Mark Collins – RCN Canadian Surface Combatant: Exorcising the Curse of Irving

To start with two posts in which the matters of the warship designer and the combat systems integrator are considered (both previously to be first-tier subcontractors to Irving Shipbuilding)–necessary background to understand the latest development:

RCN: Detailed Examination of National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy

RCN’s Canadian Surface Combatant Will be Foreign Design

Now further to these posts,

RCN Ship Procurement, or, the Curse of Irving: Canadian Surface Combatant Section
[semi-secret Cabinet committee on arrangements with Irving]

New Super Cabinet Committee for Canadian Defence Procurement
[a different one]

it looks like the new government is taking some remedial action; but the build-in-Canada shipbuilding program that all federal parties steadfastly support will still be an over-priced monstrosity [see “The Extravagant Lunacy of Building RCN and Canadian Coast Guard Vessels in Canada“]:

Government changes course on $26-billion warship program in hopes vessels will be delivered sooner
[nowhere near $26 billion these days]

The Canadian government is changing course on the largest shipbuilding program in Canadian history and will now combine bids for new warships into one package in the hopes that will allow vessels to be constructed more quickly.

The $26-billion Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) project will see a new fleet built to replace the navy’s destroyers and frigates. The plan established by the Conservative government was to have companies submit bids for the design of the ships, and to consider separate bids for the integration of the various systems on board those vessels [see start of this post].

But the federal government will now combine those two processes, with a designer and integrator submitting a combined bid.

“One competitive process versus two is much faster,” Lisa Campbell, assistant deputy minister for acquisitions at Public Services and Procurement Canada, said in an interview Tuesday. “It takes out a whole bunch of the design technical risk of trying to fit together a combat systems integrator with a warship design that possibly was more customized.”

The warship designs will be off-the-shelf vessels, she added. “We’re talking about existing designs,” Campbell explained. “That eliminates a lot of technical risk and will get us to building ships sooner.”

The first of the Canadian Surface Combatants were supposed to be delivered around 2026 [see here, note no “Implementation Contract” until 2020]. But Campbell said this new process would allow for the first ship to be delivered in the early 2020s [good flipping luck–how is Irving going to finish the Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships, which they are building before the CSCs, sooner? sunny days magic?].

She said Halifax-based Irving Shipbuilding will still be prime contractor for the surface combatants [no construction contract has yet been signed, see preceding para], but the government will ensure there is maximum use of other Canadian firms on the program. As many as 80 domestic companies could potentially provide equipment, and the bids from the warship designer and integrator will be evaluated in part on how well those firms are represented…

Always Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!  Where it will all end knows only Neptune.  And now for the real question that the new government should address in its defence review–but will it?  One has severe doubts:

What Is the RCN For? [2013]

What Is the RCN For? Reprise

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

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