The quiet death of the Royal Canadian Navy


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The following is an article published in late February in the Canadian Naval Review on Canada's new frigates. The author is a retired RCN Petty Officer.

David Dunlop (RCN PO1NCIOP (Retired)-NATO/QGJM/CD2) is a retired RCN Petty Officer 1st Class Naval Combat Information Officer with over 41 years experience as a Tactical Data Coordinator for Command.
The author is an unabashed T-26 fan-boi and the article is simply a brief overview of the T-26 as he imagines it is being offered to Canada.

The article is good in the sense of providing an overview of what the ship will likely be like. I think a better article though would have been one that compared the competitors on the points he considers important.

Future Canadian Surface Combatant: The Only Option – Canadian Naval Review

I will note one minor error in the article, where he said a decision would be made in spring of 2018. Obviously no decision was going to be made that quickly. I will post some updates on the process later.
I will add to the above that the comments below the story are probably at least as informative as the article itself. If the author had addressed these points directly in his original article it would have been a much better one.

I would recommend reading the comments, particularly those by the author.
The following is an official RCN document outlining their view on the future of the RCN for the next 40 to 50 years. There is no publication date, but from the context it appears to have been written some time in 2015.

The article starts off with a justification for why Canada needs a navy. I don't find this paritcularly interesting, as I am not aware of any serious debate in Canada over this issue.

Somewhat later in the article the authors quote Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier as saying the following at the founding of the RCN in 1910.
“Governments cannot live forever, for governments are born to grow and die as well as men... but mark my words, whoever may take over the reins of power [in Canada] will have to have a navy, as every nation with a seashore must have and has had in the past.”

Sir Wilfrid Laurier, November 10, 1910.
The objectives of the RCN over the coming decades will be the following:
  • Protect Canada by exercising Canadian sovereignty in our home waters, securing the maritime approaches to North America and contributing to maritime peace and good order abroad.
  • Prevent conflict by strengthening partnerships and deploying forward to promote global stability and deter conflict.
  • Project Canadian power to shape and, when necessary, restore order to the global system.

The overall capabilities that will be required of the RCN are described as follows:
This will require a blue-water navy that is:

  • Balanced - with an appropriate mix of ships, submarines, aircraft and unmanned vehicles in sufficient numbers to meet commitments at home and abroad, while retaining a naval task group at high readiness.
  • Combat-effective - capable of combat at sea across all naval warfare disciplines, crewed for sustained high-intensity operations, able to contribute to operations ashore and highly interoperable with Canada’s allies and defence partners.
  • Multi-purpose - across the spectrum of operations at sea and from the sea, able to work effectively with a wide range of national and international defence and security partners among government and civil society.
  • Arctic-capable - able to conduct sustained operations in each of Canada’s three oceans, including in the High Arctic.
  • Globally deployable - with ships and submarines that are capable of independent ocean crossing, but enabled by support ships, operating together for the duration of any assigned mission, anywhere in the world.
  • Forward-postured - a fleet operated and sustained in a manner that allows our ships and submarines to be deployed on an ongoing basis to regions of Canadian strategic interest.
  • Survivable - with platforms that are designed for all physical and operating environments, able to sustain and recover from significant damage.
  • Adaptable and agile - an institution imbued with the ethos to excel and the values to make Canadians proud, whose men and women are prepared for the complexities and ambiguities of future operations in the skills and knowledge they possess.

This is the navythat Canada needs.
Note that submarines were mentioned. They have evidently not been forgotten even if their replacements are not in the current acquisition plan.

I've skipped over the part that discusses where Canada fits into the global maritime trade system, as it is something that I take for granted. Others may or may not find this interesting.

The future challenges are seen as follows:

  • Maritime Geopolitics. The Indian Ocean is seen as becoming a centre of rivalry between the regional and global powers the US, India, and China.
  • The diffusion of martime power. More countries are building up significant navies.
  • Climate change. Global warming will change the operating environment, particularly in the Arctic.
  • Demographics. Increasing population will place more demands on resources and increase irregular migration of population.
  • Energy. Rising demands for energy and other natural resources will increase the potential for conflict.
  • Globalisation. Increasing globalisation will increase interdependencies amongst countries and so require Canada to act in more cases.
  • Failed and failing states. This is really variation on the above theme.
  • Technology. Changes in technology will change the means and methods of warfare, sometimes in unexpected directions.

I think the authors missed out on the new emphasis on conventional warfare between powerful states, but I believe the paper was written before this became fashionable again.

The RCN fits into this by doing the following:

In defending the global system, Canada’s maritime forces will:
  • Protect Canada by exercising Canadian sovereignty in our home waters, securing the maritime approaches to North America and contributing to maritime peace and good order abroad;
  • Prevent conflict by strengthening partnerships and deploying forward to promote global stability and deter conflict; and
  • Project Canadian power to shape and, when necessary, restore order to the global system.
The article goes on to discuss examples of protecting Canadian sovereignty in home waters, the two examples being given are operations in Arctic waters and the Turbot War (the latter was a fish war with Spain).

The Maritime Security Operations Centres are also discussed. These track ocean going vessels and are integrated into the theatre-wide and operational pictures. Information is compiled from a combination of ship identification systems, satellites, and reconnaissance operations.

To address the third of the above points, the article gives examples of Canadian operations in the Middle East, off the coast of Somalia, and other areas.

A lot of examples are provided for how the RCN operates in various parts of the world to promote peace and stability. I will skip over that, but it may be of interest to those who want to know what it is that navies do all day. I will also skip over the stuff about maintaining and building institutions and personnel. Instead I will skip straight to the kit.

The building blocks of RCN operations are seen as:
  • Submarines. These are the Victoria class subs which Canada bought from the UK.
  • Combat Ships. These are the frigates, currently the Halifax class.
  • Maritime Helicopters. The CH-148 Cyclones are presently entering service.
  • Maritime Patrol Aircraft. These are the CP-140 Auroras.
  • Support Ships. These are called AOR (Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment) ships.
  • Patrol Ships. These are the Kingston class coastal vessels, which do coastal surveillance, sovereignty patrol, and mine countermeasures.
  • Inshore Training Vessels.
The paper discusses how these would combine into a naval task group. Rather than describing it, I will simply quote that section below.
The Naval Task Group

Current RCN Strategic Direction and Guidance defines the naval task group as a “naval Force Package comprised of up to four combatants (destroyers, frigates or submarines) and a support ship, with appropriate Naval Task Group Command Staff and maritime air support. ” In terms of existing and planned naval projects, the naval task group will consist of:
  • One Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) with a commander and staff. Until the CSC is delivered, its command and control (C2) functions will be performed by the modernized Halifax-class frigates, four of which have been fitted with an enhanced command package to serve in a flagship capacity.
  • Two or three modernized general-purpose Halifax-class frigates, ultimately to be replaced by the CSC.
  • One Queenston-class Support Ship. Until HMCS Queenston is introduced into fleet service, underway replenishment and fleet support at sea will be delivered through an Interim Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (iAOR) capability, to be delivered in 2017.
  • Several CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters, distributed across the task group, to permit a suitable number of aircraft to be simultaneously airborne for extended round-the-clock operations when required.
  • One Victoria-class SSK, depending on the assessed needs of the mission.
Maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) are not elements of the naval task group, as they are normally separately tasked to operate with a task group by a supporting commander ashore. Nonetheless, MPA provide an indispensable outer layer to a task group’s extended in depth defence.

1. The CDS’s Force Posture and Readiness (FP&R) directive defines a Force Package as “a grouping formed by a combination of force elements”. A Kingston-class MCDV and a Naval Mine Countermeasures Team, for example, would comprise a Force Package consisting of two Force Elements.
As a minor note, the above mentioned future Queenston class ships will be receiving different names than are used in this document.

The paper goes on to mention something they are calling a "peace support ship" for humanitarian operations. It sounds like the resurrection of previous proposals for an amphibious operations ship under a new name. There is nothing in the budget or shipbuilding plans for this, and I would ignore it.

Submarines get a more detailed treatment later in the paper, and there is specific mention of the future need to replace the Victoria class boats. One of the requirements for these future boats will be to operate under ice.

The paper goes on to discuss the projects which are planned for before 2035 and after 2035. As I mentioned previously, there have been no hints elsewhere of any plans for a "peace support ship", so take that with a grain of salt. The submarines though I could well imagine being replaced before the 2035 time frame.

Before 2035
Platform investments

  • Frigates modernized
  • AOPS, JSS and CSC delivered
  • Interim AOR leased
  • MCDVs life-extended
  • Replacement Canadian Coastal Patrol Ship acquired
  • Purpose-converted peace-support ship acquired
  • Unmanned vehicles adopted
  • Project to replace submarines begun
  • Project to replace Maritime Patrol Aircraft begun

After 2035
Platform Investments
  • New submarine capability introduced
  • Autonomous vehicles introduced
  • Projects underway to update/modernize/replace capabilities & platforms acquired prior to 2035
There are many issues covered in the paper which I have not discussed here which may be of interest to those knowledgeable in naval planning matters.
The following is an article from March. I'm not sure of the background and sources of funding for the web site, and LM is mentioned as providing funding for the CDA. It isn't an obvious puff piece, but take it with that in mind.
Careful consideration: Positioning the next Canadian Frigates for the Fights of the Future | CDA Institute

The author discusses the combat management systems (CMS) which will be incorporated into Canada's future frigates. I will point out that in the IT industry a "CMS" refers to web site publishing software, so be wary of this if doing some googling on the topic.

In short, the CMS controls the sensors and weapons of the ship.
The CMS is key in this situation, as it can gather and display data from the ship’s sensors, activate kinetic or non-kinetic countermeasures, and cue incoming threats much faster than a human can.
The article puts CMS systems into three categories:
* short to medium range.
* long range.
* ballistic missile defence (BMD).
There are three broad categories of air defence capabilities that the government should consider (and prioritize) when deciding on the CSC’s CMS/design: short- to medium-range; long-range; and ballistic missile defence (BMD).
Effective short to medium range is the most important in defending a ship and should have priority.
Having an effective short- to medium-range air defence capability is perhaps the most important in terms of ship survivability and should be prioritized.

The most likely missiles to be chosen will be either the ESSM (Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile) and the Aster 15. Both have similar capabilities.
Missiles such as the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) and the Aster 15, with ranges of around 50 kilometres, will likely form the core of the CSC’s short-to medium-range air defence capability, so having a CMS that works with them will likely be critical.
The Lockheed Martin Canada (LMC) CMS330 system, the Atlas Electronik ANCS, and the Saab 9LV already work with the ESSM.
Both Lockheed Martin Canada’s CMS330—the CMS on the Halifax-class frigates—and Atlas Elektronik’s ANCS CMS are already integrated with ESSM. So is 9LV, the CMS offered by Navantia and SAAB Australia in their bid, which is currently serving on a number of Australian naval vessels.
I will add at this point that the ESSM forms part of the Halifax class mid-life upgrade. There was considerable controversy about this which may have been mentioned previously in this thread.

CMS330 is also being integrated with Sea Ceptor for New Zealand.
Interestingly, CMS330 is also in the process of being integrated with MBDA’s new Sea Ceptor short-range air defence missile on New Zealand’s ANZAC-class frigates.
However, CMS330 and 9LV do not currently work with SM2 or SM6 long range missiles.
In terms of providing a long-range air defence, things get more complicated. Two of three systems on offer (CMS330 and 9LV) have not yet been integrated with a long-range air defence missile system like SM-2 or SM-6, missiles with ranges of over 150 kilometres.
This could be done, but it isn't currently.
That’s not to say longer-ranged missile systems cannot be integrated into 9LV and CMS330 in the future—quite the opposite in fact, given their modularity—but they’re not integrated “off-the-shelf” like they are in ANCS. Systems integration is a complex process and additional integration increases the risk of cost overruns and delays.
Australia has decided to combine 9LV/CEAFAR with the US Aegis CMS in some fashion.

It’s unclear as to whether Navantia and SAAB Australia are offering the 9LV/Aegis CMS combination in their CSC bid, although the CEAFAR radar is included.
The Australian Future Frigate faces the same problem. Australia’s solution was to “combine” (in some manner) the 9LV/CEAFAR radar combination with the US Navy’s (USN) Aegis CMS to facilitate the integration of future US missile systems such as the SM-6 to give the Future Frigate greater long-range air defence capabilities. By “combining” 9LV/CEAFAR and Aegis, Australia is hedging the future viability of its Future Frigates on the continued ability of the USN to be on the cutting edge of naval weapons and sensors technology.

It is not clear if Navatia is doing this with their frigate offering to Canada, which apparently includes the 9LV CMS.
It’s unclear as to whether Navantia and SAAB Australia are offering the 9LV/Aegis CMS combination in their CSC bid, although the CEAFAR radar is included.
The Alion/Damen bid is based on the Dutch De Zeven Provinciën frigate. That ship has an Aegis CMS and can track but not engage theatre ballistic missiles.
Another potential aspect of ‘futureproofing’ is ballistic missile defence (BMD). Currently, the US and Japan are the only countries with an effective sea-based capability to track and engage theatre ballistic missiles using a special configuration of the Aegis CMS and the SM-3 missile. Dutch De Zeven Provinciën-class frigates—the design on which Alion Science and Technology/Damen Shipbuilding’s bid is based—have demonstrated the ability to track ballistic missiles but lack the ability to engage them, and other countries are incorporating BMD into their future ships.

The big question seems to be whether anyone is including an Aegis capability with their bids for Canada, whether stand alone or integrated with another CMS. I have not been getting the impression that Canada is looking for this.
All three bids for the new frigates were found to be non-compliant in some way or another.
It's make or break time for Canadian Surface Combatant bidders

Under the process, the bidders can now get one chance to revise and re-submit their bids by the 21st of July.

This is not necessarily a big deal, as it was anticipated that this may happen which is why the "cure" was made part of the bid process. The bid documents were reviewed and will have been sent back with questions and comments to be addressed.

A winning bid is expected to be selected by the end of the year.
Here's a couple of relevant articles from 2016 and 2017 regarding how the T-26 bid for Canada will likely be equipped.
Canadian Surface Combatant team, led by Lockheed Martin Canada, unveiled
Q&A with Lockheed Martin Canada Regarding the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) Program

This will include Lockheed Martin Canada's CMS 330 combat management system.
The proposal will include Lockheed Martin Canada’s combat management system (CMS) 330.
... we anticipate that our solution will be based upon our existing Canadian solution - Lockheed Martin Canada’s Command Management System 330. CMS 330, a derivative of a Lockheed Martin Canada legacy product, was developed as a result of more than 30 years’ experience and knowledge of Canadian and NATO naval operations. CMS 330 is an open architecture design which is adaptable to a variety of subsystems and designs to reduce risk and ensure delivery of unique customer requirements. The system offers an extensive set of defence capabilities and features. The CMS 330 is successfully deployed in Canada on the Halifax Class frigates and has been chosen in Canada for the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship and in New Zealand for the ANZAC Frigate upgrade.
This system was recently fitted to the Halifax class frigates as part of an upgrade, and has also been exported to New Zealand for their ANZAC class ships and to Chile. A derivative is being used on the new Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships.

More information here:
Combat Management System · Lockheed Martin

Video here:

I very strongly suspect the air defence missiles will be ESSM, which have also been fitted to the Halifax class in the recent upgrade.

It is possible that the air defence version may have longer range missiles as well, or at least the ability to fit them later. However, I would not be surprised if they were absent.


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Systems integration is an expensive business. A purely Canuck pick and mix dumps all that cost on the RCN. I would hop lessons have been learnt from the hash they made of their submarines' systems. And indeed the pig's ear the RAF made of those Chinooks.


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I'm a big fan of Sheppard - they're doing some really good stuff now, and in my view are far better than Janes - well worth keeping an eye on them as a publisher.
Translated - Giz us a job.......
Davie Shipbuilding (Chantier Davie) has been awarded a shipbuilding contract despite not previously being part of the National Shipbuilding Plan. They will also apparently be allowed to bid on future contracts as well. Ottawa will allow Quebec's Davie shipyard to bid on national shipbuilding plan contracts | CBC News

This would not appear to affect any of the programs which would go to Irving in Halifax such as the frigates, as those are already under way.

However, there are projects which under the previous arrangement would go to Seaspan in Vancouver which are now apparently available to Davie. Specifically, a contract has been signed with Davie to buy and convert three icebreakers for the coast guard.

New icebreakers have been urgently needed for a number of years, but it has not been possible to fit them into Seaspan's build schedule.

The ships were intended for the Arctic offshore oil industry in the US but have come on the market due to a downturn in the oil industry there.

The contract will total $610 million. Davie recently delivered a (converted) replenishment ship to the RCN on time and on budget in a project which was previously discussed on this thread.

Under the original shipbuilding plan as laid out by the previous government Davie was frozen out of any future work due to having been in financial difficulties at the time. Davie have been in business for nearly 200 years and have about 50% of Canada's shipbuilding capacity and a very broad base of experience, including previous naval work for Canada (building frigates) and as a subcontractor for US naval work. They are located just east of Quebec City on the south side of the St. Lawrence River. They do extensive work in the offshore oil and gas industry, ferries, ship repair, nuclear, hydro-electric, rail cars, mining, and other industries.
The following article covers a variety of issues, but the one which is of primary relevance to this thread is that defence minister Sajjan visited the new RCN refuelling station under construction at Nanisivik. Are upgrades at Canada's northernmost military facility enough to guarantee Arctic sovereignty? | CBC News

Nanisivik is at the northern end of Baffin Island, near the village of Arctic Bay, about 750 km north of the arctic circle. At one time there was a zinc-lead mine there, but when the ore was mined out the mine closed, shortly after the year 2000.

The mine included port facilities. These were acquired by Canada under the previous government who planned on turning them into a full fledged naval base. These plans were later downgraded to a refuelling station operating in the navigable season only, from August to October.

The original announcement by Harper was more than a decade ago, but progress was slow. It was scheduled to open this year, but it has been delayed by one year and so will open in 2019.

The story mentions delays due to the short construction season, but I seem to recall two other major reasons which are not discussed in the news story. One is that although it was announced by Harper in 2007, very little was done with respect to actually funding it and starting on doing anything for some years thereafter. The other reason was that as a former mine site it was found to have significant contamination which had to be remediated by the mining company before ownership (and therefore responsibility) could be handed over.

The new construction includes new fuel tanks, shown below.

The story also mentions that CFS Alert, located at the northern end of Ellesmere Island and so at the northernmost tip of Canada also received some recent upgrades, including to their generators and fire fighting equipment. This isn't directly related to the RCN however so I won't go into details.

The story also describes some of the great power rivalry which is going on in the Arctic which attempts to provide some of the background for how Nanisivik fits into Canadian defence policy. However, I think the description of this aspect was very poor and ignored the major driving forces behind Canadian defence developments there so I won't cover that part of it here.
The first of a new class of Arctic offshore Patrol Vessels (AOPV) has been launched.
Halifax Shipyard launches Canada’s lead Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessel
First Irving-built Arctic patrol vessel set to launch | The Chronicle Herald
The HMCS Harry DeWolf is the first of a class of five (or possibly six). It has not been officially named yet, but was launched via a submersible barge.
Once moored at the launch site, the barge will be submerged in a controlled manner over many hours — 12 to 24 — an Irving spokesperson told The Chronicle Herald and the future HMCS Harry DeWolf will float off. The 103-metre, 6,615-tonne vessel will then be towed to Halifax Shipyard where work will continue to prepare the ship for trials in 2019.
The class of ships can operate in up to a metre of ice, but are not dedicated icebreakers and will not operate in Arctic waters during the winter. The design was a compromise between ice breaking capacity and being able to operate efficiently in open water. A double-ended design was considered, but rejected on cost grounds.

They are armed with a 25mm gun, so there is no pretension of being full-on warships. They will however conduct constabulary duties in Arctic waters during the shipping season and can also carry various mission modules or troops.

The video is overly long for what is actually happening, so you can skip ahead through it without missing much.

The new frigates will be built in the same yard after the AOPVs are finished.
Here is the CBC story, with a lot more detail. Lockheed Martin selected as preferred designer for Canada's next generation of warships | CBC News

The T-26 has been selected as the "preferred" design, but that is subject to final negotiations with BAE and LMC.
Procurement services and defence officials say this is not the final step; they will now enter into negotiations with the winning bidder to confirm it can deliver everything promised in the complex proposal.
The negotiations will include ensuring that the details of the IP rights (the ships will be built by Irving), the performance of the weaponry, and a review ensuring the companies have enough money behind them to deliver (this should be a routine formality in this case).
The company must now go through a "due diligence process," which includes further negotiations over intellectual property rights, combat systems performance assessments and a review of the company's "financial capability to deliver the project," the government said.
Actual contract award will be in the spring.
The federal government does not expect to award a final design contract until next spring.
Construction will start in 2023 at Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax. Irving is currently building a class of Arctic OPVs (see the posts above) so the frigates can't start until those are done.
It could be 2023 before construction actually gets underway at the go-to yard for warships — Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax.
The other two bidders were Navantia with the F-105 and the other was a design based on the Dutch De Zeven Provinciën.
Alion Science and Technology, along with its subsidiary Alion Canada, had submitted their proposal based on the Dutch De Zeven Provinciën Air Defence and Command (LCF) frigate.
Navantia, a Spanish-based company, headed a team that included Saab and CEA Technologies.
Its proposal was based on the F-105 frigate design, a ship in service with the Spanish navy.
If final negotiations with BAE/LMC fall down, negotiations with the next placed bidder will re-open.
André Fillion, the assistant deputy minister of defence and marine procurement at Public Services and Procurement Canada, said if the federal government is not satisfied that the top bidder can deliver, it will open negotiations with the second-place team of companies.
There will be two variants of the new frigate. The first three will be an air defence version, and the remainder are to be an ASW/GP version. There has been no information released yet which indicates in detail how these will be equipped.
Here's the official announcement from the government. There are no other details of significance in the official announcement that were not covered in the CBC news story.
Government of Canada delivers on its commitment to the Navy by announcing next steps in fleet procurement -
There is one detail which is different however. The CBC reported the date for the start of construction as being 2023, while the official announcement simply says "early 2020s".
A contract award is expected this winter, with construction beginning in the early 2020s.
There has been some discussion recently about moving construction ahead by a year if necessary to avoid having any gaps between the completion of the AOPV ships and the start of the new frigates. That detail I imagine may be discussed in the final negotiations which are beginning now.
Ottawa has ordered a 6th Arctic OPV. Ottawa buys another Arctic and offshore patrol ship to be built in Halifax | CBC News

The previous government started the project with plans for 6 to 8. In 2014 they scaled that back to 5 with a possible 6th. Today's announcement is for that 6th ship.
"The women and men of the Irving Shipyard build incredible ships and are essential for enabling the success of the Royal Canadian Navy," said Sajjan.
The government planned to purchase five Arctic and offshore patrol ships — with a possibility of a sixth — after scaling back its original plan of buying between six and eight vessels in 2014.
There isn't much of interest other than the above in the news story itself, so it is probably not worth reading. There are some posts above this one showing the launch of an AOPV if you want to see what they look like.

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