Canada's Navy modernization sounds like a mess

Canada navy ship destroyerDirtsc/Wikimedia CommonsThe now retired HMCS Iroquois, a Canadian destroyer

Canada’s efforts to modernize its navy and procure a new fleet of warships is not going well.

Originally proposed in 2010, Canada had plans to spend $US21.5 billion (Canadian $US26.2 billion) for the procurement of 15 modern warships. The ships were intended to replace three destroyers and 12 frigates that were set for retirement.

However, the procurement process has run into a series of cost overruns and delays. Reuters reports that the procurement plan could easily run over cost while leading to the construction of fewer than the 15 intended warships.

“Do we think that the C$26.2 billion is going to become the sort of ceiling cost in the time frame we’re talking about? Perhaps not,” an anonymous official told Reuters. “We do have to constrain this. Do we land with fewer ships, as is happening with our allies?”

During a technical briefing in Ottawa on May 1, officials said that the new plan is now for the construction of “up to 15” warships with the $US21.5 billion cost as a estimated starting point. The warships are intended to be built by Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax, Nova Scotia with the first ship to be ready by the middle of the coming decade.

However, before the ships can even begin construction the Irving Shipbuilding yard needs to finish its construction overhaul. Since 2010, according to Terry Milewski of CBC News, Canada has put $US500 million dollars towards upgrading the Seaspan yard in Vancouver and the Irving yard in Halifax. And those yards, after their upgrades, have to finish building Arctic patrol ships for Canada before work can begin on the warships.

The construction of these patrol ships points to ominous signs for Canada’s warship procurement, Milewski notes. Originally, it was only meant to cost $US3.1 billion for six to eight patrol ships. Now, the project is costing $US3.5 billion for five or six ships.

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