considerable insight into the Canadian Submarine Service itself. An admittedly paranoid cast of characters who have traditionally felt unappreciated by the rest of the navy, our submariners, like those of other nations, have an intensely professional approach to their job and an obvious "clan" mentality. This has been both a blessing and a curse. The inherently unsafe aspects of operating underwater dictate the need for a detailed knowledge by all crewmembers of all aspects of their underwater machine. The elitist feature simply derives from cramming a lot of bodies for a long time into a very confined space and demanding that they do a quite difficult job. Such clannishness must surely have been evident in our little World War II corvettes and minesweepers.

The reader may conclude that Canadians make ideal submariners. They have an ability to tolerate their fellow men, often under trying conditions. They have a dedicated, no-nonsense approach to their work. And they have a refreshingly irreverent (and somewhat less than 100% politically correct) sense of humour. Our submarine service may well be, in fact, the most Canadian part of the Canadian Forces.

In her previous book, Through A Canadian Periscope, Julie Ferguson provided a detailed account of the eighty-year history of the Canadian Submarine Service. In Deeply Canadian, her emphasis is upon the rationale for continuance of that service in the new millennium. She tells it like it is. Canada is a "medium maritime power" which has unique and unbelievably huge areas of responsibility off its shores. Credible caretaking requires a variety of tools: some armed, some not. The submarine is but one of the necessary tools. Responsibility for the effective use of sub-surface tools rests with the Canadian Submarine Service. And, as Ms. Ferguson describes so well, that service is now acquiring the precious machines that will enable them to do the job. Canada is staying in the underwater business.

May 2000

Captain (N) Keith Nesbit, CD. (Ret.),

Former Commanding Officer, HMCS Okanagan,

Former Commander, First Canadian Submarine Squadron.