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Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee, commander of the Canadian Navy, speaks during the rededication of the National Naval Reserve Monument at HMCS Carleton, in Ottawa, on Oct. 14.Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

The commander of Canada’s navy says the force is in a “critical state,” with many occupations at or below 80 per cent of their normal staffing.

In a video posted to the navy’s YouTube page, Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee says that could mean the navy does not meet its readiness commitments next year and beyond.

Topshee says the West Coast fleet is suffering because there’s a lack of qualified people to maintain and operate the ships, and the navy can sail only one of its new Arctic and offshore patrol vessels at a time.

He also says the air force and army are in similar situations because the Armed Forces recruitment wing has failed to meet its targets for over 10 years.

As a result, Topshee says, the navy may not maintain its force strength this year and will not be able to hold it steady next year.

Another significant challenge for the navy, he says, is to extend the life of its Halifax class ships for another 15 years until the new surface combatants are ready to take their place.

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