First Canadian Navy Frigates Through $4.3Billion Refit Program
The first Royal Canadian Navy frigates are coming through a major $4.3-billion refit program.
Work has been completed on the first four of 12 Halifax-class frigates. The ships are being modernized to last until the 2030’s, when they will be replaced by the next generation of Canadian warships.
In early 2015, HMCS Fredericton will be the first modernized frigate to hit the seas. It will be followed by
HMCSs Halifax, Calgary and Winnipeg. Lockheed Martin is the contractor for the refits. Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax and Seaspan Marine in Vancouver are splitting the work evenly as subcontractors. HMCS Halifax and Fredericton were refit by Irving, while Seaspan handled
HMCS Calgary and Winnipeg. The program involves giving each ship a new command and control system, a new radar suite and upgraded communications equipment, as well as new missile and warfare systems.
There were also a slew of smaller changes, such as new shower spaces to accommodate female sailors. Navy staff said Monday they have already replaced around 60 kilometres worth of cables.
In total, there were about 150 engineering changes made to each ship. The modernization program is on pace to be completed in 2018.
Commissioned between 1992 and 1996, the Halifaxclass frigates are midway through their lifespan. The plan is that this will be the last major work done on the frigates before they are decommissioned.
Planning for the modernization began in 2005, while the actual refit work began in 2010.
The frigates were already seen as the backbone of the Canadian navy, but they will be leaned on even more after the navy decided to decommission four ships early.
The government is decommissioning the Iroquoisclass destroyers HMCS Iroquois and Algonquin, as well as Protecteur-class resupply ships HMCS Protecteur and Pre
This leaves the navy incapable of putting together a full naval formation, meaning Canada will have to lean on its allies outside Canadian waters. Though the modernized frigates have enhanced long-range defence capabilities, they do not have the same range as the destroyers.
The navy is also looking at leasing a commercial ship to act as a resupply vessel until the Protecteur replacements are built in the next decade. Canada can only rely on its allies to fill this gap for a little over a year, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman told members of Parliament.
HMCS Fredericton will be the first modernized frigate to hit the seas after refit.