Halifax-class frigate

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HMCS Calgary in July 2014
Class overview
NameHalifax class
Operators Royal Canadian Navy
Preceded byAnnapolis class
Succeeded bySingle Class Surface Combatant
In commission1992–present
General characteristics
TypeGuided-missile frigate
Displacement4,770 t (4,770.0 t)
Length134.1 m (440 ft 0 in)
Beam16.4 m (53 ft 10 in)
Draught4.9 m (16 ft 1 in)
Speed30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Range9,500 nmi (17,600 km; 10,900 mi)
Sensors and
processing systems
Electronic warfare
& decoys
TKWA/MASS (Multi Ammunition Softkill System)
Aircraft carried1 × CH-148 Cyclone helicopter
Aviation facilitiesOne landing pad and one hangar

The Halifax-class frigate, also referred to as the City class, is a class of multi-role patrol frigates that have served the Royal Canadian Navy since 1992. The class is the outcome of the Canadian Patrol Frigate Project, which dates to the mid-1970s.[1] HMCS Halifax was the first of an eventual twelve Canadian-designed and Canadian-built vessels which combine traditional anti-submarine capabilities with systems to deal with surface and air threats as well. All ships of the class are named after the capital cities most of the Canadian provinces (St. John's, Halifax, Charlottetown, Fredericton, Québec City, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Regina) plus the capital of Canada, Ottawa as well as the major cities of Calgary, Montreal, and Vancouver.

In 2007, the Government of Canada announced a planned refit of the Halifax class which is known as the Halifax Class Modernization Project (HCMP) of which the Frigate Equipment Life Extension (FELEX) project is a part. In November 2008, a Lockheed Martin Canada-led team including Saab AB, Elisra, IBM Canada, CAE Professional Services, L-3 Electronic Systems and xwave, was awarded the contract. The construction phase of the program was completed in November 2016.[2] As of May 2021, the Halifax-class modernization program is being closed out, but full operational capacity was reached on 31 January 2018.[3]

In October 2011 the Canadian government launched the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy which aims to replace the Halifax class, as well as the capabilities of the Iroquois-class destroyers, with up to 15 new warships under the Canadian Surface Combatant. This replacement class is currently in the design stage and construction is anticipated to begin in the early 2020s. However, the Halifax-class vessels continue to be upgraded with at least some ships of the class anticipated as likely to continue service into the 2040s.[4]

Description and design[edit]

The Halifax-class frigate design, emerging from the Canadian Patrol Frigate Program, was ordered by the Canadian Forces in 1977 as a replacement for the aging St. Laurent, Restigouche, Mackenzie, and Annapolis classes of destroyer escorts, which were all tasked with anti-submarine warfare.[5] In July 1983, the federal government approved the budget for the design and construction of the first batch of six frigates, with a second batch ordered in December 1987.[6][7] To reflect the changing long-term strategy of the Navy during the 1980s and 1990s, the Halifax-class frigates was designed as a general purpose warship with particular focus on anti-submarine capabilities.[5]

As built, the Halifax-class vessels displaced 4,750 long tons (4,830 t) and were 134.65 metres (441 ft 9 in) long overall and 124.49 metres (408 ft 5 in) between perpendiculars with a beam of 16.36 metres (53 ft 8 in) and a draught of 4.98 metres (16 ft 4 in).[6][8] That made them slightly larger than the Iroquois-class destroyers.[6] The vessels are propelled by two shafts with Escher Wyss controllable pitch propellers driven by a CODOG system of two General Electric LM2500 gas turbines, generating 47,500 shaft horsepower (35,400 kW) and one SEMT Pielstick 20 PA6 V 280 diesel engine, generating 8,800 shaft horsepower (6,600 kW).[8]

This gives the frigates a maximum speed of 29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph) and a range of 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km; 8,100 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) while using their diesel engines.[6][8] Using their gas turbines, the ships have a range of 3,930 nautical miles (7,280 km; 4,520 mi) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph). The Halifax class has a complement of 198 naval personnel of which 17 are officers and 17 aircrew of which 8 are officers.[8]

Control systems[edit]

The tactical command and control systems were developed in Canada. These included the Shipboard Integrated Communications System (SHINCOM), the Shipboard Integrated Machinery Control (SHINMACS), and Shipboard Integrated Integrated Processing and Display System (SHINPADS).[9] SHINCOM was developed by DRS Technology Canada and was exported to other navies.[10] SHINMACS was developed by CAE.[11] SHINPADS was developed by Sperry Computer Systems in Winnipeg.[11] with technical assistance from the United States. It used a revolutionary redundant and distributed computer architecture which was exported for use in US military control systems.[9]

Armament and aircraft[edit]

HMCS Regina fires a Harpoon missile

As built the Halifax-class vessels deployed the CH-124 Sea King helicopter, which acted in concert with shipboard sensors to seek out and destroy submarines at long distances from the ships. The ships have a helicopter deck fitted with a "bear trap" system allowing the launch and recovery of helicopters in up to sea state 6. The Halifax class also carries a close-in anti-submarine weapon in the form of the Mark 46 torpedo, launched from twin Mark 32 Mod 9 torpedo tubes in launcher compartments on either side of the forward end of the helicopter hangar.[8]

As built, the anti-shipping role is supported by the RGM-84 Harpoon Block 1C surface-to-surface missile, mounted in two quadruple launch tubes at the main deck level between the funnel and the helicopter hangar.[6][8] For anti-aircraft self-defence the ships are armed with the Sea Sparrow vertical launch surface-to-air missile in two Mk 48 Mod 0 eight-cell launchers placed to port and starboard of the funnel. The vessels carry 16 missiles.[8] A Raytheon/General Dynamics Phalanx Mark 15 Mod 21 Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) is mounted on top of the helicopter hangar for "last-ditch" defence against targets that evade the Sea Sparrow.[8]

As built, the main gun on the forecastle is a 57 mm (2.2 in)/70 calibre Mark 2 gun from Bofors.[a] The gun is capable of firing 2.4-kilogram (5.3 lb) shells at a rate of 220 rounds per minute at a range of more than 17 kilometres (11 mi).[8] The vessels also carry eight 12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine guns.[7]

Countermeasures and sensors[edit]

As built, the decoy system comprises two BAE Systems Shield Mark 2 decoy launchers which fire chaff to 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) and infrared rockets to 169 metres (185 yd) in distraction, confusion and centroid seduction modes. The torpedo decoy is the AN/SLQ-25A Nixie towed acoustic decoy from Argon ST. The ship's radar warning receiver, the CANEWS (Canadian Electronic Warfare System), SLQ-501, and the radar jammer, SLQ-505, were developed by Thorn and Lockheed Martin Canada.[8]

A sonar operator training on sonar equipment aboard HMCS Calgary.

Two Thales Nederland (formerly Signaal) SPG-503 (STIR 1.8) fire control radars are installed one on the roof of the bridge and one on the raised radar platform immediately forward of the helicopter hangar. The ship is also fitted with Raytheon AN/SPS-49(V)5 long-range active air search radar operating at C and D bands, Ericsson HC150 Sea Giraffe medium-range air and surface search radar operating at G and H bands, and Kelvin Hughes Type 1007 I-band navigation radar. The sonar suite includes the CANTASS Canadian Towed Array and GD-C AN/SQS-510 hull-mounted sonar and incorporates an acoustic range prediction system. The sonobuoy processing system is the GD-C AN/UYS-503.[8]


The Government of Canada announced on 5 July 2007 a $3.1 billion refit program for the Halifax class which would take place from 2010 to 2018 and extend the ships' service lives through to the 2030s.[12] The total cost of the program was set at $4.3 billion, with $2 billion for combat systems upgrades and $1.2 billion for mid-life refits. A further $1 billion was paid to contractors for other projects.[13]

Faced with delays and restrictions from the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, the Navy opted to modernize the Halifax class using as much non-American equipment as possible,[further explanation needed] including technology from Canada, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands and Israel. The International Traffic in Arms Regulations has also been blamed for the delay of the CH-148 Cyclone which was running two years behind the original schedule.[14] The Halifax class received state of the art equipment able to handle modern threats through 2030. The modernization includes passive and active weapons, radars, and new combat architecture.[15]

The Halifax Shipyard in 2015. Refits for Halifax-class frigates used by Maritime Forces Atlantic were completed at the shipyard in 2016.

The refit program was formally announced as completed on the west coast by Victoria Shipyards on 29 April 2016 by the Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan when Regina was returned to the Royal Canadian Navy.[16][13] Calgary was the first to undergo work at Victoria, followed by Winnipeg, Vancouver, Ottawa and Regina.[13][15] The construction phase of the program on the east coast was completed on 29 November 2016 when the final east coast ship, Toronto, was handed back to the Royal Canadian Navy at Halifax Shipyard.[2][17]

Control systems[edit]

The new combat system architecture and combat management system is the CMS330 Combat Management System from Lockheed Martin Canada, which includes elements of the Saab 9LV Mk4 combat management system (known as the "CanACCS-9LV" suite of components.)[18] CMS330 is a development of SHINPADS.[9]

The Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) from L-3 MAPPS provides systems management.[19] IPMS is a development of SHINMACS.[9]

Weaponry and propulsion upgrades[edit]

A Bofors 57 mm Mark 3 mounted on HMCS Ottawa

The Halifax class currently use the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM), instead of the obsolete RIM-7 Sea Sparrow. The ESSM gives a greater range against anti-ship missiles and enemy aircraft. BAE Systems received a contract to upgrade the Bofors 57 mm Mk 2 to Bofors 57 mm Mk 3 configuration. The upgrades were performed at Karlskoga between 2010 and 2016, before being installed in Halifax and Victoria.

The Department of National Defence requested a tender to provide a naval remote weapon system (NRWS) defence capability to the Halifax and Iroquois classes. The Halifax class was to be fitted with a new close-in weapon system (CIWS) to replace the 12.7 mm M2HB heavy machine gun.[20] Although not part of the refit, Raytheon Canada Limited was awarded a contract of $180 million for eight years to overhaul, convert and repair all Canadian CIWS to a Block 1B Baseline 1 configuration.[21]

It was announced by the Department of National Defence that Hewitt Equipment was chosen to replace the diesel generators aboard the Halifax-class vessels in June 2015. The contract was awarded for 10 years, with options to extend it out to 22 years and covers ships assigned to either coast.[22][unreliable source?] The speed of the vessels in the class increased to over 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph) following the FELEX upgrades.[23]

Sensors and countermeasures[edit]

A CEROS 200 Fire Control Radar aboard HMCS Ottawa

As part of the refit, Thales Canada supplied the Sirius long-range Infrared Search and Track (IRST) for the Halifax class. The IRST is currently in use on board the German Sachsen-class frigates.[24] The IRST is able to track low radar cross-section aircraft and ships.

Saab provided 26 CEROS 200 Fire Control Directors. The CEROS 200 is a Radar and Optronic Tracking system which interfaces with advanced anti-ship missiles and gun systems. It provides defence against modern threats including modern sea skimming anti-ship missiles or asymmetric threats in littoral environments. The CEROS 200 is part of the 9LV Mk4.

The Halifax class were fitted with a modified Sea Giraffe SG-150 multi-function search radar. The SG-150 HC will be upgraded and will secure a high level of operational availability as well as improved functions.[25] Thales supplied 13 Smart-S Mk2 S-band radars, including one for training purposes. These radars are optimized for medium-to-long-range search and target designation with a high degree of detection. The Smart-S Mk2 is a 3D multibeam radar which can detect hostile targets in near-shore environments. The deliveries began at the end of 2010 and were completed in 2015.[26]

Raytheon Anschütz provided at least 12 Pathfinder ST MK 2 Radar systems. The Pathfinder Mark II is designed to provide a modern and flexible navigation tool.[27] The Pathfinder ST Mk 2 radar system is part of the 9LV Mk4. In 2015, Canada acquired twelve sets of X and S-Band navigation radars from Raytheon Anschütz for the class. The new radars have advanced detection capability, new radiation control and pulse blanker interfaces and have improved interaction with the vessels' upgraded command and control system.[28]

The Halifax class is fitted with the Multi Ammunition Softkill System

The Halifax class were fitted with the Multi Ammunition Softkill System (MASS) developed by Rheinmetall. MASS is a fully computerized countermeasure. The system is connected to the ship's sensors and protects ships from attacks by advanced, sensor-guided missiles by launching decoys that operate in all relevant wavelengths.[29] Elbit Systems received a contract to supply Electronic Warfare equipment for the Halifax class, including active jamming and tracking systems.[30]

Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH received a contract to provide 14 Passive Electronic Countermeasures Systems (ECM).[31]


The Halifax class received two Navy Multi-band Terminals (NMT), installed on the forward port and starboard sides of the hangar, to increase its satellite communications capabilities. The NMT system communicates with satellites in geostationary orbit via the Ka band. This system was augmented by the Maritime Satellite Communications Upgrade (MSCU), featuring the AN/USC-69(V3) antenna installed on the hangar top.[32] The system was first used by the Halifax class on deployments to Operation Reassurance in 2012.[32]

Ships in class[edit]

Construction data
Name Pennant number Builder Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport Status
Halifax FFH 330 Saint John Shipbuilding, Saint John, New Brunswick 19 March 1987 30 April 1988 29 June 1992 CFB Halifax Active in service
Vancouver FFH 331 19 May 1988 8 July 1989 23 August 1993 CFB Esquimalt Active in service
Ville de Québec FFH 332 MIL Davie Shipbuilding, Lauzon, Quebec 16 December 1988 16 May 1991 14 July 1994 CFB Halifax Active in service
Toronto FFH 333 Saint John Shipbuilding, Saint John, New Brunswick 22 April 1989 18 December 1990 29 July 1993 CFB Halifax Active in service
Regina FFH 334 MIL Davie Shipbuilding, Lauzon, Quebec 6 October 1989 25 January 1992 29 December 1993 CFB Esquimalt Active in service
Calgary FFH 335 15 June 1991 28 August 1992 12 May 1995 CFB Esquimalt Active in service
Montréal FFH 336 Saint John Shipbuilding, Saint John, New Brunswick 8 February 1991 28 February 1992 21 July 1994 CFB Halifax Active in service
Fredericton FFH 337 25 April 1992 26 June 1993 10 September 1994 CFB Halifax Active in service
Winnipeg FFH 338 20 March 1993 25 June 1994 23 June 1996 CFB Esquimalt Active in service
Charlottetown FFH 339 18 December 1993 1 October 1994 9 September 1995 CFB Halifax Active in service
St. John's FFH 340 24 August 1994 26 August 1995 26 June 1996 CFB Halifax Active in service
Ottawa FFH 341 29 April 1995 31 May 1996 28 September 1996 CFB Esquimalt Active in service

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The /70 after the calibre denotes the length of the gun. This means that the length of the gun barrel is 70 times the bore diameter.


  1. ^ Macpherson and Barrie, p. 289
  2. ^ a b Gunn, Andrea (28 November 2016). "Irving finishes frigate refits for navy". The Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  3. ^ "Halifax-class modernization and frigate life extension". Government of Canada. 13 December 2018. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  4. ^ "Davie Shipyard Begins Halifax-Class Frigate Mid-Life Refit Program". Naval News. 14 August 2020. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  5. ^ a b Milner, p. 284
  6. ^ a b c d e Macpherson and Barrie, p. 291
  7. ^ a b Gardiner and Chumbley, p. 47
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Saunders, p. 90
  9. ^ a b c d Arthurs, Kevin (September 2014). "Value Propositions and NSPS: A Canadian Success Story?" (PDF). Maritime Security Occasional Paper. Centre for the Study of Security and Development, Dalhousie University. 17: 53–57. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  10. ^ Thorsteinson, Janet (Spring 2009). "Canadian Naval Technology Earns Global Sales: In the Beginning was the Canadian Patrol Frigate" (PDF). Canadian Naval Review. Mulroney Institute of Government, St. Francis Xavier University. 5 (1): 25–27. ISBN 978-1-935352-45-7. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  11. ^ a b Hunt, Kevin (September 1987). "Naval Engineering Accomplishments in Canada" (PDF). Maritime Engineering Journal: 12–20.
  12. ^ "Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class Frigates Modernization and Life Extension Program". Navy Recognition. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  13. ^ a b c Wilson, Carla (28 April 2016). "Navy marks end of frigate upgrades". Times Colonist. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  14. ^ Pugliese, David (25 January 2010). "Navy says no to buying American: U.S. restrictions on technology can lead to delays". The Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  15. ^ a b "Halifax-class Modernization / Frigate Life Extension". National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  16. ^ Haun, Eric (29 April 2016). "Canadian Navy Frigate Refit Program Completed". marinelink.com. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  17. ^ "'On time, under budget:' Navy marks end of $4.3B frigate modernization". CBC news. 29 November 2016. Retrieved 22 November 2022.
  18. ^ "Lockheed Martin Canada Announces Team to Pursue Halifax Class Modernization Program". Ottawa, Ontario. Canadian News Wire. 11 April 2007. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  19. ^ David, Pugliese (19 January 2009). "L-3 to supply platform management system to Halifax-class frigates". Ottawa, Ontario. Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  20. ^ "NRWS: Naval Remote Weapon Station for Halifax class Frigates and Tribal Destroyers – MERX Letters of Interest/Industry Day". Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  21. ^ "Raytheon Canada Limited: Private Company Information – Businessweek". Archived from the original on 1 October 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  22. ^ "Hewitt Equipment to replace Canadian Halifax-class frigates' generators". naval-technology.com. 16 June 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  23. ^ "Halifax-Class Canadian Patrol Frigate" (PDF). Royal Canadian Navy. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  24. ^ "Canada & Holland Order 17 SIRIUS Shipboard Long-Range IRST Sensors". Defense Industry Daily. 26 April 2006. Retrieved 26 April 2006.
  25. ^ "Lockheed Martin says critical design review on Frigate upgrade reached". Defence Watch. Archived from the original on 19 January 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  26. ^ Pugliese, David (3 July 2009). "Canadian Frigate Modernization to Include Thales Smart-S Mk2 Radar". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  27. ^ "NSC Radars for Canadian Navy frigate modernization program" (Press release). Raytheon-Anschuetz. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  28. ^ "Raytheon Anschütz delivers navigation radars for Canada's Halifax-class frigates". naval-technology.com. 8 September 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  29. ^ Pugliese, David (3 April 2009). "More Information on Softkill System for Halifax-Class Frigates". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  30. ^ "Elbit Systems awarded $55 million Lockheed Martin contract to Supply Electronic Warfare Equipment for Canadian Navy Frigate Upgrade Program" (DOC) (Press release). Haifa, Israel: Elbit systems. 7 May 2009. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  31. ^ Pugliese, David (3 April 2009). "Rheinmetall Wins Contract for Halifax Class ECM Systems". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  32. ^ a b Hunt, Kevin (Fall 2018). "Wideband Global SATCOM and its Integration into the Royal Canadian Navy" (PDF). Maritime Engineering Journal. 88: 13–18.


  • Gardiner, Robert; Chumbley, Stephen; Budzbon, Przemysław, eds. (1995). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1947–1995. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-55750-132-5.
  • Macpherson, Ken; Barrie, Ron (2002). The Ships of Canada's Naval Forces 1910–2002 (Third ed.). St. Catharines, Ontario: Vanwell Publishing. ISBN 978-1-55125-072-4.
  • Milner, Marc (2010). Canada's Navy: The First Century (Second ed.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-9604-3.
  • Saunders, Stephen, ed. (2004). Jane's Fighting Ships 2004–05. Alexandria, Virginia: Jane's Information Group Inc. ISBN 978-0-7106-2623-3.

External links[edit]

Official ship websites: