The quiet death of the Royal Canadian Navy

Here's the story from a Canadian defence industry trade journal.
Government of Canada Receives First New AOPS

The main points of interest are:
  • can operate in up to 120cm of first year ice
  • can accommodate a Sikorsky Cyclone helicopter, as well as small vehicles, deployable boats, and cargo containers
  • RCN conducted sea trials will begin in the autumn.
  • Commissioning will be in mid-2020.
  • The Nanisivik Naval Facility is expected to be complete in 2022. This is a small base or refuelling facility at the northern end of Baffin Island.

In addition to operating in up to 120 cm of first-year sea ice, the AOPS will be able to accommodate a Cyclone helicopter as well as small vehicles, deployable boats, and cargo containers. This will enable the RCN to have unescorted access to areas of the Arctic that were previously inaccessible.

Following delivery to the Government of Canada, the ship will undergo final preparations, outfitting and provisioning in HMC Dockyard Halifax while crewed by sailors before next proceeding to sea in the fall - for the first time under RCN command – in order to begin progressing navy-conducted tests and trials in a variety of environments in coming months as the ship’s capability is operationalized HMCS Harry DeWolf will be commissioned in mid-2020.

The AOPS project will provide the RCN with six new ice-capable ships, as well as two variants of the AOPS for the Canadian Coast Guard. Construction of the seventh and eighth ships is expected to begin in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

The Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy applies to this contract, ensuring that Irving Shipbuilding Inc. invests an amount equal to the value of the contract in the Canadian economy.

Work is ongoing to complete the Nanisivik Naval Facility, which will support operations of the new AOPS and other government maritime vessels. This new facility is expected to be completed in 2022.
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The RCN have quietly released a one page document with a few details of the equipment which will be used in the new frigates.

Some of these items might be on a wish list that won't actually get picked. Some might be "fitted for but not with". Some might be on some ships but not others.

There will be two versions of the frigate, the first three being an air defence/command version and the other twelve an ASW/GP version. I suspect that they will get different missile outfits. For example the AD version may get Standard 2 plus ESSM, while the ASW version may get Sea Ceptor, but that's just a guess.

Here's the list from the PDF. Some of the items list the manufacturer and some don't. See my previous post about contracts already let.

Surveillance & Weapon Sensors
  • Solid State 3D Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar – LMC SPY-7
  • Solid State AESA Target Illuminator – MDA
  • Navigation Radars – X & S Band
  • Electro-Optical and Infrared Systems
Electronic Warfare & Countermeasures Suite
  • Radar/Radio ESM Frequency Identification
  • Laser Warning and Countermeasures System
  • Radio Frequency and Electronic Jammers
  • Electronic Decoy System
Command & Control
  • Combat Management System – LMC CMS 330 with AEGIS
  • USN Cooperative Engagement Capability – Sensor Netting
  • Integrated Cyber Defence System
  • Integrated Bridge and Navigation System – OSI
  • Internal and External Communication Suite – L3 Harris
Integrated Underwater Warfare System
  • Towed Low Frequency Active & Passive Sonar – Ultra Electronics
  • Hull-Mounted Sonar – Ultra Electronics Sonar S2150
  • Towed Torpedo Countermeasures – Ultra Electronics SEA SENTOR S21700
  • Sonobuoy Processing System – General Dynamics
  • Expendable Acoustic Countermeasures
  • Missile Vertical Launch System 32 Cells – LMC MK 41
  • Area Air Defence Missiles – Raytheon Standard Missile 2
  • Point Defence Missiles – Raytheon Evolved Sea Sparrow
  • Naval Fires Support – Raytheon Tomahawk
  • Main Gun System – 127mm
  • Lightweight Torpedoes MK54 & Twin Launch Tubes
  • Close-In Air Defence System – MBDA Sea Ceptor
  • Surface-to-Surface Anti-Ship Missile – Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile
  • 2 x Stabilized Rapid Fire 30mm Naval Gun System – BAE
Aviation Facilities
  • 1 x CH-148 Cyclone Helicopter
  • Space for embarking Remotely Piloted Systems
  • Helo Hauldown and Traverse System – Indal Technologies Inc.
Propulsion & Power Generation
  • Combined Diesel-Electric or Gas Propulsion System (CODLOG)
  • 2 x Electric Motors – GE
  • 1 x Gas Turbine – Rolls Royce MT 30
  • 4 x Diesel Generators – Rolls Royce MTU
  • Integrated Platform Management System – L3 Harris
Reconfigurable Mission & Boat Bays
  • 1 x Rescue Boat – 9 metres
  • 2 x Multi-Role Boats – 9-12 metres
  • Mission Bay Handling System – Rolls Royce
  • Modular Mission Support Capacity – Sea Container, Vehicles, Boats
  • Length: 151.4 metres
  • Displacement: 7800 tonnes
  • Range: 7000 nautical miles
  • Class: 15 ships
  • Beam: 20.75 metres
  • Navigational Draught: ~8m
  • Speed: 27 knots
  • Accommodations: ~204
  • Dedicated Gym/Fitness Facilities
  • Medical Facilities
  • Shipboard Wi-Fi
There is some controversy over the choice of radar selected for the RCN's new T26 frigates, the Lockheed Martin AN/SPY-7. The concern is that it hasn't been used in a warship before and will need some adaptation to do so.
Cutting edge radar system for new frigates never used on warships, must be adapted

The Canadian navy's new frigates will get a cutting-edge radar system that has never before been installed on a warship — a recent decision that quietly ended a heated debate within the $60 billion warship program.

The Lockheed Martin-built AN/SPY-7 radar will be installed on the new warships despite a furious back-room lobbying campaign by elements in the defence industry to convince DND to take a pass on the new system.

It was a critical decision — one on which the federal government has been silent, apart from a few scattered social media posts, despite repeatedly promising to be more open and transparent about the multi-billion-dollar decisions it makes on shipbuilding.

The choice of a radar system for the frigates has important implications for the military, as well as for the taxpayers who will foot the bill for Ottawa's $60 billion plan to build 15 new surface combat ships for the navy.

Only Canada and Spain are planning on using this radar on warships, although Japan are talking about it. Japan are planning on using it on land as part of an ballistic missile defence system, although that plan has run into some snags in connection with the siting of missiles.
Japan purchased a land-based version of the radar to serve as an early warning system for North Korean ballistic missile launches. That plan was rolled back earlier this year in response to fears that the missile batteries — located near the radar installations — would pose a hazard to densely-populated surrounding areas.

At the moment, Canada and Spain are the only two countries planning to put the SPY-7 on their warships, although Japan has now also signalled it might equip some of its new warships with the technology.

There is some concern over the integration and design risks involved in using a major component such as this which is not "off the shelf". As the ship design was intended to be as off the shelf as possible, this is a major item of concern in some quarters.
In a statement, the Department of National Defence insisted that the cost of adapting the radar to the Canadian frigate design "will be covered as part of the ($140 million) long-lead contract" signed with Irving Shipbuilding in early 2019, after Lockheed Martin was selected to design the new ships.

There is another concern, though.

The fact that the AN/SPY-7 "has not been marinized and deployed on a ship at sea is significant," said Perry, a defence procurement expert and vice president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

"It means on the spectrum of developmental production, it is far closer to the purely developmental end of the spectrum than something that is deployed and has been proven on a couple of different navies around the world," he said.

The major concern seems to be whether this radar is going to turn into a costly and lengthy fiasco. A comparison was made to the problem plagued Sikorsky Cyclone ASW helicopter, which the maker promised was supposed to be an off the shelf purchase but which in the end needed extensive changes and still isn't satisfactory (and may never be).
"Canada has a lot of problems bringing development technology into service," he said, pointing to auditor general reports on the procurement fiasco involving the CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopter and the 16-year quest to replace the air force's fixed-wing search plane.

"Part of the problem is making sure you understand what it is you actually are buying," Perry added. "So if you are structuring a process to buy something off-the-shelf, you can buy something off-the-shelf. But we generally don't do that."

It's not clear whether all 15 ships will be getting this radar, or just the 3 air defence / command versions.
Ultra have been awarded the contract for the S2150-C hull mounted sonar on the Canadian frigates.
Ultra Awarded CSC Subcontract to Provide Hull-Mounted Sonar

Ultra has been awarded a contract to commence work on the S2150-C Hull-Mounted Sonar (HMS) system for the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) program.

They already have the contract for the variable depth sonar.

This is the same sonar that was designed for the UK's Type 26, and the Australians are using it on theirs as well.


Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Budget Office Report into CSC

That report is from the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), not the government's own accountants. They don't have any deep inside knowledge as to costs and capabilities. They also depend on a model which scales cost to tonnage, something which knowledgeable ARRSE posters have said on other threads to not be a reliable means of predicting costs.

Here's a couple of news stories giving their explanation as to what this actually means.

The first is from the CBC.
PBO says mixed frigate fleet and other designs offer cheaper options to navy program

The second is from industry trade publication Canadian Defence Review, where they published a statement from the DND.
DND Releases Statement Regarding PBO Report on the Canadian Surface Combatant

I've mentioned before, possibly on this thread, to take PBO figures with a grain of salt. They aren't shipbuilding experts, and they don't know what is actually going into the ships, what capabilities are being bought, and what the actual costs are. They report to parliament directly, but they're not part of the DND or other involved ministries.

I haven't read the whole report yet, so I'll base my current comments on the CBC and CDR reports for now.

One option the PBO look at is to build a mix of ships, with some being Type 26, and the rest being either Type 31 or FREMM. This goes against the DND's concept for the project of having a single base type of ship with two variants, air defence and ASW/GP. The DND want a single base type with two variants as they say this will reduce full life cycle costs, including infrastructure, manning, training, spares, and maintenance. I don't know if the PBO have taken any of this into account. I suspect not, but I will confirm that later.

The PBO also looked at two alternatives, Type 31 and FREMM. They see Type 31 as being roughly a third of the cost of Type 26. However it would result in a significantly less capable navy than Canada had planned for. This really takes this issue into the realm of defence strategy and what we want the navy to be able to do, rather than strictly an issue of budgeting. So far nobody in Canada is looking for less capability. Indeed, the real problem will be in keeping the DND from engaging in capability creep in an effort to get more and more top end kit into the ships.

An all-FREMM fleet would come in at roughly 15 per cent cheaper than T-26. That's close enough that given the PBO are basing their estimates on a somewhat dubious model rather than on actual builder's estimates it's probably safe to say that there don't appear to be significant savings there. Fincantieri (FREMM) had stormed out of the bidding saying they could build the ships at a third of the cost if only we would give them the contract on their terms and that we would come crawling back to them once we had realised the error of our ways. The PBO estimates seem to have driven a stake through the heart of that story, as if it needed doing.

The DND say that a fair bit of the difference between the PBO estimates and the DND estimates for an all T-26 fleet comes down to the PBO's numbers including tax while the DND's don't. On top of that the DND (and PWGSC) are working with actual prices as opposed to a model. The DND are saying they are still quite confident in their numbers.

A defence procurement expert quoted in the CBC story confirms that there is less difference between the DND and PBO number than meets the eye once things like tax are taken into account. He also said that looking at T-31e doesn't make much sense when looked at what it is the RCN want out of the ships and that going with an all T-31e or T-26//T-31e mix means building a very different navy than what was envisioned in the defence plans.

He does say that comparing FREMM to T-26 makes sense, as they are similar in capabilities, or at least more so than the T-31e is. Given how close the PBO's estimates for a FREMM fleet is to that of a T-26 fleet though, it wouldn't seem to make much sense to consider changing our minds now.

The real issues with the new frigates are things that are happening under the covers with respect to whether the DND's efforts to get top end American missile and radar kit (see previous posts) in the air defence version are going to introduce so many design complications as to delay the start of the build and it introduces considerable technical risk as well. This is the problem they are struggling with now and are trying to find solutions to.

Personally I would be satisfied with cutting back on the capabilities of the air defence variant (the first three ships) if that would keep the project on track. I might even be happier if the air defence variant were delayed and they went straight into the ASW version for the first ships.

I will try to find time to read the PBO report in detail, but I don't expect to see anything to earth shaking in it.
The submarines have just gone through an upgrade program and will be operated until some time in the mid 2030s or so when they will be replaced. Only a vague date has been pencilled in at this time and so far as I know there is not yet an active program defining what the replacements should be.

I believe there are at least two active factions in the RCN. One faction wants more submarines and the other wants to get rid of them in order to spend more money on missile frigates, amphibious assault ships, or whatever else is trendy at the time.

Personally I would like to see more focus on ASW and submarines as I think it fits our geographic and strategic positions better.
Here is more on the PBO (Parliamentary Budget Office) report on the cost of Canada's new frigates.
No plans to change warships despite cost warning, top official says

As a reminder of what this was all about, the PBO did a report which said that we could save money of we bought some cheaper ships such as the Type-31. They didn't get into the issue of whether those ships would do the job required, as they considered that as being out of scope of the study.

This particular story is based around an interview with the assistant deputy minister of materiel at the Department of National Defence. To no surprise he says that he's confident in the DND's price estimates and also that that T-26 is the best ship for the RCN.

I think that pretty much everything in this story has been covered before. It's timing now however suggests that the ground is being prepared for some sort of announcement about the final design being fixed in stone and final contracts being signed.


I think that pretty much everything in this story has been covered before. It's timing now however suggests that the ground is being prepared for some sort of announcement about the final design being fixed in stone and final contracts being signed.
Fingers crossed. And hopefully with some sort of guarantee for the full IIRC 15.
Fingers crossed. And hopefully with some sort of guarantee for the full IIRC 15.
I don't think the current government can give any guaranties about delivering on the full 15, as that decision will be made by a future government. The ships will be delivered over a period of many years, and many of the people currently involved will be long out of the picture by the time the later ships are to be built. The PM who will make the decision on the final ships may be someone who isn't even in politics at this time.

What can happen is that once things are sufficiently in motion it will become very difficult to justify any change in course.

I don't however see any current significant political figures who think that building Type-31s instead of Type-26s would be a sensible policy for Canada. I'm sure the head of the PBO might be a fine accountant, but the alternative proposal he presented was so full of holes that it would be easily sunk if some serious guns were turned on it. For example, when he said the UK were building a mix of classes he didn't take into account all the other ships which make up the RN and which have to be considered when looking at what a navy can do as a whole rather than as individual ships. What the RCN needs may not be the same as the RN, because the RN have a lot of other ships that we don't to fill in the gaps in capabilities.

To me, the fact that this was the best that anyone could come up with as an alternative convinces me further that we made the best choice.

What I think the real issue is going to be is how do we equip the 3 air defence versions. The complexity of them and the issues that are raised threaten to delay the whole project. I would be more comfortable if they were delayed until a later slot rather than being the first 3 ships to be built. That way we could get on with starting to build the first ASW versions while having more time to address the issues with the AD versions.

Longer term the big question is going to be what to do about replacing our submarines. That is going to take some serious thinking, and I think is an issue which is becoming ever more important as the climate warms up and the ice melts in the Arctic and more countries will want to poke their noses into our territory there.

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