The Minute Book
Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Commodore says Navy run like Private Club
Topic: RCN

Commodore says Navy run like Private Club

Ottawa Citizen; 26 August 1963

"Commodore James Plomer launched a potentially damaging attack on the Canadian Naval establishment. In a wide-ranging, highly critical article published by Maclean's magazine on 7 September 1963, the recently retired Plomer systematically attacked the RCN's managment system, its equipment, its ability to confuct operations at seas and its personnel policies. Although Plomer's assertions were later repudiated and puiblicly shown to be self-serving, his onslaught did produce some fallout — especially in his criticism of the GP frigate program."

The Admirals: Canada's Senior Naval Leadership in the Twentieth Century, by Michael Whitby, Richard H. Gimblett, Peter Haydon; 2006

Toronto (CP)—Retired RCN Commodore James Plomer says a "self-perpetuating, self-electing" group of admirals is running the Royal Canadian Navy like a private club.

He makes the charge, and many others, in an article entitled The Gold-Braid Mind is destroying our Navy in the Sept. 7 issue of Maclean's magazine.

Commodore Plumer, former deputy naval comptroller who resigned last spring, says the navy has a fleet of ships which are "badly chosen, badly equipped and poorly manned."

"In my view, the people of Canada have been badly hoodwinked, both through press releases of the navy and through various ministers of defence, who have themselves been misinformed by their naval advisers," Commodore Plomer writes. He was formerly senior Canadian officer afloat.

"Canadian admirals have come to believe in themselves as a social institution, a marching society, a kind of Tammany Hall. Arrogantly, they believe that military law, the Naval Discipline Act and pageantry are all we need to make a modern navy."

Obsessed with Pomp

"Childish obsession with the pomp of a bygone age" was far stronger in the RCN than in any modern nanvy.

In the RCN's "parade-ground psychology," fresh paint on ships "means praise, whatever the internal shambles."

"Officers who have failed quickly under operational stress have become admirals. So have officers who dress up in sailor suits but rarely go to sea—the last admiral I worked for had been to sea less than two months since before the start of the war."

The admirals manipulated appointments "with all the underhandedness of a bungling, devitalized Mafia—but more gorgeously attired."

Commodore Plomer says morale is so low in the RCN, ships are unable to function effectively and many vessels break down during exercises.

He says he doesn't know of a single case where a commanding officer has faced a board of inquiry for even the grossest neglect of his ship.

He has made repeated representations to three admirals and two chiefs of naval staff on the condition of ships.

Reports Ignored

"My reports have been either politely or rudely ignored."

The admirals "have for years demonstrated an unholy genius for buying the wrong equipment."

The aircraft carrier Bonaventure was too slow, was not designed for the North Atlantic, had "obsolete" anti-aircraft guns and her accommodations was substandard and crowded.

It had taken six years and a "fantastic amount of money" to get three-inch destroyer guns in working order.

Commodore Plomer's charges are likely to be aired before the Commons defence committee this fall.

There was no immediate official comment from the Navy. Unofficially, it was said the charges have a kernel of truth in them but that Commodoe Plomer had overstated the case.

elipsis graphic

Commodore James Plomer, OBE, DSC*, CD

The following synopsis of Commodore Plomer's career is published at RCNVR.com:

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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