Halifax-class frigate

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HMCS Calgary (FFH 335)
HMCS Calgary in July 2014
Class overview
Name: Halifax class
Operators:  Royal Canadian Navy
Preceded by: Annapolis class
Succeeded by: Single Class Surface Combatant
In commission: 29 June 1992-present
Completed: 12
Active: 12
General characteristics
Type: Guided missile frigate
Displacement: 4,770 t (4,770.0 t)
Length: 134.1 m (439.96 ft)
Beam: 16.4 m (53.81 ft)
Draught: 4.9 m (16.08 ft)
Speed: 29 kn (54 km/h; 33 mph)
Range: 9,500 nmi (17,600 km; 10,900 mi)
Complement: 225
Sensors and
processing systems:
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
TKWA/MASS (Multi Ammunition Softkill System)
Aircraft carried: 1 × CH-124 Sea King or 1 × CH-148 Cyclone helicopter

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 product 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 -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 a major city in each province (St. John's, Halifax, Charlottetown, Fredericton, Québec City, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary and Vancouver) plus the cities of Ottawa and Montreal.

In 2007 the Canadian government announced a planned refit of the Halifax class which known as the Halifax Class Modernization Project (HCMP) of which the Frigate 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 Halifax-class modernization program is currently underway and is scheduled to complete the refit and modernization of all twelve ships of the class by 2018.

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 (but likely fewer) new warships under the Single Class Surface Combatant Project. This replacement class is currently in the design stage and construction is anticipated to begin in the early 2020s.

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.[2] 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.[3][4] 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.[2]

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).[3][5] That made them slightly larger than the Iroquois-class destroyers.[3] 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).[5]

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.[3][5] 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 have a complement of 198 naval personnel of which 17 are officers and 17 aircrew of which 8 are officers.[5]

Armament and aircraft[edit]

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 either side of the forward end of the helicopter hangar.[5]

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.[3][5] 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.[5] 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.[5]

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).[5] The vessels also carry eight 12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine guns.[4]

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.[5]

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.[5]


Toronto launches a helicopter during exercises in the Mediterranean in 2014

The Government of Canada announced on 5 July 2007 a $3.1 billion refit program for the Halifax class which would take place from 2010–2018 and extend the ships' service lives through to the 2030s.[6] The total cost of the program was set at $4.3 billion, with $2 billion for combat systems upgrades and $1.2 billion for the mid-life refits. A further $1 billion was paid to contractors for other projects.[7]

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, including technology from Canada, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands and Israel. The International Traffic in Arms Regulations have also been blamed for the delay of the CH-148 Cyclone which was running two years behind the original schedule.[8] 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.[9]

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. As of 2016 the project was on budget.[10][7] Calgary was the first to undergo work at Victoria, followed by Winnipeg, Ottawa and Regina.[7][9]

Weaponry and propulsion upgrades[edit]

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 2010–2016, 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.[11] 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.[12]

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 on assigned to either coast.[13]

Sensors and countermeasures[edit]

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.[14] The IRST is able to track low radar cross-section aircraft and ships.

The Halifax class received a combat system architecture and combat management system developed by Lockheed Martin Canada and associated subcontractors, notably Saab Sweden and Saab Australia. The new combat architecture provides a command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) capability. Elements of the Saab 9LV Mk4 Combat Management System (known as the "CanACCS-9LV" suite of components) are incorporated in the Lockheed Martin Canada developed "CMS330" Combat Management System. The CMS330 Combat management system has since been selected for use in the New Zealand Anzac-class frigate upgrade and a slimmed down version of CMS330 will also be used in the Canadian AOPS program. The program includes a new combat system and a modernized operations room.[15]

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 improved functions.[16] 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.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19]

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. MASS is currently in use by 15 other navies worldwide.[20] Elbit Systems received a contract to supply Electronic Warfare equipment for the Halifax class, including active jamming and tracking systems.[21]

Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH received a contract to provide 14 Passive Electronic Countermeasures Systems (ECM).[22]

Ships in class[edit]

There are twelve Halifax-class ships in Canadian service:

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The 70 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 Milner, p. 284
  3. ^ a b c d e Macpherson and Barrie, p. 291
  4. ^ a b Gardiner and Chumbley, p. 47
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Saunders, p. 90
  6. ^ "Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class Frigates Modernization and Life Extension Program". Navy Recognition. August 22, 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2015. [unreliable source?]
  7. ^ a b c Wilson, Carla (28 April 2016). "Navy marks end of frigate upgrades". Times Colonist. Retrieved 6 May 2016. 
  8. ^ Pugliese, David (25 January 2010). "Navy says no to buying American: U.S. restrictions on technology can lead to delays". The Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  9. ^ a b "Halifax-class Modernization / Frigate Life Extension". National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces. Retrieved 16 August 2016. 
  10. ^ Haun, Eric (29 April 2016). "Canadian Navy Frigate Refit Program Completed". marinelink.com. Retrieved 6 May 2016. 
  11. ^ "NRWS: Naval Remote Weapon Station for Halifax class Frigates and Tribal Destroyers – MERX Letters of Interest/Industry Day". Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  12. ^ "Raytheon Canada Limited: Private Company Information - Businessweek". Archived from the original on October 1, 2012. Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  13. ^ "Hewitt Equipment to replace Canadian Halifax-class frigates' generators". naval-technology.com. 16 June 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015. [unreliable source?]
  14. ^ "Canada & Holland Order 17 SIRIUS Shipboard Long-Range IRST Sensors". Defense Industry Daily. 26 April 2006. Retrieved 2006-04-26. 
  15. ^ "Lockheed Martin Canada Announces Team to Pursue Halifax Class Modernization Program". Ottawa, Ontario. Canadian News Wire. April 11, 2007. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  16. ^ "Lockheed Martin says critical design review on Frigate upgrade reached". Defence Watch. Retrieved 2010-08-17. [dead link]
  17. ^ Pugliese, David (July 3, 2009). "Canadian Frigate Modernization to Include Thales Smart-S Mk2 Radar". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  18. ^ "NSC Radars for Canadian Navy frigate modernization program" (Press release). Raytheon-Anschuetz. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  19. ^ "Raytheon Anschütz delivers navigation radars for Canada's Halifax-class frigates". naval-technology.com. 8 September 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2015. [unreliable source?]
  20. ^ Pugliese, David (3 April 2009). "More Information on Softkill System for Halifax-Class Frigates". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  21. ^ "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. May 7, 2009. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  22. ^ Pugliese, David (3 April 2009). "Rheinmetall Wins Contract for Halifax Class ECM Systems". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 


  • Gardiner, Robert; Chumbley, Stephen; Budzbon, Przemysław, eds. (1995). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1947—1995. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-132-7. 
  • Macpherson, Ken; Barrie, Ron (2002). The Ships of Canada's Naval Forces 1910—2002 (Third ed.). St. Catharines, Ontario: Vanwell Publishing. ISBN 1-55125-072-1. 
  • 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 0-7106-2623-1. 

External links[edit]

Official ship websites: