The commander of the Royal Canadian Navy says they are 20 per cent short on personnel, and while the service can maintain operational commitments, there is little room for error.
Even with personnel shortages, Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee is “confident” in the Royal Canadian Navy’s ability to meet its commitments.
“The biggest challenge we face right now is personnel. So, we’re about 20 per cent short overall in the Navy,” the Navy’s commander said in an interview with The West Block host Mercedes Stephenson.
“Some of the areas we’re particularly short — (like) maritime technicians, who are people that we require to be able to sail the ships — they’re the ones that operate the plant, that make the engines run, make the ship have power and heat and everything else that needs to be able to operate at sea.”
The vice-admiral waned the Navy was in a “critical state” at the end of November when he released a video called “The State of the Royal Canadian Navy,” highlighting the fact that recruitment challenges being faced across the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) hinder operational readiness.
In the video, he says their attrition rate for these maritime technicians is one exiting every two days.
“So, we have just enough to get by and we’re growing them as quickly as we can. But even if I recruited every person in Canada who is willing to join the Navy (it) would take us five to 10 years to train them all to the level that we require,” Topshee told Stephenson.
“Which is one of the reasons that we put the video out. The video internally was meant to be a call to action to really make it clear that we need to take a look at all of our human resources issues, how we manage our establishment, how we divide up our occupations and all the functions on the ship.”
Despite being short on crew, Topshee says that the Navy can maintain its operational commitments, including deploying three ships as part of the Indo-Pacific Strategy and Operation Reassurance, but there is little room for things to go wrong.