Mark Collins – RCN: Detailed Examination of National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy

Read all about how the NSPS has gone and is supposed to go at a recent FrontLine Defence article (with a few excerpts that also give editorial comment):

NSPS Projects
Status and Future Direction

The Government…outlined the way ahead for the procurement strategy for the CSC [Canadian Surface Combatant–“up to 15” surface vessels to replace the RCN’s twelve frigates and (only one now) destroyersmore here]. While the design-then-build approach will also be used for CSC, a somewhat different procurement strategy will be used than in the past.

This new approach, referred to by Government as the “Most Competitive Procurement Strategy” is an attempt to avoid the failure experienced during the earlier JSS [Joint Support Ships] debacle which employed a competitive selection and funding of two design teams. The new approach is supposed to enable Government to complete the reconciliation of requirements and budget. It will also facilitate the competitive selection of systems and equipment and will allow it to incorporate Value Propositions into these selection processes. If all goes according to plan, it will also drive costs down and ensure value for money. We shall see [see also latter part of post]

…[As for the Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships, it has been] Unofficially stated at recent industry events, and hinted at by RCN Admirals during FrontLine interviews, [that] the Government’s goal is to start “seeing the production hall come to life” this coming summer [official release June 18: “Harper Government Marks Shipbuilding Milestone: Construction of Test Production Module Begins on Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship”]. It would appear that the Harper Government wants to achieve this AOPS milestone before the October election so it can be seen as a good news story in Atlantic Canada when the writ is dropped…

In February 2015, Seaspan put out a request for costing information for a number of components and systems [for the ], presumably to provide some budgetary information for a Treasury Board analysis. The Government’s stated intent is to have long lead items procured first and that RFPs are expected to be released starting in May 2015. However, as of this writing, nothing substantive in terms of major JSS contract awards has been announced…

Irving reportedly has a team of about a dozen staff working on a “top level” CSC design with assistance from Bath Iron Works, a subsidiary of General Dynamics Marine Systems based in Maine. Bath has recent experience with the U.S. Navy’s DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class destroyers. Lloyd’s Registry will also likely be used as the Classification Society for certification of CSC equipment.

Earlier this year, there were some minor delays in announcing the procurement strategy which hinged on the approval of a Memo to Cabinet (MC). The suspicion was that the MC, which was supposed to have been discussed in the latter weeks of March, had been withdrawn.

There are still no published timelines associated with the 3-Phase approach for CSC. An early (November 2013) estimate on the PWGSC website stated the target date for signing construction contracts for CSC is 2018, provided there is no change of Government in 2015.

The expectation is that Phase I will likely run until mid/ late 2016; Phase 2 will be 2016/late 2017/ early 2018; and Phase 3 will be 2017/18 to 2019/20. Insiders agree that regardless, the construction phase of the CSC Project will not begin until Irving completes the AOPS build and delivers up to six of those vessels. This build can be expected to run until at least 2019…

The CSC Project will be the most complex procurement undertaken by the Canadian Government, and there are a number of very experienced ship designers vying for selection. BAE is promoting their Type 26, Global Combat Ship design [more here, note build in UK costs much less than in Canada], while Odense Marine Technologies has the Iver Huitfeldt Class already in service with the Royal Danish Navy [more here and here]. DCNS is marketing its French FREMM design, while Vard (formerly STX Canada and now a Fincantieri subsidiary), is promoting the Italian FREMM design [see here for both versions]. Also in the mix are designs by Navantia, TKMS and possibly Daewoo. BMT Fleet is already engaged by the Government as Tier 0 advisors to assist (presumably with design selection and modifications to meet Canadian requirements [emphasis added]).

Several defence industry companies are very capable of being CSI [Combat Systems Integrator] for Irving. The most prominent of this group is Lockheed Martin [emphasis added]. Both Thales and Raytheon are also considered possible contenders…

Notwithstanding the Government’s oft-stated desire to have an open and fair competitive bidding and selection process, once the selection of Irving was announced as the Prime, there has been an undercurrent of comment within industry that the Government has basically handed over the keys to Irving. It is expected that Irving will pick a WD [Warship Designer] and CSI that benefits its owners the most, with little influence from either DND or PWGSC. Many believe that shipbuilding firms and suppliers with no previous dealings with Irving will effectively be shut out of the competition [emphasis added].

There are also concerns within Defence Industry circles that further delays are eroding the buying power of the project and that the number of hulls to be delivered may be reduced to fit the [$26.2 billion] budget…


Confident all will be smooth sailing?  And see here for the travails of the Canadian Coast Guard under the NSPS.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


7 thoughts on “Mark Collins – RCN: Detailed Examination of National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy”

  1. And now it seems as if the RCN’s last destroyer may be sailing into the sunset sooner than planned:

    “Engine, tech problems mar Atlantic destroyer
    Athabaskan issues worry navy leaders

    Canada’s last destroyer is temporarily sidelined after a series of engine problems and other technical issues on the 43-year-old vessel caused senior navy leaders to worry the ship might not be able to continue operating…

    There was concern the aging ship might not be able to make it to its planned 2017 retirement date…”

    At least it’s looking pretty likely that it has, sensibly, been decided not to design the CSCs from scratch in Canada. See also the ships here:

    ‘DND and Canadian Forces 2015-16: “Status Report on Transformational and Major Crown Projects”’

    ‘Fisheries and Oceans Canada: “Status Report on Transformational and Major Crown Projects”‘

    The Coast Guard’s Mid-Shore Patrol vessels are not part of the NSPS, having been ordered earlier. Moreover the “up to five Medium Endurance Multi-Tasked vessels and up to five Offshore Patrol Vessels” announced in 2013 are not included in the above listing and will not start building until maybe the early 2020s–see the end of this post:

    “New Canadian Coast Guard Vessels: Sticker Shock and Never Never Land (media scrutiny?)”

    Mark Collins

  2. NSPS really should be changed to better fit the CF, specifically the Navy side of the deal,

    Say we Cancel the JSS (3.6B) but buy another Icebreaker (1.3B) built in Canada and with the leftover money buy 3 Tide class tankers (700Mil) from Korea straight up like the Royal navy, as it would take them about 2-3 years to hand over the first ship, so 2018ish.

    Then take the left over 1.6B and buy one of the orphaned Mistrals and outfit it for the RCN.

    Same money, But a much stronger navy in all respect be it in:
    Wartime Amphibious Ops
    Arctic Ops
    Long endurance Ops (Tide class are larger than Berlin class)
    Humanitarian Aid/Disaster relief

    As for the Combatants, i think 4-5 AAW type destroyers would be best however many ships we buy in what type, but honestly i could see a force of 5 AAW destroyers that are capable of reigning hell down in any type of threat scenario, and a smaller force of a 12+ corvettes or OPV’s being more effective than a force based solely on destroyer hulls.

    The Smaller ships would be better adapted and capable of taking on more mundane/persistent duties that wouldn’t suit a destroyer

    Low threat:
    Littoral Patrols (foreign)
    Combating pirates/Drug Smugglers
    EEZ patrols (domestic)

    Higher Threat(With Protection from AAW assets):
    Shore Bombardment
    Support for Amphibious landings
    Enforcing of Blockades/restrictions (eg outside a port)
    Sub Hunting


    With a Proper armament along the lines of a few SSM’s some ESSM’s and a 57 or 76mm gun and some torpedo’s, youd get a lot more bang for you buck when it comes to how “usable” a ship is for a mission, and allowing a less capable ship take on a easier task, you free up assets like big Powerful AAW ships to be put to better use elsewhere.

    Not to mention, itd probably be easier (and cheaper) for Canadian industry to build smaller ships in the long run, if any more money was ever found elsewhere or somehow saved… buy new Subs.

    Im tired so i hope i made some sense, but in short, skae things up, and stop pretending we have a shipbuilding workforce that can so easily build warships after having not done so for decades.

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