the Iroquois and Halifax ships,
which have core crews of 250 and
The RCN also hopes to follow the
process similar to the U.S. littoral
combat ship, which employs various mission modules and modular
ship design. Using a modular
approach would provide more flexibility; open architecture would
allow new sensors or software to be
plugged in as they are developed,
RCN officers said.
Even though Canada still is
years away from cutting steel on
the CSC, potential problems have
In 2013, Canada’s Auditor General Michael Ferguson raised warnings about the project’s funding.
“The CSC project budget of
$26.2 billion is insufficient,” he
warned in November 2013 when his office examined
the federal government’s ship procurement strategy.
Delays in building as well as increases in inflation could
boost the project costs, industry representatives point out.
The result could be fewer ships or less capability.
“Cost/capability trade-offs need to be monitored and
revisions made to project budgets, if necessary, to make
sure Canada gets the military ships it that it needs to protect Canadian interests and sovereignty,” Ferguson said.
The numbers of ships already were being slightly
reduced when Ferguson released his report. The RCN had
originally envisioned acquiring 16 CSCs to replace 12
Halifax-class frigates and four Iroquois-class destroyers.
But that number later was modified as Canadian
government representatives and RCN officers noted
the project budget would allow for “up to 15” of the
future vessels to be constructed.
But in late September, Department of National
Defence documents leaked to news outlets, including
Seapower, outlined additional concerns being raised
internally about the CSC. The documents, dated May
2015, noted that the CSC was at a very high risk of
exceeding its budget and falling behind schedule.
“There is a risk that the project may be unable to
deliver the optimal number of ships with the capabilities
necessary to meet operational requirements as mandat-
ed,” noted the documents produced by the CSC project
office. “This may lead to the RCN’s inability to deliver
operational effect and/or a failed procurement.”
Among the problems identified were the complexity
of the CSC and a lack of skilled military and govern-
ment personnel to shepherd the project.
After details of the leaked documents were reported,
the Department of National Defence and the Canadian
Forces issued a statement noting that it was in the
process of examining issues about cost, delivery schedule and requirements for the CSC so that any future
risks could be dealt with. The documents in question
were part of that process, the statement noted.
“At this stage of a project, it is not unusual for some
risks to be assessed as high,” the statement said. “This
may change over time as the project plan develops.”
Some RCN officers say that maximizing system
commonality between the two CSC variants will keep
acquisition costs under control as well as provide
through-life savings in a number of areas, including
training, maintenance and logistics support.
But on Oct. 2, Conservative Party government
Defence Minister Jason Kenney confirmed what naval
analysts were already worried about — the $26.2 billion in funding likely would not produce a fleet of 15
ships. He pointed out that inflation could mean fewer
For the first time, Kenney suggested that the number of ships to be built could drop as low as 11.
“If that happens, it would seriously affect the Navy’s
ability to perform all its roles,” said Martin Shadwick, who
teaches strategic studies at York University in Toronto,
Ontario. “Eleven warships doesn’t give you a lot of flexi-
bility to conduct operations at home or internationally.”
Despite the concerns, international firms already are
lining up for the potential work on the CSC.
BAE Systems will provide the RCN an offer based on
the Type 26 Global Combat Ship design.
The Royal Canadian Navy Iroquois-class destroyer Athabaskan, front, and
Halifax-class frigates Montreal and Halifax transit together during allied maritime tactical signal and maneuvering operations with the U.S. Navy Arleigh
Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans Sept. 23 in the
Atlantic Ocean. The Canadian Surface Combatant program originally was envisioned to acquire 16 ships to replace the 12 Halifax-class frigates and four
Iroquois-class destroyers, but that number now is somewhat in flux.