Howdy. Got the itch to create again, but wanted to do a slightly different tack from my last AU. Same location, but a slight tweek on the concept of a Newfoundland AU. This time, a responsible government but with a more American tilt than British, like the last. Similar is some respects to post-World War II Australia.
Anyway, let's see how she goes.
Commonwealth Republic of Newfoundland
Originally inhabited by indigenous First Nations such as the Beothuk and Dorset peoples, it was first 'discovered' by the Vikings around 1000 AD, and then rediscovered by explorer John Cabot in 1497. Declared a colony for England by Sir Humphrey Gilbert in 1583, and declared a full colony in 1610.
The colony of Newfoundland grew slowly, being a proprietary and fishing colony, it took several centuries before large scale communities developed. Starting with the beginning of the industrial age that the population really started to grow and expand. As tensions increased in the United Kingdom developed due to poverty and famine, the Colonial Office lifted the previously stringent measures preventing immigration. By the mid 19th Century, the colonial population was granted self-government, and in 1910 was declared a full dominion of equal status to others such as Canada and New Zealand.
Rendered destitute as a result of the crippling war debt assumed during WWI, and a lack of British support in forgiving the debt, Newfoundland fell into a commission of government ruled from London. After the Second World War, two referendums were held. By a tight margin, responsible government won over confederation with Canada. Lead by politicians like Chesley Crosbie, Newfoundland quickly sought out Economic Union with the United States. A hybrid-free trade-customs union, it granted Newfoundland unique economic liberties with the United States, in return for protracted leases of existing military bases in Newfoundland and Labrador. By the end of the 20th Century, Newfoundland quickly became an important trade area, as its' favourable trade agreements with the United States meant many countries used Newfoundland as point-of-entry to circumvent more expensive tariffs or import duties.
Newfoundland is a Commonwealth republic that uses a parliamentary system of government with a head-of-state elected by Parliament.
Newfoundland uses a unicameral parliament, consisting of the House of Assembly, with the three major political parties – the United Party, Labour Party, and Conservative Party – holding the majority of the seats.
Newfoundland enjoys excellent relations with all nations within the Anglosphere - especially Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. It was a founding member of the United Nations, an active member of the Commonwealth of Nations, and a founding member of NATO and NORAD. Newfoundland is striving to achieve better relations with the nations outside North America and Europe and is actively trying to improve relations with South American nations; and much of its foreign aid goes to the countries to its immediate south. Newfoundland has also established free trade agreements with Australia, New Zealand, and is a signatory to NAFTA.
Geography, Population, and Climate
The nation is a combination of the islands of Newfoundland, comprising the main island and over 100 smaller islands scattered around its coast; and the "big land" of Labrador on the mainland of North America. With a total area of 405,212 square kilometres, Newfoundland and Labrador is the 60th largest nation on earth in terms of landmass. Newfoundland and Labrador has a population as of its last census in 2009 of 1,437,212 with an estimation in 2014 of 1,440,000. Of the above, approximately 1,200,000 reside on the island, with the remainder residing in Labrador. The majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are of Anglo-Irish or French descent, with the largest minorities being First Nations, Indo-Pakistani, and Saharan Africans.
Given the strategic location of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic, it played a crucial part of the NATO and United States actions to protect against Soviet encroachment. In addition to the US Naval presence in its waters, Newfoundland was an active contributor to the defense of the North Atlantic. But by the late 1960's, Newfoundland's fleet of upgraded WWII era DE's. While offered new and used US naval DEs (later labelled Frigates), Newfoundland couldn't justify the manpower requirements or expense, even with generous US aid. The admirals of the fleet and the Defence department sought a local designed ship. The end result was the Cabot
John Cabot Class Frigates
NNS John Cabot, 1972
Designed as a medium escort, these ships were intended to patrol the waters in and around Newfoundland and the western Atlantic, and also serve as fleet and convoy escorts. Given an almost exclusive anti-submarine focus, they were built to weather the demanding North Atlantic patrols and be well outfitted to do so, but were also built with as many corners cut to reduce the size of the crew wherever possible.
Given their heavy ASW focus, the ships sensors and armaments were primarily centred on these capabilities. They were fitted with a uniquely Newfoundland and American designed hull mounted sonar developed by GE/Marconi of Newfoundland and a towed sonar array. To hunt submarines, they were given a Bofors anti-submarine mortar system along with two triple-torpedo launchers. The ships each had a helipad capable of supporting and refueling a helicopter, but did not carry a hangar to reduce weight and manpower requirements.
However a problem was flagged at multiple levels both within, and outside, the Navy due to the almost singular focus on anti-submarine weapons. Aside from a 76mm main gun, the ships were originally designed to have no organic anti-air weapons, and in fact no secondary arms at all. it took months of lobbying before it was agreed to salvage twin 40mm Bofors mountings from retired and retiring ships to be fitted to the stern astride the towed array, to provide at least a minimal anti-air capability.
However, in their intended role, and coupled with their agility and good sea-keeping, the ships were superb ASW escorts and were well regarded by both their crews, and those of visiting and stationed American personnel at the shared naval bases in Argentia and Port au Port.
NNS Cabot, 1986
As the ships continued their service, the chorus of voices demanding upgrades be made to improve their defences against airborne threats grew louder and more pronounced. As well, changes in technologies meant that the ships original anti-submarine arms quickly became ineffectual against improving Soviet submarine technology. Several upgrades were made to overcome these changes, throughout the mid-1980's.
The biggest change was the replacement of the Bofors ASW mortar with the unique Newfoundland-created ASW rocket system, the Speargun rocket launcher. Envisioned as a cross between a mortar system and a rocket-delivered torpedoes like ASROC, the Speargun could fire single or salvo light projectiles at a suspected submarine position. Rockets would carry the weapons into the target area, and the weapons would sink under their own weight to the depth of the target. Compressed air would be used for the weapons to guide the weapons in the terminal stage onto their targets. Lighter in weight than ASROC, and fundamentally more economical, it was envisioned as a cheap but effective stand-off weapon for smaller navies that couldn't afford full scale systems like ASROC or Ikara.
Another substantive upgrade was the addition of a dual-RIM 7 Sea Sparrow launcher on the stern above the helicopter pad to provide a very limited close-range anti-air capability. There were many weaknesses of this, including having to be crew served for a reload, and using the same director as the main gun, meaning the systems could not be used independently. But it was still considered at least a functional system, as opposed to the 40mm Bofors they replaced.
The ships were well regarded by their crews. Sometimes cramped, especially late in service in the early 2000s as more and more upgrades were made to keep them in service, they were still beloved by their crews and logged thousands of nautical miles of service and were often seen working with American and Canadian task groups, including during the Persian Gulf War. Retired with distinction after their replacements entered service, they were considered the example of Newfoundland shipbuilding and design.
NNS John Cabot
NNS Leif Erickson
NNS Jacques Cartier
NNS Gaspar Corte-Real
I have to say, I like this design. I feel I might have rushed a few elements of it, and may go back and tweak a few of them, but I'm mostly content with the design. Any and all feedback welcome though.