First Canadian Navy Frigates Through $4.3Bil­lion Re­fit Pro­gram

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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.

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