Monday, July 14, 2014
Diesel-electrics Doing the Job
Diesel-electric submarines have a long pedigree. In fact, Canada's first diesel-electrics were CC1 and CC2 (shown at left), purchased almost exactly 100 years ago to defend the west coast. And our current boats, HMCS Victoria, Chicoutimi, Corner Brook and Windsor are diesel-electrics. Needless to say, much has changed.
The world's major navies, and some of the less major ones, now have moved on to nuclear boats. The USN and Royal Navies no longer operate any diesels. But that doesn't mean diesel-electrics are outmoded or useless. At times, and in particular during the Cold War, they performed yeoman service. And no navy wants to ever send unprotected surface ships into waters where a hostile diesel-electric could be lurking. As Canada's ongoing use of them indicates, they are effective as deterrents, extensions of sovereignty, and intelligence-gatherers.
For an appreciation of the role of diesel-electrics in the Cold War and elsewhere, Iain Ballantyne, author of Hunter Killers, has written a very informative online article.