Single Class Surface Combatant Project
|Operators:||Royal Canadian Navy|
|Built:||2020 - 2030s|
|Planned:||up to 15|
|Aircraft carried:||1 x CH-148 Cyclone helicopter|
The Single Class Surface Combatant Project, has been superseded by the Canadian Surface Combatant project. It 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.
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 new Liberal government, elected in October 2015, is undertaking a defence policy review which will include addressing these issues. Some analysts believe the Single Class Surface Combatant may "closely resemble" the Danish Iver Huitfeldt class of frigate. The ships might also be based on the FREMM multipurpose frigate design, with Canadian modifications. However, the final design and configuration of the vessels will be determined through the defence policy review.
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. The Iroquois class was originally scheduled for retirement around 2010 after 40 years in service; the ships were then expected to have their service lives extended until replacements were commissioned. However three vessels have now been decommissioned due to maintenance costs; the last remaining destroyer is experiencing engine and maintenance issues as of 2015. The Halifax class is projected to end their service lives in the 2020s.
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 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.
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. 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.
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. On 20 January 2015, it was announced that Irving Shipbuilding had been named the prime contractor for the program. 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. In the fall of 2015, it was reported that there were high increases in costs, more than doubling to $30 billion from $14 billion for the new warships. The total cost of the naval ship building program rose from $26.2 billion to $42 billion in this new study. This put in jeopardy the number of ships that could be produced and raised the prospect of ships with reduced capabilities.
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 will knock about two years off the process and save money.
Construction is slated to begin in the early 2020s and take 20-25 years to complete. The first ships to be built will replace the Iroquois-class capabilities in the roles of area air defence and command and control. General-purpose variants will be constructed later in the project.
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