Tag Archives: Canadian Navy

Mark Collins – SNAFU, or, Canadian Defence Procurement

The start and end of a book review by Matthew Fisher, a rare Canadian journalist who is actually interested in matters military and has a real understanding of them–and note the deleterious role of our media generally:

New book pleads for fix to Canada’s dysfunctional military procurement system

The new book Charlie Foxtrot: Fixing Defence Procurement in Canada [see here] is a “cri de coeur” for political leaders to forge a bipartisan approach when deciding what to buy for the Canadian Armed Forces.

The author, Kim Nossal, is not delusional. The Queen’s University professor [more here] recognizes that for this to happen “involves a considerable leap of faith.” However, given how procurement blunders have “degraded the Canadian military,” he argues a better way must be found to replace them than the largely dysfunctional procurement system that exists at present.

Charlie Foxtrot — military shorthand for “clusterf—” — is particularly relevant today because the Liberal government is seemingly intent on equaling if not surpassing the their Conservative predecessors’ brutal mishandling of the multi-billion dollar programme to finally buy new fighter jets [see “What Stinking RCAF Fighter “Capability Gap” for NORAD and NATO?“]…

It has not only been the politicians who are to blame for Canada’s politicized procurement process. The media treat procurement as political theatre. There is little dispassionate analysis of the choices and the dilemmas involved in buying equipment that must last for decades in an environment where technological advances can render many acquisitions quickly obsolete [emphasis added, OH SO SADLY TRUE].

The government, for its part, has never hired enough procurement specialists, a problems that bogs down every purchasing process. Nossal argues that if Canada matched what its allies spend on a GNP basis, a lot of these problems would disappear. As it is, he writes, too many programs are always chasing too few dollars.

Nossal’s inevitable conclusion is that the “root cause” of Canada’s procurement failures has been an absence of political leadership. Governments have been able to get away with botching procurement for years because “the consequences of decisions made by one Parliament will not be felt until much later, usually well past the next general election.”

The only practical solution, Nossal says, is for Canada’s two leading political parties to create a bipartisan approach to defence procurement…There is zero chance that even an exceptionally brave Canadian politician would dare embrace such an obvious and honourable idea [OH SO SADLY TRUE]. Still, Charlie Foxtrot is worth reading to understand how much Canada would benefit if its leaders confounded voters and actually took the high road.

Lots more here on the constant Canadian procurement morass.

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


Mark Collins – Seaspan at Work: RCN JSSs Still Sliding Right (CCG icebreaker not for now)

The story:

Federal shipbuilding program suffers delays
Reports reveal construction of supply ships, polar icebreak is behind schedule.

The federal shipbuilding program has hit another setback, as government documents show more delays in the construction of the navy’s new supply ships and the Canadian Coast Guard’s highly anticipated polar icebreaker.

The delays, revealed in departmental reports recently tabled in the House of Commons, are expected to cost taxpayers as the navy and coast guard are forced to rely even more heavily on stop-gap measures to address their needs.

The two supply ships, which together will cost $2.6 billion, and the $1.3-billion polar icebreaker, dubbed the John G. Diefenbaker, are to be constructed one after the other in Vancouver by shipbuilding company Seaspan…

National Defence and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans reported last year that the first new supply ship would enter the water in 2020, while the Diefenbaker would arrive in 2021 or 2022.

But the departments’ most recent timetable says construction of the first supply ship won’t be finished until at least 2021 [see end of post], with completion of the Diefenbaker similarly delayed until 2022 or 2023 [not news, see end of post]…

National Defence spokesman Evan Koronewski blamed “challenges associated with completing the detailed design and organizing the entire supply chain” for the delay in the supply ship schedule.

Those challenges were also responsible for pushing back construction of the Diefenbaker, as work on the icebreaker can’t start until the supply ships are finished.

The federal government has already committed millions of dollars in recent years to extend the lives of the current icebreaker fleet [Davie Québec much involved].

But the new delays help explain why the coast guard started looking last month at whether it can lease between one and five icebreakers from the private sector for the foreseeable future [seeDavie Québec Actually Going to Supply Some Icebreakers for Coast Guard?–the company’s proposed polar icebreaker is here].

They also mean that the navy will be forced to rely more on allies as well as a converted civilian cargo ship to provide fuel, food and other supplies to Canadian naval ships at sea [again from Davie, “Project Resolve“].

There have been questions over the years about Seaspan’s ability to construct complex military vessels, given that its previous shipbuilding experience has largely revolved around ferries [not this one] and tugboats…

Good questions. In fact the slippage of the Seaspan icebreaker’s delivery from 2021-22 to 2022-23 was already public this March, scroll down here. Also in March it was made public that the RCN JSS’ IOC had slipped from 2019 to 2020; now it has indeed slipped further to 2021. Gosharootie. Bets on the icebreaker’s schedule being kept? That Davie proposal seems well worth consideration.

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

Mark Collins – Winter 2016/17 Edition of CDA Institute’s “ON TRACK” Magazine

Contents via a message from the CDAI:

Ottawa, 1 December 2016 – The CDA Institute is pleased to release the latest issue of ON TRACK which features thoughtful and informative articles by experts from Canada and abroad on security and defence issues.

See full issue at:



  • “Editorial – Canada is Back – The Defence Budget Must Grow…Significantly” by Tony Battista and Dr. David McDonough

  • “Defending Canada in the 2020s?” by Vice-Admiral Drew Robertson (Ret’d)

  • “Vérité, Devoir, Vaillance : Le CMR Saint-Jean retrouve son statut universitaire” par Oksana Drozdova

  • “Les stratégies arméniennes pour garder le contrôle du Haut-Karabakh” par Michael Lambert

  • “Paranoid or Pragmatic? What Pakistan’s policy in Afghanistan can tell us about international rivalry” by John Mitton

  • “L’hiver Yéménite” par Alexandra Dufour

  • “Chemical Weapons use in Syria and Iraq: implications” by Dr. Jez Littlewood

  • “2016 Vimy Award – Acceptance Speech by recipient Dr. James Boutilier”

  • “Evaluating China as a Great Power: The Paradox of the ‘Responsible Power’ Narrative” by Adam MacDonald

  • “Supporting an Informed Public Debate: Seven Important Facts to Know about Military Requirements Planning” by Colonel Chuck Davies (Ret’d)

  • “Australia and Canada – different boats for different folks” by Dr. Andrew Davies and Christopher Cowan

  • “Space and the Third Offset in the post-post-Cold War period – Lessons for Canada and Australia” by Dr. Malcolm Davis…

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

Mark Collins- RCN Canadian Surface Combatant, Irving, Intellectual Property…and Espionage (plus fighters and Trump)

Further to these posts,

RCN Canadian Surface Combatant: Intellectual Property Brouhaha

Irving Halifax Has Lead Evaluating RCN Canadian Surface Combatant Design/Weapons Systems Bids

Irving Working with BAE Systems: Implications for RCN Canadian Surface Combatant?

some important points about the IP issue and its implications–including for new RCAF fighters too–are made in this piece (do read it all):

The Canadian Government, Defense Procurement, and Software: Out of Phase with Western Defense Development and Modernization?

The Liberal regime needs to be cognizant that Canada will always be a modest sized customer in the world arms market.

As such, unique and irregular Canadian requirements and unorthodox procurement processes will sharply inflate cost and create long term issues of sustainability.

Kludgey Canadian equipment that fails to meet reasonably anticipated expectations from allies raise doubts as to the credibility of Canada’s commitment to collective defense.

The Case of the Canadian Surface Combatant Program: Software Transfer as a Non-Starter

The Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) program demanded that bidders hand overtheir intellectual property (IP) and data to prime contractor Irving Shipbuilding, including “foreground and background data” and software source code.

While it is no longer a disqualifier to not do so up front, this demand raises major issues for suppliers.

Requiring a bidder’s a priori disclosure of IP and data to a private company (and potential competitor!) like Irving shipbuilding is highly irregular.

The details required are down to specifications for the last nut, bolt and screw, including tools used and part numbers. While the intent may be to deprive the vendor of follow-on revenues for maintenance and upgrades, it is far more damaging to the world shipbuilding industry.

Serious questions arise as to how (if at all) the data can be safeguarded by the contractor and/or the Canadian government, and its leakage to both adversaries and other competitors. While the intent is that provision of this data enables Irving Shipbuilding to walk away from the vendor for future upgrades and maintenance, it has many other consequences.

The IP requirement means that the prime contractor and Canadian officials will be able to become a competitor to all bidders. Because they will be the only party to see everyone’s IP, Canadians will be able to aggregate the data, cherry pick and reverse engineer IP and designs from all bidders.

This goes beyond depriving vendors of follow-on revenues.

It means that Canada, and particularly Irving Shipbuilding, will have the unfair advantage of seeing the issues, flaws and best features in all bidder’s designs.

Canada would then be in a prime position to offer maintenance and support to not just the CSC, but for all vendor’s products, potentially becoming a competitor to every bidder, not to mention building its own next generation ship from bidders’ designs.

Whether it is the intent of the Government of Canada to facilitate this is not known.

Indisputably it is an unfair competitive advantage handed to anyone who has access to the data…

Apparently no one at DND or Irving Shipbuilding thought about how they would build a CSC without access to commercial electronics like devices from Xilinx, Intel, IBM, Freescale, Siemens, TSMC, etc. None of these firms will consent to their technology being handed over and if that is a condition, they will likely bar the use of them in the CSC program, causing bidders to find new and, as yet, non-existent sources.

Even if bidders agree to these terms, only one whom will be successful will still have to deal with the likelihood of theft of their IP and the likelihood that their software, intentionally or otherwise, will be compromised. Canadian government institutions and firms have a sorry record of protecting their intellectual property in this regard.

IP Security and the Threat of Theft from Non-Liberal Regimes

The U.S. was recently victimized by a Canadian subsidiary of United Technologies who illegally handed over to the PRC software intended to be used in their Z-10 military helicopter on the pretext of bidding for a civilian helicopter contract. That incident will weigh heavily on any decision to permit disclosure of sensitive US technologies to Canadian subsidiaries.

The very fact that it is now known that bid documents will contain sensitive IP that can compromise every bidder’s product will make Canada and Irving Shipyards a high priority intelligence target for Russia, China, Iran, North Korea [emphasis added], etc. facing threats from the bidder’s home countries [see also on China: “Chicom State-Owned Firms’ Investment in US: a Good Thing?“].

Compromise of CSC bidding documents data in Canada will result in the damage not just to CSCs, but also to other operators of the same platform — potentially creating a nightmare for every country foolish enough to authorize their vendor to release the IP.

And a bonanza for Chinese military shipbuilders eager to clone the best designs…

The Fighter Case in the Broader Context

The larger question is whether such IP giveaway for the privilege of bidding will be replicated in other government procurements like the replacement Fighter program.

If so, the U.S. can make it difficult simply by refusing to allow release of APIs and other interfaces, resulting in a low level of integration into U.S. systems, making the CSC and F/A-18 Super Hornets effectively unintegrated “one off” pieces in the age of network centric warfare.

Upgrading the systems ex post to U.S. standards for security to enable them to work closely together will likely be costly (if permissible at all) and be subject to stringent licensing terms — frustrating the original IP “hand over” requirement.

The U.S. may limit Canada’s access to compiled modules and ban Canada from updating mission data files altogether…

The Coming of the Trump Administration

The Trump Administration will also be zeroing in on Canadian defense procurement demands like “100% offset” requirements and take a close look at how those deals required of Boeing if the F/A-18 Super Hornet “interim” buy goes ahead [on those new fighters: “What Stinking RCAF Fighter “What Stinking RCAF Fighter “Capability Gap” for NORAD and NATO?“]…

Danny Lam is an independent analyst based in Calgary…

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

Mark Collins – US Navy’s Seawolf Nuclear Attack Subs (SSN) and the Arctic

One wonders how much our government knows of these activities–note link at end of the post:

An American Submarine Just Slipped Under the Arctic Ice
USS ‘Seawolf’’s missions and technology are secret

Sometime apparently in August 2013, the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Seawolf eased out of the port of Bremerton, in Washington State, on what was probably her fifth or sixth deployment since commissioning in 1997.

A month later the U.S. Sixth Fleet, in charge of ships in European waters, posted a series of photos to the Website Flickr depicting the U.S. ambassador to Norway, Barry White, touring the 350-foot-long Seawolf pierside at Haakonsvern naval base … in southern Norway. Thousands of miles from Washington State.

How Seawolf got to Norway—and what she might have done en route—offer a rare and tantalizing glimpse into some of the most secretive quarters of the most poorly understood aspects of American naval power.

For it seems Seawolf traveled to Norway along a path rarely taken by any vessel — underneath the Arctic ice…

Google the names of any of the Navy’s Los Angeles-class submarines, the most numerous in the fleet, and you’ll get hits: Navy statements and photo releases, the occasional news article. But try to look up Seawolf-class vessels and you’ll get next to nothing [but see here and Google here].

Her official Website is blocked. The last time Seawolf’s exterior appeared in a Navy photo was 2009.

That’s because Seawolf and her sisters are special. Newer, bigger, faster and more heavily armed than standard attack submarines, the nearly $3-billion-per-copy Seawolfs have been fitted with hundreds of millions of dollars in unique equipment and are assigned to their own special squadron in Washington State.

They deploy for months at a time often without any public notice. The wife of a Seawolf sailor described the boat as “unpredictable.”..

Puzzle Pieces:

Here’s what we do know. In March 2011 Seawolf’s sister ship Connecticut was tapped for the rare honor of operating under the Arctic ice for tests.

Connecticut and the brand-new Virginia-class sub New Hampshire sailed north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, for one of the Navy’s infrequent “ICEX” exercises [see end of post], begun after the submarine USS Nautilus, in 1958, became the first undersea boat to reach the North Pole.

Connecticut “worked with the U.S. Navy Arctic Submarine Laboratory and the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory to test new equipment and train for under-ice operations in an arctic environment,” the Navy announced.

The new equipment included “high-frequency sonar for safe Arctic operations and the Raytheon Deep Siren acoustic communications system,” the sailing branch added.

We know that Seawolf spent almost three years in drydock starting in September 2009. Contractors did $280 million in work. And when Seawolf returned to the cold Pacific waters in April 2012, she was “even more capable and effective than at any time in her 15 years of service,” according to Cdr. Dan Packer, her skipper at the time.

It’s possible Seawolf received the same under-ice gear Connecticut tested in 2011. The Arctic is, after all, a new area of concern for the Navy. With the ice receding, new shipping lanes are opening up and foreign navies are getting more active…

In any event, it’s apparent that Seawolf has crossed over the top of the world for her current deployment. Practically speaking, there’s no other way the vessel could have arrived in Norway mere weeks after departing her homeport in Washington State…

But see this post about ICEX 2014 and USN submarines:

Major US Arctic Exercise, RCN Takes Part: Who Knew?

So some USN glasnost, eh? And in fact the RCN did go public a few days after the Americans did.

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

Mark Collins – The Incredible Shrinking Guns Only Royal Navy

Really back to the future for the surface fleet:

British Navy to Lose Missiles and be Left Only with Guns

 HMS Iron Duke fires Harpoon missile, Oct. 18, 2010
HMS Iron Duke [Type 23 frigate, more here] fires Harpoon missile, Oct. 18, 2010 (photo: Royal Navy)

Royal Navy warships will be left without anti-ship missiles and be forced to rely on naval guns because of cost-cutting, the Ministry of Defence has admitted.

‘The Navy’s Harpoon missiles [more here] will retire from the fleet’s frigates and destroyers in 2018 without a replacement, while there will also be a two year gap without helicopter-launched anti-shipping missiles.

Naval sources said the decision was “like Nelson deciding to get rid of his cannons and go back to muskets” and one senior former officer said warships would “no longer be able to go toe-to-toe with the Chinese or Russians.

Harpoon missiles are unlikely to be replaced for up to a decade, naval sources said, leaving warships armed only with their 4.5in Mk 8 guns for anti-ship warfare. Helicopter-launched Sea Skua missiles are also going out of service next year and the replacement Sea Venom missile to be carried by Wildcat helicopters will not arrive until late 2020.

One Naval source said: “We will be losing our missile capability in total for two years. We will still have the gun, but the range of that is about 17 miles, compared to Harpoon, which is about 80 miles….”

Rear-Adml Chris Parry, said: “It’s a significant capability gap and the Government is being irresponsible. It just shows that our warships are for the shop window and not for fighting….”

The Royal Air Force has long axed its own anti-ship missiles.’

But note that the RCN’s Halifax-class frigates are getting a “Harpoon missile system upgrade (surface to surface)”–scroll down at “Project Details’.

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

Mark Collins – Irving Working with BAE Systems: Implications for RCN Canadian Surface Combatant?

Further to this post,

RFP Finally Issued for RCN Canadian Surface Combatant: “eye-watering” Details Wanted

there is something of a fishy smell to the collaboration below in terms of the CSC competition:

Irving joins UK firm on new bid worth $5.2 billion

Irving Shipbuilding [website here] has partnered with UK-based defence company BAE Systems to bid on a the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships [more here] and Joint Support Ship [more here] In-Service Support contract, worth up to $5.2 billion.

BAE announced last week in a press release that the two companies had joined forces under the name Canadian Naval Support Ltd [BAE’s announcement here].

Irving is also responsible building the fleet of six Harry DeWolf-class AOPS, while Seaspan’s Vancouver shipyards are constructing the two Queenston-class auxiliary vessels…

BAE Systems is the the designer of the UK navy’s yet-to-be constructed fleet of frigates — the Type 26 Global Command Ship [more here]. BAE also happens to be one of 12 pre-qualified firms that have been approved to bid on a joint design and combat systems integrator for the Canadian Surface Combatant program. The firm is to expected to submit the Type 26 as an off-the-shelf design for Canada’s new fleet of warships, which will be constructed by Irving Shipbuilding, also the prime contractor.

Last summer, the government drew accusations of stacking the deck in favour of BAE Systems from industry sources after widening the criteria for the new frigate to allow designers to submit bids for ships that have already been built by other countries, as well as those on which detailed design work has commenced, making room for the Type 26.

[But from the company Nov. 4: “BAE Systems has confirmed that the first steel will be cut on the Royal Navy’s Type 26 Global Combat Ships in Glasgow in summer 2017, subject to final contract negotiations with the UK Ministry of Defence…”]

During a media briefing on the the launch of the CSC request for proposal in late October, assistant deputy minister of materiel and retired rear admiral Pat Finn defended the government’s decision to allow for ship designs that have yet to be constructed in the competition, saying that with the number of design changes that will be needed to Canadianize the ship, every bidder could be seen as offering “paper ships.”

Former navy commander and marine security analyst Ken Hansen said the new partnership between Irving and BAE is likely only partially about the support contract. If the Type 26 is being looked on favourably by insiders, as has been alleged, Hansen said the collaboration between them is a smart business move…

No flipping kidding.

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

Mark Collins – Canada and Missile Defence plus Russian Cruise Missile Threat

The conclusion of a November 14 presentation by CGAI Senior Analyst Dave Perry to the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence (the sort of serious discussion of broad defence issues we rarely see reflected in our media with their focus on procurement and scandal, real or potential):

With respect the Canada’s ability to counter possible air or space based threats to Canada, I think we do face some operational capability gaps.

Ballistic Missiles

Canada has no defence whatsoever against ballistic missiles. North Korea has been developing this technology for several years and is now working to launch these missiles from their submarines. While the United States has developed, a Ground Based, Mid-Course Defence against these missiles, and previously asked Canada to participate in that system, Canada declined to do so, and has subsequently never formally revisited that decision. This decision should be revisited. We should discuss the possibility of Canada joining Ballistic Missile Defence with the Americans, and if the terms are favourable, formally join.

Russian Air and Sea-Launched Cruise Missiles

The Russian military has significantly upgraded its air and naval forces in recent years and continues to do so. Over the last two years, the Russians have demonstrated this new equipment’s effectiveness as well as their willingness to use it to advance their own interests.

Russian forces successfully employed in Syria a new class of sophisticated conventional air and sea launched cruise missiles that have greatly enhanced range, are difficult to observe and are capable of precision targeting. Three aspects of this development are problematic. First, these weapons come in both nuclear and conventional variants. Second, they can be carried by Russian Long Range Patrol Aircraft and their newest and most capable submarines. Third, because of the increased distances at which these new missiles can successfully hit targets and their low observability characteristics, the current arrangements for defending North America, based on NORAD and the North Warning System, must be upgraded to counter them effectively [see “The Bear’s Bears: New NORAD Radars for Canadian North…“].

Because of this increased Russian activity around North America, we also need to enhance our ability to know what it happening in all three of our coastal approaches, and especially in the Canadian arctic. Since 2007 the Russians have conducted long range aviation patrols towards Canada’s Arctic airspace, and done so in ways that indicate an inclination on their part to link this activity to strategic confrontations with Canada elsewhere in the world. Similarly Russian submarine patrols in the Atlantic have recently reached levels not seen since the Cold War. We therefore need an expanded mix of air and space based Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platforms [see “RADARSAT Constellation: New Canadian Satellites and Maritime, Arctic Surveillance, Part 2“].

As well, we need to maintain our ability to respond to aerial threats to North America. As Russia continues to modernize its air forces, this will require Canada to keep pace with improvements in Russian technology. As such, we need to move quickly to purchase a fleet of fighter aircraft capable of detecting the most modern Russian aircraft and sharing that information with the rest of the North American defence system [emphasis added, i.e. the F-35 which would be most compatible with the USAF]…

Very relevant:

NORAD and Russian Cruise Nukes: “de-escalation”?

US Worrying Seriously About Russian Cruise Missiles

NORAD Note: Russian Bomber (with cruise missiles) Strikes in Syria

USN “Admiral Warns: Russian Subs Waging Cold War-Style ‘Battle of the Atlantic’”–and RCN?

NORAD and Russian Cruise Nukes: “de-escalation”? Part 2

Canada Should Just Say “Yes” to Missile Defence, Cont’d (plus Russian cruise missile threat)

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

Mark Collins – RFP Finally Issued for RCN Canadian Surface Combatant: “eye-watering” Details Wanted

Further to these posts,

RCN’s Canadian Surface Combatant Will be Foreign Design
[Nov. 2015, matter long settled–post lists competitors then]

Irving Halifax Has Lead Evaluating RCN Canadian Surface Combatant Design/Weapons Systems Bids

an announcement is made (an “eye-watering amount of detail is being requested”, see near of the post):

Government launches key warship project without an idea of how many vessels will be built or what they will cost

The Canadian Surface Combatant project has officially kicked off with the request for proposals sent out to industry [official news release here]. The winning ship design is expected to be selected by summer 2017, the government says.

But federal officials still have no clue how many ships will be built. Originally the program was to produce 15 or 16 vessels [15 actually]. That was changed. The phrase now used by government is “up to 15.”

Construction of the first Canadian Surface Combatant is to begin in the early 2020s [but see from March: ‘CANADIAN SURFACE COMBATANT PROJECT…”First Delivery Late 2020s”’]. But no one knows how exactly many ships will be built….nor do government officials seem too concerned. “One of the things we need not do right now is decide the number of ships,” said Patrick Finn, assistant deputy minister, materiel, at the Department of National Defence.

The cost of the project is also not being released….at least for now. It was originally estimated that the surface combatant program would cost $26 billion [see preceding link about 15 ships] but that was way off and the Royal Canadian Navy later figured the final tally would be more than $40 billion. But who knows if that cost estimate will further change? $45 billion? $50 billion? If the number of ships to be built could be reduced then the government could bring its costs down….but then the Royal Canadian Navy might not get enough warships for its missions.

The Canadian Press has written on some of the other issues affecting the Canadian Surface Combatant program. Here is what CP writes [full story here]:

Scratch building from scratch. The Liberal government announced in June that Canada would buy a pre-existing warship design from a foreign company rather than designing one from scratch in Canada [decision in fact made in 2015, see first link at start of post]. The new approach is designed to save time and money [see “Canadian Surface Combatant Procurement Process Re-Float: So What?–in fact “new approach” is combining ship design and weapons system integrator bids]. But it has opened up other problems, including how to ensure Canadian industry benefits from the project. Companies have also pushed back against the government’s demands that it be given unlimited access to the blueprints of whatever design wins. That sets up an important debate between national security and intellectual property rights, which still hasn’t been fully resolved [see “RCN Canadian Surface Combatant: Intellectual Property Brouhaha“].

Rules of the game. The competition to choose a warship design is actually being run by Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax, which is responsible for ultimately building the vessels. Some potential bidders have quietly alleged that Irving will stack the deck in favour of British company BAE. The fact BAE will be allowed to enter its Type 26 frigate into the competition despite the ship still only being in development has not helped matters. But Irving and the government have pushed back on suggestions they will favour BAE or any other competitor. They say an independent fairness monitor has approved the bidding process, and that the navy will be watching over Irving’s shoulder every step of the way.

More details from a story just before the announcement:

Public Works Minister Judy Foote said last May the government won’t release a cost estimate until there is a signed contract in the program, which is expected to be the largest procurement in Canadian history.

The cone of silence also extends to the draft request for proposals, which prohibits bidders and their subcontractors from talking to the media about the project, unless they receive written approval from Irving.

There’s also an attempt to keep a lid on the cutthroat competition.

“Neither the bidders, nor any of their respective subcontractors, employees or representatives shall make any public comment, respond to questions in a public forum or carry out any activities to either criticize another bidder or any bid — or publicly advertise their qualifications,” said the proposal, obtained by CBC News.

The navy is looking for a warship with the capability of hunting submarines, but also defending against enemy aircraft and missiles. It is expected to be swift enough to keep up with U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups [30 knot speed needed, see Milnet.ca link at end of post] and be armed with both a single 127-millimetre gun [current frigates have only a 57mm gun] and surface-to-surface missiles of its own.

The new surface combatants will also carry up to 200 sailors and have the deck space available to allow for the conduct of humanitarian missions, such as the at-sea rescue of migrants [dear me, that really muddies the warship waters]…

Sources, who are close to the file but only able to speak on background, tell CBC News that L-3 Communications Canada has written a letter, supported by some of the other bidders, warning the government no significant Canadian content — radar, sonar and communications — will end up in the surface combatants unless the foreign designers are forced to work with a company from this country.

The evaluation process, however, gives points to companies with higher Canadian content.

The request for proposals demands that each bidder supply an eye-watering amount of detail, including the number of “fasteners” that would be used to build each ship, including all anchors, bolts, nails, nuts, rivets and rods. The government also wants part numbers and descriptions about what tools will be used…

Heaven help us. Here’s an interesting discussion of various contenting designs’ capabilities at Milnet.ca, keep scrolling down.

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

Mark Collins – US Intelligence and the Insider Threat

An earlier little-noted case is discussed–not enough lessons learned (Canadian angle at end):

The Spy We Forgot

Over the past six years, the United States intelligence community has taken two powerful punches from insiders — the first from Pfc. Bradley Manning of the Army (now Chelsea Manning) and the second from the National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden, both of whom leaked thousands of classified documents. The news this month that another N.S.A. contract employee, Harold Martin III, removed a large volume of classified information from the agency shows that the government is still struggling to keep its secrets safe.

These security breaches may have caught the government by surprise, but intelligence officials have no excuse for being shocked. They were forewarned about the vulnerability of digital secrets a full 16 years ago by the actions of a little-known traitor named Brian Regan. A signals analyst at the National Reconnaissance Office — an agency responsible for managing the country’s spy satellites [website here] — Mr. Regan pulled off a heist of more than 20,000 documents containing top-secret satellite images and reports, which he tried to sell to Iraq and Libya.

Because Mr. Regan was caught before he could transfer secrets to an enemy, his case ended up as a mere footnote in the annals of American intelligence. To this day, his name remains unknown even to many in the intelligence community. But had the lessons of Mr. Regan’s case been heeded, the United States’s secret information would be far more secure.

Mr. Regan was a signals analyst in the Air Force who received praise for his work during the 1991 Persian Gulf war before being assigned to the satellite agency in 1995. In the late ’90s, faced with a mountain of credit card debt, he formed a plan to commit espionage. He had a top-secret security clearance and access to Intelink, a classified network of servers that functions as the intelligence community’s own internet [website here!].

Mr. Regan began browsing content that went far beyond his assigned responsibilities…

Since there was ultimately no damage done to national security, and because Mr. Regan’s arrest and conviction happened at a time when the United States was intensely focused on counterterrorism, not domestic espionage, the government appears to have overlooked the lessons that should have been learned from the partial success of his plot.

The satellite agency, for its part, did take the episode to heart: It made improvements to the security of its systems, tailoring employees’ access to Intelink in accordance with the requirements of their specific jobs and strengthening the overall monitoring and auditing of Intelink activity. But from what Ms. Manning and Mr. Snowden were able to do at other agencies, it is evident that the broader intelligence community failed to put adequate safeguards in place.

If anything, Ms. Manning and Mr. Snowden had it easier: They didn’t have to print anything out. Ms. Manning copied files onto a disc. Mr. Snowden is believed to have downloaded information onto thumb drives. The N.S.A.’s intranet proved to be even more vulnerable than Intelink, because Mr. Snowden was able to erase or alter the log files tracking his access, pilfering data without leaving a signature that could be traced back to him. The N.S.A. still doesn’t know for certain the entire scope of information that Mr. Snowden may have taken. Yet the technology to prevent the kind of tampering he did to cover his tracks has been around for some time.

Why wasn’t such technology used? [read on]…

Yudhijit Bhattacharjee [website here] is the author of the forthcoming “The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code and the F.B.I.’s Hunt for America’s Stolen Secrets [more here].”

Canadians should recall our own insider, Jeffrey Delisle spying for the Russians at the Navy (cheap too: “$71,817 over nearly five years”)–more here, here. Plus US angles:

By John R. Schindler

The evidence that Russian moles are lurking inside NSA remains compelling. The FBI’s 2010 roll-up of 10 deep-cover operatives of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR—what the Kremlin calls Illegals—revealed the existence of multiple SVR agents deep inside NSA and the Defense Department. That was six years ago, and nobody’s been publicly fingered as any of those moles.

Just as bad was the case of Jeffrey Delisle, a Canadian naval intelligence officer who spied for GRU, Russian military intelligence, from July 2007 to January 2012. Delisle regularly passed Top Secret information from Canada and its allies to the Russians, including plenty of NSA secrets, in exchange for money. However, when Delisle offered GRU highly classified information about how NSA encrypts communications, the Russians said they had no interest. Since that sort of secret is always of high interest to the Kremlin, the only reason to turn it down would be because the Russians already had access to such closely guarded information…

Was Delisle the only insider agent in this country? Today? For China?

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