Royal Canadian Navy's Transition to the Future Fleet
The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is in the midst of the most intensive and comprehensive period of fleet modernization and renewal in its peacetime history, touching upon all elements of the fleet.
This period of transition includes the modernization of its 12 Halifax-class frigates, the upcoming retirement of two Protecteur-class replenishment ships and two Iroquois-class destroyers, and the procurement of three new classes of ships, including the Joint Support Ships (JSS), the Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) and the Canadian Surface Combatants (CSC), as well as the integration of new maritime aircraft into fleet service.
During this intense period of transition, the RCN will be able to count on its modernized Halifax -class frigates, Victoria-class submarines and Kingston-class vessels to carry out the tasks and missions set by the Government of Canada.
The modernization of the Halifax-class frigates represents an investment of $4 billion, and the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) represents an investment of $36.6 billion for the recapitalization of the federal surface fleet during the coming decades.
The RCN has a plan in place to address the many challenges of transition, including the need to maintain excellence in operations, to deliver the future fleet and to prepare the RCN for the new capabilities and technologies that will be delivered through the NSPS over the next decade and beyond.
Retirement of legacy fleet
As part of its transition to the future fleet, the RCN is accelerating the planned retirements of four ships that are fast approaching or have already reached the end of their operational lives. The ships in question have all served Canada and the RCN with honor and distinction.
Capability gaps mitigation
The retirements of these ships will generate some loss in both capacity and capability for the RCN. These losses, however, will be mitigated in the short-to-medium term as the RCN builds toward the future fleet.
Task Group Command and Control will be managed through the use of the first four modernized Halifax -class frigates, which will have an enhanced command and control capability. The designated ships are HMC Ships Halifax, Calgary, Fredericton, and Winnipeg. The transition in Area Air Defence capability will be mitigated through Canada-US and NATO defence arrangements. The RCN is also currently investigating options to mitigate the Replenishment at Sea capability gap in order to sustain Canadian warships until the arrival of the Joint Support Ships in 2019.
The withdrawal of these ships from active service is a natural step towards the introduction of new ships and capabilities set to be delivered through the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy over the coming years.
Maritime Equipment Modernization
Stable and predictable funding to the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) helps ensure that the RCN has what they require to monitor and defend Canadian waters, and to contribute to international naval operations well into the 21st century. The Government of Canada has made the following investments in the modernization of maritime equipment:
· Under the Halifax-class Modernization (HCM) / Frigate Equipment Life Extension (FELEX) program, the Halifax-class frigates are undergoing a modernization and mid-life refit to ensure that they continue to operate effectively as the backbone of the navy fleet. The frigate modernization includes a new command-and-control system, new radar capability, a new electronic warfare system and upgraded communications and missiles.
· The CAF is expected to take formal delivery of the CH-148 Cyclone - Block 1 aircraft no later than June 2015. These helicopters will have a level of operational capability that will allow the transition and retirement of the Sea Kings. The final fleet will be at the forefront of modern technology with one of the most capable maritime helicopters in the world.
· The CP-140 Aurora is, and will continue to be, a valuable asset to the CAF. The ongoing life-extension and modernization projects will ensure that the fleet of 14 Auroras remain a world leader in its undersea combat, maritime patrol, and overland surveillance roles.
· The Navy’s modernization period includes the anticipated return of HMCS Chicoutimi to submarine-fleet service later in 2014, meaning the RCN will have achieved steady-state for its submarine fleet, when three of its four Victoria-class submarines are available for operations.
· The building of the first Joint Support Ship (JSS) is expected to start in the 2016-2017 timeframe, in keeping with the existing schedule. The next major step in the JSS project is the negotiation of the Definition contract. This will enable Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd. to fully review the proven, off-the-shelf ship design from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada, selected in June 2013.
· The definition contract for the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) was signed in March 2013. This contract will be followed by a construction contract in 2015, and the program is on track to start cutting steel in 2015. Delivery of the first AOPS is currently expected for 2018. In addition, the construction contract for the Nanisivik Naval Facility was awarded on June 26, 2014 and the facility is forecasted to be operational in 2018.
· The Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) project is moving forward and currently in the design phase. The CSC will recapitalize the Royal Canadian Navy's surface combatant fleet by replacing and updating the capabilities found in both the Iroquois-class destroyers and the Halifax-class frigates. This project will deliver ships capable of meeting multiple threats in both the open ocean and the highly complex coastal environment.
The last Bay Class minesweeper in naval service, TCG Terme (ex-HMCS Quinte) was decommissioned and sold for scrap in Turkey in 2013.