Canadian Surface Combatant

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Class overview
Operators:  Royal Canadian Navy
Preceded by:
Built: 2020–2030s
Planned: up to 15
General characteristics
Aircraft carried: 1 × CH-148 Cyclone helicopter

The Canadian Surface Combatant, formerly the Single Class Surface Combatant Project is the name given to the procurement project that will replace the Iroquois and Halifax-class warships with up to 15 new ships beginning in the early 2020s as part of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.[1]

The replacement vessels will be somewhat larger than the existing Halifax class, and presumably provide a wide-area air defence capability, anti-submarine warfare capability, as well as anti-shipping capability. The design of these ships is currently underway and both the total number of ships and their capability will be dependent on the budget that is allocated to the project. The Liberal government, elected in October 2015, is undertaking a defence policy review which will include addressing these issues.

By December 2017, the three submitted proposals were:[2]

On 19 October 2018, it was announced that the Type 26 was the "preferred design" and the government "will now enter into negotiations with the winning bidder to confirm it can deliver everything promised in the complex proposal."[3][4] However, after litigation by one of the failed bids, Alion Canada, was announced in November 2018, the government was ordered to postpone any discussion of contracts until the investigation by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal was complete.[5] Despite the legal challenge, the Canadian government announced they had signed the $60 billion contract with the winning bidders on 8 February 2019.[6]


The Single Class Surface Combatant Project is a naval procurement program for the Royal Canadian Navy created to replace the aging vessels of the Iroquois and Halifax classes. The Iroquois class, an anti-air warfare destroyer, and the Halifax class, a multi-role frigate, have come to the end or are nearing the end of their service lives and require replacement.[7] The Iroquois class was originally scheduled for retirement around 2010 after 40 years in service;[8] the ships were then expected to have their service lives extended until replacements were commissioned. However, all four have been decommissioned, the last being HMCS Athabaskan in March 2017. The Halifax class is projected to end their service lives in the 2020s.[9]

The navy had investigated adopting the Active Phased Array Radar, leading observers to suggest that APAR and the associated SMART-L would equip the Single Class Surface Combatant or upgraded Halifax-class ships during the FELEX (Frigate Equipment Life Extension) project. Upgrades to the existing Halifax class with such a system would likely be difficult since the APAR requires its own mast and might make the Halifax-class design top-heavy.[10][11]

In the 2008 Canadian National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, it was announced that $26 billion was planned for the construction of the 15 vessels of the Single Class Surface Combatant Project.[12][13] The first ships were slated to become available in 2026. The initial plan called for separate bids for design and integration of systems aboard the vessels. The government later investigated merging those bids.[14]

On 26 October 2012 a letter of interest was published by Public Works and Government Services Canada to announce a session in which interested firms could find out the needs of DND for the new class and the project in general. The closing date was 5 November 2012.[15] On 20 January 2015, it was announced that Irving Shipbuilding had been named the prime contractor for the program.[16] The role of the lead contractor gives Irving Shipbuilding overall control of the project, and the company had already won the right to build the vessels at its yard in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This led to questions concerning the bidding process and the awarding of the contracts.[17] In Fall 2015, it was reported that there were high increases in costs, more than doubling to $30 billion from $14 billion for the new warships.[18] The total cost of the naval ship building program rose from $26.2 billion to $42 billion in this new study.[18] This put in jeopardy the number of ships that could be produced and raised the prospect of ships with reduced capabilities.[18]

In November 2015, seven companies were pre-qualified for the combat systems integrator role. Atlas Elektronik, DCNS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Saab Australia, Selex ES, Thales Nederland and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada all made the shortlist. As for the warship designer role, the following companies were pre-qualified: Alion-JJMA, BAE Systems, DCNS, Fincantieri, Navantia, Odense Maritime Technology and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada.[19]

On 13 June 2016, Minister of Public Services and Procurement Judy Foote announced Ottawa will buy and modify an off-the-shelf design for the new warships, instead of designing them from scratch. The minister said a competitive bid for an existing design would knock about two years off the process and save money.[20] The nearly $2 billion in research and development savings allow for more ships to be built and the integration of more advanced technology with increased capability, over the long term.

It is anticipated that two CSC ship variants will be acquired to replace the specific capabilities of the Iroquois-class destroyers and Halifax-class frigates. As such, while both variants will have the necessary combat capabilities to operate in air, surface and subsurface threat environments, a small number of ships (up to five) will additionally incorporate the sensors, guided weapons and command and fire control facilities necessary to perform large area air defence. The remaining ships (up to fifteen) will replace the capabilities provided by the current fleet of Halifax-class frigates.[19]


In October 2016 it was reported that twelve bidders had been asked to submit their designs by 27 April 2017. Foote announced that only designs from ships already in service or mature existing designs would be part of the process. However, concerns were raised when it was revealed that BAE Systems would be expected to submit their Type 26 frigate for consideration even though it had not yet been built.[21][22] Delays in the bidding process were announced by the government in February 2017 after a third of the entrants requested more time to compile a bid. Bids were to be submitted by 22 June with a winner expected to be declared in Fall 2017.[23] Further delay in the bidding process arose due to the Government of Canada's demand that any intellectual property associated with the vessel be transferred upon purchase. This led to a diplomatic exchange and one of the bidders' nations to demand direct negotiations between governments.[24] The selection of the design was pushed to Spring 2018.[25] The deadline for bids was first extended to 17 November, then again to 30 November 2017.[26][27]

On 28 November 2017, BAE Systems along with its partners Lockheed Martin Canada, CAE Inc., L3 Technologies, MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates and Ultra Electronics, officially pitched their Type 26 warship design for the Canadian Surface Combatant project.[28] Another front-runner, a joint bid by Fincantieri and Naval Group (formerly DCNS) for their FREMM multipurpose frigate was offered informally on 6 November, directly to the National Defence Minister, Harjit Sajjan, which he did not accept. Fincantieri and Naval Group de facto withdrew from the process by not making a formal bid by 30 November 2017 deadline.[29] The company's fixed price offer of $20.9 billion, lower than the other bids. However, unlike the other bids, this price excludes the cost of design, infrastructure, spare parts, training, ammunition, contingencies and project management.[30] (Typically, the acquisition of the ships themselves only represents about 50-60% of the project’s overall budget). The unsolicited bid was rejected because it came outside of the official bidding process.[31] However, on 8 December 2017, Naval Group/Fincantieri announced they would continue to submit and support their unsolicited bid, with letters of project endorsement and promised long term support from French Defense Minister Florence Parly and Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti. Naval Group and Fincantieri said they could provide the vessels to the Canadian government for $20.9 billion and begin construction at Irving as early as 2019.[32]

It is also believed that due to concerns over the fairness of the bidding process, two European shipbuilders, possibly Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and Denmark's Odense Maritime Technology, declined to submit bids.[33]

Confirmed contenders[edit]

Withdrawn bids[edit]


Construction is slated to begin in the early 2020s, with the first ship to be delivered in the mid-2020s. The last ship is expected to have been delivered, commissioned and upgraded to have complete operational capability by the late 2040s.[7][38]



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  3. ^ "Lockheed Martin selected as preferred designer for Canada's next generation of warships". CBC News. 19 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Government of Canada delivers on its commitment to the Navy by announcing next steps in fleet procurement". Public Services and Procurement Canada. 19 October 2018.
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  6. ^ Brewster, Murray (8 February 2019). "Ottawa makes its $60B frigate project official, even as rival's court challenge goes forward". CBC News. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
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  14. ^ Pugliese, David (23 February 2016). "Government considers changing course on $26B warship program in hopes vessels will be delivered sooner". National Post. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  15. ^ "Future Destroyer – Canadian Surface Combatant". Canadian American Strategic Review. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
  16. ^ Cudmore, James (20 January 2015). "Irving named prime contractor for Canadian surface combatant warships". CBC News. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  17. ^ Ivison, John (21 January 2015). "John Ivison: $26B shock — Canada's largest ever defence procurement handed off in sole-source contract". National Post. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  18. ^ a b c Cudmore, James (1 December 2015). "Cost to build navy's new warships more than doubles to $30B". CBC News. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  19. ^ a b Scott, Richard (26 May 2016). "Rebuilding Canada's navy [CANSEC2016D2]". Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  20. ^ Tutton, Michael (13 June 2016). "Federal government opts for off-the-shelf design to cut costs of new warships". CTV News. The Canadian Press. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
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  28. ^ Brewster, Murray (28 November 2017). "British design first to be submitted in Canadian navy's warship contest". CBC News. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  29. ^ Brewster, Murray (5 December 2017). "Shipbuilder appeals directly to Sajjan in warship design contest then doesn't deliver formal bid". CBC News. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
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  31. ^ Pugliese, David (5 December 2017). "Liberals reject warship proposal that companies said would save taxpayers as much as $32B". National Post. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  32. ^ Leblanc, Daniel (8 December 2017). "French and Italian governments endorse long-shot bid for 15 new ships for Canada's navy". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
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